researchers from Boston University of former senior Irish Republican Brendan Hughes. It has caused major political controversy in Ireland, not least because of Hughes' revelations concerning Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president. It's content has made uncomfortable reading for the Provisional Sinn Fein leadership and created a definite hurdle in the final lap of their race towards political respectability. Brendan Hughes, a former Provisional IRA commander and a former intimate confidante of Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, was highly respected within the Republican community in Ireland. In life, when Hughes was critical of the political direction of Gerry Adams and the leadership of Provisional Sinn Fein, Irish Republicans did sit up and listen. The Provisional Sinn Fein spin machine, that usually goes into overdrive against 'dissidents' could not touch Hughes, in life due to his impeccable Irish Republican military antecedents. Voices From The Grave also contains the memoirs of the late UVF leader, David Ervine but it was within the section devoted to Hughes' that holds the political dynamite
Brendan Hughes led the first mass Hunger Strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh for political status in 1980, where he had been Officer Commanding of the Provisional IRA prisoners. He had famously been arrested in Myrtlefield Park, Malone Road, an upper middle-class area of Belfast, where the Provisional IRA had a secret command centre in the 1970's, posing as a businessman, who would not have looked out of place in the area! Hughes and an elite PIRA intelligence unit, among other highly sensitive activities, were able to tap into the scrambled telephone communications system of the British Army's headquarters at Theipval Barracks in Lisburn. When finally arrested at the opulent Myrtlefield Park address, the well heeled neighbours were aghast that an audacious Provisional IRA nerve centre had been operating secretly right under their noses! After Hughes' arrest and the uncovering of the PIRA intelligence unit, the RUC Special Branch made much media mileage by leaking a so-called "IRA Doomsday Plan" that was allegedly amongst the documentation discovered during the raid on the Upper Malone property, claiming that it was a Provisional IRA blueprint to take over Belfast! In reality, it was a contingency plan to evacuate Republican areas, if further sectarian pogroms against Catholics occurred on the scale of those committed in 1969 by Loyalist paramilitaries and the RUC's Special Constabulary. (Loyalist ethnic cleansing of Catholic/Nationalist areas in Belfast, had caused the largest demographic displacement in Western Europe, since World War 2!)
It is firmly believed that Provisional Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, who had become estranged from his one-time friend Hughes, has a lot to fear from the Dark's candid memoirs contained in Voices From The Grave . When Brendan Hughes was still alive and residing in the notorious Divis Tower in West Belfast, elements loyal to the Provisional Sinn Fein leadership allegedly bugged his flat, in an attempt to discover what exactly would be revealed in any subsequent publication based on his memoirs! A series of taped interviews and transcripts that would later form the genus of 'Voices From The Grave' are believed to be in the possession of academics, from the University of Boston. Old comrades of Brendan Hughes confirmed that leading Provisional Sinn Fein figures visited his family, trying to discover any details of the interviews he gave to the Boston academics, locally-based researches or journalists. Writer and journalist, Ed Moloney, was Hughes' choice as a biographer perhaps based on Moloney's previous highly acclaimed work A Secret History of the IRA which caused major frissons within the Irish Republican community and the political media due to it's revelations of Adam's Machiavellian strategy within the Republican Movement. Among the numerous damaging allegations, Moloney makes in his 'Secret History' is that the Adamsite faction within the Provisionals deliberately sacrificed more militant volunteers to SAS ambushes such as Loughgall, in furtherance of their reformist strategy.
Brendan Hughes revelations in his memoirs are so politically sensitive today due to the fact that he once was a close comrade-come-confidante of the now Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams in the Belfast Provisionals of the early 1970's. This close relationship continued when they both were imprisoned in Long Kesh concentration camp where they were both held in the renowned Cage 11 which became the first of the Provisional's renowned 'think tanks' used to formulate a self-educated political cadre and military policy. "The Dark's " dynamism, fearless military prowess and the esteem to which he was held among other Irish Republicans were the stuff of legend, these included a daring successful escape from the top security Long Kesh prison, where prior to the escape he hid inside a mattress which was then unwittingly carried out of the prison, past various security checks by a garbage truck! His involvement in Irish Republican actions was on a lead-by-example basis and the physical trauma he incurred in the first Hunger Strike in 1980 when he fasted for 53 days was seen by many as being a contributory factor to his early death in February 2008.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Hughes' memoirs for the Sinn Fein leader are the posthumous revelations about his alleged involvement in the abduction, murder and secret burial of Jean McConville, one of the so-called 'Disappeared' . Mrs McConville, a mother of 10, from DivisFlats, had been discovered working as a spy for the British army by members of Hughes' 'D' Company of the Provisional IRA. She had allegedly been discovered with military transceiver devices on two separate occasions. A secretive unit of the Provisional IRA 'D' Company headed by Pat McClure and colloquially referred to as 'the Unknowns' later executed her and buried her body secretly in County Loth to avoid the negative publicity associated with killing an impoverished widow with 10 children. The 'Unknowns ' allegedly acted on the express orders of Gerry Adams who it is alleged used this covert unit within a unit for particularly 'sensitive' operations which included the disappearing of victims where overt Provisional IRA responsibility would have resulted in negative propaganda. 'Voices From The Grave's account of the until-now secret execution and 'disappearing of Provisional IRA volunteer Joe Linskey by the 'Unknowns ' allegedly at the behest of Adams' will no doubt prove embarrassing for the Provisional Sinn Fein leader.
Brendan Hughes, on his eventual release from prison, became steadily critical of Provisional Sinn Fein's journey towards reformism and the party's jettisoning of key Irish Republican principles in return for political respectability and the patronage of the British government. Hughes is reported to have stated quite categorically that the massive sacrifice made by Republicans and indeed many of the population from all political walks of life in the North, was not worth the dubious end result in the form of the Good Friday Agreement. In Hughes' view, the so-called Peace Process and the subsequent Good Friday Agreement merely resulted in a slightly more Catholic version of the old Stormont devolved regime. Brendan Hughes dismissed the neo-professional political caste in Sinn Fein, as the 'Armani Suit Brigade' and in the years before his premature death he became a de facto figurehead for so-called "Dissident Republicanism".
One thing is certain, Hughes' memoirs in 'Voices From The Grave' are political dynamite and even in death, Brendan Hughes is proving to be the conscience of the grassroots Republican community as posthumously he points an accusatory finger at Adams and others within the Provisionals who have ridden roughshod over lifelong activists in their hurry towards bourgeois respectability! "Voices from the Grave" by journalist Ed Moloney which contains the memoirs of both Brendan Hughes and loyalist terrorist David Ervine will be on general sale from April 2010.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.