Emerging Writer Member Profile
I’m a Dundalk native, now living in New Zealand. I’ve spent the last 12 years abroad and began blogging as a means of recording my travels and making everyone back home jealous. My blogs developed into short stories and reawakened in me a joy I had from childhood in story-telling. It took me six months to find a job in New Zealand, so I spent this time writing the story that had been knocking around my head for years. It partly draws on my experiences growing up in an Irish border town and partly from my love of conspiracy theories. I set out to write a thriller but I found that my humour kept fighting its way onto the page.
When not writing, I’m busy parenting and enjoying the beauty of the Land of the Long White Cloud.
“Ok, let’s keep our heads down and act normally”, McGuinness said. “We’ll meet again next Monday when I hope you’ve got some good news for me. There is a tout down in interview room 4. He claims he knows the leadership structure of the Ballymurphy IRA. See if it tallies up with our list”.
Anderson picked up his notepad and headed downstairs. Talking to touts was his least favoured part of the job. It was hard to respect a person who would sell out their friends for a few quid. But they were a necessary part of the ugly business he had signed up for. He opened the door of the interrogation room and sat facing the unkempt and red eyed figure of Joey Matthews. Joey wore a sweatshirt that was as grey as his face. “How’s about ye” he said as Anderson shuffled a chair in place.
“I’m grand Joey, how are you”?
“I’ll be better when I get out of here. The longer you’re in here the more the boys assume you’ve been turned. So, if we can get this out of the way sharpish like, I’d really appreciate it”.
Anderson paused, sat back and enjoyed Joey’s increasing discomfort. “And what exactly is it that you want me to be sharpish about”?
Joey’s eyes betrayed panic. He had explained all this to the cop who had arrested him and assumed the information had been passed on. Now it looked like he’d have to go through the whole thing again and he could be stuck here for hours. There were at least 3 IRA guys in the pub when he was lifted and they would have recorded the time he entered Police Custody and the time he got out. If you’re not in front of a judge within six hours or back on the streets, then the IRA assume you are singing your head off to the Police. If this dragged into a two-day interrogation session, he could picture the reception he’d get when he was dumped back on the streets. He even knew the house they would take him to in Ballymurphy and the assortment of medical and engineering instruments they would use during the discussion. The prospect terrified him.
“I’ve got information”, he stuttered. “Stuff that could help ye boys. But I’m only squealing if you agree to drop the charges. The peeler who lifted me said that I needed to speak to Special Branch. That’s you, I expect”?
Anderson nodded but again let the silence hang.
“So, what do you think”? Joey said. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours so to speak. I mean it’s all rubbish that I was lifted for anyway. That wee lassie is just making up yarns for attention. I mean I’m her uncle. I’d never touch her. I mean I’ve had a cuddle and all that, but I was only being friendly”.
Anderson leaned across the table. “I’m not interested in what you did or didn’t do with your niece, Joey. You said you had information, so let’s hear it”.
“So, we have a deal”? Joey said.
“Give me something interesting and I’ll see what I can do”.
Joey looked down at the handwritten sheet in front of him and pushed it across. “That’s the full command structure of the IRA in Ballymurphy”.
Anderson looked at the barely legible scrawl in front of him. “How do you know this”? he asked.
“Cause, I’m in second battalion. I’ve been to all the meetings. Saw all them boys there”.
Anderson lifted the page and scanned the entries. “You realise you’ve just confessed to being a member of the IRA, a proscribed organisation, membership of which carries a four to seven-year prison sentence. Let’s assume you get another five for fiddling with your twelve year old niece, then you’re looking at about ten years in Crumlin Road jail where you’ll be marked as a nonce from day one. Not a pretty outlook Joey”.
Joey’s face turned a whiter shade of pale. “What? I thought we had a deal. I’m not going to prison. I can’t. They’d kill me in there. Look I’ll sign this, stand up in court and accuse this lot of killing Jesus Christ or anything else you want. I’ll be the biggest grass you’ve ever seen. Please mate. I can’t go to jail”.
Anderson leaned forward. So, close that he could smell Joey’s bad breath and see the individual beads of sweat on his forehead. “This is shit Joey. I could get these names from last week’s Belfast Telegraph. They are so well known, they should have their own TV show. I need you to tell me the secret ones. The ones that don’t turn up to IRA funerals. The ones who don’t drink in Republican Clubs. The ones who don’t provide security to Sinn Fein. You know what I want Joey. I want to know about the guys that the IRA doesn’t want me to know about. Now you better start giving me proper names or I’ll have you in Crumlin Jail so fast, you won’t have time to undress before they drag you into the showers to rape you”.
Joey gulped. He needed to think fast, when the truth was that he was useless at even thinking slow. “I haven’t got any more names, I swear. Those are the only folk I ever saw at meetings or on jobs. I was pretty low down the chain. I didn’t get to meet any of these special agents you’re on about”.
Anderson walked to the back of the room where he had hung his jacket. He reached into the inside pocket and took out a pistol. He placed it in the centre of the table.
“Do you know what that is, Joey”?
“Is this a game”? Joey asked. “You’re going to threaten to shoot me or ask me if I fancy playing Russian Roulette”?
“I thought you might recognise it”, Anderson said as he circled the room. “It’s an IRA gun. Was used on a bank job that I believe you took part in. The robbery was still going on when we turned up. The IRA boys scarpered but in the confusion, they dropped this gun. I was first on the scene and I picked it up. I was mad with myself because I didn’t follow procedure. I should have worn gloves but I ended up getting my smudgy fingerprints all over it. Then I thought, what’s the point in handing this into evidence. We’ll never convict anyone for a bank job anyway and my finger prints will invalidate any evidence the gun gave us.
“So, I stuck it in my pocket and thought that it would come in handy someday. And I reckon today is that day. See, what if I release you today. Send you out the front door so that the IRA knows you are on the outside. Then I pick you up later and bring you to a quiet country road near the border. I let you make your peace with whatever God you have. Let you apologise for being a dirty terrorist scum and a child molester and then quietly put a bullet in your head, just behind your left ear”.
Anderson was standing behind Joey at this point and pointed his index finger into the sweaty skin behind Joey’s ear.
“I know the IRA codes”, Anderson continued. “So, I can phone it in. Say that you were a tout and you were executed in accordance with Central Council’s standing orders. I’ll say that a booby trap has been attached to your body. So, they’ll let it lie there for two or three days while the rats nibble at your fleshy wounds. Then they’ll do an autopsy and when they dig the bullet out of that undersized brain of yours, they’ll trace it back to a known IRA gun. Special Branch will brief journalists behind the scenes to say that you were a tout, killed by your own people and that consequently, Special Branch have zero interest in investigating the case. We’d be quite happy if the IRA kept shooting their own people to be honest.
“Even the IRA will assume that they did it. You being a known nonce and all that. That’s the great thing about the IRA’s secretive cell structure. If something like this happens, everyone will assume it was done by another unit and because they are not allowed to talk to each other, that assumption will stay alive. It’s the perfect crime Joey. I get to get rid of a low life like you and the IRA get blamed for it”.
Joey looked at the gun and then reached across it to retrieve the sheet of paper. He looked mournfully at Anderson. “Do you have a pen”? he asked. “I think I remember a few more names”.
It’s 1986 and James Morgan is living in a dingy Dublin flat. He works in a dead end Insurance job and spends his evenings reading history books and lusting after Sinead, who unfortunately doesn’t lust after him.
His interest in family history drives him to Northern Ireland to buy a recording device that he can use in his research. He stumbles into a confrontation with British soldiers at a border checkpoint and is beaten up by them. He ends up in hospital but later discovers that his recording device has not only recorded details of the assault but also the name of the spy in Garda Headquarters that is secretly working for the RUC in Belfast.
When this becomes known the RUC and rogue elements of the British Army are keen to retrieve the tape in Morgan’s possession. His flat and office are broken into, so he turns to Sinead for help and she puts him in touch with her cousin Tina Reynolds who works in Garda headquarters. Tina helps Morgan as he faces more attacks from the Northern security services as they grow closer. As they do, he finds that Sinead is suddenly interested in him too.
As he deals with increasing attention of the Police and Army from both sides of the border, Morgan finds himself torn between the two cousins and his confidence rising. Tina falls in love with him and this draws her into conflict with her not so proper superior.
Mainly, in RUC headquarters, Detective Anderson is also having problems with his boss and the increasing illegality he is being drawn into.
Finally, all the parties meet on the pier at Dun Laoghaire in a thrilling climax. Morgan escapes to a new life in England with the mystery of where his heart lies left behind in Dublin.
Become an Emerging Writer Member