There has been an interesting side bar development in the north of Ireland Peace Process, Tom Murphy who is allegedly the Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA, was arrested at his home in County Louth by detectives from the ‘Irish Republic’s’[ROI] Garda Síochána Criminal Assets Bureau. Mr Murphy is facing nine charges of failing to file tax returns under the Taxes Consolidation Act and was held in custody overnight and appeared in court this morning.[Thurs] The judge presiding said he had no objection to bail after hearing Mr Murphy had no previous convictions, provided he reside in the jurisdiction and hand over his passport. This must be the first time a State has charged a revolutionary who has failed in his insurgency bid, for not paying his tax bill.
Tom Murphy has been throughout the troubles the number one target of both the British and ROI police and security services. He has lived all his life on a farm that straddles the north-south border at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, in County Louth. His home has been raided on numerous occasions by the Garda Síochána and on the northern side the British army and RUC/PSNI. The last time in 2006 when the detectives from the CAB paid Tom Murphy a visit, it is not know whether these current charges came about from information that was gleaned during that raid but it seems likely.
In Irish Republican circles Tom Murphy has a legendary status, having been a member of the South Armagh Brigade of the PIRA since the beginning of the troubles. He is said to have been meticulous in planing operations, preferring to cancel rather than risk his men being killed, wounded or captured. In his book Bandit Country, Toby Harden holds Mr Murphy responsible for the Warrenpoint ambush in 1979, in which 18 members of the Parachute Regiment and the Queen’s Own Highlanders were killed, and the explosion which killed Lord Mountbatten and others at Mullaghmore. Although despite their losses, even British army officers are willing to concede that from a military point of view Warrenpoint was a classic piece of military planning. The South Armagh Brigade is also thought to have carried out the ground work for PIRA operations in England.
In later years the British and RoI police and security services, perhaps out of sheer frustration due to their inability to link Mr Murphy directly with military activity, have concentrated on investigating his business and financial affairs. It has been common knowledge that for the last three years the RoI CAB and its British equivalent the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) have been working in tandem analyzing in fine detail every financial and business transaction of Tom Murphy.
The media and internet during this on going investigation has been full of stories about Tom Murphy being a millionaire Godfather who was only involved in the Provos armed struggle for money. Whilst Mr Murphy undoubtedly built a lucrative business based on the advantages offered by the geographic location of his farm. He donated considerable sums of money to the Republican Movement and in the early days it is doubtful whether Sinn Fein could have become a major political force in the north of Ireland without his generosity.
As to the wider implications of Tom Murphy’s arrest, it seems there are people within the RoI and British State bureaucracies who are determined to pursue Mr Murphy for having the audacity to challenge for four decades the British presence Ireland, whilst others may just enjoy tweaking Gerry Adams tail. Perhaps their superiors would be wise to consider that without Tom Murphy’s support for Mr Adams, there would have been no Peace Process and ponder on that thought.