Sunday 27 June 2004
Dodgy dollar rebel who plays the patriot game
(with subsequent reply by Sean Garland see below)
LAST Sunday the BBC's Panorama told the riveting story of Sean Garland, President of the Workers' Party, whom they alleged was kingpin in a multimillion dollar conspiracy intent on destabilising the United States. Garland's certainly a stayer. Once upon a time he achieved minor fame as part of an IRA attack on Brookborough RUC which led to the death of Fergal O'Hanlon and Sean South and the birth of innumerable bad ballads. Now, 47 years later, he's a protege of China and a hero of North Korea.
Before the story, a bit of background.
Modern Irish revolutionaries are a cosmopolitan lot. Most Provos used to be stay-at-home types, never wanting to travel more than a few miles to murder someone. In their early days, only a few would kill people as far afield as England and the Continent. Then, gradually, they developed a thirst for foreign travel and set about the import-export business: Libya, for instance, was attractive enough to tempt even such a retiring creature as Chief of Staff Thomas 'Slab' Murphy out of his Armagh bunker.
Ideologically, Sinn Fein/IRA's Roman Catholic conservatism gave way to fashionable Marxism and they delighted in displaying representatives of sister terrorist organisations or fellow MOPEs (Most Oppressed People Ever) at their ard fheiseanna and festivals. Nowadays, of course, Sinn Fein/IRA drone for Ireland all over North America and the Commonwealth, Cuba, Colombia and, henceforward, Brussels, clothing a confused mixture of right-wing nationalism, sentimental internationalism, right-on Catholicism, half-baked socialism and a propensity to bang the class-war drums in language that will not frighten Irish-American conservative capitalists or Dublin 4.
The genuinely anti-sectarian Workers' Party is a more principled beast - as enthusiastically Marxist-Leninist as in 1970, when Cathal Goulding, Tomas MacGiolla and Sean Garland - under the influence of Roy Johnson and Anthony Coughlan - tried to move republicanism from violence to politics and provoked the split that produced the Provos and plenty of fraternal blood-letting. Garland was lucky to survive several republican bullets.
'Sinn Fein - the Workers' Party' dropped the 'Sinn Fein' part of their name in 1982 to signify their opposition to terrorism, but began to fracture as the pragmatists tried to bring party doctrine into line with modern political realities. In 1983 gardai found $1.5 million in counterfeit $5 dollar notes in a Dublin warehouse rented by a publishing company of which Garland was a director.
Garland thought big. In 1986, in his capacity as WP secretary general, he wrote to the secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union asking Moscow to provide £1 million to help fund his party's five-year plan and thus benefit 'the world struggle for Peace, Freedom and Socialism'.
Even the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did not rock Garland's faith, and in 1992, most WP elected representatives - including Proinsias de Rossa and Pat Rabbitte - abandoned the long struggle to bring the party to its senses and formed Democratic Left, which merged with Labour in 1999. Squeezed between DL and Sinn Fein, the WP became electorally a minnow.
But Garland doesn't give up. You can't fault the fellow for courage and idealism. The aims of his party are nothing but ambitious: 'To change the political, economic and social structure of both states of Ireland to establish a democratic, secular, socialist republic; a unitary state on the island of Ireland.' Oh, yes, and 'to transform a world which enslaves two-thirds of its people and condemns them to a life of poverty by capital, to a world of peace, democracy and socialism.'
Since the Soviet Union was gone, and the Provos had become best friends with Cuba (not to speak of old WP associates like the ANC and the PLO), the WP was a bit short of friends. Visitors to WP ard-fheiseanna in the Nineties were startled to encounter representatives of probably the most undemocratic, repressive and secretive country in the world - the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), aka North Korea.
Now, according to Panorama , US intelligence had discovered in the late Eighties that North Korea had acquired the Intaglio, a highly sophisticated printing press similar to that used by the US Treasury and their printing and engraving offices. In 1989, a counterfeit $100 note of such quality that it became known as a 'superdollar' was spotted in the Philippines and forwarded to the US secret service.
Subsequently, similar notes turned up again and again in the diplomatic bags of North Korean officials (along with businessmen, the only people allowed to travel). Balbwa Hwang, an Asian policy analyst, said on Panorama that, "North Korea has a state-sponsored programme in which it is counterfeiting US dollars, and they do so with a dual purpose: the first is obviously the profits that the regime can earn immediately; but they also have a longer-term strategy of attempting to destabilise the US economy."
A North Korean defector confirmed to Panorama that he had spent his working life counterfeiting: "We bought the best equipment and the best ink, but we also had the very best people."
US intelligence was soon on to Garland, their suspicions confirmed when in May 1997 one of their spy planes swept the Chinese airwaves: intelligence reported that, 'Sean Garland, Managing Director of GKG Comms Inter-national Ltd, in Dublin, met recently with Cao Xiaobing, Bureau Director-General within the Central Committee, to discuss unidentified business opportunities according to late May 1997 information. (Comment: Garland is suspected of being involved with counterfeiting US currency, specifically, the Supernote, a high quality counterfeit $100 bill.)'
They had a good file on Garland, said Bill Gertz, Washington Times national security correspondent, on Panorama . (In his book, The China Threat , Gertz adds that the Cao-Garland meeting 'showed how China had become the ideological leader of what was left of the world communist movement. US intelligence officials saw Communist China clandestinely supporting international communists, including those involved in international criminal activities - even those suspected of developing counterfeit $100 bills. The intelligence was unwelcome news for [pro-China] Clinton-Gore administration and was suppressed.'
The Russian Interior Police were also keeping an eye on Garland, reporting to Panorama that they had been logging for years his visits to the North Korean Embassy - the superdollar distribution centre. The British police had got on to him when they infiltrated Birmingham couriers who blabbed about Sean, 'the Colonel-in-Chief of the old-style IRA', who when they went to Moscow would organise the handover of the fake currency.
The couriers - now in jail - believe that the profits Garland made all went back into his organisation. No wonder that the WP website reports that since 1992 it 'has overcome serious financial burdens'. Is anyone asking how?
Ruth Dudley Edwards
Sean Garland responds to Ruth Dudley Edwards
Sir - In reference to the wholly distorted and objectionable article by "Dame" Ruth Dudley Edwards in your issue of June 27 in which she uses a BBC Panorama/Spotlight programme as the basis for an attack on the integrity of the Workers' Party and Sean Garland, we would like to make the following points:
1. We are pursuing through a number of avenues vindication of ourselves in regard to the BBC programmes in order to have corrected the gross slanders and lies contained in these programmes.
2. "Dame" Edwards, apart from her use of BBC fabrications, builds her article's credibility on a raving right wing anti-communist, Bill Gertz, security columnist with the Washington Times newspaper, owned by the religious cult known as the Moonies. This cult is best known for its anti-communism and its organising of mass weddings of deluded people. She conveniently forgets to mention that this Gertz has spent the last years attacking Bill Clinton and Al Gore as being anti-American and pro-Chinese communists. Gertz also adds Madeline Albright to the list as being a "liberal". This is the same Madeline Albright who as Secretary of State in the Clinton administration stated that the deaths of 5,000 Iraqi children every month was a price worth paying in the sanctions against the Iraqi regime.
3. No company with which Sean Garland was a director ever rented any warehouse in which the gardai found counterfeit US dollars.
4. The Workers' Party overcame its serious financial burdens by disposing of various assets, head office in Dublin, premises in Drogheda and Cork, if she is so concerned to know. The pragmatists, as she calls them, who left the burden of debt, were in fact better known as opportunists who sought to advance their own personal careers and in the process destroy the Workers' Party, as "Dame" Edwards so obviously seeks to do.
5. Lastly, her snide and insulting remarks concerning the deaths of Fergal O'Hanlon and Sean Sabhat and in her words "the birth of innumerable bad ballads" says it all. She has no regard for the family and friends of these two men and no understanding of what they believed in and for what they died. Long after she is dead and gone, Irish people even with "bad ballads" will remember Fergal O'Hanlon and Sean Sabhat and will honour their memory above that of a petty and small-minded individual who has nothing to offer but old pro-British establishment attitudes towards the Irish people and anti-communist drivel.
Sean Garland, Workers Party
Ruth Dudley Edwards writes: I am touched to be considered worthy of a damery, but nonetheless it's difficult to admire a party whose spokesman, Sean Garland himself, tells the enslaved masses of North Korea, whose Stalinist ruler won't let them cross the border, that theirs is "a country of which they should be proud before the world".
Ruth Dudley Edwards