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23 October 2008 Edition

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The fantasy world of Jim Cusack

YOU might expect bilious Sunday Independent hack, Jim Cusack, to pen fairy stories about the IRA investing and losing €200 million in the US banking collapse. But the repetition of this nonsense by the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern during the Dáil budget debate has to be some sort of record when it comes to cheap shots from a senior politician. It also shows how seriously cabinet members were taking criticisms of the budget that the third most senior government minister could indulge in such adolescent jibes.
That Ahern’s remarks were given credibility by publication in The Irish Times Dáil coverage also says much about a newspaper that would claim to be above the sensationalism of the Sunday Independent. When it comes to republicanism, however, the Sunday Independent, Irish Times and Fianna Fáil discover a unity of purpose against the common enemy.
Cusack is one if the most energetic if erratic security correspondents who have waged war against all things republican for many years. Among the most laughable aspects of his story about the IRA’s Wall Street portfolio is his reference to those “republican sources” that had provided him with the story. The notion of any republican engaging in a constructive, amicable or truthful discussion with this man is fantastic.

In recent times, various media, including the Phoenix, Village magazine, Newstalk 106 and even The Irish Times have all deconstructed nonsensical stories from Cusack about republicanism. Three years ago, Cusack wrote that “the IRA is now the largest owner of licensed premises in the Republic and Northern Ireland. It also has a chain of hotels both medium and large” and also owns “some of the top pubs in the country”. Cusack’s investigations led him to conclude that this financial operation was part of a “massive campaign to subvert the sovereign state of the Republic of Ireland, to undermine its political parties and maybe even its political institutions and constitution”. As the Phoenix remarked at the time, it is quite staggering that the Gardaí had never objected to the granting of licenses to such pubs and hotels or any other measures against this vast financial conspiracy.
Cusack’s ‘republican sources’ must have been having fun with him when he wrote in the same period about those IRA men who had robbed the Northern Bank. On the one hand he wrote that an IRA unit from Belfast, made up of “experienced older hands” and led by a vicious, sexual pervert and ex-prisoner had robbed the bank after planning it for over a year. Shortly after, Cusack’s sources led him to believe that the gang was from South Armagh; was made up of recent, young, IRA recruits and was led by a farmer in his fifties who had set up the operation five months earlier.



None of these impossible contradictions stopped Cusack from claiming that the IRA was effectively back at war and that Garda Commissioner Conroy had informed Bertie Ahern of this development, a claim that provoked a quick response from “informed government sources” - they said it was “absolute rubbish” - as reported in Cusack’s old newspaper, The Irish Times.   
A year later, Newstalk 106 (actually, Irish Times journalist, Kathy Sheridan, who interviewed Cusack on air), Village magazine and Phoenix destroyed Cusack’s claims that Sinn Féin had organised the Dublin riot in 2006. The Garda press office denied any knowledge of Sinn Féin involvement and after taking a battering on the story in the above three media, the Sunday Indo journalist again revised his investigative conclusions by reporting that well, actually, it was an RSF breakaway group in league with extreme leftists that had organised the riot.
Perhaps it was Young Fine Gael. Whatever, the obsession with republicanism had again drawn Cusack into the Brothers Grimm School of Journalism.

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