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They walk past you like nothing happened.”Then, in 1994, the I. When Adams moved around the city during this period, he later wrote, he “avoided streets where there were stretches without doors.”In 1972, the British Army launched a clever operation. Dolours Price then drove Wright and one of his colleagues—a seventeen-year-old named Kevin Mc Kee, who was also discovered to have been a traitor—into the Republic, where they were executed, and secretly buried, in the fall of 1972. Whenever he found a bird, he peeled off his jacket and cast it like a net over the animal, then smuggled it home under his sweater, adding it to his burgeoning fleet.

It set up a washing service called Four Square Laundry, issued coupons offering steep discounts, then sent a van into Catholic neighborhoods to pick up and drop off clothes. West Belfast was a hazardous place for an adventurous kid, but Michael had no fear, he told me: “Most boys didn’t, being brought up in a war zone.” On one occasion, he scaled the façade of an old mill only to discover a unit of British soldiers encamped inside.

Four men and four women burst in; some wore balaclavas, others had covered their faces with nylon stockings that ghoulishly distorted their features. Jean Mc Conville put on a tweed overcoat and a head scarf as the younger children were herded into one of the bedrooms. A couple of the men were not wearing masks, and Michael realized, to his horror, that the people taking his mother away were not strangers—they were his neighbors.

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Helen and Archie reported Jean’s abduction to the police, but in the files of the Royal Ulster Constabulary there is no record of any investigation at the time. And so some of the children held out hope for years that they had not been orphaned, and that their mother might suddenly reappear. The blast blew off both of her hands, and permanently blinded her. A., began preparing for a sustained guerrilla campaign. But Dolours did not want to bandage men’s wounds, she said—she wanted to be “a fighting soldier.” The leadership of the Provisional I. He was a former bartender from Ballymurphy, a lean young man with sharp cheekbones and black-framed eyeglasses. It is believed that Adams joined the organization as a teen-ager, in the mid-sixties. “Robbing banks, robbing post offices, robbing trains, planting bombs, shooting Brits, trying to stay alive.” To Dolours Price, Hughes seemed like “a giant of a man.” He inspired fierce loyalty from his subordinates, because he fought alongside them and “asked no volunteer to do what he would not do himself.”Hughes had been a merchant seaman before joining the I. A., and one day a sailor he knew showed him a brochure for a new assault rifle from America—the Armalite.

Perhaps she had developed amnesia and was living in another country, unaware that she had left a whole life behind in Belfast. unit called the Unknowns, which conducted clandestine paramilitary work, including disappearances. The order to disappear her came from the Officer Commanding of the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional I. A.—the man who held ultimate authority over the Unknowns. “It was never a case of ‘Poor Bridie,’ ” Dolours’s younger sister Marian told the journalist Suzanne Breen, in 2004. She came home from hospital to a wee house with an outside toilet, no social worker, no disability allowance, and no counselling. Like Dolours, he had grown up in a Belfast family deeply rooted in the I. “We all fell in love with this weapon,” Hughes recalled.

About a week after she was kidnapped, a young man had come to the door and handed the children their mother’s purse and three rings that she had been wearing when she left: her engagement ring, her wedding ring, and an eternity ring that Arthur had given her. “I don’t know anything about your mother,” the man said. Dolours later said, “I should be ashamed to admit there was fun in it in those days.” People are often drawn to radicalism by a sense of community and shared purpose. “They weren’t cold-eyed dialecticians or fanatics on the surface. diplomatic cable in January, 1973, reported that Adams was “an active Belfast military commander.”Nevertheless, Adams did not carry out operations.

“I was just told to give you these.” When I spoke to Michael recently, he said, “I knew then, though I was only eleven years of age, that my mother was dead.” [cartoon id="a18948"]His siblings were not so quickly convinced. [cartoon id="a18992"]Marian soon joined her in the I. There was a smile about them.” One press account described them as “pretty girls who would finish their school work and then take to the streets armed, one or both hiding an Armalite rifle under their raincoat, to take part in gun battles with the British army.” The sisters became the subject of sexualized lore, with stories circulating about Marian, in a miniskirt, charming her way past a British Army checkpoint while driving a car full of explosives. Dolours and Marian Price picked him up and drove him into Belfast to rejoin the Republican leadership. In a 2010 documentary, “Voices from the Grave,” Dolours Price recalls, “Gerry didn’t allow himself to be in the presence of guns, or in any situation that would put him at risk of arrest.” Instead, he deputized operational work to his close friend Brendan Hughes, a compact man with bushy black eyebrows and a shock of black hair.

But, as decades passed without word, these fantasies became increasingly difficult to sustain. In 2010, Price revealed in a series of interviews that she had been a member of a secret I. Price did not participate in the raid on the Mc Conville house, but she drove Jean Mc Conville across the border into the Republic of Ireland, where she was executed. According to Price, the Officer Commanding was Gerry Adams. Her aunt Bridie Dolan, who lived with the family, had been horribly disfigured at twenty-seven, after accidentally dropping a cache of gelignite in an I. She just got on with it.” Bridie was a chain smoker, and Dolours and Marian would light cigarettes and insert them between her lips. In 1971, the British reintroduced the controversial tactic of “internment”—imprisoning indefinitely, and without trial, anyone suspected of Republican activity. The Armalite was ideal for urban warfare: lightweight and powerful, with a retractable stock that made it easy to conceal. A., his father destroyed the family’s photographs of him, so that British forces could not identify him by sight.

Last modified 29-Aug-2016 11:05