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Once in never out
It is an old Republican principle. But it could also be applied to the attitude the authorities have taken to Ireland’s longest serving political prisoners, Paddy McCann and Colm O’Shea. Jailed for the killing of two Gardai during a bank raid in Roscommon in 1980, as the peace process reached its final stages they were asked to sign up to the Good Friday Agreement. They subsequently put their names on the dotted line. That was ten years ago. So why have they not been released in the meantime, like dozens of other former Paramilitary activists? In an extraordinary, confessional interview, PADDY MCCANN makes his case against the State.
Jason O'Toole, 03 Feb 2009
Did you ever contact the victims’ families?
Do you not think that I have more manners than to do that?! I certainly did not. I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. Would you not think it would be grossly insulting for somebody to be writing to their wives?
There were also reports that you were not paramilitaries, but rather a criminal gang? The Irish Press carried a statement from the Gardai that the trio were “lone wolves preying on Irish society whose motives were purely criminal.”
That’s nonsense. Ah, sure, they’d say anything. They’d say mass backwards if they knew the Latin!
It was also reported that many members of Saor Éire believed that the organisation had been taken over by gangsters and was losing sight of its original objectives.
Don’t they always say that? What can I say to that? It’s nonsense. It’s just some people talking. They speculate when they are sitting at home in front of the TV or in the pub or something. They don’t really know anything about the inner workings of Saor Éire.
According to media reports, you were a member of the INLA at the time of the bank job?
Ah, sure they said many different things. They said I was in the INLA and they said I was in the IRA. It’s not quite correct, no. I’m not in the INLA. The thing is that they’re all going to deny me. It was a bit complicated at the time. We were associated with them – from time to time.
Wasn’t Saor Éire officially disbanded in 1975. So for the next few years until your arrest, you had to be working for other political organisations.
No – they never disbanded. There were a load of factions – the Cork ones, the Dublin ones, and so on. They were all infighting. It split the group.
So you are saying that you were an active member of Saor Éire at the time of your arrest?
Once in, never out. It’s the old tradition of the IRB. Once in, never out.
One Republican publication, the Starry Plough, alleged you were going to use the money from the bank job, which they report as a sum of between £35,000 and £41,000, to invest in a pub or a nightclub in Dublin. Is that true?