Workers' Party admits illegal activity in letter to East Berlin in late 1980s
When Seán Garland penned his infamous “Moscow Letter” in 1986, the former Workers’ Party general secretary said his cash-strapped party raised funds through “special activities”.
Three years later, in a letter to East Berlin seen by The Irish Times, he dropped the euphemism and admitted “legal and illegal means have been employed by us”.
The admission, in a letter on headed party notepaper dated February 26th, 1989, provides confirmation from a leading Workers’ Party official of what was already widely known: that its military wing, the Official IRA, was involved in bank robberies and racketeering.
Mr Garland’s four-page typewritten letter to the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) is part of decades of correspondence on Ireland indicating how the WP and the Communist Party of Ireland jockeyed for East Berlin’s favour – and funds – until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.
From East Berlin and its embassy in London, the SED kept a close eye on Irish developments on both sides of the Border, although the files suggest direct political contacts was limited to the CPI and WP.
Yellowing documents record visits by Mr Garland to East Berlin, often en route to North Korea. Goods of interest for import included beer and motorbikes. Profits, Mr Garland hoped, would fill party coffers and allow it “develop and grow and so defeat the enemy”.