Paul Williams on The Late Late Show, a week before the 2016 General Election
“…The only people who would vote for Sinn Féin, in regard to that part of their manifesto [abolishing the non-jury Special Criminal Court], are the drug dealers, the killers and the kidnappers and the terrorists. And the only people, no wonder the guys who were walking up Francis Street were smirking because they heard about this legislation ‘thank god, Sinn Féin are going to get rid of that, we’re gonna vote for them’…”
Paul Williams to Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show, February 19, 2016
From top: Clare O’Connor Michael O’Regan and Paddy Cullivan; Paul Williams
RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live looked at the election results.
The show started off with a panel discussion involving former parliamentary correspondent at The Irish Times Michael O’Regan; musician and satirist Paddy Cullivan; director of Inner City Helping Homelessness Clare O’Connor; Sunday Independent journalist Niamh Horan; Dr Aidan Regan, from the School of Politics and International Relations in UCD; and former leader of Fine Gael Alan Dukes.
Members of the audience were regularly invited to make points during the discussion.
At around the 38-minute mark, host Claire Byrne had this exchange with Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams who was sitting in the audience.
Claire Byrne: “Millennials. You were writing a piece today, you published a piece today in the Irish Independent, ‘millennial voters don’t care about what happened in the past’?”
Paul Williams: “Well I think that, first of all, listening to the debate tonight, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are quite culpable in all this. They have switched off or turned people off to such an extent that they feel that they must compartmentalise their, somebody mentioned the word ’empathy’ there.
“And they have decided, well, they prioritise, clearly, the young electorate have, the 25 per cent have voted for Sinn Féin, that there are issues that Sinn Féin have offered them in their manifesto, that’s most attracted and part of that then is compartmentalise and step away and maybe put a Chinese wall around Stephen and Breege Quinn and Paudie McGahon.
“You know, there are moral issues here.
“For example, we did see what happened to Stephen and Breege Quinn. And this was only 2007. It took until this election before like, Mary Lou McDonald, in fairness to her, did apologise. But Conor Murphy issued a half-hearted apology which wasn’t actually an apology.
“He never withdrew, he demonised young Paul Quinn who had every bone in his body broken by a group of IRA people in South Armagh which was accepted by the PSNI, the Garda Síochána, the International Monitoring Commission, the SDLP, various Irish Government ministers and British Government ministers through the years, so there is no argument about that.
“There’s currently a Garda investigation being renewed with 150 new lines of inquiry.
“The point about it was that the inconvenient truth is that they have now moved on and it’s been very quickly forgotten about.
“Paudie McGahon, we, when I mentioned millennials, we have the #metoo generation and quite rightly so about the sexual harassment and rape and all of that. Paudie McGahon and another man were abused and I remember the Provisional IRA was convicted of that attack.
“Now, currently, there’s a Garda investigation into how allegations that senior figures in the Republican movement set up a kangaroo court, purely with the intent to pervert the course of justice and prevent Paudie McGahon and another man going to the Garda Síochána to report this crime which they eventually did after being dissuaded from doing so.
“These are part of the inconvenient truths that are, exist around Sinn Féin. Also the thing about the Special Criminal Court…”
Claire Byrne: “OK, Paul…”
Williams: “Hang on, just let me finish the point. The Special Criminal Court. I made this point in the Independent today as well. The Special Criminal Court is there, it is the anti-mafia court, we call it. It is the only court and is a very effective weapon in dealing with organised crime.
“I’ve seen this for 30-odd years and I’ve seen how criminals are walking away by intimidating juries and all of that. The point about it is that Sinn Féin still, now they’ve kicked that can down the road, because Sinn Féin voters, in 2016, acted very hostile to Sinn Féin.
“And I believe a number of surveys have show that since, and polls, that Sinn Féin voters themselves do not agree with Sinn Féin’s policy of trying to get rid of the Special Criminal Court which is the only way of taking all the people, for example, who cut up Keane Mulready-Woods and put him into a bag and dumped him on the street for everybody to find…”
Byrne: “They said they’re reviewing their policy in relation to the Special Criminal Court…”
Williams: “Reviewing it. Ideologically it is anathema to the shadowy figures who ran the war in The Troubles because a lot of them were put away but the Special Criminal Court.
“But a lot of people need to remember as well, those same shadowy figures are the people who control the present and perhaps will control the future policies of Sinn Féin…”
After Ms Byrne’s interview with Mr Williams, Ms Byrne spoke to Ann Travers whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA on April 8, 1984.
She told the show that IRA victims are “forgotten victims” and she feels that those who have voted for Sinn Féin are, in effect, telling her and other IRA victims that they “don’t matter”.
Ms Byrne asked Eoin Ó Murchú for his opinion. He went on to take issue with Mr Williams saying Mr Quinn was murdered by the IRA. He pointed out that the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil this was not the case.
Specifically, Mr Ahern said:
“The official position is that there is no information available to me from the Garda Commissioner to suggest that this attack was authorised or sanctioned by the IRA and this remains the position. As I said when last speaking about criminality, the crime in question does not arise from paramilitary activity, nor was it sanctioned or condoned by the republican movement. This remains the position of the Garda investigating officers and that is the information given to us officially and restated officially in advance of the Ministers’ meetings with the Quinn family yesterday and tomorrow.”
In the same Dáil contribution on December 18, 2007, Mr Ahern said: “I am glad to state what the Minister told the family yesterday, that we have no evidence whatsoever that Paul Quinn was involved in criminal activity” following comments he made about Mr Quinn in the Dáil on November 14, 2007.
They had this exchange:
Eoin Ó Murchú: “First of all, all war is an atrocity. We can see that everywhere it happens. The question is: we have to work to bring these things to an end. It’s 22 years since this particular war ended and it does strike me that some people, not the victims I’m talking about, but some of the politicians, want to keep all this going because it diverts attention from other issues.”
Byrne: “But Ann Travers is not a…”
Ó Murchú: “…Paul [Williams] was…”
Talk over each other
Ó Murchú: “Hold on one moment…”
Byrne: “She’s not a politician.”
Ó Murchú: “Hold on, I make that point the whole way through. There are victims across the board in this situation. Victims of IRA violence, of Loyalist violence, of British Army violence, of RUC violence. The point is that we have to move away from a context of violence and start talking about our politics and our political issues. And when Paul said that the police forces north and south said that Paul Quinn had been murdered by the IRA, that is untrue.
“Speaking in the Dáil, Bertie Ahern, the then Taoiseach, went out of his way to say it wasn’t paramilitary-related and the IMC, the International Monitoring Commission, also said that this killing had nothing to do with paramilitary organisations but was an internal conflict of some feud between different things which this unfortunate young man got caught up in.”
Byrne: “Paul, do you want to respond to that?”
Williams [no microphone]: “That is untrue, that is untrue…”
Ó Murchú: “Read the commission, read the commission report, it says it was not connected to illegal activities…”
Williams: “That is insulting. That’s a slur on that young lad and his family again, the same way…Mary Lou McDonald has withdrawn that and you’ve just put it back into the mix…”
Ó Murchú: “I’m saying very clearly the internal…”
Williams: “Bertie Ahern withdrew it later on and corrected the Dáil. He said…”
Ó Murchú: “He never withdrew the information which had been given by the Garda Síochána, that this was not a paramilitary…”
Talk over each other
Ó Murchú: “It means that the line you’re putting out is untrue.”
Williams: “Breege and Stephen Quinn will have something to say about that.”
Watch back in full here
Previously: Passing Stools