Grandmother no spy, says daughter of late president


A granddaughter of Erskine Childers has said it was "simply unthinkable" that her grandmother Molly was a spy who passed information to the British during the War of Independence.

Nessa Childers, also the daughter of the late president Erskine Childers, said her grandmother loved her grandfather too much to have spied against him.

She was reacting to claims made about her grandmother in a recent historical book, Michael Collins's Intelligence War, written by historian Dr Michael T Foy, tutor in History at Queens University Belfast.

According to his book there is documentary proof that there was an unnamed female spy who passed on information about Sinn Féin leaders during the War of Independence.

Dr Foy states that the American-born Molly Childers is the only senior female figure to fit the profile. However, yesterday Nessa Childers, now a Green Party councillor in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, rejected the claim.

"It just doesn't fit with her character," Ms Childers said of her grandmother during an interview with Ursula Halligan on TV3's The Political Party. "She was a very loyal republican. Very loyal to my grandfather, a very courageous woman in many ways." She described the evidence in Dr Foy's book as "circumstantial".

"Really the evidence is circumstantial. There's not enough of it that I've seen. The fact that the spy was a female was leaked to Llyod George's mistress by one of the British people involved, and they said they had an Irish Mata Hari. That is not enough evidence even to suggest that it was a female."

Ms Childers said: "Up until the day she died she had photographs of Liam Mellows, Liam Brady and Rory O'Connor on her bedside and she revered them. It doesn't follow that such a person could have put those people's lives at risk."

Erskine Childers was a British soldier during the Boer War, before becoming involved in Irish nationalism and landing guns on his yacht, the Asgard, in Howth in 1914.