October 25-31, 2000
U.S. woman forced from Belfast home
By Jack Holland
When 29-year-old Carrie Twomey arrived in Ireland from Los Angeles last
April, she had no idea that within six months she would be caught up in one
of the most bitter and potentially deadly republican disputes in years. It
recently forced her to flee her home in Ballymurphy, West Belfast, where she
was living with her partner, Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA man. Last week,
a picket turned up outside her door protesting McIntyre's criticism of the
IRA for allegedly murdering Joe O'Connor, a member of the breakaway Real
IRA, on Oct. 13.
"I don't feel comfortable going back to the house," said Twomey, who is
six months pregnant. "I don't feel safe."
She said that it was not the picket that frightened her so much as the
two gangs of men who, she alleges, were nearby, with walkie-talkies. "That
was very sinister," she said.
McIntyre and another former republican, Tommy Gorman, had published an
article in The Irish News last week identifying the IRA as being responsible
for O'Connor's murder. Though the IRA has since denied involvement, McIntyre
and Gorman spoke to witnesses who said they knew the gunmen were IRA
There were pickets also outside of Gorman's house. They accused Gorman
and McIntyre of endangering the lives of IRA members.
McIntyre denies this.
"We didn't want names," he said. "We just identified the Provisional
IRA as an organization." McIntyre claims that they published the article in
order to try and stop the Provisional-RIRA dispute from escalating into an
"We had created space," he said. But the IRA and Sinn Fein did not see
it that way.
Shortly after the article appeared, two leading members of the Belfast
Brigade came to the Twomey-McIntyre home and began a "shouting match,"
according to Twomey. They allegedly told the couple that they "would be held
to account" if any IRA volunteers were affected by what had been written.
An American reporter was in the house when the incident occurred. He
says he was in another room and did not hear any threat. However, he said
"it was a heated discussion, heard through two doors."
One of those involved in the alleged threat has a long history of IRA
activity and has been previously named by a Belfast journalist as having
A bulletin board, to which Twomey is linked, the Alternative Republican
Bulletin Board, has since closed down. Picketers outside the McIntyre and
Gorman homes attacked Fourthwrite, the magazine run by the Irish Republican
Writers Group, of which they and other disaffected republicans are members.
"We are challenging Sinn Fein only with our words," said Twomey. She
believes the party and the IRA is trying to suppress criticism of the
leadership, which has come under fire from Fourthwrite contributors many of
whom were former Provisionals. They include Brendan Hughes, ex-officer
commanding of the Belfast Brigade and hunger strike leader. Hughes was one
of the pall bearers at the O'Connor funeral.
When in the IRA, McIntyre served 18 years for murder. On his release,
he did a PhD at Queen's University. His thesis: "A Structural Analysis of
Modern Irish Republicanism 1969-1972".
He has become known for his trenchant critiques of the IRA leadership's
current strategy. He condemns the Real IRA and says he belongs to no
republican organization, though he still regards himself as a traditional
"Irish activism was always in my family," said Twomey. She said she
came to Ireland because, "I wanted to contribute something of substance."
Sinn Fein did not return a request for comment on these allegations.
(c) 2002 Irish Echo Newspaper Corp.