MOURNE LODGE HOTEL, NEWRY, COUNTY DOWN. 2nd FEB 1993. Tuesday morning.
‘I wish you a pleasant stay with us. If there is anything else you need just let me know.’ The Receptionist handed over the room key along with a guest card. He took them from her, thanked her as best he could while thinking that there was no chance of enjoying this visit. In the lift he checked his appearance in the mirror. He had removed his clerical collar before leaving West Belfast. Dressed in casual clothes he did not resemble a Catholic priest. In the room he was tempted by the mini bar for something to calm his nerves. It was 11 o’ clock in the morning so he opted for a cup of tea. The other two participants were due to arrive at 12 o’ clock. He had agreed to call each of them so that they would know the number of his room. Both calls were kept deliberately short. He sat down in an easy chair by the window. The right thing for him to do now was to pray that everything would go well when the others arrived. On this occasion he could not muster the words for pray. Next came a sinking feeling that this meeting was out of the hands of his God.
Just before 12 a double knock announced the first arrival. He had known Padraig Mc Keown for a long time. He had married him twenty two years ago to Imelda Parsons. Five years ago he had buriedImelda Mc Keown in Milltown Cemetery. They greeted as old friends would before settling into the chairs by the window.
‘Any idea at all what they want to talk to me about Father?’
He solemnly shook his head. ‘No Padraig, I do not. But you can be sure it must be very important for them to want to see you in person.’
He shifted in his seat to take in the magnificent view of the Mourne Mountains. ‘OK, fair enough. It must be 15 years since we had any direct contact with them. We will find out soon enough.’
A few minutes after 12 o’ clock came the second knock on the door. Father Mc Manus answered to a tall well dressed man who followed him into the room. Padraig stood up. The tall man made the first move by confidently holding out his hand.
‘I am Commander Jonathon Douglas of MI5.’ They shook hands.
‘I am Padraig Mc Keown. Commandant of the Belfast Brigade, Official IRA.’
Father Mc Manus now moved forward. ‘Please, Gentlemen sit down here by the window. Will you have tea or coffee?’
Jonathon Douglas replied first while he removed his overcoat. ‘Thank you Father, tea for me, please. Are there any of those little packets of biscuits?’’ The Priest confirmed that there were indeed biscuits.
Now Padraig sat down. ‘Tea and biscuits will be grand Father for the both of us.’
The two men sat quietly opposite each other as the Priest rapidly served up their tea. When he had finished he turned to Jonathon Douglas. ‘Commander Douglas, do you want me to be a part of your talks or would you prefer a private conversation with Commandant Mc Keown?’
The MI5 man looked across at the IRA Commandant before he spoke. ‘Father, your help as a go between in arranging this meeting today is more than enough. With the Commandant’s approval, also for your own safety, I suggest it is best that we continue without you in the room.’ Padraig Mc Keown nodded his consent.
‘Grand, I will leave one of the room keys here. I will be down in Reception if I can be of any help to either of you. God Bless you both.’ With these words, which disguised sigh of relief, the Priest collected his jacket. As he closed the door he caught Commander Douglas’s opening words. ‘Commandant Mc Keown. There is a matter of grave importance that Her Majesty’s Government and MI5 need your co-operation with........’
BELFAST, COUNTY ANTRIM. 15th APRIL 1993. Thursday afternoon.
Her father was waiting to meet her outside the school gates for their weekly rendezvous. From there they walked to McDonalds. After eating their meal they talked for an hour. He walked the short distance to their home while she took a bus into Belfast city centre. She got off in Ann Street close to the bar where she had arranged to meet with that new boy from school.
In Castle Lane, the first soldier simply held up his hand as signal for her to stop. His two comrades moved in closer to form a triangle around her.
She stood perfectly still. As an 18 year old senior pupil she was not obliged to wear the school uniform. She was slightly taller than most of her friends with long naturally frizzy hair. Her long term membership of the Athletics Club showed on her slim well proportioned figure. Her attractiveness frequently drew the attention of the bored young soldiers on foot patrol in the city. From her bag she produced a library card. The second soldier scanned it.
‘Miss, we need more ID than this. Got anything with a photo on it?’
She rummaged through her satchel stirring up the contents.
‘That‘s all I got on me.’
The third soldier put his hand on her right forearm. ‘In that case you will have to come along with us, Miss.’
She now became aware of the dark green military Land Rover at the kerbside. She knew well enough that in Belfast City centre no one would help her to ward off soldiers during a routine identity check.
‘Hang on a minute. Can’t you just call my father? He will be able to ID me.’
The first soldier was already moving towards the kerbside. ‘Off course we can. You can call from the station, Miss.’
She had been stopped for ID checks more times than she could recall but never been taken in to the Station. She looked again at the Land Rover. The driver was a Military Policewomen as was the passenger.
Usually her charm offensive would work with these young men who were not much older than herself. She smiled at him ‘Look I am meeting somebody in 10 minutes. Do I look like I am going to plant a bomb?’
The second soldier smiled back at her. ‘This won’t even take that long Miss. I am sure he will wait for a cracker like you.’
His mates laughed as they walked behind her to the kerb. ‘No proper ID’ said the first soldier to the Military Policewoman who was sat behind the wheel.
The passenger got out. She put on her red topped cap indicating for both of them to get into the back by opening the door. ‘Just routine stuff love. We will take you to the Bridge Street Station. It’s only a few minutes away. Have you on your way just as soon as.’
Clumsily she scrambled into the back of the well worn army vehicle. The MP sat opposite her after closing then locking the door. No more was said until they arrived at the Police Station where the vehicle came to a halt in a courtyard. There was a brief exchange of words between the driver and the well armed policeman on guard duty. ‘Here we are. Just follow me up the stairs’
They got out of the Land Rover. She walked behind the MP across the yard passing through an open steel security door. Then along a maze of corridors following the MP as she turned left or right. The Station was a hive of activity with uniformed, plain clothed police along with civilian staff moving about with purpose some of them in an obvious hurry. At the top of the stairs they crossed a small landing where the MP opened a door leading into a sparse interview room. ‘Wait in here. Someone will be along to see you in a few minutes.’
She sat down on one of the two hard back chairs with her back to the window. She was getting increasingly anxious about what was happening around her. Nothing else furnished the room, apart from the chairs there was a formica topped table. From the half full ashtray the smell of stale tobacco permeated the room. The walls appeared freshly painted with what looked like a duck egg blue emulsion. She closed her eyes to shut out the scene in front of her turning her thoughts to other matters. Her father would be home by now so he would answer the phone call to confirm her identity. He would be really angry with them for taking her to the Station. Now, she was already late for her date. How long he would wait for her in the bar? Anyway she had a great excuse for standing him up. After 15 minutes she tried the door becoming frightened when she realised that it was locked.
She sat back down this time with her back to the door. She heard the deadlock turn. A middle aged woman with dark hair came into the room relocking the door behind her. The women carried a buff file which she carefully put on the table before sitting down on the opposite chair. The woman looked across the table. ‘Hello Maréad, how are you keeping?’
She made eye contact with the woman. ‘Can you call my father – I have the number here. He will vouch for me.’
The woman opened her file holding it an angle to the top of the table so that only she could see the contents. She was in her early forties wearing a well tailored suit with matching shoes. Her hair had been recently styled. The designer watch accompanying her ostentatious jewellery gave the appearance of a successful businesswoman or politician. She looked totally out of place in the bland room.
‘No need Maréad. I already have the number. I know a fair bit about you so there is no need for any identity stuff. Those soldiers were under orders from me to bring you into the Station. You just happened to make it very easy for them. I am Detective Inspector Alison Mc Greedy of Police Intelligence Six Section. Do you know what Six Section does?’
Maréad began to unhook her satchel from the back of the chair before standing up. ‘Yes I know about Police Intelligence, Six Section. I want to leave now. I have nothing more to say to you.’
Mc Greedy raised her voice slightly. ‘Sit down. We can either talk here or if you prefer we can go down to the cells with a couple of those Army girls. They were eyeing you up when they brought you here. Do rogha (Your choice)’
She sat back down bewildered with what had just been said to her, especially the last words spoken in perfect Gaelic. ‘Beidh mé ag fanacht anseo le leat. (I will stay with you)’
‘Right answer Maréad.’ Mc Greedy reverted to English.
‘Probably best if you carefully listen to what I have to say. I will start with what you already know. You are Maréad Mc Keown who will be 19 next birthday. You are a student at Rathmore Grammar School where you are taking 3 ‘A ‘levels in Irish, Spanish and French. At present living with your father one Patrick McKeown.’Mc Greedy held up her hand so that she was not interrupted.
‘I know I know. He prefers Padraig. Your address is 23 Enniskillen Avenue, Begmore Estate. Your mother is deceased, in 1988 after a short illness. One brother Liam, age 21. Your brother left Belfast after seeing a bit of action in Newry and Londonderry. My colleagues in Three Section would really like a word with him, when he gets a minute. You have already applied to University College London to study for a degree in languages. OK. You are not, as far as Six Section is concerned, a member of any unlawful organisation or, for that matter any lawful ones. That’s if I discount the Athletics Club.’
Mc Greedy glanced up to be sure she had Maréad’s full attention. ‘Now your family is a different matter. It must be a barrel full of laughs in your house. Your father Padraig Mc Keown. He is a big cheese in the Official IRA also a diehard Commie. Then there is your older brother, Liam, a Volunteer with the Provo’s Belfast Brigade. How do you manage to keep them apart? After the trouble between these factions in West Belfast last month they must be at each other’s throats. You should be in the United Nations Miss Mc Keown not Grammar School.’
Maréad stared at her feet. The feuding between her father and her brother had built up over several months. It had started as political discussions went on to various debates, then running arguments. Next thing it is outright rows culminating with a terrible fight in their living room. When her father began to have the upper hand Liam had held him off by pulling a gun. She had been terrified that the trigger would get pulled. Her screams had brought the neighbours to the house which Liam used as enough interruption to get away. Her brother had left Belfast not because he was in any immediate danger from the Army or the Police. He believed he was now a target for the Official IRA which his father commanded in that part of the city. Her thoughts were broken by Mc Greedy.
‘I can hold you here without any charge for seven days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. For extremely close questioning. I made sure you were picked up in Castle Lane because it would be reported back by the snoops to both sides of the IRA. From your point of view it doesn’t matter which side word gets back to first but mark my words. If you spend seven days in Castlereagh Interrogation Centre they will be after you whenever I release you. Your father’s lot will think that you squealed on them. Your brother’s mates will believe that you have shopped their operations. Neither will believe what you say. So you can look forward to another nice interrogation job – if you get off that lightly. But there is another way to sort this out.’
Maréad looked up directly at the policewoman. ‘I am not giving you anything on my Dad or Liam.’
DI Mc Greedy sat still for a moment before taking something from her file. She reached across to arrange a set of five photographs on the table as if she was dealing cards. Maréad knew the four men and the woman whose images had been placed before her.
‘Here’s the deal. The Officials are planning a major bombing here in Belfast on Sunday during the Orange Parade. These five beauties are part of the Active Service Unit planning to carry it out the operation. Three devices in the City centre timed to go off as the Orange Parades go through – maximum casualties and mayhem. What I need to know is the locations of the safe houses where they are hiding along with their equipment. I will do the rest so that they are arrested before Sunday. You will not be mentioned in any connection with the arrests. Get me those addresses and the names of the other members of the Unit by Saturday lunchtime. I can guarantee that your family will be well out of this one. Also you will never hear from me again.’
Maréad moved sideways in the chair. She then lent back but again Mc Greedy held up her hand to stop her from speaking. ‘Let me finish. This afternoon you walk out of here, we will call you father to check your ID purely as a cover. You can say that you have to come back here on Saturday morning with a proper form of ID. At the front desk you can do your Identity confirmation and leave an envelope with the information inside – mark it for my attention. Then you walk away. Off course, if you don’t like the sound of that ......then I will introduce you to the ladies of the Military Police. Also I could arrange for your father to be helping us with our “enquiries”’
Maréad was confused. ‘I am not involved in any of this so I don’t see how I can get this information for you.’
Mc Greedy stood up before moving to stand by the window. ‘Come here Maréad I want to show you something.’
Slowly she got up turning around towards the window. With surprising agility Mc Greedy spun with practiced precision kneeing her hard in the stomach. She doubled up with the force of the blow gasping for air. With a fistful of her hair Mc Greedy yanked her head back speaking aggressively into her ear. ‘Be back here on Saturday with what I want or I will come after you. I have tried to be reasonable with you but don’t try me. Now tidy yourself up then get out of here.’
She released her by pushing her down onto the chair by the window. Maréad felt groggy and unwell from her ill treatment at the hands of Mc Greedy. She sat still folding her arms around the acute pain in her stomach. Mc Greedy moved to the door shouting ‘CORPORAL.’ The door was unlocked by the same MP. She looked into the room.
‘Maréad Mc Keown is leaving now. Give her a minute to comb her hair then you show her out of the building. And Corporal, make sure she goes through the main reception area where everyone can see her.’
BELFAST CENTRAL POLICE STATION. 15th APRIL 1993. Thursday afternoon.
Detective Inspector Mc Greedy sat for a few more minutes on her own in the spartan interview room. She looked again at the photographs of the suspects that she had shown to Mareád Mc Keown. She leafed through the buff file before removing the other sets of photographs she had hidden from Mc Keown in the back of the file. This series of pictures, also taken by the undercover surveillance teams were of the Mc Keown family members. She scooped the contacts back into the file arranging them in a reasonably ordered fashion before leaving.
With the file under her arm she made her way up the stairs to the secure area where Six Section was housed. Her swipe card got her through the bullet proof entrance doors. The armed uniform policeman on the other side of the entrance nodded as she briskly walked past him. Everyone on this floor knew DI Mc Greedy either by sight or reputation. She wrapped on her boss’s door once before walking into his office. Superintendent Jim Bannister looked up from his paperwork. ‘Just one minute Alison. I have to sign this off for the Chief before he goes ballistic.’
Alison sat down in one of the two chairs in front of his desk. Give it another year or two at the most then she would be sitting in Jim Bannister’s seat. She longed to be working with the upper echelons of the Police force. From numerous previous meetings in this office she had already worked out in her head how she would redecorate the room to her taste when she got the promotion to Superintendent. She got on with Jim Bannister who he was a good boss. He had helped immensely with her career development. Now all she wanted was for him to move on or over so she could have the top job in the Section.
‘Did you get a result with the Mc Keown girl Alison?’ She snapped back from her day dream.
‘Yes Sir. She got picked up earlier today the “no ID” pretext. I have just finished my interview with her. All the indicators are that she will have no option but to play ball with us. Through our informers we have anonymously tipped off both wings of the IRA. The Provos and the Officials will know by now that she has been in here for questioning. As she now knows about the planned operation on Sunday she is now a liability to them both. The only way her father can save her life is to let her have the addresses of the safe houses and the personnel involved. So, I expect her to deliver the information we need on the weekend bombing operation to be with me by Saturday morning at the latest.’
Jin Bannister sat back in his seat. ‘Excellent work Alison. As always if I may add. You are now cleared to let our contacts in the Force know that there will be work for them to do on Saturday night. Do that yourself to keep this mission as tight as humanly possible. That means no golf for me this weekend. Did you have any plans Alison?’ For the first time in the room she smiled
‘No Sir. Well nothing I cannot change. I better get cracking on this lot.’ She stood to leave.
‘Alison, I want you to be very careful when dealing with the Force. They are a bunch of murderous hotheads.’
As she opened the door to leave she looked back. ‘Don’t worry on that score Sir. We can have them by the balls any day of the week after they screwed up on the last mission.’
When she got back to her own office DI Alison Mc Greedy sat quietly behind her desk to consider the phone calls she would have to make. First she had to find a very discreet place to meet with the Force. Secondly she would have to tell her husband that she would now be on duty all weekend meaning that their 20th wedding anniversary celebrations, planned in London for Saturday night, would have to wait for another time. She would also have to call her oldest friend, from her time in the Navy to arrange another weekend to stay at her place in London.
BELFAST CITY CENTRE. 15th APRIL 1993. Thursday early evening.
Freed from the Police Station a mixture of anger and dread welled up inside her. Maréad wandered in a daze along to Donegal Square to catch the bus home. Her heart still pounded with the terrible hatred that had built up inside her which was compounded by the ache in her head after her hair was so violently pulled. She had been totally powerless against Mc Greedy’s intimidation and violence. She could only console herself in the knowledge that the odds against her at the Station were too great to fight back. If only she had Liam’s gun. She would shoot Mc Greedy with the whole magazine, all 10 bullets. No, she could use 8 bullets then keep one each for the Military Policewomen. Then again, 5 bullets for Mc Greedy would do the trick, followed by one each for the three soldiers followed by the two MPs. All 10 rounds put to good use. Everyone who had crossed her path this afternoon made to pay the full price for their involvement. Her fantasy ended when she realised that she had gone in the wrong direction. As she was now close to the Railway Station she decided on a taxi to get her home knowing her father would gladly pay. He would have been contacted by the Police by now.
She had not noticed the Ford Cortina that had followed her until she heard her name being called. She recognised both the male driver and his female passenger. Although she had not seen them in person for several months she had been looking at their photographs over an hour ago at the Station.
‘Jump in the back and we will get you home. We heard that you had been taken to Bridge Street Station.’ Malachy O’Brian pointed to the back of the car as if she wouldn’t know where the back seat was situated.
‘An bhfuil tú go maith Maréad? Raibh an t-bastards tú faoi? (Are you alright Maréad? Did the bastards knock you about?)’ It was Siobhan Doherty.
‘They did not lay a finger on me. I got stopped for a security check by the Army. I only had my library card. It was stupid of me to go into town without a photo identity. Anyway, I have to go back with a full ID before Saturday.’ Maréad sat back in the seat as the car joined the rush hour traffic.
‘Malachy go over by Donegal Pass. There are checks all along the Falls Road and through the Ardoyne. Maréad has had enough excitement for one day.’
Siobhan now turned to Mareád. ‘Who did you see in the Station?’
She knew she better get this answer right. ‘It was just one of the Monkeys that took me in. She was alright. Bitch kept me waiting for ages. I got her to call me Da and that.....’
She didn’t finish what she had been saying as Malachy shouted at her. ‘Holy Mother. You did what?’
Siobhan also said something that she did not hear. ‘Maréad, please tell me that you did not give Padraig’s phone number to the Military fucking Police. Holy Mother.’
The car was stationary in a queue at the traffic lights. ‘Malachy. Don’t swear. Padraig is going to go mad about this. What else did you say in there?’ Siobhan’s tone was one of measured calm.
‘Look Padraig is my Da right? Who else could I ask them to call? He always tells me to give them a simple answer that is easy to check. Not to draw any attention to myself. He has already spoken with them confirming I am his daughter. And they let me go, haven’t they? He will be alright about this. He will be there when you drop me home so you can check for yourselves.’
Malachy looked at Siobhan. It was Siobhan who spoke their thoughts to her. ‘We are going to call in on Cormac on the way– he is in a safe house. You can tell him what happened. He needs to know what is going on in Belfast at the moment.’
Now she turned to the driver. ‘Malachy go the roundabout way so I can check we are definitely not being followed.’ The car moved out of the traffic down the side streets driving aimlessly until Siobhan was completely satisfied that there was no tail. No one spoke until they arrived at a semi detached house in a tree lined street.
‘Wait here.’ Siobhan went around the back of the house. A few minutes later she opened the front door leading them inside the house which smelt of air freshener. They went into a front room where Siobhan began talking to the man she knew as Cormac. In the corner of the room sat a young bearded man that she did not recognise.
When Siobhan had finished convincing him had they had definitely not been followed to the safe house he turned and spoke to Maréad.
‘Hi, Mareád, how are you? You are looking well enough.’ Before she could reply he continued. ‘Look I am up to my neck at the moment and cannot deal with this right now. I really wish you hadn’t come here at this time. I need to keep Malachy and Siobhan to help out so Thomás here will take you over to my Intelligence guy for a quick chat. You probably already know him though God help me I dare not breathe his name.’
He smiled at his own joke. ‘I heard from Padraig. He said the Police called him an hour or so ago. We are all very jumpy because of what is going on at the moment.’ He turned to the younger man.
‘Thomás, drive Maréad over to Coombe Street. I have already let them know that it is just a check on her after being pulled in to Bridge Street Station. Take the Cortina that is outside but be sure not to bring it back.’
Thomás was already on his feet. He glanced at Mareád. ‘Let’s go.’
Cormac called after her.’ Luck Maith agus a bhfeiceann tú go luath (Good luck and see you soon).’
WEST BELFAST. 15th April 1993. Thursday evening.
Thomás and Maréad left in the car as instructed. Cormac now fished around in his jacket pocket to find his secure mobile. As he dialled the number that Siobhan had given him he kept both of his new comrades under close scrutiny. As he expected his call was answered after the third ring. Nothing was said at the other end - again just as he expected. He clearly spoke his codeword into the handset. The receiver replied with the correct coded response.
Now he waited. His new Chief came on the line. ‘Well Cormac, did everything go according to our plan’ Cormac continued his vigilance of the other two people in the room.
‘Yes Chief, she is on her way to the hairdressers. Should be there in 20 minutes or so’
He hated what he was doing to her but his steady voice gave nothing away.
‘Good work Cormac. And she never suspected that your team have changed sides’
He hesitated. ‘No Chief. She left thinking that we are all still under her father’s command.’ The line went dead.
The three of them sat in silence waiting for the call from Thomás confirming that he had delivered her to the hairdressers.
WEST BELFAST. 15th April 1993. Thursday, late evening.
He was about the same age as her but his attitude made it clear that they were not about to become best friends. Nothing was said on the 20 minute drive to the house in Coombe Street which was one of a row of dilapidated terrace houses. ‘Just go straight in. They know you are coming.’
Thomás pointed at the door of the house which was to be her destination. ‘Aren’t you coming in to tell them what Cormac has said about me? They need to know.’
He stared straight ahead. ‘I have got to get going. They already know who you are. You will be OK. Gach is fearr agus a fheiceann tú arís (Goodbye and see you again).’
Mareád did not return his farewell. She walked nervously to the door that he had indicated to her steadying herself before knocking the door.
A dishevelled woman in her early twenties opened the door. ‘You must be Mareád Mc Keown? They are waiting for you in the back room.’
She walked through a narrow hallway followed by the woman. In the back room was another woman about the same age as the first talking to a thin man with thick black rimmed glasses. ‘Ah, Maréad, I was told by Cormac to expect you. How’s Padraig? It is best that you do not know who we are so excuse the bad manners. Sit down here, will you.’
It was an order not a request as he motioned her towards a ladder back chair which was positioned in the centre of the room. She sat down putting put her satchel on the floor beside her.
With practiced speed the two women were behind her. Before she could move or even scream out they wound duct tape around her mouth before firmly tying her arms and legs to the chair with blue nylon cord. The man took no part in securing her. The women stood back when they were finished. ‘Faigh an stuif agus lig dúinn seo a fháil ar agus rinneadh.(Get the stuff and let’s get this over with).’
Maréad understood exactly what he had said. The two women stood on either side of her each with a pair of small garden shears. First one then the other woman began to roughly hack off her hair. When the women had finished their cutting of the sides of her hair they shifted so that one continued with the front while the other concentrated on the back. Tears came to her eyes as she wet herself from the fear of knowing what would come next. The scalping only took a couple of minutes. Now, the only sound in the room was her low groans coming from behind the duct tape. The three of them carried her on the chair through a back door leading into a small enclosed yard. From behind one of the women poured a large metal bucket of lukewarm black tar over her shorn head. The other woman emptied a pillow case of feathers onto the sticky tar. There was enough of the warm viscose liquid to cover Maréad to her waste. It stuck firmly to what was left of her exposed scalp, her skin and her clothes. Having ended her torment they carried her out into a back alleyway where she thought she was going to pass out. At the entrance to the alley they untied her from the chair. The first woman pulled of the duct tape from her mouth. Using one of the lengths of cord they her bound to a gatepost finally pulling a hessian bag over her head. She made no attempt to resist or call out for help. She heard her persecutors scurry away as she slumped down along the post to the ground.
She did not know how long she had been left there only that she could hear sirens. She became conscious of blue lights visible through the bottom slit in the hood. Now she was overcome with nausea followed by a spasm of shaking. She could do nothing to prevent herself from vomiting inside the hood. She felt herself being raised from the ground by gentle hands then the nylon cord being cut releasing her from the post. When the hood was removed she heard the gasps of the ambulance crew as they witnessed her awful condition. Holding her upright they cut of her coat taking with it much of the tar. With kind reassuring words she was put on a stretcher before she was wheeled into the ambulance. The paramedic held her hand all the way to the hospital as she quietly sobbed like a wounded animal. She would never forget the bright lights in the relative safety of the Casualty Department with the compassion of the Hospital staff as they went through their care procedures. After the injection she remembered nothing but the delirium of a clear reoccurring nightmare.
WEST BELFAST. 15th APRIL 1993. Thursday night.
As all his people had been warned about his phone being tapped he was relaxed when it rang late that evening. The call would most likely be from some sales person trying to get him to buy secondary double glazing or a pension. He certainly did not expect to hear from Father Mc Manus. He had not spoken to him since they last met in Newry when the priest acted as the go between to set up the meeting with for MI5. There was no exchange of pleasantries from the priest.
‘Padraig are you on your own?’ The question and his tone let him know this was not going to be good news.
‘Yes Father I am. I would prefer to come over to see you rather than talk on the phone.’
A moments silence before the priest realised what was going on. ‘No Padraig, you wait where you are. I will jump in the car and pick you up in 5 minutes outside your house. Is that OK?’
He agreed hanging up the phone before getting his coat with the large inside pocket. From his hiding place behind the skirting board he withdrew a brand new Glock automatic pistol along with a clip of 9 mm ammunition. As he made his way to his front door he stopped before switching of the last light. He walked back to the place by the skirting board replacing the pistol and ammunition in the concealed safe. If his life was in danger tonight he would not be able to save himself with a pistol.