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Celtic Tiger

A novel by Evin Daly


Editor: Dennis Liptrot

© 1999-2009
Registered with the Library of Congress
(ref 1-172339481)

evindaly@yahoo.com
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger (ii)

Is é oileán na hÉireann go hiomlán, maille lena oiléan agus a


fharraigí teorann, na críocha náisiúnta.

The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland,


its islands and the territorial seas.

Enacted by the People 1st July, 1937


In operation as from 29th December, 1937

Constitution of Ireland
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The sun rose gently over the oily calm waters of Dublin Bay.
Though it was mid-summer, the promise of a warm day was spoiled by a
chill in the breeze. The River Liffey, the tidal artery that splits
the ancient city in half, was swollen; its banks brimming to the top
of its granite walls, the result of the combination of a high and
Spring tide. The river’s dark waters gurgled as they mixed with the
briny expanse of Dublin harbor, temporarily shielded from the open
waters of the Irish Sea by the expansive stone arms of the
protective Bull Walls.
The morning light reflected in an orange glow off the eastern
facing windows of the city buildings. The city was quiet, its
inhabitants still in their slumber on this Sunday morning. Church
bells pealed intermittently through the silence, their chimes
marking the passage of time — it was too early for the first mass
bell in this predominantly Catholic country.
Dublin is a city in the throes of change; from a remote city
situated on the fringe of continental Europe, into a truly European
capital. Steeped in history, many of its grand buildings, notably
the General Post Office, bear the scars of the violence that
heralded the Republic’s Independence. The GPO’s six majestic
columns are still pitted from the impact of bullets and shrapnel.
The Vikings settled this city in A.D. 841 giving it its name
Duibhlinn or “Black Pool,” since modified to its present spelling.
College Green, the former seat of Parliament prior to 1804, and
Trinity College basked in the warmth of the sunlight, their facades
bleached near-white, not by sunlight, but from an intensive and
successful battle by the city to scrub away two centuries of grime
and soot.
Grafton Street, the south-side’s main shopping thoroughfare, was
quiet, it’s stores shuttered. The paved street was wet, garbage
blowing in swirls. The upper windows of the buildings reflected the
rising sun onto the street below. Two blocks away to the east the
Sunday silence was disturbed.
“Get these bastards outta here...”, Detective John Cullen
motioned to his uniformed subordinate, in the direction of the media
crews setting up on the other side of the now cordoned off section
of Dawson Street.
Cullen’s concern with the media was more for himself than the
crime scene. He had been out until some hours before getting
thoroughly plastered after what he recalled as “one bugger of a
week.” In a dark mood he glowered at the cameras, his mouth dry,
his breath putrid, as much from the booze as from the five
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 2

cigarettes he had already smoked on his ten minute ride to the city
center. In his blind fumbling to get out of the house, he was
unfortunately still dressed in the clothes he had worn the night
before, evident for all to see, crumpled and all as they were.
Shaunessy, his new side-kick, was uncertain how to handle this.
The media wouldn’t budge even if he ordered them to leave at gun-
point; they had a perfect right to be there, and Cullen knew it as
well as Shaunessy. Spic and span, he had been in the force for four
years; unlike his boss, he had little interest in drinking. His
three months with Cullen had made him aware of the danger signals of
an impending explosion of temper, so he did the right thing and
changed the subject.
“Don’t know how ya handle it boss,” he caught Cullen’s attention
immediately, who turned on him, color rising in his face lest the
young whipper snapper be referring to his fondness for the Guinness.
“Handle what?” He dared him to say it, he’d knock his block off,
if he said anything.
“Oh, dealing with crap like this day in and day out, MB&R’s
[murders, beatings and rapes]. Let’s go have a look-see.” Shaunessy
sauntered off toward the blue tarpaulin that covered the front of
the building.
“Get used to it son, you will after a time.” Brazen little
bastard, he thought, he was going to say it - he just found another
way of doing it. Cullen didn’t appreciate the inference that he had
a drinking problem. He was nothing like those losers at the AA
meeting he had attended eight years before at the suggestion of the
police human resources department. Wished he had a handful of
aspirin. Better still, a hair of the dog - maybe the Pathologist
had a flask. Maybe Jesus would appear and turn the pending rain
into wine...he’d have smiled at his wit if it wouldn’t have hurt so
much.
Shaunessy smirked, breathing a sigh of relief as he saw Cullen
follow. He didn’t want to be the lead story on the evening news —
the rookie cop who had pissed off the media.
Finding someone impaled onto the front door of the Lord Mayor’s
house on a Sunday morning was, to put it mildly, disturbing. Worse,
the television cameras had arrived before the still warm cadaver
could be removed, tagged and bagged. When a group of late night
revelers had come across the site less than an hour previously, the
cadaver had been alive; stammering in a bloody rush, his tongue cut
out, the door and the steps underneath awash with fresh blood.
A soiled note printed on what was later determined to be
government stationery was found tacked to the door. After it was
photographed in position, it was carefully removed for later
forensic examination.
It could hardly have been described as a person at all. His mind
was gone as were his fingers, cut to the stumps. His eyes, what was
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left of them, scudded around aimlessly, sightless, the eyeballs


empty of fluid, dribbling coagulated dark clotted blood onto his
deeply bruised and lacerated cheeks.
That he was alive at all was a miracle. Shock should have taken
over, driving his suffering mind into oblivion. But he was pumped
full of amphetamines, delivered intravenously, awakening his brain
to the torment emanating from his exposed nerve endings. What
distracted the media was the reptilian-like coil that lay at his
feet protruding from his abdomen like a hose. He had been
disemboweled as a parting gesture.
The ambulance which arrived at the scene carried qualified
medical personnel, none of whom knew what to do. It took the
empathy of a passing surgeon on his way home after pulling two
shifts at the Mater Hospital, attracted by the flashing lights and
his medical instinct, to put the guy out of his misery.
Administering an oddly high dosage of morphine, injected slowly, the
body slumped first into unconsciousness and, after a few long
seconds, shuddered into death. The white stumps of his fingers
stopped moving within seconds as his heart, already at the point of
seizing, froze, clenched in contraction.
The ambulance crew followed the doctor’s example after he had
retrieved a pair of heavy pliers from the building’s janitor. They
helped him lower the cadaver, vomit and blood stained, its dead
weight unyielding as they heaved and shoved, as if trying to
minimize suffering. The coroner and the forensic Pathologist on
call were not so pleased that the body had been touched at all.
Crucial evidence could have been disturbed but the surgeon was in no
mood. They were all good friends anyway, knowing each other in the
Dublin medical social circles. All knew that their plans for Sunday
lunch were shot. The surgeon was somber as he walked to his car, a
numbness spreading throughout his body as his anticipated day of
golf at Portmarnock was replaced by the unexpected emotions
resulting from his first mercy killing.
The paramedics would have nightmares for some time afterwards.
The sight of the amphetamine saturated flesh twitching as it lay on
a gurney, intestines draped over it like a huge coiled worm would
make certain of that.
Cullen’s first thought was that the hardwood door would have to
be refinished, though the holes through which the dozen or so nails
had been driven could be easily disguised, albeit putty-filled. It
would take repeated sanding to remove the body fluid stains, he
thought as he let Shaunessy take the notes. He thought the better
of asking Pathologist O’Connor for an aspirin, he looked a bit the
worse for wear himself. Everyone from the department was busy
taking photographs, interviewing the ashen faced, and quickly
sobered, crew who found the victim. They wouldn’t be able to handle
even the thought of breakfast for the rest of the day.
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“Phil,” Cullen grunted to his side-kick who wasn’t looking the


best himself as he tried to avoid looking at the body but was still
drawn to look, fascinated by it. “Phil, for fuck’s sake...”
“Yeah boss.”
“Lets go over to South Anne’s Street and grab a bite...and a
fuckin’ aspirin.”
“Right yer are boss,” Shaunessy was only too happy to get away.
He spoke to one of the interviewing detectives asking him to send
over a copy of his notes when they were typed up later. The
detective took a look at Cullen’s disheveled appearance and felt
sorry for the lad beside him and told Shaunessy he would.
“Oh for Christ’s sake, here’s fuckin Sherlock and Tonto - let’s
leave before I puke.” Cullen was watching an unmarked car arrive,
two figures emerged from it. Detective Seán Driscoll and his
partner Peter Flanagan gathered their equipment and climbed the
steps to the Mansion House front door. Driscoll nodded a grim
greeting to everyone there and made a point of ignoring Cullen
completely. He’d trained under Cullen many years before, endured
four years of Cullen’s moods and binges and got transferred to the
anti-terrorist unit, grateful that Cullen’s reputation hadn’t rubbed
off on him. Cullen would be forced into retirement soon, early at
52, but word had it that the standard of enforcement and reputation
of the Dublin police force would increase dramatically with his
absence.
Cullen glowered at his former protégé, who was dressed casually
but well. He looked just as he had been trained to look; a
plainclothes officer, he could have been mistaken for one of those
God-awful yuppies that haunted the city center pubs.
“Ungrateful little pup,” Cullen muttered bitterly, though he was
proud of him. He was aware that Driscoll’s successes had reflected
positively on him - he made sure that anyone that would listen knew
he had shown Driscoll the ropes, “and every bar in Dublin,” was the
unspoken quip that went with that boast.
Flanagan did nod in Cullen’s direction winking at him. Cullen
thought little of Flanagan, but he was a drinking buddy and a good
source of gossip when well oiled. Flanagan slouched while Driscoll
stood erect, ever attentive. If it wasn’t for his bitch physician
wife they’d still be talking, Cullen thought harshly.
“Fuck it, let’s ride,” and Cullen stomping off looked forward to
a breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausage. He could taste it already.
He hadn’t the slightest interest in the case, nor would he, until
later in the day when he sobered up.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 5

Rain fell in solid sheets onto the frothing, rumbling ocean,


reducing visibility to twenty meters. Clouds hung low, skirting the
adjacent bluffs unleashing their sodden weight on the sandy
hillsides. The seas lashed furiously at the worn beach as if trying
to drag it whole into its boiling cauldron. Men and animals alike
stayed home tonight, doors shut tight against the howling wind.
Except for three.
Mick O’Flaherty, Bobby Doyle and Seamus Malin stood at the shore
close to where they had parked their Ford Transit van. Actually it
was not theirs exactly, it had been borrowed from a dealer lot in
Dublin two hours before, not five minutes after the owner had locked
up and gone home for the evening, secure in the knowledge that his
alarm system would keep his property safe. The van would be washed,
polished, the odometer reconnected and returned before morning and
none would be any the wiser.
Bobby Doyle stood on the highest point of the dunes looking
inland watching for the unlikely approach of a visitor. His face
had a cyborg-like appearance, due to the night vision goggles
strapped to his head, which cast an eerie green glow over the
terrain as he looked through them. Using available light and
magnifying it considerably, even in this terrible weather, they
provided him with a more than adequate vista. Slung underneath his
oil slick, his right hand grasping the pistol grip behind the
trigger, was an AK-47, its lethal snout wet with rain pointed
downward at an angle to stop moisture from traveling up the barrel.
Despite the AK’s excellent reputation for robustness and
durability under extreme conditions, he would field strip it later
to remove any salt contamination or rust spots. He preferred his
gun clean at all times. Wiping the goggle lenses occasionally to
remove the rivulets of water, he gave up as it made little
difference in the torrential downpour.
They had parked the vehicle where the blacktop ended adjacent to
the beach. Sunken elongated shadows lay scattered around, the
mobile summer-homes of middle-class suburban Dublin, almost
completely deserted on this stormy night.
Malin huddled next to a hissing expanding package, an inflatable
craft similar to the ones use for search and rescue. It groaned and
popped while it expanded, bloating as if in the throes of agony.
The process took less than a minute including strapping on the
Evinrude outboard motor; a model identical to ones used by U.S. and
U.K. marine forces, it featured a 35 horsepower motor and a muffled
exhaust making it barely audible from 50 meters.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 6

On a night like this it would be inaudible from ten. They had


practiced this for hours at end in a completely darkened warehouse
until they had it down perfectly. It took both his and O’Flaherty’s
combined weight to keep it from becoming instantly airborne, its
smooth base took on all the characteristics of a wing in the rushing
air.
They ran it into the water, their momentum assisting its path
through the inner waves. The electric starter whirred and the
engine caught immediately. Thrown into gear, the blade burrowing
into the churning water, propelling the craft forward as it smashed
through the breaking waves. The gale ripped the tops off the outer-
swells filling the air with salty spray. The men paid no heed,
O’Flaherty kept the boat straight running out from the shoreline.
Malin crouched at the front of the boat, partially obscured from
view, his head thrust under his waterproof wind breaker as he
watched the hand held radio direction finder. A white dot changed
to yellow as the boat plowed onward and he depressed a button on the
stalk of the device.
Where, a second before, the tip of a green whip antenna had poked
from the depths, a small electric motor whirred below the waves and
raised a yellow strobe light which began to blink on and off
rapidly. Their ear piece radios were silent, the only time they
would hear anything was if Doyle spotted trouble. It was understood
that if they had problems in the ocean they were on their own.
Doyle would leave in exactly thirty minutes whether they returned or
not.
The beeping in Malin’s audio ear piece, which was plugged
directly into the direction finder, increased in volume. After
increasing the magnification on the screen, he indicated a course
correction and a decrease in speed to O’Flaherty who complied
instantly.
The swells lifted and dropped the boat sickeningly, so much so
that they could see but a few yards in front of them. Out of the
gloom radiated the strobe light, its yellow rays cutting like a fog
lamp into the darkness. Stopping the boat with a wave of his hand,
Malin picked up a boat hook and leaned over the prow snagging, after
the fourth attempt, the cable that was strung beneath the makeshift
buoy.
Hauling on the long aluminum telescopic handle he, despite the
chance that he might be whipped overboard by the alarmingly vigorous
vertical movement of their target, kept the restraining loop
attached to the end of the pole, wrapped tightly around his wrist.
There would be no second chances and falling overboard or failing
would bring the same terminal results.
He was glad that whoever had designed the device had the sense to
anticipate rough seas. Attached to the light, which was shining
steadily now that Malin had reset its switch, was a nozzle tipped
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 7

with a brass coupling nipple. Hugging the assembly close to his


cheek, and nearly wrenching his shoulder from its socket, he snapped
a CO2 cylinder onto the connection and twisting the valve handle to
the fully open position he released it, signaling to O’Flaherty to
back off.
The inert gas, driven by its expanding pressure as it converted
from a cold liquid to its gaseous form, forced its way downward into
the collapsed bladders below. As the men fought to keep the boat
headed into the wind, around them appeared the shapes of large
crates each resting in their own inflated floats. Each was attached
in series to the other. Malin hauled the light and its appendage
out of the water. Removing a cable clipped to the base, he attached
it to the rear of the boat to a snap clasp riveted into the wooden
engine mount.
An additional fitting was attached to the engine block, welded
solid as a backup, and he looped the cable through it, cutting his
sodden hand as he did so against the engine cowling. He didn’t even
notice as he leapt back to his bow position and waved with a
circular motion of his hand for O’Flaherty to turn the boat around.
He changed the frequency on the direction finder by depressing a
button. On shore, attached to the roof of the van, a small black
box activated, its surrounding cowling transmitting its radio
impulses seaward. All the same, the few local residents did notice
a pulsing effect on their television screens but ignored it putting
it down to the God-awful weather outside.
Returning as they had arrived, they beached the inflatable at
nearly flat out speed, tipping the Evinrude’s prop at the last
second to avoid damage. The sea washed them ashore on the crest of
a wave and left them narrowly avoiding crashing headlong into a
jutting sand dune. Behind them the crates skimmed in on their own
floats and lay scattered on the smooth sand surface.
It took the three of them to load the crates into the van, they
weighed considerably more than their size betrayed. Seven crates in
all, six feet by four by five, they would, when emptied, serve
another purpose, that of enclosing the remains of digressors.
Wrapped in cable and weighed with scrap iron, they would not be
found for many decades to come, if ever, from the bogs into which
they were sunk.
The ride back to Dublin was uneventful except for the ceaseless
inundation of rain. Had they been stopped, the unfortunate police
officers would have been dispatched of quickly, likely to occupy the
crates a tad prematurely.
Off-loading the cargo into a larger truck, the van was cleaned
meticulously and returned to the lot ready for a willing customer,
who would not notice until some time after the purchase that the
engine was shot, due to the extraordinarily heavy load and high
speed of the return journey.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 8

The smell. Nauseating - cheap cologne. The rumbling, the


vibration, made him sick to his stomach.
“Jesus!, Jesus!” he screamed, eyes wide open, he grasped the seat
in front of him. The plastic window was covered half way up with
the condensation from the previous flight. In front the in-flight
magazine had not been seated properly in its elastic topped seat
holder. The vomit bag lay drooping. Leering at him, as cold beads
of sweat formed on his brow.
Around him passengers were busy with the pre-flight clicks, tucks
and buckles, and anxious looks towards the stowed bar-cart.
“Gotta get out, got to get OUT,” he fumbled with the cold out-of-
date, and for what he cared, useless, seat belt. “Don’t wanna go,
can’t go - just can’t fuckin’ go, gotta stay here.” In a second the
restraint came loose, and he was free.
He stood, slightly off balance. Confused for a moment, he
realized that the plane, having trundled through his terror for the
past three minutes, was now silent, as it swung onto the runway. He
had time. Still had time.
Squeezing past the adjacent passenger, he stood erect and scanned
his options. The exit. The exit lay there five rows up. No-one
would think it strange. He just wanted to get off. Just drop him
here. They could go on.
The deep roar shook him, as did the patronizing “Sir, SIR, please
sit DOWN!” from the strapped in stewardesses, their instinctive
anxiety over-coming their trained demeanor. They had six hours
travel and 244 other passengers to entertain. “SIR, SIT DOWN! YOU
MUST, YOU MUST!”
The aircraft was moving now, accelerating hard down the runway.
“The wings are shaking, they’re gonna fall off!” he screamed. The
floor under his feet bucked and bounced.
Lunging for an exit, he tripped over a passenger’s feet. He
landed face-down on the thinly carpeted floor. “Didn’t they
understand?” he thought, his brain was near hemorrhaging. “We’re
going to die!”
The aluminum handle to the exit door was cold to the touch. The
red lettering, chipped and faded. “Yeah!” he sighed. He suddenly
felt weightless. A heavy clunk as the gear was stowed.
He ripped back the handle. But nothing happened. His last
thoughts were “What’s wrong with the door?” A millisecond later he
was swept screaming through the vortex as the aircraft swept upward
and he was thrown onto the wing, narrowly missing the leading
edge...
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 9

Nick Riordan awoke at 36,000 feet unsure where he was, or what he


should do next. He was in a lather of sweat, his heart pounded.
The first thing he did was pop another Valium and swallow what
remained of the large rum and Coke he had been sipping before he
fell asleep. His fellow sleeping passenger shifted and grunted. A
nightmare, a whopper. So real, so damn real. Stress. Too much of
it. Panic. Sheer panic. He nodded off again, from the combination
of the sedatives, and slept until just before the A330 landed at
Dublin airport.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 10

The marchers shuffled forward, banners held high, the booming


Lambeg drum beat set the pace. A tradition held every year on July
12, the parade wound deeply through Catholic areas of Dungannon,
Northern Ireland. Despite great progress towards a peaceful
settlement of political tensions, most notably the ratification of
the Good Friday Accord, this was the last, and most visible, bastion
of Protestant domination.
A taunt, many would say, to the inhabitants of the neighborhood,
reminded annually of their defeat by the Protestant Bonnie Prince
Charlie, or King William of Orange as he was officially known, at
the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Although it is an annual occurrence, the tradition did not start
until some 100 years after the battle. In the marchers’ minds, it
is a demonstration of loyalty to the English Crown, hence the term
loyalists. Though a colorful parade, with huge banners depicting
religious and historical motifs, marchers dressed in bowler hats and
orange sashes, batons and drumsticks twirling, to the local
Catholics it represented an archaic and bigoted image of the Orange
Order. These divergent viewpoints have been the source of much
sectarian violence and death throughout the centuries, with
Catholics as the target of vehement hatred and oppression.
This year the celebration would be one remembered, though not for
the reasons intended by the organizers. Special attention was
placed on cleaning the flags, instruments and various other
paraphernalia that the participants held dear. Marching drums
glinted in the bright sunlight, and were strung tightly, uniforms
gleamed. Their gait was proud, backs straight, faces grim. The
short sticks of the Lambeg drummer crossed and whirled as the
drummers thumped their huge drums until their knuckles bled.
Well protected by British security forces and the Royal Ulster
Constabulary, cordoned on each side by nervous young soldiers, the
throng set upon their way through an area in which they were
annually unwelcome. Protected, in antiquity by their majority
militia, for the past 30 years by an occupying army, they radiated
the confidence of the oppressor.
Among the observers were a number of inconspicuously-dressed
members of another security force albeit an offensive one. Their
presence at the celebration today was one designed to outrage.
Their faces matched those of the marchers—grim and determined. They
let the procession pass by until they were positioned to gain
maximum effect from their intended actions. Standing on the second
story of the terraced row houses, hidden from view, they each
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 11

reacted to a single cue through their walkie-talkies. The streets


were lined with British Army armored personnel carriers their
windows covered by wire armor. Overhead, at a discrete distance, a
spotting helicopter hovered, co-ordinating troop movements on the
ground. All was designed to keep the two sides, Protestant and
Catholic, apart.
A lone gunman stood on a gray slate rooftop at the end of the
street and opened fire with an automatic weapon drawing the
immediate attention of the soldiers. Bullets spat from the muzzle
of his gun, careening into the crowd, a stream of brass shells
hosing from the side of his belt fed M60E3. At 24 pounds it was not
a light weapon and its taxing recoil from a — at best precarious —
standing position did little for accuracy. But accuracy was not the
object. The forward pistol grip was more than adequate to aid in
directing the fire much as a fireman directs a high pressure hose.
The soldiers were trained to drop for cover and to protect each
other by reviewing all possible fields of attacking fire. This day
however, the carnage from the gunman drew their undivided attention,
as the marching men, and the accompanying women and children
screamed when their bodies were torn apart by the lethal hail of
copper jacketed bullets. The rounds refused to stop at the initial
impact but tore right through bodies to kill and maim those behind
them, deflecting and disintegrating off the red brick walls of the
houses that lined the street.
Return fire was at first sporadic and inaccurate, but the
soldiers, many of them veterans with two or more tours in Northern
Ireland behind them, let their training kick in, and they used the
powerful SUSAT telescopic sights mounted on their SA80 rifles to
first, find the source of the attack, and then accurately release
bursts of return fire. The squad Light Support Weapons, mounted in
the personnel carriers, were quickly brought into play.
The gunman continued firing until his ammunition was almost
exhausted and he took refuge behind a tall chimney capped with a row
of weathered aluminum TV antennas. A rope lay tied to a smoke pot
and he kicked it and it uncoiled lazily down to the ground below. A
woman, curlers tied in her hair, ran out of her kitchen door and
grabbed the rope, steadying it and holding it taut. After his
weapon spluttered out the remaining rounds, the gunman grabbed the
rope with his left hand and threw his gun back on the sling attached
to his upper body. While he swung down, the chimney exploded when
the soldiers rounds found the target...too late, as he began the
short two second descent.
The British troops began to rise from their defensive positions
while their rounds hammered the rooftop, smashing the slates to
pieces, the entire roof shuddering, as though alive, from the
massive staccato impacts. Countless empty cartridges clinked and
bounced off the pavement.
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From the second story windows on either side of the street came
another sound — that of breaking glass and the shriek of tortured
wood as heavy boots kicked through them. Muzzles of ferocious
weapons were thrust through the jagged openings — large caliber
automatic weapons, automatic shotguns loaded with deer slugs and 00
buckshot, and grenade launchers loaded with incendiary rounds. They
were supported by several strategically placed Hungarian
manufactured Gepard M3s — its huge armor piercing rounds would cut
through the personnel carriers armor as though through rice paper.
As glass tinkled onto the pavements and street, the soldiers
stopped firing and looked around them.
“Sweet Jesus, have mercy,” a young foot soldier cried, voicing
the common thought when he realized what was about to happen — his
last thought — as his head exploded, ripped apart by the impact of
several Russian manufactured 7.62mm rounds.
The barrage of death that followed would be heard throughout the
world.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 13

Nick Riordan felt apprehensive watching the crowd marching


towards him. He checked his Sony Hi-Eight video camera mounted on
its tripod nestled into the right angled corner of the houses at the
end of the street. He had set the view finder and focus on
automatic, which left him free to leave it alone without any need to
adjust it. The narrow street ensured that everything was recorded
and would not fall outside the viewing field of the lens.
Around him the red brick terraced houses lay with their doors
shut tight, many with their curtains drawn. He was alone, a visible
observer, and a worm of anxiety burrowed in his stomach. He
wondered if it was such a great idea for him to be there - what if
the crowd turned ugly? The thump of the drums got louder as they
approached, the baton twirlers who led the band threw their batons
high into the air making their way towards him, followed by the
throng of marchers. British soldiers walked along the pavement,
their eyes everywhere searching for trouble. Their heavy flack
jackets weighed them down as did their weapons which they held
muzzle earthward.
Nick jumped as he heard a rapid stutter, he recalled later, much
like the sound of an outboard engine. The sound emanated above him
slightly to his left. What happened next was burned into his memory
in slow motion. A rain of brass shells streamed off the rooftop
above him cascading onto the street around him. Rounds streaked
into the crowd of people in front of him cutting through the
marchers like a scythe in a corn field. Instruments flew into the
air as the heavy bullets caught them and tossed them aside easily.
In a comical sense it looked as if the band was throwing them away.
And then the screams started, high pitched animal sounds - primeval
screams of pain and death.
Looking up, blue smoke wafted from where the muzzle must surely
lie, occasional smoke rings puffing into the air. Time seemed
suspended. Nick stood, a frozen witness to this event, watching as
people panicked, turning to escape only to run into others behind
them who were pushed forward. The result being that nobody went
anywhere. Nick watched horrified at the scene and saw the soldiers
drop down aiming their weapons in his direction. In panic he
stepped backwards raising his hands to show that he was not
responsible, that they didn’t have to shoot him.
He was staring death in the face, bracing his body for the impact
of the rounds that were being aimed at him, when a door opened
behind him and a large hand dragged him in by the scruff of the
neck. He was tossed unceremoniously into a small hallway and the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 14

door was slammed shut. In the semi-darkness, he looked up and saw a


grim faced man look down at him. Without hesitating, the man
grabbed Nick by the arm and pushed him towards the back of the house
shoving him into a closet underneath the stairs.
Nick caught a fleeting glimpse of a picture of the Sacred Heart
on the hall wall, a dim candle bulb burning underneath it -
incongruous given the circumstances.
“Under the stairs - quickly or you’re a dead man,” the man urged
in a thick Belfast accent. They both had barely crashed to the
floor when the first rounds of return fire slammed off the concrete
exterior walls like hammers, a few splintering the front door as
they passed through, finally stopping, embedded inches from Nick’s
head in the stairs above.
He could hear the rounds slap into the tiles above him on the
slate roof disintegrating them, followed by the sound of their
remains shattering on the pavement outside as they slid away from
their moorings. One of the front window panes clinked when a stray
round punched through it, gouging a large hole into the living room
wall. Nick and the stranger lay huddled together, like brothers, in
the darkness of the stairwell as they waited in anticipation for the
front door to burst open. The soldiers were sure to follow. Nick
heard a thump at the back of the house, and a shout of thanks issued
while someone hurried off. The firing stopped suddenly.
Through the sounds of suffering Nick could hear another sound,
that of glass breaking outside. A second later a fusillade of
gunfire rang out - single booming shots mingling with the rip of
automatic fire. Outside the doorway, bodies thumped at the door
clawing at the wood trying to escape the mayhem. The front window
smashed, hands reached in, blood streaming from cuts inflicted by
the jagged glass. A few lives were saved that day by acts of
compassion - but not in that house. A tall man strode in from the
kitchen, dropping his M60 on the floor, a heavy dark pistol in his
hand. He strode to the side of the front window his features
highlighted by the light steaming in. A long scar ran down his left
cheek. With a determined look on his face he raised the gun, and
taking careful aim fired slowly and deliberately through the window.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 15

Nick wanted to scream at him to stop, but his sense of self


preservation wouldn’t let him. The man continued firing, plucking
off targets as if at a shooting gallery until the breech of his
pistol sprang open, empty. When he turned to reload, Nick could see
his face more clearly and saw that he was smiling - enjoying his
work as an executioner. The living room reeked of cordite and blue
smoke hung in the air — he quickly reloaded and continued his deadly
work. Nick watched in fascination as the spent cartridges spun from
the breech clattering off the walls leaving a mark. One fell beside
Nick and he picked it up - it was surprisingly hot, its rim
tarnished from the explosive heat. In time the guns fell silent
outside, the screams were replaced by the moans of the wounded.
Intermittent shots rang out as the attackers finished off those who
showed signs of life.
The gunman disappeared as quickly as he had arrived, taking his
discarded M60 with him, his eyes intense but seemingly ignoring Nick
and his companion — perhaps not even seeing them, so focused was his
expression. In the silence, Nick noticed that the man beside him
was shuddering, convulsing as he sobbed.
“May Jesus forgive them,” he repeated over and over. Rising from
his crouched position the man, who have given Nick shelter,
staggered and lurched to the living room, quickly picking up the
empty casings that littered the floor and furniture. Stopping, he
remembered that Nick was there and said,
“Ye better leave before the soldiers come and rip our houses
apart - go now,” he drawled, pointing to the rear door.
Nick bumped his head on the stairs as he rose. He hesitated, not
sure what to do or say.
“Thank you,” was all he could manage.
“There’s a lane at the back of the house,” the man responded
sniffing, “get out that way and get the hell away from here.”
Nick started for the rear door but stopped abruptly. He wanted
to run, to vomit the evil he had witnessed, but he wanted his camera
more.
“Jesus,” he kept repeating to himself, afraid of the sight that
might greet him in the front of the house. He made up his mind and
wrenched open the front door. A body slumped into the hallway, but
he ignored it focusing solely on where he had left his camera. He
stepped gingerly over other bodies and picked up the camera where it
lay on the pavement - the motor still whirring in its casing.
Automatically he dismantled the tripod and removed the camera. Only
then did he allow himself to look up.
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Words could not describe the carnage that lay all around. His
stomach could take no more as he vomited explosively onto the street
where bodies lay heaped. Further up, men walked around through the
fallen, guns extended. Nick ran for the door knowing that he would
be an easy kill should any of them see him. Unfortunately one did,
a very important member of the group, who also saw Nick holding his
camera — he shouted an urgent command into his radio handset. In
one of the windows over looking the street, a still camera
documented the systematic extermination. Its operator responded to
his leaders command and swung the lens, zoomed in, and snapped off a
quick photograph of Nick, catching a glimpse of him as he picked up
his equipment. Another gunman raced after him, his progress
hampered by the sea of bodies that filled the street.
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Nick kept a constant nervous check on his rear view mirror as he


sped south on the A 1 motor way. He stayed within the speed limit -
barely, and kept in lane the whole way to the border, never passing,
except where necessary, the odd farm vehicle or tractor blocking his
way. He had thought of crossing by another route but decided
against it. Instinct told him to get to familiar turf as quickly as
possible.
As he entered Newry, the obvious presence of the British troops
and heavily armed police alarmed him, as did the numerous armored
jeeps, anti-grenade skirts draping the undersides, protecting
against the very real menace of a casually lobbed molotov cocktail
or, in rarer cases, a bonafide grenade. The use of nail bombs had
diminished over the years — normally a beverage can filled with
home-made explosives wrapped with 12 inch nails, held together with
electrical tape or wire - these crude devices, when they didn’t
explode in their maker’s faces, were capable of gruesome results as
they scattered their scything projectiles in all directions. The
skirts were rigid enough to deflect these devices and were a
sufficient deterrent, their successful protection had made attacks
not worth the effort.
Despite the casualness of the flapping canvas roofs of the jeeps,
the soldiers preferred them that way. The lack of protection from a
rifle attack was made up for in the ease of exit - the jeeps were
stripped down to the bare necessities. At the moment of opening
fire, the attacker could quickly become the prey as these highly
specialized and trained troops dove headlong from their jeeps,
searching for their target before they hit the ground.
The police looked ordinary enough - the Royal Ulster
Constabulary, or RUC as they were called. They directed traffic and
patrolled the streets as a normal cop would. However, their upper
bodies were draped in heavy flack jackets and they carried fully
automatic weapons held at chest level ready for instant use. On
their patrols through troubled neighborhoods, they walked their beat
with a company of soldiers who walked and ducked and scanned, the
cop oblivious to their presence as he made his rounds.
The police station in the heart of the town was on steel stilts
and its walls were encased with corrugated iron. Draped over the
entire assembly was a rocket proof mesh netting added over the
years, reflecting experience. Nick proceeded through the town,
nudged along in the noon traffic. His eyes, though hidden under his
dark glasses, were alert, flickering left and right, looking for
signs of danger.
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As he emerged, he passed a tractor and trailer filled with


manure, judging from the stink wafting from the load. The traffic
was light and it took him but a few minutes to reach the border
south of the town. A soldier waved him to stop, and as he pulled to
a halt he lowered his driver-side window.
His gut tightened as he watched two soldiers, one on either side
of the car, train their SA 80 rifles right at him. The corporal,
rifle held at the ready, its wooden butt scraped and dented from
use, walked to the front of the car and looked at the license plate
and spoke into the microphone of the walkie-talkie hanging from his
jacket. Shouting to Nick, he ordered him, in a clipped British
accent, to turn off the motor and to throw the keys onto the top of
the dashboard.
“Keep yer hands on the top of the wheel where I can see ‘em,” he
growled. Nick’s heart pounded in his chest as he waited and tried
to appear unfrazzled.
The air was cool but his armpits pumped sweat down his shirt in
copious nervous quantities. He desperately wanted to change his
glasses to his regular clear ones to reduce, he thought in his
anxiety, the appearance of being a gangster - anything to ease the
process of getting through. The corporal stared over Nicks head as
he listened to a response blurt from his radio set slung from his
belt.
He nodded to the soldier outside of Nick’s window and the man
reacted quickly, walking to Nick and stopping, his rifle barrel an
inch from Nicks right ear.
“Out of the car — take the keys,” he ordered.
Nick complied slowly, aware of the soldier who followed his every
movement without once removing the gun from his head. As Nick stood
outside the car, the soldier ordered him to the rear, keeping the
keys held in his right hand, his left behind his head.
Nick glanced around him and saw that the soldiers on the road
comprised only a fraction of those who lay in the fields around him.
All of them lying on the earth, rifles pointing at him. He felt a
numbness spread through him and his alertness rose to crystal
clarity as he walked the few steps to the trunk.
“Open it and stand back four paces,” his shadow ordered.
Fumbling with the keys using one hand, Nick opened the lock and
the trunk creaked open on its restrained springs. In the darkness
inside lay his backpack containing a change of clothes, some
personal effects and his video camera. Slung beside these, the
silhouette of his tri-pod poked out at an odd angle, one leg jutting
upward as it was when he threw it in there in disturbed haste barely
an hour before.
He was told to take the bag out and to remove his effects laying
them on the street, where they lay unexamined for some minutes.
While he was waiting, he offered his identification which the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 19

corporal accepted without a word. Soldiers, appearing to emerge


from nowhere, went through the car carefully and melted back into
the surroundings after reporting their results to the corporal. The
gun never left his ear.
Behind them a line of cars waited their turn. Their drivers
gawked at his plight until they realized that they were next.
Eventually the corporal’s radio squawked again and he walked to
where Nick was standing.
“Pick up the video camera and turn it on. . . WAIT!...until I
tell you!” he roared, as Nick reached down to where it lay. Nick
could see the soldier smile out of the corner of his eye, his
tension eased obviously by a signal from his superior and enjoying
Nick’s discomfort immensely. They backed away from him putting the
car between them and Nick before he was told to proceed.
Nick did so, slowly, making pains to keep his actions deliberate
and visible. He slid the switch on with his forefinger and the
camera whirred to life. He was told to place it on top of the car
and to stand away. The corporal looked closely at the tape
mechanism inside without touching it and seemed satisfied that it
was indeed a working device, not a dummy rigged with explosives.
He told Nick to re-pack his things and replace them in the trunk.
As he walked up to Nick, his papers in hand, he asked Nick his
business in Northern Ireland. Nick mumbled something about a
business trip to Belfast. Hardly listening to the reply, the
officer, waved him back into his car and with a hand signal he
indicated to the next car in line to prepare to move forward.
“I hope you enjoyed your visit,” he smiled pleasantly at Nick, as
if nothing had happened in the 5 minutes that had passed, and handed
Nick his papers back.
The soldiers moved away from the car, though not lowering their
guard, and Nick pulled away, relief flooding through him. Through
his window he heard the radio squawk again but the words were lost
as he increased his speed. Entering the no-mans land between the
British and Irish border posts he heard a shout behind him but it
was lost as he turned a bend in the road.
He was waved through the Irish side, the policeman, acknowledging
the rental sticker on the windshield and not wanting to bother
tourists, smiled at Nick and bade him a good day.
Nick was bathed in sweat as he turned on his radio. Glancing in
his mirror he saw a British army jeep, lights on, pull up beside the
Irish post, its occupants spilling from the doors. Nick stepped
harder on the accelerator fearing trouble. This was confirmed as
Nick saw the Irish policeman gesturing toward his disappearing car
and talking urgently into his hand-held police radio.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 20

“This was not, I repeat, this was not an IRA mission, nor was it
carried out with the support or the knowledge of the army council.”
Gerry Adams pursed his lips, biting his upper one as he chose his
words carefully. He continued,
“Nor was it undertaken by any renegade members of the
organization, I can personally vouch for this.” How he could do so
he did not elaborate on, but the grim set of his face reflected the
anger of the investigation he had undertaken hours previous — the
result of which produced nothing out of the ordinary. As head of
the political arm of the IRA, Sinn Féin, translated as “ourselves
alone,” he was a man of considerable power, politically, and some
said, subversively, though there was no proof that he was involved
officially in any way with the organizations more violent sister’s
illegal operations. Since the advent of the peace agreement, Adams
had kept an exceedingly tight rein on any violent activities.
Anyone who had crossed him, who threatened to break the cease-fire,
was simply ‘shopped out’ to the authorities and went to jail. They
should have been grateful for the kind consideration. Previously,
they would have been shot out of hand.
Arms caches were all present and accounted for and the
significant store of American manufactured Stinger SAMs — surface to
air — shoulder fired missiles lay sealed in the small church
graveyards where they had been placed without the permission of the
crypt’s owners. Good Catholics, they would not have minded, many
had died fighting the British. Every few months or so the SAM’s
were removed from their cases, the power supply checked and all
surfaces thoroughly cleaned to prevent water damage from the damp
enclosure. They were boxed in coffins, which aided in their
hiding. They only worry was that some of the graves were old and
the coffins new. The damp soil was not known for its mummifying
properties.
The equipment was being kept for the time when they were
absolutely needed as a lever or a defense of last resort. Much
excited discussion had been undertaken in the IRA army council about
using them as soon as they had been received, however, the
commandant had overruled any such suggestion. With the patience
that was his trademark, he explained that the few rockets they had
would indeed shoot down British helicopters.
However, it would be a short lived psychological victory without
further supplies. Re-supply was out of the question for the
present, due to pressure brought to bear in the U.S. by the British
and Irish governments and the use of U.S. military satellites.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 21

SAM’s couldn’t be neatly tucked away and brought in as hand luggage


off a plane. They needed space. And that required using a plane or
a ship. U.S. satellites, at the request of the Irish and British
governments, tracked suspect ocean vessels from origin to
destination, the information was relayed ensuring that a successful
intercept could be made.
This had been successful many times. In one case in September
29, 1984, the Marita Ann, a smaller trawler onto which arms had been
trans-shipped from a larger vessel the Valhalla, was captured by
Irish Navy. Two Navy vessels had been waiting for the ship off the
Kerry coast, the trawler loaded to the gunwales with arms and
ammunition. U.S. intelligence had tipped off the government when
one of its eyes-in-the-sky had peered downward as the Valhalla crew
had made no effort to pretend that they were in fact a fishing
vessel. The crew spent hours firing weapons of varying sorts — all
of which was recorded on video tape at a download site, CIA
headquarters, Langley, Virginia.
Libyan supplies were also dwindling, and consisted mostly of AK-
47’s, ammunition, C4 explosives, and detonators. A recent shipment
had yielded a crate-full of intact night vision goggles and rifle
laser sights, which had been recovered by a Muslim group, from a
disabled NATO personnel carrier, during the Bosnian war.
The bottom line was that the ensuing escalation of conflicts
would negate the short term benefits — in the words used by the
commandant “we might drop a few ‘copters but we’ll never get the
opportunity again. We can only do it once.”
The reporters at the bottom of the steps of the Sinn Féin
headquarters in Mountjoy Square in Dublin were well aware of the
power of the man who stood above them. As the head of the political
wing of the IRA, it was rumored, but never substantiated, that he
had originally been head of the outlawed force before moving to
politics. He was largely responsible for the current peace process
having tempered his military counterparts’ ambitions in explaining
the futility of further armed struggle, which was gaining little
ground and only served to strengthen British resistance to
negotiating with what they called terrorists. U.S. intervention had
been made possible only after a clear demonstration of a sustained
cease-fire and a sympathetic President. President Clinton’s
predecessors had been too closely aligned with Britain, who they
regarded as an vital strategic partner, until the fall of the Iron
Curtain, to have any demonstrable interest in getting involved with
what was always termed an unsolvable conflict.
Now at this stage, despite a setback with bombs in London, Gerry
Adams enjoyed the fruits of being a true political representative,
with travel restrictions lifted from entering the U.S. and raising
funds there for his evolving political machine. He had even been
present in the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, for the second
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 22

time in four years, marching up Fifth Avenue with a security


contingent of U.S. operatives. So great was his power in Irish
American areas that the police offer to protect him was rejected —
his own forces were more than able to provide adequate protection,
though many were comprised of armed retired or off-duty cops.
Political figures sympathetic to Ireland’s woes turned a blind eye
to fund-raising efforts and rallies, secretly glad of the mud being
cast in Britain’s eye.
Despite his appearance of being alone on the step tops, aside
from an aide who kept notes and recorded the proceeding, no one else
was visible. However, behind him, on the other side of the
deceivingly ordinary front door of the building on the shabby West
side of Mountjoy Square — a door reinforced with a full 1/2 inch of
steel much to the angst of the fashionable Georgian society who
oversaw the restoration these architecturally significant buildings
to their former glory — was a security presence comparable to any
the British Prime Minister could boast of. In fact, the entire
building was thus reinforced against rocket attack - a veritable
fortress. Behind the door and in the upper stories were an armed
contingent watching the crowd outside, but paying even more
attention to the surrounding rooftops across the square and the
pitched roof of the Rotunda Hospital that lay directly across the
street. These soldiers were among the full time staff of the IRA,
protection was their business and their skills would equal those of
any of the world’s more legitimate security forces. They, like many
of their associates, had trained in the Middle East, others in
Libya.
In the midlands of Ireland, on run down estates, in the vast
tracts of private property that lay there, they trained new recruits
in the ways of urban warfare. Many had been the instruments of
assassination for politicians and of patrolling British soldiers -
laying in wait in some cases for two full days, motionless on a
rooftop or under the eaves of a building roof, until their target
presented itself and, in a crack of fire, fulfilling their mission.
They were capable of remaining in the open country for days, hiding
out when they were on the run after a mission. Copying a ploy used
by the North Vietnamese during that 60’s conflict, they would dig a
hole in the earth and cover themselves with a camouflaged trapdoor.
They would wait there for as long as it took for the searches to die
down. Sometimes patrols would walk right past them — even the dogs
didn’t smell them due to the added precaution of adding cow dung to
the burrows entrance. The British field troops could have learned a
thing or two from them — and sometimes did, with fatal results.
The reporters pressed hard looking for signs of a crack in his
composure, but were unsuccessful. Adams fielded each question,
ignoring no one. The crack-down, that had already started,
threatened to ignite the fervor of nationalists on both sides of the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 23

border and could lead, as it had often threatened in the past, to


outright civil war.
“Let me conclude by saying this,” Adams summarized, “I repeat,
that the IRA nor any faction was involved in this outrage. The IRA
has informed me that they will conduct an investigation of their own
and will get to the bottom of this. I appeal to all to stay calm in
spite of the aggression being shown by the occupying troops in the
North. I appeal to our Unionist neighbors to avoid retaliation for
an act that we did not commit. I extend to them the opportunity to
meet and work together to find this new aggressor and to hunt down
those responsible. Finally, I have given instructions to the
Northern Irish Aid Committee trustees to offer whatever financial or
economic assistance we can to the Protestant families of those who
died on this darkest of Irish days.”
With that he turned and walked to the front door, which opened
automatically before him, and he was swallowed up by the darkness of
the hallway.
As he entered his plainly furnished office, decorated with
posters of republican propaganda, he barked an order to his
assistant. His phone rang as he sat behind his desk and a secretary
announced a call from the U.S. Ambassador in Dublin. “I’ll take
it,” he responded and eased his frame to sit more comfortably in the
clear plastic covered seat. It creaked as he leant back on it and
he stretched his legs beneath the metal desk. He was tempted to
light his pipe but decided to keep that pleasure until he had
concluded this call.
“Gerry?” a female voice queried.
“Jean, what can I do for you?” Gerry answered, his eyes focused
on the ceiling above him.
“I just finished watching your press conference. The President
called me a few moments ago. He wanted me to convey to you his
absolute revulsion of what happened...”
“You’re speaking to the wrong person Ambassador. You would know
that if you had listened to my press conference. This had nothing
to do with us.”
“Oh, come on Gerry, it had all the hallmarks of an IRA attack,
and denial is the typical first response after any assault by your
military wing. The call to the newspapers afterwards used one of
the IRA code words.”
“Jean, it wasn’t one of ours,” Adams responded calmly. “I have a
lot to do to avert further tragedy, as I expect the unionist
paramilitary to respond in kind if I don’t take immediate action. I
would appreciate whatever support you can give at this time of need,
and I will keep you apprised of progress resulting from our
investigation. Until then there is nothing more for me to say —
Good day Ambassador,” and he immediately regretted hanging up, but
his patience was growing thin and action was now a necessity.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 24

His assistant stuck his head around his office door and was about
to say something when a figure pushed the door open and walked in.
“This isn’t the friggin Dáil,” the visitor growled at the
startled assistant, as he walked to a chair and sat opposite Adams —
the Dáil being the Irish seat of government. The two men
acknowledged each other with a nod and the visitor opened the
conversation.
“The shit is about to hit a very large fan any second now Gerry,
so what do ye want?” he said, lighting a cigarette and inhaling a
long puff. He exhaled through his nose, large clouds of blue smoke
billowing onto the front of his open parka jacket.
“Liam, we have to fight this on a political level...” Adams
started. His visitor snorted in contempt and leaned forward,
slamming his fist on the desk top, crushing his cigarette between
his thick fingers.
“Political my arse!” he shouted, “the British army is kicking
down doors and hauling my people off to camps — internment is back
Gerry. The Unionists are planning a response equal to what happened
today, just as I would if the tables were reversed. This is no time
for politics — they’ll use this opportunity to try to wipe us all
out...”
“Which is why we can’t react,” Adams cut in. “Liam, if we do
anything we will confirm without doubt that the accusation is true —
we will be held to blame for today’s action, and that is all the
excuse they need to begin to let their hounds loose and wipe us out.
We can’t react even if they do attack us.”
“Bollix!” his visitor responded, though calming himself knowing,
that Adams was right. “What do I tell the people in Belfast if they
see their families torn asunder — going out and poking a flower in
the soldiers rifles will only result in their getting their heads
shot off.”
“You’re right,” Adams conceded, “but we have to focus our efforts
at finding out who did this. Have you heard anything?”
“Not a whisper. We can’t even speak to the people of the street
— they’ve all been carted off for questioning. A woman on the
adjacent street saw one of the attackers chase someone down their
street. She described him as looking just like one of our men -
mask and all. Even our own don’t believe us — she told the woman I
sent over to clear off and never to come back! There was mention of
a civilian getting away in a car with a Dublin registration, but for
all we know that could have been one of the marchers...”
Adams interrupted him and picked up his TV remote control,
raising his hand to silence his guest. He turned on the television
just as the early evening news began.
The announcer was in mid-sentence, “and the British army allowed
our reporters full access to the scene on condition that we
broadcast our footage just as we filmed it. The following images
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 25

are extremely graphic, please turn away if your are of a weak


disposition.”
What followed were two minutes of videotape footage of the
slaughter, bodies piled on top of each other. People of all ages
sprawled in the agony of death — indescribable mutilations,
shattered bodies, dead eyes staring blankly. Above all was the
blood and the stench of death, portrayed by the revulsion in the
reporter’s face as he attempted to provide a commentary, but
failing, having to move out of the picture sick to the stomach at
the sights and smells.
“Reaction from Downing Street has been swift with a crack-down on
all public travel. The border is closed and will remain so until
further notice. Additional troops have been pouring in by air
throughout the afternoon. Despite denials by Sinn Féin leader Gerry
Adams, unionist leaders have been quick to lay the blame for this
attack squarely on the IRA. Both the British and Irish governments
have been uncommonly quiet, citing “no comment” when approached for
a statement as to the perpetrators. Meetings at the highest levels
are currently underway between the British and Irish governments at
Number 10 Downing Street.”
The voice trailed away as further footage showed the remains of a
downed mangled helicopter - caught unawares by a few rounds from a
Gepard — and burned out scarred personnel carriers. Adams was about
to turn off the set when the announcer broke in. “This just in...”
the announcer was handed a script sheet from the side of the studio.
“A photograph received anonymously by the Irish police moments ago
shows someone whom they believe to be one of the attackers.” An
image flickered onto the screen as the technician adjusted the
focus, showing a man crouched, his features not sharp but clear
enough to show a receding hairline and a mustache. He cradled
something in his arms — it could have been a rifle but again the
sharpness of the image was not there and whatever he was holding was
pointing at the camera lens giving a front profile. “A car was
reported leaving an adjacent street at high speed - a gray Renault
21 with Dublin plates. There is some confusion, but the police have
issued a request for any information to be called directly to their
hot tip line. The suspect is believed to be armed and extremely
dangerous — viewers are cautioned to stay clear if they come across
him and to immediately call the police.” A toll-free number followed
for viewers to call.
“There’s your lead, Liam,” Adams pointed at the set with the
remote control. “Find him, before someone else does and we’ll have
a shot at getting out of this mess clean — and make sure he’s alive
and kicking, a dead man won’t help us here.”
The visitor got up from his chair and walked from the room
without saying a word. Adams lit his pipe and puffed on it
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 26

wondering if his visitor, lifelong friend and the head of the


Provisional IRA, would be able to track this guy down.
Liam O’Morochu made a few calls from his car phone and within
minutes operatives all over the country were receiving instructions
in tracking the gray car. He dispatched an operative to talk again
to the woman on Bedford Street to see, even at the risk of
inflicting pain, if her memory would improve and provide details
missed in their earlier talk. A call to the police yielded him a
copy of the photograph which he collected himself from Police
Headquarters front desk in Harcourt Street.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 27

The phone call disturbed him. The front desk had called to tell
him that the gentlemen he was expecting were on the way up. Nick
had asked who they were — he wasn’t expecting anybody. Not many
people knew he was in town. The phone had been hung up abruptly
before the receptionist could respond.
Nick pondered his position. What was he going to do? He
couldn’t call the police, could he? Where to go? The airport or
any of the ferry ports was the ideal answer, but his mug shot on the
television evening news had put pay to that.
He looked over at his video camera lying on the hotel room
credenza and caught his own reflection in the mirror hanging behind
it. His stubbled face needed a shave and a scrub, but it would have
to wait. Clenching his jaw tightly, he mentally reviewed his
inventory and decided what to pack and what to leave behind. In his
case he had a backpack, which he used when filming, to store his
camera, tapes and batteries — it would have to do.
The hotel in which he was staying was situated in the heart of
fashionable Dublin 4 — Jury’s Hotel — well known in tourist and
business circles. Attached to the main reception area was a luxury
accommodation wing — the Towers — of eight stories, popular for its
exclusivity, though at a price. The cost ensured that the corridors
were quiet and the amenities were what an international traveler
would expect. A week in the place would have paid Nick’s mortgage
for a month, he mused when checking in.
Everything fit tightly into his waterproof backpack, including
his video camera, which he dropped in a plastic shopping bag to
protect it from dampness. He surrounded it with his clothes and
settled it neatly into the middle of the pack. From the marble
tiled bathroom, he took a small wash-towel with the hotel’s logo on
it and wrapped it around the camera for extra protection. He left
his suits where they were in the closet and dropped his remaining
belongings into his suitcase, which he slipped into the closet
behind the suits.
He picked up his rental car keys and flicked the key-ring
upright. Reaching for the phone he called the toll-free number
printed on the key-ring. Giving the reservation number to the
answering gentleman, he explained that he had to leave at short
notice and that he would leave the car where it was in the hotel
parking lot and drop the key into a mailbox.
“Er, sir, you could leave the key at the reception desk,” the
reservation agent probed.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 28

Quietly Nick explained that he was in a terrible rush and would


mail it. “You have my credit card if there’s any problem,” he told
the man.
“Very well, sir, it’s a little unusual, but that will be fine.
Have a pleasant...” Nick hung up on him, checked the room quickly
and, out of habit, looked over the bathroom. Nothing was amiss,
though he longed for a shower and a shave.
Pausing by the room’s door, he checked himself before opening it.
He stood quietly for a second and switched off the hallway light.
There was a cover on the peephole, which he slid aside slowly so as
not to make a sound. Raising his eye to the lens, he squinted to
make out the view of the hallway outside.
Peering through the fisheye lens he saw that the hallway was
clear; the doors to the other rooms were shut tightly. He could see
the remnants of leftover room service outside a few of them, but
nothing else.
As he was about to turn the handle, the phone rang. A shrill
electronic beep. He felt a chill on his back as he realized that
his unwelcome guests might already be in the elevator. Access to
these suites was restricted. Each guest had to use a digital key
card to swipe their entry from the lobby below, to call the
elevator, and gain access to the floor of on which he was staying.
However, it was token security as there were no security personnel
in these areas to check each person.
Who the hell was calling him? He walked a few steps to the
bathroom and picked up the extension there. “Hello?” he said,
trying to sound groggy as if he had been awakened from a deep
slumber.
“Nicky? Hi big guy,” his mother’s voice cracked over the line.
“Mom,” he interrupted, “Mom, I’ve got to catch a plane right
away, some urgent business has come up in London.” He lied.
“But, Nicky, you didn’t come to see us! Oh, your dad is going to
be very disappointed.” She paused for a moment and her instinct told
her — “Nick, is there something wrong?”
Nick was silent for a moment and thought about what he should
tell her. Both of his parents were elderly and had been looking
forward to seeing him, as it had been some time since his last
visit. The hotel wasn’t more than fifteen minutes by car from their
well appointed home in Foxrock, a popular, though his mother
thought, over-rated, and tired suburb of Dublin. Leaving without a
good reason was close to impossible. She knew him too well to lie
convincingly, and he did not want to worry her.
Compromising, he told her that he had a call from a client who
needed to see him in London first thing in the morning. A new
client, his office had set it up and faxed him the details earlier
in the day. He would be back soon and he told her not to worry.
Hanging up, he muttered, “Love you,” into the phone. That disturbed
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 29

his mother, because he hadn’t said that to her for over twenty
years, it was very unlike him. She shrugged it off and went into
the living room to inform his dad of the news.
Sitting on the edge of his bed he wondered what to do next. How
should he exit the hotel? Going through the front lobby was too
obvious a trap. Walking over to the heavy curtains, he peered
outside at the balcony to check for an exit that way.
His heart froze and he was paralyzed with fear at the sight that
beheld him. Inches away from his face stood a heavy set man, his
back to him, assisting a second man over the balcony railings
silhouetted against the hotel lights. Both were dressed in tight-
knit dark woolen pull-overs, and what scared him most wasn’t the
sight of the shapes, or the guns that were slung over their
shoulders, but the tight ski masks that hid their faces.
Very carefully, Nick stood back from the window and let the
curtain fall back into place. He reached out with his hand and
smoothed the cloth. Blood pounded into his temples as his heart
raced. He felt panic rise in his throat as he inched away from the
window. The edge of the bed caught the back of his knee and he
staggered, reaching out with his right hand and catching himself
before he lost his balance completely. He felt the crumpled quilt
material beneath his fingers. He stood there, listening intently
and he felt his face blush with a surge of anger as he tried to
control his emotions.
Moving quickly to the room door, guided by the light that shone
through the still-open peephole, he thrust his eye to the aperture
again. Still nothing outside. Grasping the door handle in his
right hand he inched it open and peered outside. A cool breeze from
the air-conditioning greeted him, as he looked toward the elevator
at the end of the hallway. Looking at the illuminated up arrow, he
knew that the steel doors would slide open at any second.
Committing himself, he slid through the doorway, nearly catching his
bag in the process as he clicked the door shut as quietly as he
could. The click sounded like a thunderclap in the silence that
surrounded him. Cold beads of sweat ran down his temples, and his
eyes sought out any sound.
To his right he could hear a woman’s soft moaning accompanied by
rougher male grunts. “Lucky bastards,” Nick muttered to himself.
There was an emergency exit at the end of the hallway adjacent to
the soda and ice machine. As he strode quickly toward it he could
hear his phone cheep again. Looking over his shoulder nervously, he
reached the emergency exit door and quickly glanced through the
fireproof glass panel that lay above the handle. A red notice was
pinned to the aluminum bar, warning guests that opening the door
would sound an alarm.
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He reached out, and as he was about to touch the door his hand
jerked reactively as a bolt of static electricity shot from his
fingertip to the metal door handle.
“Jesus,” he muttered aloud, holding his hand protectively.
Behind him he heard the ding as the elevator reached his floor, and
with no other options available to him, Nick reached into the fire
alarm box beside him and pushed the button. Simultaneously, he
heaved against the fire door and shoved it open and ran headlong
down the concrete stairway. Behind him he could hear, the siren of
the fire alarm whoop and the shriek of the door alarm box. The
stairwell echoed the clatter of his descent and it took him but 20
seconds to reach the bottom, as his room was on the third floor.
Bursting through the steel fire door, he ran headlong into a tall
scrub which soaked him with water from the earlier rain. It
drenched him, but refreshed him all the same. The cool damp night
air enveloped Nick as he ran down the narrow strip of concrete path
to the parking lot at the end, which was illuminated brightly by
sodium lamps. The branches of tall trees drooped low, heavy with
the weight of the evening rain. The wind rushed through the thick
foliage, rustling the leaves.
Reaching the first car in the lot, Nick crouched down and peered
through the wet windows at the lot toward the hotel entrance. His
own car was at the far end, parked there by the doorman. He knew
better than to approach it. Ahead of him and to the side of the
taller hotel main wing lay a high chain link fence. To its right
gaped the side entrance to the hotel and he ran for it, crouched low
behind the rows of wet cars. There was little evidence of any
commotion from the hotel, although he could see some lights come on
in the guest windows of the wing he had just left, a few anxious
faces peering into the darkness.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 31

The British Prime Minister Blair ushered his cabinet into his
office greeting each with a grim nod. All entered mute and
apprehensive, note pads clasped in their hands. The PM cleared his
throat, and for a moment while gathering his thoughts, avoided eye
contact with any of the men seated in front of him. Apart from the
Thatcher era, the cabinet was a male preserve — old habits dying
hard. The silence hung like a heavy velvet curtain. The late
evening sun shone through the window like a laser, illuminating the
dust particles floating in the room.
“For those of you who wish to smoke, please do so,” he began, but
none did, knowing his allergic asthmatic response to even a whiff of
smoke. His eyes set deep underneath his reading glasses, he looked
older than his years. Nearly a full term as PM had taken its toll
with the constant pressures of office.
“We have before us, gentlemen, a national emergency that has only
been equaled in recent memory by the Iraqi war and Falkland
conflict,” he started. Pausing, he rose from the edge of his desk
where he had sat, and choosing his words carefully, he began to pace
slowly in front of the wooden table casting his gaze squarely on the
carpet in front of him.
“The event that has taken place has thrown any hope of settling
the Northern Ireland situation peacefully to the wind. Violence
has returned just as a few of you predicted it would.” A few
murmurs of recognition rose from those seated, anxious now that they
be recognized for their prophetic abilities at a time when everyone
wanted to be rid of that “bloody province,” as it was referred to.
The PM acknowledged them with a sharp disapproving glance.
Running his right hand through his hair, he continued, “I am,
however, puzzled, not so much by the motive of the aggressors, nor
the target itself — we have been warning the loyalists for years
about taunting their neighbors with their infernal marches. No, I’m
troubled at the ferocity of the attack — the outright carnage. The
fact that they sought to kill so many.”
One of his ministers sought to interrupt, but the PM stopped him
in his tracks with a wave of his hand and went on, “It has all the
hallmarks of an IRA attack, even the immediate denial and the later
confirmation using their code words. Gerry Adams is due to give a
press conference to deny that the IRA had any hand in it. On a
smaller scale I wouldn’t, for a moment, doubt their involvement, but
the sheer size of the operation, the complexity and the ruthlessness
doesn’t quite fit the bill. Christ,” he exclaimed, “238 people dead
- children, women.” He wiped his face in exasperation.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 32

“Why? I’ll leave that for you to tell me. Who? I know that
you’ve all, supported by our preliminary intelligence analysis of
the incident, pinned this down on the IRA, and I won’t question your
judgment for now — at least until more facts present themselves.”
Turning to his intelligence chief from MI6, he asked, “We have a
few well placed men in that organization — one at the highest levels
— why didn’t we know in advance? The planning, the sheer size of
the...how is it that there wasn’t a leak, a whisper...something?”
The director attempted to answer, but he, like his earlier
colleague, was cut off before he could get two words out.
The PM went on, settling back on the edge of his desk. “We heard
nothing in advance — even now we hear denials, even from our own
people. Despite the fact that a small group of renegades was
involved in the London attacks, we knew in advance, but regrettably
could do nothing to stop them lest we tip them off and have our
sources served back to us on a platter. We even let the first bomb
explode at a cost of human life and millions of pounds in collateral
damage before we blew the bugger up on that bus, on his way to his
next mission.”
“I want all the information we have available, as well as your
recommendations on my desk before the end of the day,” he checked
his Rolex, “Include in your recommendations a response.”
“In the interim, I have granted emergency powers to the commander
of the troops on the ground over there.” This met with murmurs of
approval, and he continued quickly, “With strict instruction to
contain the situation and explicit instructions not to intimidate
the government in Southern Ireland.”
This statement was met with stunned silence. It was too much for
one minister who leapt from his chair protesting,
“But the south is where those bastards will be hiding out —
protected by the state — they’ve been doing it for years!”
The PM cut him no slack, “There is no proof to that accusation —
none at all. The situation as you are fully aware is explosive —
the wrong move or overtones could spark a civil war that could come
to haunt us here in London in days. I want to preserve the momentum
gained through the ratification of the Good Friday Treaty and the
spirit of real co-operation that it brought forth. I simply will
not allow years of work to be erased in a blink of an eye.”
He let his words sink in. “I have invited members of the Irish
government to meet later this evening.”
“Since when, Prime Minister,” Robert Lerwill, a minister from the
department of foreign affairs, “did England start negotiating our
policy prior to implementation. We must assume a position of
strength and negotiate then!” he protested indignantly.
“You’re right, of course. But you fail to realize that times
have changed a great deal in the past few years,” the PM explained,
“that we can annihilate the south militarily is not in question, but
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 33

there are considerations. Political considerations — we have to


consider the reaction of the world community to whatever actions we
take. Ireland is not after all a desert country in the Middle East,
nor is it an Island off the shores of Argentina — it’s forty miles
away from our Western coast and damn well in the middle of European
affairs.”
He knew he was about to put his head into the proverbial lion’s
mouth but plowed ahead anyway. “We cannot afford any adverse
reaction from the Americans, nor our European neighbors. That is
not to say that we will not make the appropriate noises in support
of diplomatic efforts.”
Two of the ministers exchanged glances, smiling inwardly. Their
suspicions that the man was a wimp had just been confirmed, and, at
the first opportunity, his quality of leadership would be called
into question. Ardent supporters of the PM’s only female
predecessor, Margaret Thatcher — despite their Labor Party
affiliations — they knew that during her time she would not have had
any qualms about telling the Southern Irish government exactly what
she thought, and to hell with the consequences. The Americans would
have been taken care of in a quiet phone call to her then
counterpart, the American President. And damn the European
countries, this affair was none of their business. Their glance was
not lost on the PM.
Minister Rankin, a home office official made no bones at all
about his feelings with regard to these “pesky Paddies,” as he
referred to them at any given opportunity. Though he had never
actually set foot in Ireland, he was convinced that England was the
heart of the world, and its neighbors to the west were but a bunch
of wild drunken men masquerading in the trappings of finery, much
like the wogs that had been shipped back in the last century from
darkest Africa — “you can’t make a silk purse out of a Paddy!” was
one of his favorite expressions.
“Prime Minister,” he interrupted, “if I may comment,” he added
graciously, his tone belied his purpose.
The PM gazed at him stonily — Rankin, nor his fellow minister
Bromley, were among his favorites — they represented the last of a
dying breed of Englishmen who felt that the sun should still
continue to always shine on the British Empire, as it had 150 years
previously when it was possible to travel from Palestine to South
Africa without ever leaving British soil. That the sun never set on
the Empire referred to the fact that, despite the revolutions of the
earth, a British territory was always bathed in sunlight; from
Africa to India, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.
A fair man always, he allowed the minister to speak, regretting
his decision as soon as the fellow opened his mouth.
“PM, fellow cabinet members, I am, as you know, as are many of my
colleagues, a conservative concerning the Northern Irish issue.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 34

Some would call us ultra-conservative and if this is what you call a


man for upholding British principles and traditions so be it.” He
noticed the PM glowering at his long-windedness, but pressed on
regardless, “Let me cut to the quick and ask you a simple question —
if any other nation killed 238 Britons in a such a cold hearted
murderous method, what would our response be? What if it was the
Italians, the Greeks, the Palestinians? Would we hesitate in our
response? NEVER!”
Raising his voice he went on, “These people were murdered for
living their God given right to march peacefully under the flag of
their monarch, their country. I’ll answer the question for you — we
would be screaming at the UN for immediate sanctions against the
country. We would take direct action gentlemen, as is the practice
that England has done, without hesitation, throughout the centuries.
And would we care about other countries’ reactions? Not one hoot!
What would the Israelis do? — they would, without remorse or a care,
annihilate the perpetrators.” Voices of support rose up from those
seated.
“Northern Ireland is sovereign territory and its Unionist
inhabitants are as British as we are. This attack gentlemen, was an
attack at the heart of all things British, and our response should
be quick, decisive and devastating, lest we be regarded,” and he
looked directly at the PM as he finished, “as weak in our resolution
and character.” He sat down abruptly to the sound of applause of his
supporters as well as murmurs of support from others present — his
careful wording had touched a raw nerve, and all eyes now turned to
the PM.
His eyes shone angrily and he stooped forward in an aggressive
stance.
“Much of what the...good minister has said is true,” he paused,
“given different circumstances. Ireland however is not only our
neighbor — it is our economic partner. We have committed, through
the treaty that was passed by a voting majority north and south of
the Irish border, to support wholeheartedly our joint effort to
resolve the Northern Irish question through peaceful political
means. The cities and towns of our country are filled with
generations of immigrants who uphold our traditions and culture and
supply much needed labor to our industry.”
Angrily he spat his words, “We are not talking here about
relations with Iraq or Libya — all eyes are upon us. How we react
will determine forever more our standing in the world community —
especially so with the attention this incident is getting from the
American President who, as you are well aware, was instrumental in
formulating the current peace proposal.”
He faced them and looked at them condescendingly as though they
were errant schoolchildren.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 35

“The truth, gentlemen, is that we are an occupying force.”


Murmurs of dissent rose up, but he raised his voice over them, “we
are an occupying force in a land that does not want us, nor, by
recent polls, do the British people want us to be there for much
longer. This was the purpose of the peace process — it is, was, the
cornerstone of our eventual withdrawal. Despite what you may think,
Britain will someday leave Northern Ireland, just as we left Hong
Kong, though without the pomp and ceremony. This roll-back is a
process that started over two hundred years ago when we got thrown
out of the Americas and damn near got ourselves invaded by the U.S.
Navy — led, surprisingly enough, by an Irishman.” He referred to
Perry’s attack on British coastal shipping during the American
Revolutionary War.
“Other examples gentlemen — Egypt, Palestine, India, Rhodesia,
South Africa, the Far East, and in the not too distant future, we
will have our ties with Canada and Australia also severed. And our
efforts to keep these colonies have one thing in common. Failure.
Complete failure.” He was aware that he sounded like a prep school
history teacher, but he continued nonetheless.
“We are no longer a world power — we live in the shadow of our
former greatness, that ended at the end of World War II when the
U.S. saved us from German domination. We may bluster and protest,
but those are the realities — our pretensions at being a superpower
are just that, pretensions. Any disruption of trade resulting from
how we now act could very well tear our house down around us,
monarchy and all. All that will be left will be a mention in the
history books, written, I might add, by a Tory government.”
Gazing around him, his colleagues looked back, not one of them
liking what he was saying. They had lived in denial since the last
hurrah of the Falkland conflict — even in the Iraqi war they played
to the sound of the American drummer, along with the French and the
other coalition troops there.
“We will respond in a responsible fashion — with forethought,
grace and determination, once we have established who has
perpetrated the crime. Let us not fool ourselves with delusions of
grandeur,” referring to Rankin, “I hear a Tory Prime Minister’s
ghost knocking at the door.”
He dismissed them, saying, “Keep me informed and we will meet
here again in later — thank you for coming.”
As the room emptied, the PM called back the Defense Minister,
Peter Woolworth, a close friend since university days. Closing the
door, he walked to the oak drink cabinet and removed a bottle of
scotch and two tumblers. Without saying a word, he poured them both
a finger of whisky and quietly handed his friend a glass. Facing
each other in studded leather armchairs, Peter was the first to
speak.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 36

“A bit harsh Tony, you’re not going out of your way to make any
allies,” he started, a twinkle in his eye. “You touched, nay
scraped, a raw nerve.” He took a swallow from his drink.
“Harsh, but true Peter,” the PM responded. “They were all set to
unleash the dogs of war and lay waste the island, similar to what
that American general had suggested before the start of Desert
Storm. As I recall he proposed that America nuke Iraq, and turn the
sands into a vast skating rink. We must tread carefully, Peter.”
Sipping his scotch, he held the tumbler loosely in his left hand
drooped over the arm rest.
“I had a call from the American President not more than an hour
ago. He urged restraint, a thorough investigation and above all
caution. He reminded me that he has 40 million Irish Americans,
many of whom are calling their senators with their continued support
of the peace process. Congress is comprised of a large Irish
American contingent — the president himself is part Irish — mongrel
that he is!” he added good naturedly.
Peter smiled at his friend, recognizing the deep sense of humor
that lay just beneath the surface of his stony face. He never
understood fully why Tony had taken the PM spot — it did not suit
his temperament, and he lived in the shadow of one of Britain’s most
powerful prime ministers after Churchill. Tony’s face reflected the
burden and strain of office; his early popularity had dwindled as
his term progressed. Sipping his drink, he favored the strong
spirit, yearning to light a cigarette. The PM leaned forward and
spoke in a low voice.
“Don’t you, nor should they,” he waved his hand at the door,
“misunderstand my resolve. I have given orders for 6,000 troops to
be airlifted into Northern Ireland — some are arriving as we speak.
The Special Air Services are leading the way, returning there for
the first time since what the Irish still call “Bloody Sunday.” I
don’t want a repeat of that calamity — it sparked the fire that has
terrorized our nation since. I have given orders for the use of all
reasonable measures, and I use that term loosely to give our army
leaders the teeth to find who is behind this horror. I’ve even
given the go ahead for air support.”
“But we have been using helicopter support for years...” Peter
interjected.
“Fighter support — a psychological weapon really — what the hell
can they shoot at? Despite what I said here, we must project the
impression that whoever designed this has stirred a hornet’s nest.”
He drained his glass and rose, saying, “Stay close Peter, there
are rough days ahead.” Peter clapped his friend on the shoulder and
left his near empty glass on the coffee table, closing the door
behind him quietly.
Exiting Number 10, Woolworth nodded to the policemen outside
armed with their Sterling submachine guns. Posing briefly for the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 37

press photographers, who had been corralled at the end of the street
he, deep in thought, climbed into his ministerial car and was
whisked back to his offices.
His secretary greeted him on his return handing him a sheaf of
calls that had come in his absence. He asked her to make him a pot
of coffee, a taste which he had picked up during a four year stay in
New York, where he had pursued an advanced degree at Columbia
University. He made his way to the bathroom, not using his own, he
preferred to use the general facility to keep in touch with his male
staff and to appear to be one of the crowd. Another American habit,
he smiled to himself as he walked down the linoleum covered
corridor. Through the corner of his eye he saw that one of his
assistant’s doors was open and the room empty. On his return from
the bathroom where he met no one, perhaps it was too late in the
evening, he slipped into the empty office, leaving the door slightly
ajar. Lifting the hand-set from the cradle, he dialed a local
London number and waited for a connection. The phone call forwarded
to two other numbers before finally connecting with a beeper
service. When the phone was answered he punched a string of numbers
before hanging up.
One hundred and forty miles away in a Dublin office a beeper
sounded. The recipient tapped his watch which enclosed the beeper
and read the message, “29454.” The first digit identified the
caller, the second three was a time and the final digit a code for a
phone number. Any additional number would have been disregarded
unless the numbers “999” were at the end signifying that the caller
was in immediate distress.
The internal security contingent in the Defense Ministry taped
the call but did not log it, ignoring it as a mis-dial; happened all
the time.
Gerard O’Shea re-adjusted his shirt sleeve covering his wrist
watch, pocketed the beeper and called for his car which brought him
to his private plane at Dublin airport, arriving at his London
office almost exactly two hours later.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 38

“You can’t be serious!” Woolworth quipped, a large gin and tonic


in his fist.
O’Shea stopped what he was doing and looked him straight in the
eye coldly. “I’ve never been more so.”
“But the people of the country will never stand for it — for
God’s sake the time for violent upheaval and revolution ended in
Europe after the Second World War...”
“The Irish are good at one thing Peter — failure. As a nation we
relish in it. We savor it. We wallow in it, awash in pints of beer
and melancholy of what could have been...‘Ah sure if only this
hadn’t happened or that had changed,’ we have an excuse for
everything. We even let the Americans walk in and impose a
settlement in Northern Ireland.”
Woolworth rose and walked over to examine one of the many
paintings that lined O’Shea’s mahogany walls. Though in his mid-
forties, Woolworth was aging well, retaining some of the handsome
features that had been his hallmark as a youth. His full head of
salt and pepper hair was combed neatly, his hazel eyes framed by his
Christian Dior glasses. Sallow skin, inherited from a Brazilian
mother, bore the tan acquired a month previously on a Spanish beach
between rounds at a foreign affairs summit — the surrender of
Britain’s outpost at Gibraltar being the topic. His dark hands bore
the wrinkles of too much sun, and his face was creased with lines,
beginning to sag from too much of everything. Decked in an Armani
suit, beautifully tailored, his six foot three height made him an
imposing figure, an attribute that he used to maximum effectiveness.
He was a skilled politician, capable of charming and intimidating
his opponents in equal measure to attain whatever he wanted. His
true skill, however, was in making those who he dealt with feel that
they had won, despite the fact that they had lost the shop.
A man of means, his father was a much decorated general during
the Second World War, having inherited much of his wealth from his
own father, a trader who worked the European capitals for the De
Beers, the diamond company in South Africa. The family money had
been invested wisely in the post war economy ensuring a privileged
life-style and the easy access to politics that went with it.
His father had instilled in him two motivating factors, a love of
country and a respect for money. This had been adhered to until the
late eighties, when as a name for Lloyds of London, he had been hit
with an astronomical tab for defaulting insurance issued by the
company. The prestige of being a member, or a ‘name’ as they were
referred to, was allotted to the method by which insurance was
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 39

issued. When a new satellite or ship needed insurance a broker


would circulate details to the names in the exclusive club. These
men and women would weigh the risk, adjust the premium until it was
mutually acceptable between all parties and, if a deal could be
made, issue a policy.
In a singular event, like a rocket launch, the premium was earned
completely on the safe delivery of the cargo to space and they went
home with a fat check in their pocket. However, if the rocket blew
up destroying its cargo, the names would have to fork over the
amount due to the insured from their own pockets. There was no
limit to liability. This in itself would have been but an
inconvenience to Woolworth and his estate, but it was followed by
the failure of Barings Bank in 1995. This effectively wiped out his
considerable liquid assets — £19.8 million sterling to be exact,
leaving him with his fixed assets — real estate and an estate in
Oxfordshire, against which he had liabilities due to Lloyds, and
little or no cash flow to fund his day-to-day expenses.
He had met O’Shea some years earlier, and they had hit it off
immediately, a relationship which O’Shea had gone out of his way to
develop. They had spent some time together over the years,
traveling mostly to vacation spots to enjoy the sun, and sample the
young women who frequented the same areas and were dazzled by the
prospect of older men with obvious signs of wealth. The
disappointment of being replaced the next day meant nothing to the
two adventurers.
O’Shea had followed Woolworth’s fortunes, or their diminishment
closely, as he was aware of the pressures of his Lloyds’
liabilities. They had talked of Irish politics and joked about at
O’Shea’s plans and Woolworth’s rise through British politics, from
an MP elected during the Thatcher years, to his current position of
Minister of Defense within the Labor government. Their last
vacation together had been more subdued, O’Shea had insisted on
picking up the tab. The truth of Woolworth’s predicament came to
light one night when he had too much to drink.
O’Shea had replaced his own gin and tonic with tonic alone and
plied Peter for information — very subtly lest he detect the ruse.
Out came the threads of his financial problems which when woven into
O’Shea’s own research provided the picture and opportunity he
required. O’Shea, before the end of the trip, suggested that he had
some consulting work available for one of his offshore companies,
“for the right person” was how he put it, and asked Woolworth to let
him know if he came across someone suitable.
It took only a few weeks before Woolworth, creditors pressing in
on him, aided by information leaked by one of O’Shea’s London based
colleagues, called O’Shea suggesting a meeting to discuss the nature
and qualifications needed for this consulting enterprise. O’Shea
had Peter over to Dublin for dinner at his St. Stephen’s Green Club,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 40

followed by a night out in one of the better class of brothels that


Dublin had to offer to the exclusive, anonymous few.
O’Shea explained that someone like Woolworth, with contacts
within the government, could secure passage of equipment for his
west coast of Ireland assembly plant based near Castlebar, County
Mayo. Also, he needed to secure certain military components for an
overseas client, their exact nature to be discussed in the future.
He feigned surprise when Woolworth suggested that he might fit the
role himself to stimulate his career that was bogged down in the
quagmire of politics.
The up front consulting fee, which O’Shea had delivered to him
the next day, was enough to immediately ease the pressure of his
creditors, and the promise of a regular monthly stipend cheered
Peter up considerably. O’Shea made sure that the amount was just
enough to keep the wolf from the door and to keep Woolworth hungry
for the bonus, which would more than replace his cash losses. The
extra cash would be paid after his services were rendered in full,
and although Peter was not aware of the exact nature of these
services, he trusted his friend for helping him out of a financial
and social disaster. O’Shea neglected to tell him that if matters
came to a head, the record chronicled on audio and video tape would
make it evident that Peter had come to him and not vice versa.
“Dear God, Gerry, your wish list includes practically everything
on our arms export list — anti-tank rockets, anti-aircraft missiles,
battlefield electronics...Christ, the only thing missing is a
blooming fighter jet!”
“Not in the budget old chap,” O’Shea smiled without missing a
beat. “Besides, the export license will list these items as being
sent to Chile and they’re on the official export B list, they’ll
hardly be noticed.” The list he referred to was one governing the
sale of out-of-date and surplus weaponry. Not that they could not
do what they were designed to do, but because like all consumer
items they had been replaced by newer versions with more bells and
whistles. The arms business was a lucrative one enjoyed by most
industrialized countries and it was a buyers market.
O’Shea let Woolworth digest the list fully, refilling his glass
with a liberal amount of gin and a splash of tonic. Placing the
glass beside Peter’s hand, he sat behind his desk without a word and
busied himself with checking papers left there earlier, by his
assistant Maeve. When he felt the time was right he asked quietly.
“Well, can you do it?”
Peter had regained his facial color, lost earlier at first sight
of the document in his hand. Without looking up he muttered grimly,
“May one ask the true destination of these...products.”
“One may ask, but one will be told exactly what I’ve told you
already — Chile.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 41

Frustrated, Peter dropped the list on the desk. “The ultimate


destination Gerry is not Chile — please, I’m not so stupid to
believe that you would need my assistance in securing them. Britain
already exports product to South America, this sort of deal could
have been done directly or through the Ambassador.”
“You’re concerned that they may be used to down British aircraft,
kill British soldiers,” O’Shea voiced for him.
Standing abruptly Peter concurred forcefully, walking to help
himself to another drink “Yes, damn it, my conscience wouldn’t allow
it. My father was a decorated...”
“Yes, Peter, I know,” O’Shea assured him. He rose from the desk
and walked to where Peter was standing.
He grasped his shoulders and stared intently into his eyes. “I
promise you Peter that they will not be used in any way against the
British armed forces, or in any way that will embarrass you or your
government. These weapons will be sent to Chile, and, yes, that
country is not the true end user. Some will be trickled back to
Ireland for use not against the British, but to arm a fifth column
should I run into any obstacles in securing my own plans.”
Woolworth bought it immediately, perhaps because he wanted to
hear it. His stomach was a tight ball as he realized the precarious
position that he was in, the fact that he had put himself in a
position to become the Judas for his country.
O’Shea recognized the signal in Peter’s eyes and released his
grip on his shoulders. He ushered his friend to sit and drew a
chair close, sitting himself.
“What I am about to tell you will cost you and me our lives if it
should ever be revealed.” He raised his eyebrows to emphasize the
point. Woolworth nodded, sucking deeply from his glass.
“My plans are to modernize the thinking of this island nation —
to bring us into the twenty-first century, not as a socialist
county, but one with a capitalist backbone. For too long we have
been the land of saints and scholars, but for what? The saints have
turned out not to be saints at all, just read the newspapers, the
Church is falling apart with scandals. As far as I’ve traveled I
can see that despite our huge investment in education, the key is
learning to use it effectively. Anyone can teach. It takes skill
to put the lesson into practice. That’s why we have so many
business schools and their lofty professors. If they were as good
as they think they are, they wouldn’t be teaching at all — they’d be
millionaires, like me!”
He paused and lit a cigarette, placing his gold lighter beside
his packet of Rothmans on the drinks table.
“As a nation we are among the most highly educated. So why are
we piss poor, with a disgustingly high rate of unemployment and an
alcoholism rate that makes us the laughing stock of the world?
Recent economic advances have been made with European Economic
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 42

Community hand-outs. Irish people succeed when they travel abroad,


away from the mother’s bosom of college and our social net, and go
it alone, sink or swim. World experience hardens them. Hard work
hardens them. They become successful, losing the snotty middle-
class attitude instilled in them at school, particularly in our
private schools.”
“And what happens? They stay away, keeping their talents and
money with them.” Taking a drag on his depleted cigarette he stubbed
it out angrily in the Waterford glass ashtray.
“For too long this country has satisfied itself at being
mediocre, a commentator on world affairs, while we back no horses,
take no risks. And it hasn’t got us anywhere. Sure we have a large
middle class with their phony West-Brit accents, their holiday homes
and their two cars. But what’s behind it? Debt and foreign
investment. Take away foreign investment and the economy folds like
a pack of cards.”
“My plan calls for the elimination of the social safety net, and
the introduction of mandatory health insurance. It will save the
country a fortune which can be channeled into business development
and manufacturing. The EEC can go to hell, we’ll be out of that
quicker than you can say Euro-dollar. Prohibition will be
introduced to break the generations of alcoholism, and we will have
the country set up as one vast tax-free zone for foreign investors.
Tax increases will slow the growth of the consumer debt burden.
Land ownership will be strictly Irish based. Public fund surpluses
will be spent on infrastructure development — bridges, highways. My
insurance companies, as sole providers, will benefit from the need
for private health insurance...” O’Shea stopped himself and took a
swig from his drink, the ice had long since melted and it tasted
watery. He quietly complimented himself on how easily the lies came
to him.
“To my point. I am expecting, shall we say, opposition to my
plans when they are announced, as I will suspend free elections for
at least a five year period. Some of my policies, particularly
social reforms, prohibition, taxes, and law and order will, I
expect, cause blood to boil, and while people may take to the
streets in protest, I can only guarantee implementation through the
support of the armed forces.”
“I have on my side a number of influential commanders of various
ranks, but I cannot guarantee that the army will stand behind me
against the initial onslaught of public opinion. Chances are the
army may stay out of it, but that damned IRA will support the people
against me, as this goes against all that they have been fighting
for.”
“I have formed, over the years, a network of public, private and
foreign allies who are behind me. The arms that you will assist me
in acquiring are to ensure that the regular Irish army will comply,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 43

or be destroyed. The icing on the cake is that I will give my fifth


column free reign in dealing with any terrorist threats. Anyway,”
he added, “you get the picture.”
Peter shook his head slowly from side to side trying to make
sense of it all. After a moment he asked, “What about Northern
Ireland — the peace treaty?”
“Britain, the Unionists, can have it all — I have no interest in
having an economy requiring additional billions of state capital
draining already meager resources. And besides, what would Her
Majesty’s troops do without that valuable training ground? Perhaps
I can charge them rent!” O’Shea smiled warmly, as he saw the twinkle
return to his friends eye. He reached forward and slapped him on
the arm, laughing with Woolworth, at the notion. Had he thought it
through, Woolworth would have realized the fallacy of O’Shea’s
banter, but financial pressures had a way of blinding even the most
intelligent of men.
“Are you with me Peter?” O’Shea quizzed.
“One hundred percent, Gerry,” Woolworth hesitated and then added
a little unsurely. “Em...to the matter of the bonus...”
Gerry raised his hand to silence him, and rising, walked to his
desk. From underneath his desk diary he removed an envelope which
he handed to Peter.
“What’s this,” he asked puzzled, “I’m not due my monthly check
for another two weeks.”
With a flip of his hand, O’Shea removed Peters glass and walked
to the drinks tray.
“Open it,” he ordered without looking at Peter.
While Peter slid a finger under the flap, O’Shea removed a fresh
pair of glasses from the cupboard underneath the tray. Ice tinkled
into the glass followed by a slice of lemon as Woolworth removed the
paper from the envelope. Woolworth’s eyes lit up at the sum of the
transfer inside to his Luxembourg account — it far exceeded his
expectations...far exceeded. As O’Shea mixed the drinks, Woolworth
did not notice him snapping the neck off a vial of clear liquid
which he added to Peter’s drink followed by effervescent tonic.
As he returned to their chairs, O’Shea handed him his glass, “An
advance on the bonus Peter, an indication of the importance of this
project to me.”
“Gerry I really don’t know what to say except, thank you and I
will always be in your debt.” His troubles would soon be over.
Relief flooded through him riding on the back of the alcohol that
warmed his soul.
“Exactly,” O’Shea thought to himself as he raised his glass in a
toast. “To friendship, diligence and a new Ireland — down the
hatch.”
Peter was only too glad to comply and swallowed his drink,
straining it through the ice that knocked against his teeth, giving
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 44

him an instant cold headache, relieved by the relative warmth of the


gin.
He did not notice for an instant the additive that O’Shea had
dispensed, nor would he until O’Shea was ready to give him the
second component of the stereo poison some time in the near future.
The initial dose in itself would not affect him in the least until
combined with a second dose of the other half of the lethal mix, a
concoction that was reputed to have killed the former media mogul
Robert Maxwell. The beauty of it was that it left no trace at all.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 45

Nick ran for the gate and, as he turned left into the street,
promptly slipped on fallen leaves that were laying on the slick
roadway. Lying on his side on the puddle strewn sidewalk, he
checked for broken bones and found none. He peered at his
wristwatch and depressed the indiglo light, it read 9:40 P.M.
Crouching and nursing his left elbow, Nick saw a short line of
taxies at the end of the street, awaiting a call from the doorman to
whisk a hotel guest away. Running to the last taxi in the line, he
swung the door open and slid inside onto the back seat.
“Oi! You’ve gotta go to the front of the line, buddy,” the
driver said in a Dublin drawl, looking at Nick through his rearview
mirror. When he saw that Nick had no intention of moving, he added,
“You’ve gotta go to the front car, you know, first in, first out.”
Shoving a twenty pound note into the cabbys face, Nick muttered,
“I won’t tell anyone if you won’t, get me down to Leeson Street
quickly.”
“Never look a gift horse in the mouth, me mommy used to say,” the
cabby grinned plucking the money deftly from the Nick’s hand.
“Duck down there, would ya for a second?” Nick obliged.
Pulling away from the curb, the cabby picked up his CB hand set
and depressed the talk button.
“Fourteen,” he said. The hiss of static sprang through the
speaker.
“Fourteen go,” the controller’s voice responded.
“Gonna try my luck down at the Strip,” the cabby told him.
“Roger dodger,” was the bored reply.
Waving at his fellow drivers, the cabby smiled quietly to himself
knowing that they had all heard the transmission and would think no
more of his sudden departure. There would be hell to pay if he was
caught jumping the queue.
The cabby lowered his window and reached into his breast pocket
and withdrew a packet of cigarettes. Shaking them, he proffered the
pack to Nick, and asked, “Ye wanna fag?”
Hesitating for a second, Nick accepted one from the noticeably
small box. It was a ten pack of a brand his father had smoked when
he was a child, Sweet Afton. The driver lit his own and handed his
lighter back to Nick. Placing the cigarette to his lips he could
taste the bitter sweet flavor of the tobacco protruding from the
paper. It had been fifteen years since he had smoked a non tipped
cigarette but he eagerly inhaled the first puff deeply into his
lungs.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 46

He fought back the gagging reaction and felt the rush of nicotine
course through his body. The sweet smell of the blue smoke filled
his nostrils as he exhaled slowly. The familiar sensation made his
mind relax, although he could feel his heart race from the
stimulant.
Nick leaned back in the seat and looked over his shoulder.
Looking through the fogged rear window, he wiped it briefly with the
back of his hand. He stiffened as he saw a figure walk quickly to
the taxi at the head of the rank and bend to speak to the driver.
He saw the taxi interior light go on as the cabby looked at
something that had been handed to him. Nick could make out the
bright glow of a cigar in the inquirer’s mouth as he stood back from
the car and peered at Nick’s cab which jolted forward as the traffic
light turned green. Nick ducked out of sight, his left cheek hard
against the vinyl seat, hoping he hadn’t been seen.
“What’s your problem?” the driver asked him. “Got the law after
you or what?”
“Porked someone’s girlfriend I met at the bar and now he’s after
my hide,” Nick responded hopefully.
The cabby said nothing and looked at Nick through his mirror.
Noting his unshaven appearance, he guessed that he had been right
the first time. He’d seen guys on the lam before, with the same
scared eyes.
“What time does the last bus leave?” Nick asked.
“Where are you going?” the cabby responded.
“Dundrum, Ranelagh.”
“You’ve missed them all, except for you might get lucky and catch
an Imp — a rambling bus. Gimme another fifteen pounds and I’ll drop
you anywhere you want.”
The amber street lamps flashed by as the taxi sped along Upper
Baggot Street, hardly slowing for the red light at the bridge. The
car heaved as it hit the hump of the bridge and splashed heavily
through a large puddle on the other side. The hedged divide raced
by on the right hand side. An untidy single line of parked cars
passed on the left, and the taxi slowed as Fitzwilliam Street
approached.
“Turn left into the alley way...here...HERE!” Nick prodded the
driver on the shoulder with his knuckles.
“Alright...I heard ya,” the driver snapped back, braking heavily.
“You’re no stranger to these parts,” the driver commented, as he
nudged the car through the narrow archway into Lad Lane.
“My father’s lawyer has an office right overhead,” Nick thought,
but said nothing.
As the car splashed through pools of rainwater, Nick looked out
at the mews that passed on either side, garage doors shut with “No
Parking” signs on each one of them. Cars were parked tightly
against the tall jagged glass-topped walls, their owners partying or
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 47

asleep in the apartments behind. A crude but very effective method


of recycling glass while protecting their property, Dubliners broke
old bottles and set them in wet cement on the top of their walls. A
cat raced across the narrow street in front of them. The driver’s
urgent voice roused Nick from his thoughts.
“We’ve got company,” he muttered, a cigarette, dangling from his
lips, the smoke from which drifted over his left eye making it weep.
Nick looked out the back window, which was clear now after the
driver had turned on the defroster, and the previously condensed
water had evaporated.
“Where...” Nick started, but stopped as he saw the headlights far
behind them.
“Damnit,” he muttered, his heart beating quickly.
“Don’t worry, I’ll lose them,” the driver grinned, reading Nick’s
mind and stomped on the accelerator.
The end of the laneway loomed, bathed in the orange glow of
street lights and the flashes of passing traffic on Cumberland Road.
Still the driver kept accelerating waiting until the last minute
before simultaneously hammering on the horn and ripping up the
parking brake as he slewed into a sickening right handbrake turn
onto Cumberland Road. A startled police officer stood aghast,
frozen in place, as the car slid by, tires squealing in protest,
ripping as they shuddered across the wet roadway, narrowly missing
an oncoming car while the rear fishtailed perilously close to the
row of parked cars on the other side of the street.
“Jesus Christ,” Nick yelled, his body clammy with sweat. Before
he could finish he was interrupted in mid sentence by a loud crash
and the sound of breaking glass. He peered out the back window in
time to see the chase car crash back down onto the street from the
impact as it failed to negotiate the turn. Glass and metal flew,
and steam rose in a plume from what used to be the front of the car.
Then it was gone, lost in the wail of car alarms as the cab driver
swore loudly.
Ahead of them a car had stopped, blocking their access to
Fitzwilliam Place, its occupants spilling onto the street crouching,
aiming their weapons hastily at the oncoming taxi. For once the cab
driver had nothing to say, hovering in indecision as to whether he
should choose between stomping on the gas or on the brake. In a
millisecond the decision was made for them. A car turning from
Fitzwilliam place careened into the back end of the parked car
tossing it, and the men using it for cover, aside. In that instant
the cabby gunned the engine and rocketed through the opening, the
dull thud of pistol shots echoed in their wake. Cutting straight
across two lanes of traffic and into Kingram Place, they hurtled
down the poorly lit laneway, the dark walls of the mews a blur. The
sound of protesting drivers blaring their horns receded in the
darkness.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 48

“You’ll be sure to give me a little extra in a tip, won’t you?”


the cabby cracked, reaching underneath his dashboard and depressing
a button there. Nick was sure he had peed his pants, his heart
pounded from the adrenaline rush, he held onto the passenger
headrest in a death grip. He nodded stiffly.
“Oh, you’re a right man you are, woman-trouble indeed!” the
driver chortled.
Unbeknownst to Nick, a signal was now being transmitted from the
radio antenna, pulsing out for miles around. Not far away as the
crow flies, in Crowley Street, in a building adjacent to the
landmark Bad Ass Cafe in the Temple Bar area, a computer picked up
the signal and beeped, alerting the operator that his attention was
needed. The attic room was loaded with the latest hi-tech
communications and tracking devices, with live video links placed at
strategic locations all around the capital. Not entirely
legitimate, the cameras were installed over a series of months and
lay under the very eyes of law and order, dangling from roof tops,
hidden by gargoyles, birdhouses, and suchlike. The center had also,
at no small cost, managed to tie in to the banking security network
that dotted the city center, allowing them to control a single or a
whole array of cameras and even illuminate, via infrared, a subject,
if the need arose.
The screen saver disappeared as the operator touched his mouse
and he clicked on the query button. Entering a password every time
ensured that, in the unlikely event of a police raid, the computers
would support the premise that the operation provided radio
dispatched motorcycle couriers. The hard-drive spun as the computer
interrogated the signal and searched its database for information.
Within a couple of seconds it began to display its find in layers.
The name of the driver, personnel records, car make and plate as
well as other data, which on examination by a lay person would seem
not quite essential for driving a taxi — his rank, serial number,
etc.
Seconds later a city map was displayed with the taxi’s location
blinking as a bright red dot. Holding down the mouse and dragging
it over a section of a few city blocks in area, the computer zoomed
in the view and the operator was able to watch the blinking dot and
gauge its direction. Its speed, engine temperature, oil pressure
and fuel status was provided in a constantly refreshing window in
the upper right of the screen, as was a video display of the
interior of the vehicle, which was recorded on tape. Its quality
was poor, as the buildings surrounding the car absorbed or bounced
the signal, but the operator could clearly identify the driver.
The system was part of an underground security network owned and
operated by the political arm of the IRA. It served three purposes,
information gathering, visual monitoring of the city, and providing
security for personnel in the field.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 49

“Got Paddy Gallagher on a code nine,” the operator informed his


supervisor. This code indicated an alarm of the highest priority.
“Code nine?” the supervisor repeated, startled, and put down his
coffee cup onto the racing section of his newspaper, pushing his
wheeled office chair so that he coasted close to the screen without
interfering with the operator. The operator shook his head, typing
commands onto the keyboard to try and improve the video image that
was displayed as a picture within a picture on the screen. The
computer updated the map as the car continued, indicating in green
where available street cameras were placed. These were activated
and monitored from another screen.
In the taxi, Gallagher noticed the connection confirmation light
blink on his fuel gauge and depressed a foot switch to open a live
audio link, which, as luck would have it, didn’t work terribly well
— the relay unit in the trunk of the car had been damaged by a
bullet that had hit the car.
“Need a little help here ...’bout to get shot to pieces ... ” was
all they got before they lost the connection and the live video link
went down.
The supervisor, listening through his own headphones, noticed
this immediately, depressed a talk button and dispatched two
motorcycle riders to intercept the car.
“What was that?” Nick asked, noticing that the driver was
talking.
“I said we’re going to need some help before we get shot to
pieces.” He didn’t add that he was not talking to Nick. Tapping a
few keys on his taxi dispatch mini-keyboard he relayed a top
priority code to his base, confirming his request for immediate
assistance. He traveled unarmed — to be caught with a weapon would
have ensured his lengthy presence as a guest of the state. But the
security system worked well, normally any would be robber would find
himself being dragged unwittingly from a taxi to be pulverized for
his trouble.
No cars were visible in his rear-view mirror as he drove out of
Leeson Lane into Lower Leeson Street and he relaxed a few notches,
opening his window, lighting another cigarette. He didn’t offer
Nick one, never occurred to him, his mind racing. The light at St.
Stephen’s Green was red so he stopped, sparse traffic pulling up
beside them. His last thought transpired when he lifted his right
arm to stretch. A silenced gunshot from the car to his right
slammed into his armpit, cleaving through his ribs, his right lung
and stopped in the left ventricle of his heart. Death was
instantaneous. Nick heard him grunt and slump forward lifelessly
onto the steering wheel.
Through his side window he saw the muzzle turn towards him, but
it was quickly withdrawn as the car’s doors opened, two men
emerging, reaching for his door. Nick, his mind completely alert,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 50

reached forward and pushed Gallagher sideways, practically kicking


him out of the way as he slipped into the driver seat and slipped
the motor into gear. A large hand grabbed him by the throat through
the open window, choking him violently — he couldn’t breathe, his
eyes filling with blood from the pressure on his carotid artery.
Nick slipped the clutch and the car jumped forward and stalled.
Desperately he reached blindly for the keys restarting the motor
while at the same time feeling on the driver door for the power
window button which he found and depressed. Nick’s arm was pulled
away as his attacker reached with his other arm, but the window was
automatic sliding smoothly upwards trapping the intruding arms
against the top of the door. The hands loosened their grip as the
window acted like a lever pinning the arms to the top of the door
for a brief moment before he hastily snatched them back.
The passenger door was ripped open.
“Gotcha now ya little fuck,” a skinny middle aged man sneered,
aiming his pistol at Nicks head from the opened passenger door.
Nick popped the clutch and the car leapt forward, Gallagher tumbling
out onto the roadway, knocking the gunman aside. Nick sped away,
the passenger door flapping briefly before slamming shut. Behind
him the men jumped in their car and attempted to follow, but as luck
would have it a police officer emerged from the shadows of Leeson
Lane and saw the skinny fellow gathering himself, the body lying
sprawled on the street. He talked quickly into his radio and ran
across.
“Hey!” he called, “hey, hold up what’s going on here?”
The skinny one composed himself quickly, jamming the pistol into
the back of his pants where it was hidden by the flap of his tweed
jacket. He looked at his partner communicating silently — they had
been given strict orders not to attract attention — not that their
compatriots had any luck in that area tonight.
Excitedly, the man beckoned to the police officer, “Officer,
officer!” he called and knelt beside Gallagher’s prone figure as if
trying to help him. He turned him over and began rudimentary CPR.
As the officer drew close he explained.
“We were just here at the lights and we saw,” he pointed at the
receding shape of the taxi cab as it sped down St. Stephen’s Green,
“rather I heard a shot and this poor fellow was dumped out on the
street.”
“Are you a doctor?”
“Er, no.”
“Then stand back, there’s an ambulance and paramedics on the
way.”
The skinny fellow was only too happy to comply and as the
ambulance pulled up he slipped into his car, his companion driving,
and they disappeared into the damp night. Everything had been
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 51

observed by a leather clad figure on a motocross bike who relayed


his observations into a microphone embedded in his full face helmet.
The supervisor called together a team to track Nick down. The
feed from the taxi was still intermittently active, though
diminishing as it got further away from the city center, but
nonetheless the information was good from the motorcycle rider who
followed Nick, his lights dimmed, but his attention very much
focused on the task at hand.
Due to pressures from the days events up North, the office was
short staffed and the tapes of the action on the Leeson Street, all
of which were recorded from two cameras positioned, one on the
Lesson Street corner at St. Stephen’s Green, the other opposite,
mounted on the roof top of a large international insurance agency,
were hastily reviewed. It was too late, when the tapes were
reviewed in detail the following morning, that they found the
occupants of the car beside the taxi were responsible for
Gallagher’s death.
The motorcycle rider kept his distance when the taxi stopped at a
house in Mount Merrion and Nick slid into the garage. Moments later
he watched as Nick emerged, a long dark object in his hand, and got
back into the cab and drove off. The motorcyclist reported it all
back to base.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 52

The gravel crunched hard as Nick swung the Ford Mondeo off the
main road onto the long steep road to the farmhouse. Far to his
left the orange lights of Dublin city shone brightly, reflecting off
the night-time overcast sky. The car lurched into a rain filled
pot-hole, and as he dropped the car into second gear, the wheels bit
hard into the loose gravel that sprinkled the weathered blacktop.
Despite this concession, the car continued to heave and roll, its
headlights alternating between lighting the roadway and the cover of
tall trees, whose branches drooped from the sky. Water droplets
splattered the windshield as they careened from the leaves. The
worn wiper blades smeared the glass as they attempted to perform
their task, but it was enough to allow Nick to see where he was
going. A damp mist rose from the ground and it swirled lazily as
the halogen headlights cut through it.
The lane way was bordered on each side by low stone walls. To
the left lay open fields and to the right lay higher ground topped
by tall trees, their type indiscernible in the darkness. The dark
shape of a house emerged directly in front of the car but the road
swung away from it. A sheep dog barked angrily at the car as it
passed. Nick swore silently and disengaged the gears altogether and
coasted to minimize the noise in the quiet night air.
He patted the rifle case standing against the passenger seat.
Though it was unloaded, it comforted him anyway. Many years before
he had, on countless occasions, followed the same route to his
friend’s house, without a care in the world, to spend an afternoon
hunting in the fields that now surrounded him.
At last he saw the tall stone pillars and the farm gate
illuminated by his head lamps. All looked as it had the last time
he had been here years ago, when he had dropped his friend’s
inebriated brother off late one Friday night. So drunk, that when
he fell off his bed later, he remained completely unconscious and
sandwiched his leg between the bedpost and the wall. The ensuing
lack of circulation to his trapped leg resulted in having to spend a
month hobbling about on crutches. However sore his leg was, it
didn’t deter nor dissuade his drinking the very next evening.
Stopping the car, he swung open the driver’s door and slipped
out. The damp night mountain air was brisk and refreshing as he
strode to the heavy wooden gate, which he unlatched and swung open.
It creaked and groaned from lack of oil on its hinges and shuddered
like a living creature when it hit the boulder which stopped its
progress at the limit of its axis.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 53

Nick hurried back to the car and shifted it into gear, driving
through the gateway just in time to avoid the closing gate.
Stopping again, he latched the gate checking to make sure that there
were no visible traces of his entry. The blacktop blended with the
driveway’s gravel and no tracks were evident. The car motor
muttered as it idled and emitted a steady cloud of white vapor which
clung in the air. Aside from this, there was an eerie silence,
unlike Long Island where crickets would be chirping a comforting
lullaby.
Walking up to the farm house, Nick looked over the buildings in
the light from the car’s lamps. In front of him stood the original
barn with a two bedroom cottage butted at a right angle to it. The
barn’s roof had long ago given up its corrugated fight with the
elements and, although empty, it had been used in recent years as a
garage. To his right lay a more modern building, the family home,
windows dark, now empty.
Looking over the place brought back memories of a happier time.
His two friends had lived here with their sisters and parents. Wild
mountain men who finished their college degrees in accountancy and
psychology, they now resided in far-off lands. One cooking shrimps
on the barbie in a land down under, the other teaching English in
Spain, riding a donkey to work each day — a long time ago.
Removing his pack and rifle case from the car, Nick reconnoitered
the barn. Seeing a spot suitable for his needs, he reversed the car
into a dark corner and shut off the motor and lights. Reaching into
the glove compartment, he removed the flashlight he had stowed there
and switched it on, its beam cutting sharply through the darkness.
He searched around and found what he was looking for in the eaves.
He pitchforked clumps of rotting straw over the car before covering
it with the dripping, mildewed, slug covered tarpaulin he had found.
Adding a few fork fulls over the tarp for good measure, he kicked
straw over the tracks he had made reversing in and walked over to
where he had left his gear. Lifting it onto his shoulders he paced
quietly to the rear of the white-washed cottage and examined the
small window that hung from the smooth concrete wall.
Using his pocket knife, he slipped the latch and shimmied the
bottom pane upwards revealing the room within. He lowered his
backpack in the open window, followed by his rifle and clambered
awkwardly over the low window sill. Leaving his pack where it was,
he shone the light around seeing the toilet and sink, grimy as they
always were; old newspapers stacked to the side of the lavatory to
be alternatively used as reading and wiping material.
Pushing aside a heavy velvet curtain he peered into the larger
room beyond. Books lined the shelves on one wall, where a peat
stove jutted out from it abruptly, covered in a thin film of white
ash. In fact everything, he observed, was covered with the ash, as
the room obviously hadn’t been used in some time.
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A flecked, black iron spring bed lay uncovered to his right, and
as he swiveled his lamp he blinded himself when it reflected off the
front window, beyond which lay the courtyard.
Memories of his college years flooded back — mad drunken, stoned
orgies of literature, and lustful wishful thinking rushed about him.
He laughed out loud remembering one of his friends galloping around
this very room on another’s back, horse whip in one hand, a slopping
beer in the other with a riding hat perched precariously on his
head, while a visiting American cousin, well past the point of
complete inebriation, discussed the merits of Yeats and Joyce with a
well-toasted Psychologist. Nick, at this stage of the evening — he
remembered with a smirk — could hardly speak coherently let alone
discuss anything, staring wondrously at the array of century old
books that lay in the wobbly bookshelf. Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed
Girl” filled his ears. He could smell the damp peat fire burning in
the stove, ready to scorch the unwary....
Snapping back to reality, he groaned and turned back through the
curtains to grab his pack. Dropping it onto the bare bed springs,
he walked over and closed the heavy curtain covering the front
window. Lighting the gas lamp from his pack, he unzipped the rifle
case and removed the heavy weapon inside. He examined it carefully
in the harsh light and caressed the solid wooden stock.
Drawing back the ejection slide he peered down the barrel to see
if there were any bumps or notches on the rifling. It was still
coated in the oil he had applied fourteen years before, nonetheless
he broke the rifle down and cleaned each part thoroughly with the
cleaning kit he had stashed in the case.
Next, he examined the ammunition and the spare magazines. Most
of the shells retained their brightness, those that didn’t he
removed and discarded into a pocket in his backpack. What remained
were 43 rounds of Long Rifle .22 high velocity rounds and a handful
of low-powered. He knew that the spare magazines had never been
used enough to work down the springs so he loaded each with only
five instead of nine, one with low-power silver shells the other
with brass hypervelocity rounds. The clip from the rifle, he knew,
could reliably hold nine 1,250 feet-per-second high-velocity rounds
without jamming and he filled it slowly. Nick clipped it into the
breech and levered a round, removed the clip and added another
bullet, so that he now had ten rounds available.
Though it would be practically useless without the opportunity to
range it, he screwed the telescopic sight into position and cleaned
the lens. Cleaning and replacing the protective yellow lens caps on
each end of the sight, he lay the gun beside the bed and put the
case away into his pack.
It wasn’t much of a weapon. A German made rifle, an Anshutz .22
cal., it was all that was available in the Republic of Ireland since
all heavier caliber weapons had been recalled in the 1950’s,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 55

effectively disarming the country in the light of possible terrorist


activities. Its sturdy build made it a reliable rifle with few
misfeeds and the heavy barrel allowed it to be reasonably accurate
to 100 yards. It had killed a rabbit at close to 400 yards, but
only after exhausting seven rounds, the first six of which had
startled the animal into staying still as the rounds puffed up
spouts of dirt around it.
With little recoil, the hyper-velocity rounds left the muzzle at
1,250 feet per second, emitting a loud tearing sound as they broke
the sound barrier on the way to their target. Hence the futility of
the hunt, as every other animal in the vicinity dove for cover as
soon as they heard the first shot.
The low powered ammunition was sub sonic and Nick could swear he
could see the rounds as they sailed lazily, grossly under-powered
through the air, leaving the rifle with a barely audible plop. They
hardly had enough power to eject the spent shell from the blow-back
breech mechanism.
“They’ll do as a back-up,” he thought.
He scored the side of the clip loaded with low power rounds with
the side of a 50 pence piece, a coin large enough to do the job
comfortably. Inspecting his work in the dim light, he saw the
aluminum shine through the black paint and felt the scratches with
his thumb. Satisfied, he dropped the coin back into his hip pocket
and the clip into his jacket inside breast pocket with the other
unmarked clip. He probed his pocket and fingered them lightly and
was able to identify which was which without any problem.
Nick’s hands were oily. Grabbing the lamp, he walked to the back
of the room and into the toilet where a corroded dripping faucet
awaited him. To the side lay a long disused piece of soap, shrunk
and dried out. He twisted the tap on and the pipes groaned and
gurgled as water rose and gushed forcefully from its mouth. The tap
shuddered from the pressure of the water and much to Nick’s chagrin,
it splashed over his shirt. Fumbling with the ancient hardened
soap, he managed to rub a few layers of grime from his hands, and
then started on his face. The water was freezing as he splashed his
face, but it refreshed him. Walking back and retrieving his wash
kit from his backpack, he decided to have a shave — not his favorite
pastime with cold water, but he knew it would make him feel better.
Dragging the plastic razor over his whiskers, he used the window
as a mirror and scratched off most of the stubble as best he could.
Running his hand over his newly shaven face, he grunted with
satisfaction and turned to wash the remaining soap off.
He stopped abruptly, realizing what a fool he had been exposing
himself through the window to whoever might be outside.
“Relax,” he told himself. Nobody knew he was here, how could
they?
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 56

Still, he hurried back into the musty bedroom, careful to avoid


letting the light shine near the window. Checking over his stuff,
he took off his boots — glad that he had decided to wear them
instead of shoes. Greeted by a waft of foot odor, he thought the
better of it and slipped them back on, tying them tight. Leaning
onto the groaning bedsprings, he lay his rifle and pack by his right
hand and snapped off the lamp. The darkness was complete and
enveloping. Nick lay for a few short moments recollecting the day
and drifted into a deep dreamless sleep.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 57

“Where was the car spotted?” Detective Seán Driscoll fumbled, as


he attempted to get his car started while talking to the dispatcher
through his mobile phone.
“Kilmacud, in the Industrial Park heading south towards the
mountains. Patrol cars have been directed to intercept.”
“What about the patrol car that spotted him?”
The Ford Scorpio’s motor roared to life and Seán thrust it into
gear, heading towards the underground parking lot exit.
“Lost him as he exited the Industrial Park, but they are
attempting to find him...”
“Where exactly?” Seán barked tersely. “There are four different
roads he can take from the roundabout at the exit!”
He was met with silence.
“Keep me informed.” He hung up.
He hoped that the officers hadn’t made a mistaken identity.
There was nothing he could do anyway. He pressed the speed dial on
his phone.
“Doctor Leonard please.” He was put on hold.
A moment later his wife, Imelda Leonard picked up. He explained
that he would be home late again. The case he was working on might
drag on through the night. She wasn’t surprised. She asked him
what was up.
“We’ve got a hot lead on a suspect on the shootings at that march
today. Strangely enough, he has the same name as your friend
Jessica’s husband.” Imelda commented that many people, even in
Ireland, had the same name. Seán had never met Jessica or her
family. Imelda had know Jessica in college, before they had got
married.
“Do ya later,” he smirked into the phone. He just heard the
response as he hung up.
“You wish!”
He gunned the car up past the end of Lesson Street, slowing as he
passed the still taped off scene of the cab driver shooting. A few
stragglers hung around hoping for some action, but it was late and
the investigating officers were wrapping up.
He swerved his car up the one way street, flicking on his
dashboard mounted flashing blue light to allay the indignant look of
the uniformed police who turned to see who the impertinent motorist
was. Looking around there was not much to see. The night showers
had washed away most traces of blood, and the forensics had scooped
up any interesting debris. He wasn’t here for that anyway. He
asked who was the first officer on the scene, and walked over to
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 58

him. He sat, his fist grasping a foam cup filled with tea, his cap
on the car hood beside him.
“Evenin’,” Seán nodded a greeting to him. The officer returned
the nod.
“Cigarette?” Seán asked.
“No thanks sir, I have one,” he tapped his breast uniform pocket,
his blue tie askew.
“No, I mean, may I have one?” Seán continued.
The officer smiled at that and shook one out of the box for him.
“I suppose you’ll be wantin’ a light as well?”
“Actually I’m all set,” and Seán withdrew a lighter from his
trouser pocket hoping that the officer wouldn’t see his own pack
nestled there.
They sat in silence for a moment or two. Officer Sheen broke the
silence first.
“I’ve already given a statement — would you like a copy?”
Seán shook his head, exhaling a cloud of smoke into the damp air.
Imelda would cut his nuts off if she smelled the cigarettes on his
clothes.
“Not at all,” he wanted to put Sheen at ease. “Read it
already.”
Another moment passed as did some late evening traffic. Two
motorcycle police waved the slowing traffic forward not allowing
them the opportunity to rubberneck.
“There is something that caught my eye,” Seán said.
Sheen lifted his head waiting.
“You mentioned a car stopped here when you arrived.”
“They were trying to give first aid.”
“Did you ID the occupants?”
“No, I was trying to make the victim as comfortable as possible
before the ambulance arrived.”
Seán nodded in understanding, “Of course,” he agreed, “of
course.”
“I gave their description in the report and the make of car. The
license plate was . . .”
Seán stopped him with a lift of his hand. He flicked the
remainder of the cigarette towards a storm drain missing it
completely.
“Stolen,” he muttered.
“Go way!”
“Reported missing around 6:00 P.M., from out Dalky way.”
“Think they had anything to do with it? I saw the guy drive off
in the taxi. Those guys weren’t in any hurry to leave.”
Seán said nothing. Had the officer questioned the occupants of
the car too closely, he too would probably be spending the night on
a slab in the morgue, along side Paddy Gallagher.
“Anyone else around?”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 59

“People were millin’ out of O’Dwyer’s pub across the street once
they saw the commotion.”
“Any other cars . . . bikes?”
“There was a motorcycle, two actually, now that you mention it.
One took off after the taxi, the other stayed around and left when
the ambulance arrived.”
Seán had run a check on some old files. Gallagher, the cabby,
was a suspected IRA member from way back — now performed messenger
and chauffeur duties, but nothing major. The police suspected the
IRA connection with the cab services, most of whom were independent
contractors. It made sense really. Driving around in broad
daylight, they would be able to perform their duties, public and
private, without intrusion from anyone.
“What make of bikes were they?”
“Fucked if I know, I had other things on my mind.” Sheen was dog
tired and wanted to get off duty and have a pint before he headed
home. Seán was delaying him.
“Not the brand, what type?”
“Oh, messenger bikes — motocross, the ones you see around every
day.”
But not late at night, not two of them, Seán thought.
“Off ye go and get some well deserved rest.”
Standing he offered his hand, which the middle aged officer
readily accepted. Stiff as a board and his clothes damp, he was
only too happy to finish.
Seán gave him his card.
“If anything else comes up, or if you remember anything else,” he
said, “please give me a ring — day or night.” He knew better than
to patronize an older man by congratulating him on his night’s work.
Seán turned his car around and drove off weary. His confidence
at finding Nick Riordan had diminished, now that he was pretty sure
that Nick had the IRA after him. He wasn’t aware of just how right
he was at the time.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 60

Nick wasn’t sure what woke him.


Dawn filtered through the tired drapes that covered the single
window. He was immediately alert, his eyes probing the darkness,
looking for sound. Listening intently, his right hand felt for his
gun, finding it, he brought it up over his belly.
Its weight, and the coolness of its hard-wood stock, made him
feel more secure as he slowly raised his body from the creaking bed
and sat there listening intently. It reminded him of waking in his
parents’ house as a child in the dead of night, awoken by a strange
sound, knowing instinctively that something was amiss.
The dog’s barking in the distance confirmed his worry and he
swung from the bed, reaching for the backpack. Glad now that he had
kept his boots on, he dropped onto the hard floor and shuffled
toward the curtain covering the entrance to the rudimentary
bathroom. The air was chill and reeked of dampness.
“This place always gave me the creeps,” he thought, as he slid
the curtain aside. Looking behind him to make sure everything was
in order, he moved forward and glanced into the toilet bowl to make
sure that it was clear of any leftover tell-tale debris. Everything
seemed as it should be. The window drape at the front of the house
remained closed as he had left it. He made for the toilet window.
Stopping, he watched the ground outside, checking for movement.
In the semi-darkness, he checked his weapon, sliding back the
ejection lever to double-check that a round was in place. Slipping
off the safety catch, he slung the rifle over his shoulder and
slowly raised the window. It lifted with some exertion on Nick’s
part, shuddering and shaking in protest.
As he was about to exit through the window, he tuned to check the
place once more. He could see, through the half light, his tracks
across the floor, captured by the dust. Glancing anxiously around
he retrieved an old newspaper from the bathroom and rolled it
tightly. Sweeping side-to-side he cleared the prints that he had
made, raising a cloud of dust. He retreated into the bedroom and
brushed the floor there. It would have to do.
Satisfied, he turned toward the bathroom and stopped abruptly.
The dog had stopped barking.
Nick raced to the window, and eased out, pulling his pack behind
him, careful not to damage the glass with his rifle. Squatting low
beside the window, barely breathing, he looked around slowly, using
his peripheral vision to spot movements. He lumbered his back-pack
onto his shoulders, tightened the straps and pointed the rifle
forward, finger lightly on the trigger guard.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 61

The early sun was diffused by a thick blanket of low gray clouds
which clung to the hillside like a cotton blanket. A low mist hung
over the surrounding fields, the grass heavy with dew. Water
dripped from the leaves falling soundlessly to the ground. The
loudest sound was the thumping of his heart.
Nick squatted beside the window, alert for the slightest sound,
unsure of what he should do. Planning to come here was easy, but he
hadn’t thought beyond that. There was someone he could call on the
other side of the low mountain, but he hadn’t anticipated any
further trouble. Perhaps he was being paranoid.
A long, broken, moss covered stone wall lay ahead of Nick, to
his right an overgrown vegetable garden. His breath hung in the
still air and he longed for a cigarette. For a moment, he thought
that he heard the sound of gravel crunching, and he had to fight the
urge to walk to the front of the cottage to investigate. A moment
later, his belly tight with anxiety, he jumped as he heard a
distinctive metallic ‘click’ from the far side of the cottage.
Fighting his instinct to turn and run from the danger, Nick
reached into the side pocket of his bag and withdrew the items
stored there that he had picked up from his visit to the house in
Mount Merrion the night before. His aunt, the owner of the house,
would be none the wiser of his entry as she was ensconced in a
nursing home convalescing after a hip replacement operation. It had
occurred to him to stay in her house for the night, but he had
responded to the urge to run, and run he had.
Shuffling as quietly as he could to the gable end of the house
near the wall, he bent there and deposited the contents of the
pocket — a packet of marine flares and a coil of fishing wire — and
set the fishing wire as securely as he could across the moss covered
pathway. He knew that by leaving the device there, he would be
confirming to whomever was after him the fact that he was indeed
there, but he hoped the surprise value would be worth the trade-off.
Up to his right, perhaps 150 yards away, on the other side of the
wall, was an elevated clump of tall evergreen trees. He was
familiar with the spot as he had used it in the past as a blind
while hunting. He would have to traverse the wall to reach it.
Looking behind him he saw nothing out of the ordinary. Leaning
forward he walked quickly to the wall and stepped gingerly over it,
avoiding the loose stones lest he trip and set them tumbling. By
staying close to the low wall he could travel to the trees without
leaving obvious marks in the wet grass and it would also provide him
with cover.
“How did they find me?” he thought, “Forget how — who?” Nick
immediately dismissed it and set his mind to the present task. The
backpack was securely nestled, the rifle heavy in his hands. The
telescopic sight was covered with snap-off yellow fog lenses — a
cheap but effective remedy to counter poor visibility. He left the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 62

lenses where they were — it might give him an edge. Progress to the
trees was swift even though he was hunched down using the cover
offered by the wall as he inched forward. A movement to his left
caught his eye and he stopped, aware that he had no cover. Bending
to one knee he raised the rifle and squinted through the sight,
focusing as best he could on the area where he saw the movement. He
had been correct. He saw it again, this time accompanied by a cloud
of exhaled air. From the slope of the hill a shape appeared, rising
up the grassy hill. Determined, Nick lifted his rifle to his
shoulder, licking his lips nervously, preparing to fire. The cross
hairs settled and he felt the trigger give as his forefinger
tightened on it.
“Squeeze the trigger,” his firearms instructor had told him years
before, “never pull.”
A millisecond before the hammer fell, something told him that the
shape was wrong and he relaxed his grip.
Relief flooded through him as he saw a massive head rear up and
look at him with loving bovine eyes, strings of mucus streaming from
its steaming mouth.
“Jesus!” he thought, “I nearly shot a cow.”
He felt more at ease as he stumbled the final distance to the
trees, but he made sure to keep low and held the strap of the rifle
tightly against the weapon to stop it from rattling. Stepping
through a patch of mud, he stopped and grabbed a handful, grimacing
at the obvious signs of the cow manure laced through it, and smeared
it over his face and the back of his hands to dull the gleam of his
white skin against the canopy of trees where he lay. It worked in
the movies, so “why not?” he thought.
Rushing into the grove of trees he threw himself flat behind a
man sized shard of a glacial boulder that lay there.
“I bet if I rummage through these needles I’ll find a few of my
old shells,” he thought, looking around. Laying the rifle on top of
the rock, he peered through the telescopic sight and adjusted the
focus so that he could see the cottage and its environs sharply.
Directly below him lay the dilapidated barn in which he had parked
the car the night before, the cottage to the left. Half of the
cottage was blocked from view by the stone wall he had just
traversed, and it occurred to him that an attacker could easily
approach him undetected on the other side.
Standing against one of the scrawny trees, he eliminated that
possibility as he had a view of the ground approaching the wall.
Nick waited, watched and listened. His mind was sharp, his eyes
alert. He was aware of the escape route behind him. A section of
forest covering the entire top of the hill lay there, but the
prospect of having to work his way through it was daunting. The
trees were thick, the air dark. He would much prefer to wait it
out. He hoped that he was indeed over reacting, and the noises he
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 63

heard were caused by none other than a farm cat. If he waited a


while, perhaps he could go back down there, start up the car and be
on his way. Maybe a stint on the phone would clear this mess up.
He wondered if the taxi driver was all right.
Behind the barn was a thick area of tall grass adjacent to the
wooden gate that allowed access to the field by tractor. Or at
least it did once — before the toll of Irish weather and neglect had
taken their course. Looking through the sight he could see the
rust-laden chain that bound it shut. A movement caught his eye . .
. the tops of the grass shuddered briefly. “A rat?” Nick wondered.
His peripheral vision caught a shadow and he looked up as someone
rushed from the gable end of the cottage wall to the overgrown
garden. A fleeting shadow, lost. Definitely not a rodent.
“Damn.” He was in trouble now. The hairs on his neck prickled,
a chill tingled the length of his spine. Nick lifted a fallen pine
frond and lay it over the barrel of the rifle to add to his
camouflage. Making some calculations, Nick adjusted the gun’s iron
sights and raised the rear one to the 150 yard position. He knew
there was some advantage to shooting down hill, but he could not for
the life of him remember what it was. He settled down watching the
tall grass below him.
He froze. Not 30 feet away, he heard the low crackle of a CB
radio. No words, just the quiet sound of the talk button being
depressed quickly as some kind of signal. He sank slowly behind the
rock, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him whole. He
peered around at the wall adjacent to him, knowing that someone was
there. Panic rose in his throat, and he fought the urge to run.
Reaching into his inside pocket, he felt for the rasp of the
scored clip which contained the sub-sonic rounds. Retrieving it, he
lay it bedside him removing two silver rounds. Nick dropped the
clip out of his rifle, and slid the ejection slide back to drop the
round out of the breech. Fumbling, he removed two shells from the
clip and replaced them with the two from the scored clip, and
quietly snapped it back into the gun. In an effort to keep as quiet
as possible he slid the cocking lever back slowly, and in the
process nearly dropped the loading round onto the ground. He had to
stuff it back in with his forefinger.
Behind him, about 10 yards away, lay the upper wall of the field
and behind that, the relative safety of the pine forest. He longed
to run for it, but knew that he would make enough noise clambering
over the wall to wake the dead. A calm overcame him as he thought
about what he had to do. If only he could harness that for his
flying — perhaps it was the morning air. He made a silent prayer
and stood up.
Running to the wall, the source of the radio sound, he lifted his
gun high and peered over. Immediately in front of him, not more
than ten feet away, a khaki clad figure squatted, a black woolen ski
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 64

mask over his head and AK 47 cradled in his hand, the stock
protruding over his right elbow. Their eyes met at the same instant
and the figure raised his weapon in an arch towards Nick in a fluid
motion. No doubt left in his mind, and with a rising anger, Nick
dropped the barrel and pulled the trigger twice.
Two quiet plops were emitted when the low powered rounds sprang
from the breech and plowed hard into the attacker’s wool covered
head with a sickening slap. He toppled backwards, not so much from
the force of the impact, as the bullets lacked the horsepower to
more than penetrate the skin and crack the skull bone underneath.
He was already off balance from his awkward stance. The rounds
merely pushed him over and he fell to the ground, where he lay
motionless, blood seeping from his dark ski mask.
Nick ran back to the trees and slid behind his rocky cover,
afraid to look up. His hands were wet with sweat and he had to
concentrate hard on ejecting the clip from the gun and feeding
replacement rounds. The noise of the shots must have been heard by
anyone else in the party — they weren’t all that quiet. They had
been heard, but at any distance it was difficult to pinpoint their
source. He hugged the ground awaiting the barrage of fire that must
surely follow. His hands trembled at the enormity of what he had
done, but for the first time in his life he was able to completely
control his emotions, a cold confidence overcame him and he calmed
himself down, concentrating totally on the present. A high of some
sort, he figured.
His device at the cottage didn’t operate as planned. It was not a
human who set it off but a large tom cat who, disturbed by the
activity, had become ensnared in the fishing wire. He angrily
swiped at it, spitting and snarling with his needle teeth. The wire
was attached to the remnants of the tear off trigger mechanism that
topped the stick flare. It did not require a flare gun to operate.
It was designed for the casual boater. “Tear off the plastic taper
and hold aloft, aiming skyward,” was the worded instruction on the
side of the flare. Nick had helped by removing most of the taper,
so the gentlest of tugs exposed and ignited the fuse. It was nothing
more than a large elaborate firework.
Nick saw the flash of the rising star and squeezed his eyes
tightly shut. A parachute flare, it soared skyward in a plume of
phosphorous white and red light. No one could avoid the instinctive
reaction of looking at it, so sudden was its presence. And everyone
who looked, lost what vestige of good vision they had, gone in a
blinding flash, much as when a flash bulb is fired on a camera, the
brightness seared into the retina. Their eyes would need many
minutes to regain their sensitivity.
Rising slowly to scrutinize the landscape below him, Nick saw a
dark figure emerge quickly from the garden and run to the cottage
wall. Crouching intuitively against the wall, the figure swept the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 65

area with his weapon and edged to the window of the cottage.
Thrusting his head around the sill, the person glanced inside and
threw himself forward, rolling to the place where the smoking tube
of the flare launcher lay. Sweeping his gun from right to left, the
attacker examined the area and returned to the garden, gun held at
the shoulder, ready, alert. Nick lost sight of him in the
undergrowth.
From the back of the barn, the tall grass parted and another
figure emerged warily. Nick let him clear the grass. This one was
looking all around but held his weapon rigid, pointed uncertainly
into the air in front of him, waiting for a target. Nick squinted
through the rifle sight and planted the cross-hair squarely on the
attacker’s chest. Dropping his eye to the manual sight he reckoned
he was off by a foot or two, but at this point he had run out of
options. Squeezing the trigger, he used the manual sight for aiming
and loosed off four rounds in quick succession marching them toward
the target. All missed but one.
Through the sight he saw the ground explode in front of the
attacker as the hyper-sonic rounds screamed from the muzzle at
almost twice the speed of sound and ripped into the soft, wet soil
expending their energy as they gouged clumps of grass and dirt. He
was about to shoot again but stopped when he saw the figure drop his
weapon and tumble forward clutching his groin with both hands. The
crack of the firing dulled his ears but he could hear the cry of
anguish from his target.
Dropping the clip from his rifle, he groped in his pocket and
pulled out a handful of rounds. He slid them into the clip one by
one, feeling the resistance of the spring as he reached the limit of
its capacity. He slid it back into the breech of the gun,
adrenaline pumping as he turned it toward the cottage.
The trees exploded over his head, as they were ripped apart by a
barrage of heavy AK 47 rounds. Shards clawed and ripped at his face
as Nick dove for cover. Bullets whined into the distance as they
bounced off the rock and the wall behind it. Nick felt the warm
salty taste of blood seep into his mouth from a wound to his cheek.
The firing stopped, the attackers clip expended.
Nick didn’t hesitate. Grabbing his rifle, he ran, crouched, for
the wall behind him and jumped over it, just as the firing started
again, bullets smashed into the stone work. Nick rapidly changed
his position and ran to the left, his legs becoming tangled in the
dense undergrowth. Cursing with frustration, he ripped his legs
from the thorns and stumbled forward toward a new perch. The firing
had stopped as the attacker changed position, or replaced his
depleted magazine again. Nick wished for a second that he had
retrieved the gun from the first man that he had shot, but it was
too late now and he hadn’t thought of it then.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 66

Panting for breath, heart thumping, he threw himself against the


wall. Sweat threatened to blind him. Wiping his eyes with his
sleeve, he threw himself face forward against the wall and peeped
over the top. Below him lay the body of the first attacker. Easing
the rifle over the top he looked around anxiously seeking the source
of the fire.
“The guy could be anywhere,” Nick thought.”
Looking at the inert body, yards away, he saw that the man’s
weapon lay close by his side, tied to his wrist by a cord. He would
have to cut it clear, he thought, and leave himself completely
exposed in the process. Far below him, the cries of the person he
had just shot were becoming more pronounced and soon became a
scream. Screams of agony. It tore at Nicks brain like a saw.
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The crack and flash of the rising flare had startled him. In
fact, it had scared the crap out of him. It could have been a mine
like the one that had blown his friend, Robbie, to pieces, during
an operation in Belfast, when it had detonated some four hours
prematurely. Robby’s flesh had stuck to the walls of the abandoned
garage, hanging there like fried bacon emitting a sweet burned odor.
Since that day, Jimmy had not been able to stomach rashers for
breakfast.
The most junior member of the group, he had been given the least
demanding position — that of flanking behind the barn from which
there was no window nor an exit. They had expected their quarry to
be holed up in the main house, or the cottage, asleep, blissfully
unaware of the dawn attack. A dumb Yank, they had been told. Had
killed one of their men. Wouldn’t know his arse from his elbow.
Would come out pleading like a pig, offering big money to be let go.
They hadn’t expected to be set up.
Although this was his first combat mission, he did have some
experience behind him. He had been assigned to accompany the roving
punishment squads on the late evening round-ups through the Belfast
streets. These round-ups consisted of picking up unsuspecting lads
from the Catholic neighborhood who had been fingered by the locals
as troublemakers of one kind or another, untouchables by the
disinterested local police standards, and, despite verbal warnings,
continued with their misdeeds.
Pick-ups were the easy part, the punishments were something else
indeed — something he could never get used to. A black Ford Cargo
van, legitimately owned and operated by one of the group, would rove
the streets and snag their designated felons. Drawing up beside
them, the doors would be flung open and the protesting victim thrown
into the dark interior. Added to the fear of incarceration was the
fact that the van was used to transport animal offal during the day;
the reek of stale blood and animal waste permeated the vehicle.
These pick-ups continued, prompted from a list prepared by the
local IRA council, for an hour or two. The darkness and the smell
had some of the earlier passengers puking from the effect and the
prospect of what lay ahead. For all they knew, Loyalists could have
been the drivers and the evening ahead could have brought with it a
night of unimaginable torture or death from a bullet, if they were
lucky, to the nape of the neck.
The van would travel at a normal speed, in normal traffic to
their destination — an empty warehouse, or the back of a block of
flats. On arrival, the van would stop and the driver and passenger
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 68

doors would open and slam shut. The ensuing silence was designed as
a psychological means to raise the anxiety level of the prisoners.
The punishment group commander gave whispered instructions to the
squad on each prisoner and their fate.
The rear doors would be flung open, and hands reached into the
darkness to grab the lads and throw them to the ground outside. The
shapes of automatic weapons being swept from side to side was enough
to keep the prisoners quiet, their guards indistinguishable behind
their ski masks.
“Against the wall, move, move, faces to the wall,” they were
ordered, aided in reaching their desired position with kicks and
blows from the stocks of their guards’ weapons.
“Gentlemen,” a voice would sneer from behind them, “I am the
commander of this unit of the Irish Republican Army. At this late
hour I am normally at home in bed with the wife or down at the local
with the lads, but because of your antics I’m here with you bunch of
wankers.” A silence followed as he let the words sink in.
“You all know why you’re here. Be glad it’s us and not the
Prods, or you wouldn’t be enjoying the luxury of breathing,” he
added.
Nervously, a few heads turned to look at the speaker, but were
quick to “assume the position” as they felt the cold steel muzzles
of pistols touch the back of their necks. A list of names and
offenses were read off. Those who had been picked up for the first
and second time were led aside, beaten into various stages of
unconsciousness and warned never to repeat their crime. They were
then let go to make their way home through the damp night air.
Those remaining were stood back from the wall, pushed forward
spread-eagled so that their weight was on their hands and ordered to
drop their pants below their knees. A quiet command brought forward
the enforcers who withdrew their pistols and stood ready.
At a final command, they leaned forward, and extended their arms
and touched the pistols behind the left knees of their prisoners.
In unison they would fire into the left legs, the bullets ripping
through flesh and bone of the knee cap. The recipients would
collapse from the damage caused to their legs, doubled over at the
shock of being shot. It was too early yet for the pain to set in
but it would come, in spades.
“Check for bleeders,” the commander would order. Sometimes the
bullet fragments nicked an artery and left the victim spouting a
spray of bright red arterial blood. If this was the case, a
tourniquet was applied to the leg, to help avoid death from shock
before the ambulance arrived.
At a curt command, the squad would disappear into the shadows,
and the van would drive away to call an ambulance from the nearest
working pay phone, or one of the neighbors would do the honors.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 69

His dad had told him that many years before, when guns were not
so readily available, knee cappings were carried out in a far less
surgical method involving the use of a standard Black and Decker
drill with a quarter or half inch bit.
With the help of a crutch these modern victims were fortunate.
They might regain the full use of the leg, with a limp. If they
were unlucky, and the bullet damaged the popliteal nerve, their
lower leg would be paralyzed. The earlier more primitive method
practically guaranteed that they would lose the leg from the thigh
down, and their walking days were over.
“They deserved all they got,” he thought as he crouched lower in
the wet grass, trying to blend in, becoming invisible. He didn’t
know which way to look. The brilliant flare had destroyed his
vision — leaving spots in his eyes — and cast flickering shadows
around the barn wall and the meadows. He hardly noticed the ground
beneath him as it spat in his face. Not realizing what was
happening he felt what seemed like a rock hit his groin and he
stumbled back from the impact.
As he lay there he tried to sit upright but felt a hard stiffness
in his lower stomach. The .22 caliber round had entered his body
below his combat jacket. It shouldn’t have done the damage it did,
but what it lacked in mass, it made up for in velocity. The bullet
disintegrated when it impacted against his pelvic bone sending
shards in all directions.
“What the heck?” he thought, looking down at his pants. Bright
red blood sprayed violently between his fingers that clutched his
groin. At first there was a numbness, no feeling at all, just the
warmth of his own blood hot and slick on his hands. Slowly the pain
began to ebb toward his brain in waves, each larger than the last,
and he opened his mouth, trying to catch his breath gasping.
The intensity of the pain doubled him over. As he fought against
it, he vomited convulsively. It could have been a slow death but
the bone shards had opened up a large section of his femoral artery
and his blood poured from the wound. His last vision of this world
was the spluttering flare drifting on it’s parachute in the sky
mingling, with a crimson rain that fogged his vision. It took him
some minutes to die; he was unaware of his screaming; he was insane
with the pain; the terminal throes of his calvary.
His last breath was a struggle, a fight for oxygen but he lacked
the blood with which to carry it to his numbing brain.
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Nick had no idea how long he had been running. Fir branches
flayed his face as he stumbled headlong through the dark forest. He
did what he could to hold onto his backpack and rifle. He lost the
gun when he tripped over a rock outcrop but it had been saved from
damage when it slipped from his grasp and tumbled into a pile of fir
needles. Slinging the rifle over his shoulder, he continued to run
as he heard the sounds of pursuit not far behind him. It was hard
to tell, in the close confines of the trees, how close his pursuers
were. At least the shooting had stopped, but that did nothing to
ease his fear.
After what seemed like an eternity, but in fact was only a few
short minutes, he rushed breathlessly into a clearing, narrowly
avoiding falling into a pond of still water. In the small clearing
the sunlight struggled to reach the ground through the tall trees;
the air was cool and smelled strongly of damp pine.
“What next?” he thought, panting, “which way do I go?”
He fought the panic that teetered on the edge of his
consciousness. Around him lay the ruined remains of a long
forgotten and derelict mountain cottage, its roof and most of its
walls long gone. Dark green ferns grew from the cracks and crevices
between the bricks, and tall undergrowth invaded it. Nick had
little time to think, but knew that to remain there would prove
fatal, because the position was surrounded closely on all sides by
forest and offered little or no protection. Listening intently he
could make out the sound of his pursuers, and though it was
difficult to judge just how far behind him they were, he knew that
he had seconds to decide what to do.
He dropped his backpack to the ground and removed one of the
remaining flares that he had stored there. Quickly rigging it, as
he had done at the farm, he wedged the flare inside the remains in
the corner where it would stay standing. Listening again he could
hear nothing, his pursuers obviously wondering what he was up to, as
the forest lay quiet under a blanket of silence. Hoping that his
crude device would work a second time, and, like Pavlov’s bell,
alarm his enemy into remaining static when it was activated. He
planned to gain as much time as he could in the ensuing delay.
The forest lay dark around him, as he ran the fishing wire,
crudely, given the limited time he had - they could come rushing in
on top of him at any second, blazing away. He dismissed it from his
mind as he tied off the loop. He glanced around the clearing and
picked up a stone from the ground and threw it up and at an angle
away from him in the direction of his attackers in the hope of
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 71

confusing them before disappearing, into the trees, walking as


quickly and quietly as he could.
Nick heard the rock crash through the foliage, and it was
followed by the same deadly silence. The quietness added to
uneasiness - could it be that they had already found him and were
ready to pounce again? Had they circled him in the short minute
that he had been there?
His eyes adjusted for the limited light around him, but even so
he could barely see more than a few yards in either direction. He
trod on, unslinging his rifle from his shoulder, checking the breech
to see that there was a round chambered. He had completely lost
count of how many shots he had fired. The glint of the cartridge
reassured him that he had at least one shot left and he dared not
slow or stop to check his clip, forgetting that he had previously
reloaded it. The rifle threatened to slow his progress should it
snag in any of the branches that drooped in his way. He felt eyes
boring holes in his back, but ignored the sensation and plodded on
toward what he hoped was a way out.
After a couple of hundred yards, he stopped again listening
intently. He squatted down in the foliage but could hear nothing
except the sound of his blood rushing through his ears. Squinting
he realized that from this vantage point he could see quite far -
the trees were so densely packed that little useful sunlight reached
the floor hence the lack of growth. Glancing through his telescopic
sight he could easily see the clearing he had left and coldly
realized that it was a two way street. His pursuer could be
watching him in the same way and could have been since before he
reached the clearing. The tumble of the ruin broke the line of
sight as did mounds of wilted and fallen fronds, but from his
vantage point he could just make out the boots of the person
standing there.
As he watched the boots - he could see no other part of his
pursuers as the tree line robbed him of sight at just above ankle
level - they made a circular route around the ruin looking for
something. Not surprisingly, his trap had not worked twice but it
bought Nick time. Time to think.
Adrenaline rushed through his body as he thought about what he
should do. Once the pursuers found his hastily deposited flare they
would find him if they ran straight uphill, this being the logical
route. As Nick continued to watch, he saw the man drop to a knee
and examine the area where the flare was hidden. As his shape
became more distinct Nick dropped his finger to his trigger and
squeezed. He aimed carefully allowing for the distance - at this
range he could not hope for accuracy to within a foot or two either
way, but he felt that the risk was worth it.
The snap of the hammer hitting the firing pin surprised, him and
he wondered if his cartridge had misfired. A puff of blue smoke
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 72

lingering in the foliage belayed this doubt, as did the howl of


surprise, when his subsonic round tumbled through the trees and
entered the clearing, missing his target by a good yard. What he
lacked in accuracy was made up for by the effect the impacting round
had on his attackers, as it tore into an old brick. Shattering, it
scattered debris into the face of the men stooped there. Nick’s
attacker had been gingerly examining the flare wondering if there
was anything hidden nearby that any prodding to this obviously
worthless device would trigger.
The brick exploded at just the right moment and, despite their
seasoning in the field, one reacted instinctively, yelling in
surprise and diving for cover. The trees had hidden the sound and
direction of the source of the shot. In anger and frustration they
lifted their submachine guns and sprayed the tree line all around
just as Nick made a run for it.
The booming resonance of the shootings deafening effect on the
attacker’s ears, covered the sound of his flight, and within a
minute he burst out from the trees into a welcome sunlight filled
field. Nick ran until he felt his heart would burst, first cresting
the hill on which the forest lay, and then ran down hill and towards
the stone wall that bordered the roadway. He knew exactly where he
was now and ran knowing that nothing would stop him. Further down
the road, the farm well behind him, he washed his face and hands
free of the muck of the forest in a brook that bordered the
roadside.
Behind him his pursuers backtracked knowing that their quarry was
gone. This did not trouble them as much as the reaction they would
get from their boss waiting at the farm.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 73

“Hey Nick! How’s the sperm count?” Imelda Driscoll grinned


nonchalantly, as if she had seen Nick the week before rather than 12
years previously.
“Spit in your hand and you tell me!” he responded, relaxing as
she closed the door behind him.
“Haven’t lost your charm I see,” she quipped, as she hugged him
tightly in greeting. “Nasty scratch,” she added, spotting the now
congealed gash on his cheek. Imelda held him at arms length
examining his features, a little rough this early in the morning,
but perhaps he had been out for a few drinks the night before.
Despite the early hour she did not seem surprised to see him, an
instinctive professional, an oncologist to be exact and a good one,
it was in her nature to hide concern behind a very good jovial mask.
Her joy at seeing him was not contrived; however, it had been a long
time.
The warmth of the house, centrally heated, and the lingering
odors of breakfast filled Nicks nostrils, making him salivate.
“Throw your stuff in the hall - fancy some breakfast?” Nick
nodded eagerly, pausing to look through the front door window,
checking that the way he had come was clear. The move was not lost
on Imelda, nor was the fact that he had arrived on foot.
The sounds of a popular talk show host, which filled the kitchen,
were quickly doused with a flick of her finger on the remote control
laying on the counter. The living room was clean and comfortable.
Despite the early hour - Nick saw that it was a little after 9:00
A.M. on the wall clock - the fireplace in the sitting room was lit,
blazing and crackling under its burden of coal and logs.
“How do you take your tea, or would you prefer a more American
refreshment - coffee?” she asked, a twinkle in her eye, as she waved
him to sit on the sofa, visible through the open French door that
separated the kitchen from the living room.
“Tea would be fine, milk and sugar...thanks.”
He admired her slim build as he watched her move across the
kitchen. Thirty five and still looking great - just like his wife
Jessica. He stopped himself, feeling guilty. He removed a white
lab coat, its pockets teeming with papers, stethoscope and pens,
from the sofa and hung it over the back of a chair. He knew from
what Jessica told him that Imelda had a child of her own now, though
there was no sign of the paraphernalia of infanthood. While Imelda
prepared the tea, she and Nick made small talk, chatting about their
respective families.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 74

“You off today?” he called out as he sat, his weary bones readily
absorbing the heat of the flames, the softness of the sofa easing
the stiffness of his muscles.
“No, I always work from home!” she sang back, adding, “I’m
pulling evenings this week. The little lad is with his granny ‘til
Friday.”
Nick settled his backpack on the floor, avoiding letting the
dirty parts stain the rug. He had slung the rifle into a bush
outside - he had unscrewed the barrel, to avoid calling attention to
the unmistakable shape, in his lonely walk here.
Imelda entered carrying two steaming mugs of tea. Oddly silent.
Nick accepted his gratefully and nearly scalded himself in his
eagerness for warm refreshment.
“So,” Imelda sat on the arm of a full armchair, “tell me all -
hiked your way up here I see.” Nick’s dirty clothes certainly told
a tale, as did his somewhat disheveled appearance.
A wave of fatigue and nausea swept over Nick as he collected his
thoughts - a combination of delayed shock and the lack of sleep from
the previous night. He rubbed his forehead wearily with his hand as
he began to talk. He decided to tell her all - it was the only way
to get it all in order in his head.
Imelda listened intently, her interest roused, her head cocked to
one side as he spoke. Half way through, she beckoned to him to
follow her into the kitchen where she set about preparing a full
breakfast for him in the best Irish tradition - eggs, bacon,
mushrooms and tomatoes. Just as he finished his story, she too was
finished and set the feast in front of him on her kitchen table.
Nick attacked it ravenously. He hadn’t eaten a decent meal in days,
except for the half finished room service dinner he was forced to
leave the night before - but that was a distant memory.
When he had wiped his plate clean, Imelda refreshed his cup of
tea. He felt 100% better, though he knew he needed some sleep soon.
“Well,” she smiled, though her eyes were cold, “you’ve certainly
got yourself a pile of trouble.” Rising and walking to the front
window, she glanced outside, “Sure they didn’t follow you here?”
“Pretty sure - actually I’m quite certain. I waited over an hour
at the bottom of the road before I walked up here. I would have
called but the pub, Johnny Foxes, was closed and I couldn’t get to a
pay phone. My mobile phone battery is dead.”
Imelda glanced at the shotgun on the wall rack; Nick followed her
eyes and noticed it for the first time. Funny he hadn’t seen it
before - a Mossberg it had a short barrel and a pistol grip - not
exactly hunting equipment.
“So that was your rifle you threw in the bush?”
Before he could answer, she walked outside, retrieved it, and
brought it back inside.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 75

Laying it on the kitchen table, she opened the case and withdrew
the two parts, examining them both closely.
“I detest these things - detest them.” she muttered, “you might
want to clean it,” she added, laying it down on the counter.
“I don’t know if it is to your advantage or not but my husband is
a police officer.”
“Yes Jessica had mentioned that to me.”
Ignoring him, Imelda went on,
“He’s a member of the anti-terrorist squad. This, as you know,
is a small country everybody knows everyone - I’m not so sure he’ll
be thrilled when he finds out that you came here. For goodness
sake, he’s out there now looking for you!”
“I don’t wish to sound melodramatic but I’ve witnessed a
slaughter — over the past two days I’ve been shot at more times than
I care to remember, and I don’t even know who’s behind it all.”
Trying to put a humorous spin on it, he added “besides I happened to
be in the neighborhood...I had hoped to make some calls back at
O’Reilly’s Farm and move on from there — I didn’t mean to bring any
trouble...”
“I know, Nick. I’m just worried. If they spotted you coming
here, whoever they are, they’ll tie it in with Seán . . . he’s under
enough pressure as it is. When you live out here in relative
isolation, the trade off of having the pretty Glencullen River and
the mountains in your backyard, is the constant fear that someone
could be watching from those trees across the river, waiting for
Seán to come home.”
She turned away hiding the tears that sprung to her eyes. Nick
let her be. She turned back, biting her lip and examined his
haggard features, noticing how well he looked - how he still
retained the handsomeness of his youth. His blue eyes sparkled,
though they were laced, bloodshot from fatigue. She had an interest
in jumping his bones once - more than once actually, but that was
before both of their marriages.
“I’d appreciate, if I could use the phone. I’ve got to check on
Jessica and the children in case these guys try anything there.”
Imelda threw him the cordless.
“Get out of your clothes and I’ll throw them in the wash. You
could use a shower yourself,” and she gestured to him to follow her
to the upstairs bathroom.
Nick complied, feeling more comfortable in his boxers, though he
could feel Imelda’s eyes on him as he undressed. He turned away in
embarrassment, his penis rising in early morning glory. Imelda
laughed admiring the bulge and grabbed his clothes from him.
“Howdy to you too - Jessica was right about you!” and she left
Nick bewildered.
“Throw me out the boxers too.”
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Nick emptied out his backpack grabbing the assorted pieces of


clothing he had used to wrap the camera. As he lay the camera down
on the floor he heard a sharp chink.
“Damn,” he thought, “must have damaged it.”
He checked his watch. It read 9:55 A.M. He debated whether to
call Jessica or shower first and decided on the latter, it would
help him clear his head and organize his thoughts.
He borrowed Imelda’s husband’s shaving kit and removed what
growth was left from the night before. He tried to avoid the wound
on his cheek but to no avail as he cut himself in the process.
Closer examination of the disposable confirmed that it was probably
one that Imelda used to shave her legs, hence the gouge. Nothing
new in that he thought. The shower was, simply, rejuvenating.
Deliciously refreshing, he washed the dirt and grime from his head
and torso, avoiding the temptation to stay in longer he reluctantly
turned off the piping hot water and got out.
As he toweled himself off, Imelda stuck her head in the door, her
eyes half shut as she grinned from ear to ear. She proffered a
handful of clothes.
“Seán’s,” she explained. “He should be home soon,” and closed
the door.
Nick checked his watch again and went downstairs. He found that
his rifle had been stripped, cleaned and reassembled, a light coat
of oil covered the long barrel.
“What did you do with these rounds, they look like they’re thirty
years old?” Imelda observed
Nick explained, and lay the bullets out on the counter. He
loaded the best of them into their respective clips and put the rest
aside.
“So what do I say to Seán?” Nick asked.
“The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He can
smell a rat a mile away - that’s his job, so don’t try to hide
anything.”
While they waited for Detective Sergeant Seán Driscoll to arrive,
Nick, using his calling card, called a number in New York. He had
spent a good half hour on the phone near begging his friend, John
Hussar, to help him get out of Ireland.
At first John had thought it a joke, then dismissed the
possibility as improbable - he was ensconced in his home in
Westchester - but the promise that his expenses would be paid for,
combined with the need he heard in his friends voice, persuaded him
that he would at least try what Nick had in mind. He was the
adventurous type and never could resist a challenge. When they hung
up Nick made another call to his home on Long Island, New York.
He bit his lip nervously as he waited for the phone to answer,
afraid that Jessica might be out. The phone rang and rang, just as
he was about to hang up it was answered by a very tired Jessica.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 77

“Hi honey?” Nick greeted her.


“Oh, hi Nick...how are you sweety?” she perked up immediately,
she looked at the bedside clock. It was 5:50 AM.
“Fine, how are the children?”
“I was up most of last night with Julie — a toothache. So I’m
fried; I miss you. I can’t wait to see you!”
“We’ll all be together soon enough...”
“You mean tomorrow night, or are you having so much fun you’ve
forgotten?” The silence on the line alerted her. She could hear
Nick breathing heavily as he decided on how best to tell her what
had happened. The phone’s ringing had woken the children; they got
up to make their breakfast and watch cartoons before school.
“Jess, I’m in a lot of trouble.” She could hear the acute
anxiety in his voice and as his story unfolded she felt a knot of
tension rise in herself. Jessica interrupted him.
“Nick, go to the police. Tell them what happened and this thing
will resolve itself.”
“I can’t. Somehow they’ve fingered me as one of the
perpetrators.”
“Oh come on honey! You’re a photographer on assignment. They’ll
check you out and...”
“Jessica, in the past twelve hours someone has tried to kill me
twice. I’ve shot...killed two people.”
“Oh my God! Are you all right Nick? You’re not hurt are you?”
Nick reassured her that he was fine, but reiterated his concern
that not only did his pursuers seem anxious to find him, they also
seemed to - in the relatively short period of twenty four hours -
know how to anticipate his actions.
“I’m worried about you guys...you’ve got to get out of the house
immediately and as far away as possible.”
“Why? You don’t think we’re in any danger do you?” Jessica felt
his anxiety. They’re life was falling apart around them.
“I have to be honest Jessica. Under normal circumstances you
know I have the instincts of a blind lemming, but someone wants me
and quickly. It has to be connected to the incident in Dungannon.”
In the background, their youngest cried out to her mother, “Mom,
Mom, come look - daddy’s on TV!”
“Hold on Nick, I’m going to take you on the cordless phone.”
Nick heard the hiss as Jessica picked up the call on the well
weathered black Sony cordless that they had to constantly retrieve
from their eldest son’s room.
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“In a new development in Ireland today, Prime Minister Quinlan,


has declared that ‘no stone shall be left unturned’ in an effort to
find the perpetrators of the massacre at the Dungannon parade two
days ago. He has offered a reward sponsored by the Government of
£100,000 - the US equivalent of $140,000 for information leading to
the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”
The camera displayed video footage of the clean-up operation,
dwelling on the dried up pools of blood and the bullet scared walls.
Inset was a picture of Gerry O’Shea, obviously a public relations
photo from the clean cut smile.
“Further, a leading Dublin based business man, Gerry O’Shea, has
personally added another £50,000 to the fund and has encouraged the
public to use the toll-free hotline.”
“When the Prime Minister was asked if he thought that it was an
act of the outlawed Irish Republican Army, he commented,” and the
screen filled with a picture of Quinlan at a press conference.
“Despite the size of the event...it has all the ear marks of an IRA
operation. A call was made to the London and Irish Times shortly
afterwards claiming responsibility on their behalf.” A reporter
interrupted.
“Prime Minister, isn’t it true that there have been a number of
claims of responsibility?”
“Yes, Marion, there have; however, the IRA has a pre-arranged
code to verify authenticity when these claims are made. We are
taking this line of inquiry very seriously.”
“Will that include the arrest of Gerry Adams? He guaranteed that
the IRA would not take any aggressive actions after the peace accord
was voted on and signed,” a British correspondent asked.
“No comment on that one, except to say that Mr. Adams is not a
known member of the IRA, but the head of a political party as you
well know.”
The CNN announcer went on to describe the response of the British
Government, who made no bones about what they regarded as the
necessary response from the Irish government.
“Arrest every known member of the terrorist organization, and
once and for all, lock down the free passage that terrorists are
allowed, into and out of Northern Ireland from the South.”
New footage showed streets being blocked off in Belfast and other
Catholic enclaves. Houses were being searched, none too gently,
despite the television coverage, and both men and women alike
removed from their homes and carried away in trucks for questioning.
Reminiscent, some declared, of the British response to the outbreak
of violence some thirty years before.
“The President of the United States has requested a meeting
between representatives of both the Irish and British governments,
and their joint Northern Irish Councils, at the earliest possible
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time, to discuss matters and to offer aid to the Northern Irish


administration.”
“Unionist representatives were more outspoken in their outrage to
what a spokesman described as quote ‘the deliberate and cold-blooded
elimination of some of Ulster’s finest men and women, exercising
their constitutional right to march, only to be set upon by
Nationalists.’” Spittle flew from the speaker, Ian Paisley, his
bejowled mouth working hard as the words spewed angrily into the
microphone. He and his Democratic Unionist Party had been the most
prominent opposition to any concessions given to the Catholics since
the troubles in Northern Ireland began. “Any movement forward on
the issues of harmony between Ulster and the Southern Irish
governments have been set back to the stone age. As I predicted,
when all of the treaties and peace talks were taking place, it was
all a waste of time and public money.”
“An Irish security force’s spokesman issued a picture of a
suspect in this case.”
A blurred image of Nick appeared on the screen followed by a
clearer one, obviously pulled from his US drivers license, a copy of
which he had left at the car rental agency.
The announcer described Riordan as an Irish-American, a freelance
photo-journalist who lived in New York. A brief mention was made
regarding his family and the fact that he had immigrated to the US
in the mid-1980’s. The announcer did clarify that there was no
immediate tie-in between Riordan and any illegal organizations.
“Riordan was seen during the incident and is wanted by the police
for questioning. The public has been advised to treat the suspect
as armed and extremely dangerous.”
The CNN announcer finished adding, “British troops are being sent
to the province, increasing their numbers to levels not seen since
the late 1970’s. And now to other news . . . ”
Nick could hear Jessica fumble with the phone and the volume
being turned down on the family TV.
“Christ Nick!” was all she could muster as she rummaged through
the kitchen shelves for a pack of cigarettes, which she kept hidden
there since Nick quit. She thought quietly as she waited for the
burner on the stove to get hot to light her cigarette, biting a
finger nail nervously.
“I’m surprised I haven’t had a call from anyone here yet,” she
commented, drawing deeply on the barely lit cigarette. Jessica
peered out of the front window of the house to see if there were any
strange cars or trucks on the street. She was relieved to see that
there weren’t.
“Jesus,” she muttered. “I watched that whole event on the late
news last night, but you weren’t mentioned. You are OK?” she
softened.
“Fine, nothing a tumble in the hay wouldn’t fix.”
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Jessica tried to laugh. “So what do you suggest I do?”


“Leave right away. Pack up and get the hell out of Kansas. The
news crews will be there this morning — I’m surprised they haven’t
arrived already. Maybe the nuts who have been after me will show up
too. Just leave.”
This was met with silence. “That bad huh?”
“Honey, they — whoever they are — have tried to kill me twice —
in one day. The reason you’ve not been contacted is probably
because the phone is tapped or they’re waiting for me at JFK
airport, hoping I’ll show up. So careful what you say. Go to
John’s place. I’ve called and made arrangements. Stay there until
you here from me again. Take whatever cash you can - all you can.
You may need it.”
“Nick, what about my work?”
“Let the hospital figure it out — they can fill in for you.”
“All right, I’ll get the kids ready.” Jessica stubbed out the
cigarette in the sink, annoyed that she had bothered to smoke at all
— the house reeked. The early morning nicotine rush made her jumpy.
“I’ll beep you and enter either the number for you to call back
or the time I’ll call you. There’s no way you can contact me for
now.”
“What are you going to do Nick? Jesus, I hope you’ll be
alright.”
“I’ll be OK. I’ll probably hole up here for a while — who knows.
Don’t worry, it’s me they’re after. I just want to you to be safe.”
He hesitated. He had deliberately toned down how desperate his
situation was, fearing that he would panic his wife. “Jessica, I
love you. Kiss the children for me. And pray that this all works
out.” He left out the feeling he had that he might not ever see
them again; he couldn’t face it. Jessica wept silently; they had
been together long enough for her to read his thoughts and he, hers.
Nick told her he loved her again and handed the phone over to
Imelda so that she and Jessica could talk quickly.
It was 7:35 A.M. New York time. Jessica decided to pack right
away. She’d have to wait for the bank to open at nine. She told
the children to turn off the television and explained to them that
they would be missing school today. They helped her excitedly,
exuberant at the delightful prospect of an unexpected day off. As
they got ready, Jessica was glad of the protective company of their
large dog, Jake.
Nick made a silent prayer. It was quite a favor he had just
asked his friend John Hussar, some 3,400 miles away to the West.
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Flanagan had received a call from the trauma unit of St.


Vincent’s hospital in accordance with the stipulation that violent
injury or traumas be reported to the homicide department in police
headquarters. These were automatically referred to the anti-
terrorist unit if they were gun shot related. The information on
the phone had been sketchy. A white male, mid twenties, pronounced
dead on arrival with a wound to the lower abdomen. The victim had
bled, quite quickly, to death. It warranted a visit to the
reporting hospital.
“Where did the ambulance pick him up?” he asked the Emergency
Room desk clerk.
“They didn’t,” was the reply, as the clerk shuffled through
patient files looking for the right one. His yellowed tobacco
stained fingers found what he was looking for and he slid it across
the counter to Flanagan.
“He was dropped off around 9:15 A.M.”
“Ye hardly drop off someone who’s been bleeding like a pig all
over yer seats.” Flanagan interrupted, leafing through the report.
“Do ya want me to finish or do ya want to figure it out for
yourself!” the clerk asked testily.
“Oh, go on, you’re the expert.” Flanagan had decided that he
didn’t like this guy. Conlon was the name on his identity tag.
Working class smart ass — could trim the hair which sprouted from
his flared nostrils — a smarmy little fuck — Cullen would call him.
“He was dropped off on the bench seat outside the main door. We
got a call and found him there.”
“So you’ve no idea what the dropper-offers looked like?” Conlon
looked at him like he had two heads.
“I can’t see through the bleedin’ walls, can I?”
“No, but you do have a video camera here in the hallway and
another outside over the entrance.” Stumped, Conlon looked at
Flanagan, in awe. “Never though of that.”
Flanagan grinned smugly.
“Where are the tapes kept?” Conlon showed him where. Flanagan
signed out the tape of the preceding four hours. As he left he
spoke to the Staff Nurse who had been on duty at the time. He knew
her vaguely from way back.
“So he had his balls shot off?” Flanagan was not one to beat
around the bush.
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” Flanagans bluntness didn’t phase
the nurse one bit. She’d met all types, and was just completing a
week of Emergency Room overnight shifts. Pretty, with hollow dark
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eyes from too many late nights, and the strain of the work she was
involved in, she offered Flanagan a cup of coffee. She filled him
in on the morning delivery.
“A severe trauma, massive blood loss. From the damage to the
major vessels it would appear that he died quickly. We’ll know more
after the autopsy.”
“Any signs of a bullet or bullets?”
“Some shards maybe. They’ll all be delivered with the
pathologist’s report. Surgeon O’Brien - the resident who looked him
over - commented,” she pointed to the doctor’s report on the inside
of the folder, “‘that the wound was characteristic of the damage
done by a lead bullet - complete disintegration.’ Not a large round
mind you, the entrance wound was small. The round was traveling at
high speed — that’s what did the damage, and the impact onto the
pelvic bone, which splattered the bullet in all directions, hence
the range of secondary injuries.”
“I suppose ye can’t smoke in here?” Flanagan asked woefully.
“Not really. But whose going to stop a cop - particularly one
with a gun.” Nurse Branigan smiled, nodding to the butt of the
pistol that jutted from underneath Flanagan’s tweed jacket.
It never failed to raise an eye — but in this case the nurse
wasn’t all that impressed, but pretended she was.
“So,” she had forgotten his name. “Want to give a tired nurse a
ride home?” Peter Flanagan was only too delighted to oblige, and
was even happier when she invited him up for another cup of coffee
when they got there.
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“The fucker thinks he’s Rupert bloody Murdock,” the IRA


commandant spat, “where does O’Shea get off, offering his own money
for a reward?”
“What’s the story on the next Dáil meeting?” Adams asked, sucking
on his pipe, ignoring him.
“It’s been delayed...”
“Afraid to come?”
“Yeah, all of the members have received threats and warnings in
the mail and by phone. All are untraceable.”
“How history repeats itself, Collins did the same thing. People
have long memories.” Adams responded.
“Fuck that! I wouldn’t mind so much if I knew who was behind it.
But this isn’t even our operation, yet we’re getting the blame. We
haven’t fired a shot for close to two years and yet their calling us
scumbags on national TV.”
Adams reached across the desk and grabbed his friends arm
tightly.
“Calm yourself Seamus, ’twas a mere reflection. The Brits called
Collins, Pearce and Connolly scum bags. And where would we be today
without them? Any word on that photo journalist, Riordan, that
everybody’s been chasing?”
Seamus Mahony retorted with a sneer.
“He’s no spring chicken Gerry. Killed two of my brigade,
possibly three.”
“How did that happen?” Mahony filled him in on the taxi chase
and the death of the driver.
“They followed him up to a farm in Kilteirnan.”
“He was alone? Why didn’t your guys grab him?
“We only had one guy on his tail, it took a while to get a squad
up there...”
Impatiently, Adams interrupted. “You mentioned a possible third
kill - what’s the confusion?”
Mahony shook a Marlboro out of a pack and lit it, drawing deeply
before he answered.
“Let me finish. The squad went to the farm but before they had a
chance to flush him out he was gone. Appears he was waiting for
them, or in the throes of making an escape. Anyway one of the new
guys got popped as they were surrounding the shed they thought he
was in. Screamed the bloody neighborhood down before he died. The
other was killed as he made his way up the field to where the shots
came from - shot in the head at close range.” He rubbed his balding
head wearily.
“Go on.”
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“The taxi driver - you’ve met him, a guy by the name of Gallagher
from Walkinstown, used to be a driver for cash and carry jobs,” —
referring to armed robberies of banks and post offices - “he was
shot at close range with a pistol. But from the wrong side - the
right side of his head. No way a back seat passenger could have
done that. Besides he had communicated with headquarters that the
he was being pursued - or his passenger was. Unfortunately he was
killed outright, so we have little to go on.”
“The car was transmitting images?”
“Sure, we have it all on tape. Bit fuzzy, no clear picture of
the passenger, but could be enough to go on. Enhanced image copies
have been distributed”
“The farm - O’Reilly’s was it?”
“I know what you’re going to say. We have a munitions bunker
buried up there, normally guarded by an Active Service Unit. The
ASU squad had been transferred to the border as a precaution with
the marches.”
“What did this guy shoot our men with?”
“Looks like a high powered rifle — possibly a .22 caliber. During
the cleanup they found some .22 caliber casings. With the ruckus
that the young fella made, the squad was lucky to get out of there
before the police arrived. The unit commander had him followed into
the forest and they pumped a few rounds after him.”
“The news report said it was like a bloody war, but the police
never found any of our empty shells.”
“Och, they probably leaded the trees. They had a catch bag
attached to their weapons though to catch the shells, nothing was
left behind.”
“We have strict regulations about the use of excessive force
these days. Everything has to be cleared through headquarters.”
“Bollix!” Mahony slammed his fist onto the desk-top, “they’d
just seen two of their squad killed...”
“Bollix yerself!” Adams whipped back, standing. “Our men are
trained as well as any Marine or British SAS unit. Emotion is a
non-player! And you fuckin’ know it! Any negative press on top of
what happened yesterday will only point the finger at us and confirm
the speculation that we’ve gone active again!”
Exasperated he ran his hands through his dark hair, scratching
the back of his head.
“Seamus, if it’s a .22 he used, it’s probably a legitimately
owned gun - that, one of the two legal caliber rifles available here
in the South. Find out where he picked it up. I know it’s a long
shot but have one of your men run it through the police firearms
computer and see what comes up.”
Mahony was seething but he picked up his mobile phone, dialed a
few numbers and spoke tersely to whoever answered the phone, “No I
can’t fuckin’ wait, do it now, I’ll hold. See if you find a match
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between a .22 caliber and the name Nickolas Riordan.” Seconds


passed, then minutes. He paced, his patience worn dangerously thin.
Finally, he wrote down a few details and hung up.
Adams looked at him expectantly.
“Gun was bought in 1980 - an Anshutz .22 caliber, semi-auto.
License is out of date.”
“Riordan bought it?”
Mahony examined his handwriting. “Yep, January 19, 1980.”
“Run a trace?”
“That was eighteen years ago!”
“Get goin’ Seamus. Find him.”
The phone rang. Adams answered it with a grunt, listened and
hung up without a word.
“Seems the threatening letters have been followed with a few
examples. Reports coming into police HQ that a number of Dáil
deputies have been shot, others missing.”
He stared out the large window through the blinds into the
skyline beyond.
“Something stinks in Glocomara, Seamus. There’s someone, or
something, bigger behind all this. Issue a general order - mobilize
all the brigades and have the commanders gather to await further
instructions.”
Mahony felt a surge of adrenaline. An order like this had not
been issued by the general command for some time. He practically
leapt from his chair and raced for the door.
“Seamus!” Adams roared after him. “Find Riordan today.”
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“So what’s the word?” Peter Flanagan, already two sheets to the
wind, took a second to turn and focus on the person standing beside
him.
Not that Cullen was in much better shape.
“Hey Seán, me oul’ son,” Flanagan responded, a broad grin on his
face, using Cullen’s Irish name.
“Fuck of a week, eh! Never a dull moment.”
“No truer word.”
He’d have offered Flanagan a pint, but why waste it he thought,
the guy was smashed enough already. He looked like he was ready to
puke any second, his eyes were glazed and out of focus, and he
swayed like the drunk he was. No need to pussy-foot around with any
more pleasantries.
“So, youse gettin’ anywhere with the investigation?” Cullen
asked, pretending to be more sloshed than he was. Fourteen pints of
Guinness never gave him more than a buzz and a weak bladder anymore.
“Ahhh, you’re a cute whore!” Flanagan wagged his finger at him
knowingly, as if reprimanding a small child and tapped his nose
gesturing that he knew quite a lot but was not going to divulge
anything.
“Screw it Pete, just a social question, I could give a rat’s ass,
hey barman!” he beckoned to the well dressed, vested and bow-tied
bar keep, busy creaming the heads off just poured pints of black
stuff.
“A pint for yer man and a Jameson whisky for myself - no water,
no ice,” Cullen threw a £10 note onto the polished counter top
making sure that it didn’t stray too far.
The barman was new so what was about to happen wasn’t his fault
really. He was just doing his job. Besides, he had been warned
about continuing to serve fall-down drunks - a law suit wouldn’t be
far behind and his job would be history with even the hint. Though
he wasn’t exactly known for his tact.
“Think you’ve had enough sir. Why don’t you go on off home?” And
with a smile, he added in an accent which indicated that he was a
country boy, “Ye’ll have a fierce oul headache tomorrow.” All with
the best intentions of good humor, he continued what he was doing.
His second mistake was the conspiratorial nod and smirk he gave to
the customer he was serving.
Cullen didn’t respond. But a strange metamorphosis came over
him. His face darkened and his fists clenched, teeth tightly
clamped. As inebriated as Flanagan was, he knew what was going to
happen and stopped himself, just in time, from putting his hand out
to calm Cullen down.
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Cullen rotated on his heel, suddenly very somber. His eyes were
dark as he strode the few feet where to the barman stood. Flanagan
searched about, desperately looking for other members of their
department who were there who might intervene, but came up blank. He
winced and went back to his drink and watched the show.
Nodding to the barman with a smile Cullen called him over with a
whisper, “Com’ere.”
The barman didn’t note the change in moods and did as he was
asked, throwing his bar towel beneath the counter. He leaned across
a shade patronizingly, his arms braced on the edge of the bar.
Cullen wiggled his fore-finger drawing him closer.
With a motion someone wouldn’t credit a man of his age, and
certainly not someone who had consumed close to two imperial gallons
of heavy beer, Cullen’s right hand flashed forward and grabbed the
bar keep by the throat, drawing him so close to his face that the
keep could smell the sweet reek of liquor off Cullen’s breath.
“Noticed yer name is,” Cullen drew his head back and glanced at
the barman’s name tag, “Andrew.”
Andrew began to struggle, a look of panic and anger in his
startled eyes. He was even more surprised but ceased his struggle
completely when Cullen, to use a local term for a head butt,
yossered him over the bridge of his nose, nearly breaking it.
“Fuck you,” he croaked, more a reaction than a concerted thought.
He’d hardly finished when Cullen grabbed the neck of his shirt with
both hands and hauled him over the counter top, scattering glasses
in all directions. As people turned to see what the commotion was —
though not many did, as it was late and the bar was filled with loud
and gregarious patrons — Cullen switched his grip and held Andrew
under his right arm, avoiding the stream of blood from his ruined
nose.
He waved with his left. “Not feelin’ too well, needs a breath of
fresh air!” Those at the bar who had witnessed the event had
already grabbed their drinks and disappeared into the crowd.
Without any more fuss, Cullen walked outside dragging Andrew with
him and took him around to the delivery entrance at the side of the
building.
“So, ya little fuck, I’ve had enough to drink!” followed by a
stunning right foot kick to the barman’s crotch. Andrew bent over
double and retched onto the dirty sidewalk. He rolled into the
fetal position, his legs tucked to protect his genitals from further
attack, but there are other ways to inflict pain, ways Cullen knew
well.
A rapid kick to both kidneys, both carefully aimed and delivered,
guaranteed that Andrew would be pissing blood for the next few days,
but Cullen didn’t want him unconscious, so he left his head alone.
He bent down to the moaning figure.
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“Run off home ye little shit. And next time I call for drink,
don’t ever,” he emphasized the ever with a jab to Andrews nose,
“call me on it. The only words I want from you are ‘Yes, sir,
anything you say, SIR!.”
There was no response. Cullen tidied himself off. He’d managed
to keep the bastard’s blood off his shirt, but there was a splatter
of puke on his right shoe. He carefully wiped this off on Andrew’s
pants. As he walked away, lighting a cigarette, Andrew’s courage
finally rose to the surface.
“I’m gonna call the cops ye old alchie fuck,” he gasped. “Gonna
have ye arrested. For assault. I’ll sue . . .”
He stopped right there more because he was unable to speak any
further.
The pistol barrel chipped his incisor as Cullen rammed it into
his mouth. Andrew trembled, helpless.
“No you won’t you little shite,” Cullen cocked the hammer with
his thumb. The barman pissed his pants. They always did, Cullen
thought, enjoying the moment.
“I am the fuckin’ law. The law and the executioner. Good-bye,”
he whispered and pulled the trigger.
Eyes wide in fear Andrew heard the click of the hammer falling.
It took him a few seconds to realize that the hammer had fallen onto
an empty chamber. He blacked out, the last sounds he heard was
Cullen’s quiet mocking laugh. When he came to a few minutes later,
he managed to crawl to his car and drive to the emergency room of
nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Despite the urgings of the doctors and nurses he refused to say a
word, claiming he had been mugged and hadn’t seen his assailant, so
the police went uncalled. Next day he quit his job.
Returning to the bar, Flanagan had Cullen’s whisky ready for him,
and a fresh pint as well. Cullen was looking weary now, the steam
gone out of him.
“So, Peter, you were sayin’... ” Cullen commented downing the
whisky in one mouthful.
Flanagan told him what he knew, and paid for the drinks as well.
After which Cullen made a call to a better part of town.
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“Finding Riordan today” was not as arduous a task as it would


have been seventy years ago. That was when Michael Collins had a
network of spies throughout Government, both Irish and British, that
supplied him with timely vital information. Collins’ boldness was
still talked about in the government intelligence circles, and his
ingenuity had never been matched again.
On the IRA intelligence gathering staff were two computer
graduates who gave up long hours in return for doing their bit for
Ireland. The stipend that kept them in beer money didn’t hinder
their willingness either. One had graduated from Trinity College in
1992 and was in the final throes of finishing a Ph.D., that he hoped
would lead to an invitation to teach, an eventual professorship
perhaps. College life was something Eamonn Power hoped never to
leave. The IRA gave him full backing, paying his way, as his
services were close to irreplaceable.
Aside from that, the computer access he had through the Trinity
College network was invaluable. He epitomized the look of a
computer geek, spotty faced, bearded, generally unkempt in his dress
and personal hygiene. His knowledge of worldwide computer systems,
emerging technology and breaking encrypted messages was something a
legitimate intelligence organization would have paid a great deal
for.
Fiona Boyle was not as technically proficient, but what she
lacked there she more than made up for in her tenacity and
doggedness in breaking into computer systems — anonymously — rarely
leaving tracks behind that would compromise their organization.
After completing her MA in History and Computer Sciences at
University College Dublin, she had turned down a prestigious post-
graduate lecturing position to pursue her lucrative current career.
She had been recruited for the IRA in her freshman year. Her salary
and work under the disguise of a legitimate computer consulting
company kept her boyfriend and family happy in the knowledge that
unlike many of her fellow graduates she did not have to face the
daunting task of having to emigrate to get a decent paying job.
None would describe her as beautiful, but in many ways that was
her intention. She worked unnoticed, traveled unhindered, dressed
as a professional, and aroused no suspicions. But there was a
beauty there, as many Irish women had, barely beneath the surface
which would show itself at weekends, or on the special occasion when
she would doll herself up and be the talk of the pub.
Operating in a Baggot Street office, they had a fiber optic
connection to the Internet as well as an array of high speed modems.
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Investigation and interrogation of data servers was carried out


through a number of anonymous computer servers based in the
Netherlands and forwarded then to another in Maine, they could only
be traced - if any effort was ever put into tracing them to a
terminal in the Provost’s office of Trinity College.
The servers were torn down regularly - a technical way of saying
that they were shut down, their phone numbers and the computer
itself changed to a new location, hard drive physically destroyed
and replaced with a new one. Eamonn and Fiona’s job was rarely to
destroy data, merely to manipulate it, occasionally but more often
than not, to use the systems provided by government for internal use
to aid them in their investigation.
If an aggressive trace was made, it would end up in Maine, and if
Interpol got involved, the Netherlands, but in the process they
would receive notification of the search or sniff as it was known.
Their chances of getting caught were a near impossibility. However,
for the slim chance that did exist, the servers, and the computers
they worked on, could destroy their hard drives at an electronic
command, or if tampered with a magnet built into the hard drive
casing would be unsheathed instantly destroying every bit and bite
on the platters.
And so it began. Tapping into the Irish Government Network,
Fiona ran Nickolas Riordan’s name through the main police computer
looking for criminal files which turned up blank, next through the
Internal Revenue system which had been recently updated, and through
which she found that Riordan had a tax ID number and had paid taxes
until 1986 when the records ended. Motor vehicles yielded a driver
license, and an additional file indicating that an Irish one had
been traded for a New York equivalent in 1987, and included a
license number and an address in Queens, New York. There were no
other records that matched Nick’s name.
Satisfied, she tapped into the US Motor Vehicles computers based
in Albany, New York and searched using his license number. It took
a few seconds but sure enough up it came along with a current
address and a digitized photo and a social security number. The
license had been renewed in 1996. He and his wife had two cars
registered on the motor registration’s database - a leased 1996
Buick wagon, 8 cylinder, automatic, blue, and a 1993 Ford Explorer,
6 cylinder, manual, green, fully paid for. Before continuing, she
printed out this information and kept it beside her. She didn’t
want to be premature and send off the incorrect information.
Next she accessed the US Internal Revenue Service’s database
located in Hicksville, New York and punched in his social security
number which she had noted from the motor vehicle files. The search
revealed that he was married, had children - all were listed,
including their date of birth, and his wife’s file was included as
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they did joint returns. Fiona noticed with a smile that he was late
paying this year’s taxes.
In the US, the social security number was the one unique
identifier that every citizen or resident alien had in order to pay
their taxes. Attached to these files is relevant information
regarding current employer, home address, phone number etc. His
home address was confirmed as it matched the one listed on his
driver license. Commercial interests also used it to track credit
files on individuals, including to whom they owed money, how quickly
they paid, etc.
Fiona tapped into TRW, a credit reporting agency, and in a
matter of minutes had a complete public financial profile of
Nickolas Riordan and his wife Jessica. A search of Suffolk County
public records provided information on his house which he had bought
and paid $240,000 for in 1990 at a fixed mortgage rate of 9%.
The telephone number for the home was unlisted on the on-line
directories, however, a quick call to a neighbor pretending to be a
relative was fruitful, as a child answered the phone and readily
gave out the information.
All this in twenty-three minutes.
Fiona printed out all of the information, compiled it with a
cover sheet and faxed it off to Mahony. What remained on her
computer was compressed and encrypted, retrievable to no one but
Eamonn and herself. The original printouts were sent over to the
Sinn Féin office by messenger.
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Gerry Adams was pouring over the documents when Mahony entered, a
sheaf of fax paper in his hands. He had been in transit when his
car fax rang. He could have stored the information in the machine’s
memory to be printed out at a later time, but the urgency of this
query necessitated allowing the passenger side floor to become
littered with a sizable ream of paper. He would have preferred an
e-mail but with the improvement of police detection the attached
file of documents would have been easily traced. On a day to day
basis inter-IRA E-Mail was generally not encrypted to avoid rousing
suspicion, but the language was straightforward not giving away any
indication that anything illegal was going on.
“What’s the word from Police Headquarters at Harcourt Street?”
Adams asked without looking up.
“Aside from us being in the shithouse? The whole fuckin’ world
is blaming us for the what happened the other day. Someone even
called in to the newspapers and TV stations using one of our codes
confirming that we executed it as a mission.”
“Tell me something I don’t already know,” Adams thought quietly,
but remained outwardly calm and smiled at Mahony, belaying his
frustration with the man, who, on a day-to-day basis was competent
but at times couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Seamus Mahony
had been a junior volunteer recruited near the home of Brendan Behan
in Donnycarney on the north side of Dublin. His claim to fame came
during a bank raid. He had held the anti-terrorist police at bay
with an AK-47, while his compatriots made good their escape.
Unfortunately, he made two mistakes: the first was wounding three
police officers; the second was letting a press photographer, who
was in the area, see his face after Mahony got into the get away car
and shed his ski mask.
The IRA took good care of him when the police raided his house
late that night, much to the bewilderment of his mother and father,
ensuring that he got away to a quiet place, and after the ruckus had
calmed down they provided him with a new identity. They even
covered his tracks by burning the get away car some time later with
a body inside, which the police presumed was his. He lacked dental
records, as he never visited a dentist - a fact clearly visible to
this day twelve years later in the row of rotten teeth that were
revealed when he was angry, or on a less frequent occasion, when he
smiled.
Adams was fond of him because of his street-wise ferocity in
protecting his compatriots, without much care for his own welfare,
whenever they were threatened. His one weakness, aside from the
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cigarettes, was his fondness for the booze - his binges were
legendary and could last for days on end. Adams saw this as a small
price to pay for his loyalty, but had warned him to never compromise
any missions, or the organization by coming into the office drunk
while on duty. Stocky, he made up for what he lacked in height by
the sheer bulk of hardened muscles. He regarded his private joke,
in the politically correct world, that he was “follically
compromised” a howl, despite the number of times he mentioned it.
No accident - he shaved his head daily covering his baldness with a
collection of wigs and baseball hats to throw off the casual
observer. He was a regular mass goer - his killing at least four
British agents and soldiers, that he knew of, affected his faith and
beliefs in no way whatsoever.
“All right, surprise of the day,” he smirked, “Riordan is one of
us.”
Adams mouth fell in disbelief, “No way!”
“Grandfather was in the ‘RA during the troubles from 1912 to
Dev’s election in ‘32.” He referred to Eamonn DeVelera’s election
to power with his Fianna Fáil party during that year. Not the most
popular man during the Civil War, he backed out of supporting the
Treaty with Britain signed by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins,
despite a vote by the people of Ireland in June, 1922 which favored
the treaty by a 3:1 majority. His withdrawal, despite his
insistence that he was doing it for the good of the country in
getting a Republic without losing the Northern six counties, sparked
the civil war during which his forces were firmly trounced by the
legendary Michael Collins. Rumor had it, but in fact it was quite
unfounded, that DeVelera was behind Collin’s assassination.
DeVelera never gained the support that would have given him
dictatorial powers. Despite all this, he turned out to be a popular
statesman and president until his death in 1975.
“Riordan’s father was a highly placed civil servant who threw his
weight behind Fianna Fáil during the ’40’s up through the ’70’s from
his government career. A whisper has it that his position allowed
him insight into the sensitive government documents and used this to
aid Charley Haughy” - later to become head of the party and prime
minister - “in running guns north of the border during the early
days of the troubles. He had a connection with our Belfast Brigade
in ‘72 but gave it all up when he retired in ’75.” Mahony read from
his notes.
“Enough with the history lesson. Jesus you sound like my school
teacher - what’s the story with Riordan?” Adams prompted urgently.
Ignoring him, Mahony went on. “Riordan was recruited in ‘81
while he was at University College Dublin but he never took it very
seriously. He was spotted at a gun club - must be the same gun he
has now - and was trained as a sniper over a period of eight weeks
on an estate in County Laoise. Only one mission carried out in
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January of 1985. He and another were sent to the border cherry


picking” - he referred to the practice, later to be implemented
using a US based contract killer whose weapon of choice was a semi-
automatic .50 caliber Barrett rifle. The round was over five inches
long and had an accurate range in excess of 1,500 yards in the right
hands. A well trained sniper could shoot from the relative safety
of the Southern side of the border at British soldiers manning their
border posts. “Both were assigned the same mission on the same day,
obstensively for Riordan it was to be in-field training. The
mission was a success; however, Higgins was killed. The next day we
found him dumped on Dollymount Strand. Riordan disappeared
completely - we thought he had suffered the same fate. How wrong we
were.”
“Indeed!” Adams thought for a few seconds. “You’re certain it’s
the same guy?”
“No. These are preliminary reports. But there’s a lot of co-
incidence’s.”
“Any idea who’s been after him?”
“Could have been anybody - the Loyalist paramilitaries, British
army, Irish special branch.”
“Highly unlikely, the special branch would have bade their time
and moved in without a gunfight.”
“He put his talents to good use though - a photo journalist.”
Adams twiddled his pencil.
“We need to talk to Riordan. Who’s been assigned to handle the
case in the police department?”
“The incident and Riordan fall within the jurisdiction of many
different departments, but word has it that Seán Driscoll is heading
up the investigation.”
“Hmmm, not my choice, but I know him. Think he has anything more
that we do?”
“Doubt it.”
“Think Riordan was behind this?”
“Gut feeling says no. Too well organized - it was an Irish job -
a big one. We didn’t even get a sniff.”
“Riordan killed two of our men — but he wasn’t to know who they
were - someone bungled that operation.” Adams said stating the
obvious. “Riordan’s the key, find him and everything else will fall
in place. Let’s get crackin’. Get those calls off, and have Betty
get me a cod an’ chips, I’m friggin starvin’.”
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“With all due respect Nick,” Seán Driscoll smiled at Nick, who
sat on the sofa his legs stretched toward the crackling coal fire,
“the Irish police are not a bunch of red necks with blue lights
attached to their black bicycles...”
“I didn’t mean...”
In a direct manner uncharacteristic of an Irishman, Driscoll put
his cup of tea down hard on the table top and responded. “You did.
But don’t take my being tired too personally. You Yanks think you
have the best of everything.”
Nick thought to himself. “American bashing, Europe’s favorite
pastime.” Instead of allowing himself to get angry, he smiled and
responded, “That’s because we do! And if it wasn’t for America and
their lend-lease program with Britain and Russia during the war,
there’s a very good chance that you, Imelda, and the rest of the
population here would be goose-stepping around to the beat of the
Nazi drum.”
It was an old debate, and Seán knew Nick was right, but he’d had
a hell of a night. He hadn’t had a wink of sleep for nearly 36
hours, his boss was leaning on him hard for fast results, and to top
it all, the leading suspect for the latest fiasco was sitting in his
living room.
“Fuck it,” Seán stalked from the room slamming the door behind
him, leaving a puzzled and angry Nick sitting in his wake.
Outside he could hear Imelda talking to him in not-so-hushed
tones, words drifted through that made him uneasy.
“Should...arrest. Locked up...investigation.”
The conversation ended abruptly with an “Oh, for Christ’s sake
Seán!” from Imelda.
Nick just sat there feeling increasingly uncomfortable and
uneasy, wondering if the police officer was going to call a squad
car and arrest him on the spot.
A few moments later Driscoll returned, two Heineken beers in his
hands, one of which he placed in front of Nick, who nodded his
thanks. Nick glanced at his watch. Just before noon and the liquid
refreshment was beginning already - worse things could happen he
supposed. Sipping the peace offering, he waited for Seán to compose
himself, which he did as abruptly as he had left the room. Staring
at the fire, the light from which lit up the lines and creases of
his tired face, he didn’t look at Nick as he barked in a more
moderate tone, “Starting from your leaving the US, tell me
everything that happened. Leave nothing out.”
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As Nick was about to comply, Seán drew a portable cassette


recorder from his pocket, turned it on to record, and set it on the
floor between the two of them. He held up his hand indicating that
Nick should remain silent as he spoke in a clear professional voice:
“Detective Sergeant Seán Driscoll, Special Anti-terrorist Police
Unit, ID # 5562. Interview with...” and he mentioned Nick by name,
the date and the circumstances of the interview. He deliberately
omitted the location and the time. He then nodded to Nick to
proceed.
It took the best part of an hour and a half. During the time,
Seán changed the sides of the micro-cassette. Nick spoke slowly,
clearly and deliberately. The process helped him as much as it did
Seán, because it required him to get all “his ducks in a row” to
make sense of it.
Occasionally, when a fact or some relevant information was
missing, Seán would hold up his hand stopping Nick and ask a
question. Imelda, in the mean time, dropped in the remaining cans
of the six pack so that by the end of the interview both Nick and
the beers were finished. The combination of the effort to talk for
so long, the alcohol, and the heat from the fire exhausted him. Not
surprisingly, considering the excitement of the night before.
The tape safely put aside, Seán looked at Nick in a new light -
it had been a hell of an ordeal - if in fact he was telling the
truth.
“You’re, to put it mildly, in the shithouse Nick. The Irish
police, the British police and armed forces, and Interpol have you
as their number one suspect. I wouldn’t be surprised if your under
a ‘shoot-to-kill’ order. As for those guys last night, I have no
idea who they were. They could have been IRA, but I don’t see the
link, unless it was a freelance operation. One thing’s certain,
your nobody’s friend at present.”
Nick gave him a “tell me something I didn’t know” look.
“You’ve got to get out of the country ASAP. Or, if you know
anyone here, find a place to go to ground. But it could be for some
considerable time. An investigation of this kind quickly becomes a
witch hunt, especially with the bounty put on your balding head”.
He smiled at his own joke.
Nick, his eyes closing, allowed him the luxury, nodding in
agreement, a half smirk on his mouth. Imelda stuck her head into
the room. “Coffee anyone?” she asked.
Seán nodded at Nick’s now sleeping figure.
“Best let him catch up on some shuteye, he’ll need his energy
later,” she suggested, “as you might too, if I can get my hands on
you!” she added with a smile.
Imelda had sat at the door listening to the entire conversation,
not out of idle curiosity, but because Seán had asked her to. He
was startled to find Nick in his living room on his return home, but
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Imelda had quickly explained the situation. He didn’t know the


first thing about Nick, so he needed her input in deciding if Nick
was telling the truth, and what he should do about it. An
underlying and nagging feeling was one of uncertainty, there was a
distinct possibility that his being associated with this case could
have disastrous consequences.
Though the British Army had not yet given the Irish police force
a full rundown of the previous day’s events, it was becoming evident
that the attack had been highly organized, planned and executed.
Initial reaction had put the blame squarely in the nationalist and
terrorist camp. However, Nick’s photo, records of his hasty retreat
from the North of Ireland, and rumors being circulated from an
outside source, had spotlighted him as the linchpin of the attack,
and as a result, had drawn full co-operation of the Southern police
in an attempt to apprehend him in short order.
That he was by all accounts free and roaming around the country-
side unapprehended was, as a British news program had accused with a
barely suppressed sneer, an insult to the force, who over the years
had developed a good rapport with it’s UK counterpart. The size,
coordination and particularly the brutality of the attack puzzled
Seán as it did his boss. Their extensive experience in terrorist
tactics suggested that the paramilitaries would have used an
explosive device as their means of attack. This allowed them the
maximum preparation and escape time without the possibility of being
caught red-handed, except when a bomb went off prematurely, and then
it didn’t matter. No, this attack was deliberately calculated to
cause the maximum damage, both physical and psychological.
It was as if the attackers didn’t care, either that, or they had
the most confidence Seán had ever seen in any terrorist force.
The traditional terrorist groups were aging, their leaders
thinking ahead to old age, a pension, retirement. All possible only
if they entered the sphere of respectable politics, as some had done
by distancing themselves over the years from the more radical
elements of their organizations. Some had been more successful than
others, especially those who had supported the US sponsored peace
treaty. Many had been eradicated in bloody feuds which had erupted
at the possibility of compromise.
Driscoll knew that someone big, Irish, English or whomever, was
behind the raid, supporting such a bold public attack. Reports had
it that there were at least twenty automatic weapons fired. That
took manpower in the form of the soldiers themselves - mercenaries
perhaps - plus their support crew. A local organization would not
be able to keep such a large group hidden for long, or quiet any
talk about them. They would have had to be trained, armed,
transported, and equipped - that took a great deal of money and
time. Or, perhaps, they had been hired already trained. In his
opinion, it seemed as if the attack was a demonstration of force,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 98

perhaps a demonstration of a lack of fear for the security forces


designed to cause unease.
Seán grunted. That was an obvious motive. This was the stuff of
the godfathers, gangsters, not the hit and run tactic typical of
politically motivated terrorists. Terrorists aimed to strike, run
and fight another day. This was unlike anything he had every seen
or heard of before.
He would follow Sherlock Holmes’ example and eliminate the
obvious; he would then be left with the solution. He looked at Nick
asleep on the sofa. Imelda had covered him with a tartan blanket.
Perhaps he was looking at the obvious.
“Sorry bastard,” Seán thought, “whatever the outcome he’s in for
a rough ride.”
Somehow he couldn’t see Nick, armed with his .22 caliber rifle
being a threat to anyone, but he would have to make sure. He wasn’t
paid, nor had experience taught him, to rely on a hunch. He would
investigate while Nick slept.
Seán groaned as he raised himself from his armchair. He would
loved to have kicked off his shoes and toasted his toes by the fire
and join Nick in oblivion for a few hours, but he had work to do.
He punched his mobile phone speed dial and waited while the
connection went through. The female voice that answered merely gave
the extension number when she picked up the phone, “Five, five,
two.”
“Hey Maggie,”
“Hi Seán, thought you’d be in the Land of Nod by now.”
“Something’s come up. Need a transcript of a tape I got this
morning. You got to keep this quiet Mag, you’ll know why when you
hear it.”
“Sure, Seán,” she yawned. This job could be boring to the nth
degree at times.
“Maggie, I’m sending it as a burst.”
“Christ, you’re a pain...hold on,” she lay the phone down as she
set up her tape machine. Both Seán’s and her machines could send
and receive at twenty times normal dubbing speed. A technology that
had survived the cold war, it was now used to facilitate
administrative duties, primarily by not having to have officers
return to the office to have work typed up.
“Go ahead,” she depressed the receive button, which set the
machine on standby ready to start recording as soon as the first
chirps of transmission came down the phone line.
Maggie typed up the transcript on her word processor and faxed it
back to Seán’s home by 3:20 P.M. where it lay beside his bed as he
slept. Maggie filed the original in Seán’s desk safe as he had
instructed and would have remained there undisturbed had Seán’s
boss, Chief Superintendent Diarmad Casey, not stopped by and noticed
the look on Maggie face.
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“Troubles?” he quizzed her quickly, glowering through his heavy


jowls, this was as close as he came to good humor. Maggie changed
her expression right away hiding her discomfort.
“Eh, no, sir.” She shuffled uncomfortably in her seat - he had
that effect on her. His reputation among his colleagues as a ball
breaker was fearsome, though he had always shown her respect. He
caught her in his steely gaze, knowing something was amiss.
“Ms. Granger, I’m not in the habit of having to bully, but if
there is something to do with police business that is upsetting you,
then out with it! I don’t have to remind you that you work here at
my discretion.” His eyes twinkled; his clothes reeked of stale
cigar smoke.
“Very well sir, look at this,” and she handed him the file that
she had just finished faxing. There was only so much ass covering
she could do - losing her job as a consequence was not something she
planned on.
“Normally it wouldn’t bother me sir, but Riordan’s on the top of
our - as Seán puts it - shit list, and I don’t know why he hasn’t
circulated a flash memo on this...”
“Nor do I my dear, nor do I.” Casey could feel his blood pressure
rise as he read over the transcript. He could have Driscoll fired,
worse, jailed indefinitely for this, but since it had just come in
he had to give him the benefit of the doubt. The fact remained,
however, that one of his senior officers had contact with someone
who was, as Maggie had put it so nicely, on the department’s list,
to say nothing of the media exposure Riordan had been getting for
the past 24 hours. Why hadn’t Driscoll called it in to him?
“Where is Detective Driscoll now?”
“At home sir, he left this morning after pulling an all-nighter.
Faxed the transcript to him an hour ago.”
Casey looked at his watch, a pocket watch that he kept in his
trousers secured to his belt by a silver chain. Without a word he
turned and returned to his office where he called for his car, plus
a backup car which arrived at front door of the Harcourt Police
Headquarters laden with well armed and capable men.
The stint that the department had done with the Israeli Mossad
during the early eighties had put in place an anti-terrorist
training program that was the envy of the European police forces.
Casey’s men were so good that the department took on training
projects for foreign agencies. He was quite sure that none of the
department’s staff would have any trouble doubling or tripling their
salaries if they should move to private industry, but despite the
pressures and dangers none had.
He disliked guns. A strange quirk for someone of his profession,
but he had grown through the force as an unarmed detective. Policy
stipulated that he carry a firearm, preferably a 9mm Glock. He
chose, however, to carry a .22 Ruger. Light and simple to operate,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 100

an Israeli colleague had convinced him that it had all the stopping
power of any other weapon, if two shots were fired each time instead
of one.
“As you Irish say, ‘To be sure, to be sure!” the Israeli had
laughed at his own joke.
The Mossad used under powered .22’s while guarding their El Al
flights. It allowed them the ability to use lethal force while
minimizing the danger of puncturing the skin of the aircraft. Casey
had his tailor make an allowance for it in fitting his suits so that
he could wear it in an underarm holster without discomfort.
He sent the second car ahead to set up a surveillance position at
Seán’s home. Could be Seán was being held against his will — Casey
didn’t like to second guess without facts available to support his
conclusions. He doubted that Seán was in any trouble, he was too
well trained to let it happen without alerting headquarters.
He could not understand how Seán got the transcript, unless of
course, they were sitting cozily around the fire having a chat.
Unlikely. He would have Driscoll’s balls on a platter if that were
the case. Before he left the office, he had the tape sent to the
lab for analysis. He was interested to hear what sort of stress
Riordan was under while he was dictating his statement - was he
under the gun or holding it? Strange, he thought, Driscoll was
always a bit of a maverick — a likable one — but then that was to be
expected in this line of business.
The wet streets of Dublin sped by as the Saab 9000 snaked its
way to the outer suburbs. Rush hour was just beginning. Casey had
instructed his driver to take the most direct route and he let him
be. He relaxed closing his eyes. He hadn’t slept either for the
past 48 hours, now was as good a time as any.
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Seán awoke with a shudder, his head pounding from the after
affects of the beer and the dehydration of the fire. The afternoon
was dark and overcast; not a sign of sunshine made its way through
his living room window. The source of his discomfort made itself
known to him again, as his beeper vibrated against his belt sending
an uncomfortable tingle up his side. He looked quickly to the sofa,
but saw that Nick was still there, out cold, under his blanket.
Nick’s boots had mysteriously been removed - Imelda’s handiwork
again, he suspected.
Seán’s mouth tasted as it used to when he smoked a pack or more
a day, and he felt that urgent need to light one up, as he did
occasionally since he cut down. Being married to a doctor had its
ups and downs - free medical attention, accompanied by copious
nagging to give up the bad habits. His shirt was stuck to him and
wafted of the sweet smell of sweat. He groaned as he reached for
his beeper and clicked it off. He read the message - it indicated
that he should call his partner, Flanagan. Nothing unusual about
that in itself, but why hadn’t Peter called him here at home or on
his mobile phone?
He was paid to be suspicious of everything. He pulled his
mobile from his pocket and hit the speed dial for Flanagans number.
As he waited for the connection, he noticed static on the line and
found that the “no carrier’ notice blinked. “Shit,” he thought, as
he searched the room for the cordless phone. Living between two
mountains played havoc with mobile technology, though most times it
all came down to the weather. A fine Irish response to everything,
blame the weather.
“Tea honey?,” Imelda asked him, “I’ve got to get going soon, I’m
giving a CPR class in the library this evening.”
“Love some,” Seán had by now found the phone and dialed Peter’s
number.
“Yeah?” was the greeting he got.
“Pete, it’s Seán.”
“Hold on a sec, I’ll go to a quieter phone.”
A second or two later, Peter Flanagan was back.
“Seán, you’ve stirred a hornets nest - the main man is driving
out to visit you.”
“Shit...Maggie there?”
“Leave her alone,” Flanagan responded, “Casey leaned on her.
He’s going to get there in about 15 minutes. He sent a security
team out ahead and they should be there anytime now.”
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“Hold on Peter.” Seán clamped his hand over the phone and
beckoned to Imelda.
“Leave now,” he whispered urgently.
She made as if to protest, but he grabbed her arm, handed her car
keys and lead her to the front door.
The color rose in her cheeks. “Hey! I’ve got to get my things.”
“Casey is on the way here right now - you can’t be here.”
Imelda hesitated, knowing that it was out of character for her
husband to behave like this. She raced up the stairs, grabbed her
briefcase and handbag and returned pecking him on the cheek before
departing. She exited the driveway in her car, and sped down the
road, her exhaust leaving a cloud in the damp air. She missed the
advance team by two minutes.
“Seán, SEÁN!” Pete was whispering furiously down the phone.
“Yeah, Pete?” perspiration crept onto Seán’s upper lip.
“Take my advice buddy, go for a long walk, think this out and
give the boss a call. IF Riordan is still with you, give him up or
get rid of him. You’ll be suspended, or even locked up for this.”
“OK, Pete, thanks, I’ll be in touch.”
Seán snapped off the phone. He didn’t have much time. Once the
advance team got there, no one would be able to enter or exit the
house without their permission — probably block off the road as
well.
“Nick,” he shook the prostrate body, “Nick, wake up.”
Nick sat up, a bewildered look on his face. It took him a few
seconds to realize where he was. Seán explained to him what was
going on in as few words as he could while he gathered Nick’s bag,
boots, and gun case.
“My problem is what to do with you...” he bit his lip. They
could hear a car pull up at the end of the driveway.
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After she hung up the phone, Jessica felt dazed. In a matter of


a few minutes her, their, life had changed, from one of relative
normality to one of complete uncertainty. It was only a momentary
hesitation, her sharp instincts kicked in and she began the tasks of
organizing what she had to do.
She called the school to tell them the children would not be in
today and then set a record in packing the essentials of what they
would need for their journey. A further call to the bank and a
quick word with their friend, the bank manager, ensured that she
would have a minimal wait when she went to collect the funds that
she would need. She did feel a stab of guilt at having to lie about
there being a death in the family, hence the urgency. Locking up
the house she looked it over to make sure that everything was
secure. Her neighbor would drop the dog off at the kennel.
From the time she had hung up the phone until she and the
children were secured in her huge Buick wagon took two hours —
longer than she had expected. She left none too soon. A news truck
pulled up just as she left, but did not follow. She drove quickly
down route 91 from Stony Brook, where they lived, towards Interstate
495, otherwise known as the Long Island Expressway. She had emptied
the house safe and their safety deposit box which contained nearly
ten thousand dollars in cash - their entire emergency savings. Her
credit cards had just been paid up, giving her a buffer should the
need arise.
Calling to the emergency care clinic where she worked as a Nurse
Practitioner, she used the same excuse she had given her bank
manager. It would ensure at least a couple of weeks emergency
leave, though the doctor there, a good friend, was suspicious, but
knew better than to pry. Jessica was partner material and he wanted
her as such, just as soon as her final year of medical school was
completed.
Though she would not admit it, Jessica at times resented Nick’s
ability to pack up and leave for extended periods, abandoning her
with her career and the children, which were not always a perfect
combination. A nurse practitioner, she was studying for her M.D.,
as well as handling a number of client cases during the week and, on
occasion, an overnight.
A dedicated caregiver, she was the catalyst that kept their
marriage and family as sturdy as it was. Attractive, still blond,
though with a little help from the hair stylist, at 35 she looked
many years younger, an advantage she put to use professionally, and
with Nick. Her confidence reflected through their children.
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She drove furiously, her radar detector mounted on the dash


ready to warn her of any hidden cops ahead. She did not speak to
the children about their journey until she had thought the scenario
through as thoroughly as she could. She then told them that they
were going on a project to help their dad. Her eldest, a smart,
good looking boy of 12, knew her well and his gut told him that
something was up, but a hard stare from his mother kept him from
asking anything.
A reassuring squeeze to his hand calmed him. His sister Julie
was calm and collected glad to be free from the chores of school.
At 11, she was an honor roll student, a student with a keen interest
in books of all kinds, she was pretty, like her mom. She would
glower when someone would compare them - saying how alike she and
her mom were, but she was, in a way, flattered. The youngest, Paul,
a boy of nine, was the most excitable of all of them.
His father’s call had rescued him from a class test from hell.
They all shared their parents’ Irish looks, all were blond, the boys
with their father’s bright blue eyes, Julie her mother’s hazel.
It broke Jessica’s heart to leave the dog behind, not knowing
when she would see him again. An animal lover, she had spent a long
summer vacation in Des Moines, Iowa, working in a veterinary clinic
and had come very close to accepting her employer’s offer to put her
through veterinary school. The one consolation was that she knew
the kennel owner. His surprise at the quick drop-off, with little
notice, was made-up for by Jessica’s insistence that she pay him for
2 months in advance.
She missed Nick more than she had realized; she missed his
comforting words and the mutual confidence that they shared when
they were together. The children sensed her mood and did what they
knew would help — nothing.
The temperature in the car, though in the mid 80’s outside, was
a pleasant if frigid 70 degrees or so, fed from the air conditioning
system that pumped streams of cool dry air. The model she drove was
barely a year old and provided a comfortable ride. They had at
first thought of purchasing a mini-van but were put off by the
accident statistics. She preferred having six feet of metal and
engine in front of her. She recalled what a journalist had once
written when he referred to his mother’s Buick, “a ride like a
Rolls-Royce at a tenth of the cost.”
The Long Island Expressway was its busy, smoggy, self, but a lot
of the traffic was heading in the opposite direction, heading East
towards the beaches of the Hamptons. The police lay in wait for the
occasional hot heads in the east bound traffic, who, fresh from the
city, would let loose, throwing caution to the wind as they
attempted to run the gauntlet and reach their recluse in under two
hours.
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As they climbed the long ramp to the Throgs Neck Bridge, which
spanned the narrows between Long Island and the Bronx, the City of
New York was partially hidden by a blanket of brown, dirty smog that
lay upon the buildings as if attempting to suffocate it.
The traffic stopped mid-span. Jessica knew she should have been
more careful and check the bridge before going onto it. The
Whitestone might have been quicker. Her anxiety was focused on her
youngest son who was terrified of heights - he now sat rigid in the
back seat, his head firmly hidden in his T-shirt. “Tell me when
we’re off, mom,” he instructed her.
He was mad at her for not telling him that they were going to go
this way. She had known better - he would have worried the whole
way here. The bridge vibrated eerily underneath the car, the soft
suspension absorbing some, but not all of the waves caused by trucks
crossing in the other direction. The bridge hummed like a tuning
fork.
Jessica glanced in the rear-view mirror, watching a car she had
spotted changing lanes behind her on the LIE. The driver was taking
a more than casual interest in her. As she nudged forward,
impatient with the delay, she forgot about him. It was only when
she had dropped her token into the collection basket on the
automated toll gate that she saw him again, one car length behind
her. Puzzled, there were nine other lanes to choose from, she
remembered Nick’s warning to be aware of anything out of the
ordinary.
Nevertheless, she stomped her foot onto the gas pedal as soon as
the foam covered arm rose. The car surged forward, hot exhaust
gases spewing over the shoes of a tired toll guard, who stepped out
after she passed to hold the lane traffic while he emptied the
tokens from the rear of the machine. Jessica eased off the speed as
she took the 95 North spur - a sure shot for a speed trap. And sure
enough there, off to the right, was a NYC officer, the Christmas
tree of lights on his roof ablaze, writing a ticket. This, in a
traditional sense, was the most dangerous part of her journey. The
Bronx was thought of, and was often depicted in movies, as being an
earthy extension of hell.
As the vertical walls of the highway sped by, Jessica watched in
the rear-view mirror for a sign of the gold Ford Taurus that had
alerted her. Merging with the busy I-95 traffic, she gunned the car
forward, surging swiftly to 70 mph, flashing her head lamps to get
the slow traffic out of her way. Far behind she saw the Taurus
merge with the traffic. Her turnoff was not far ahead, but once
committed, she would have no recourse.
Thinking quickly she eased off the gas again, and pulled into
the middle lane, and then changed lanes again, watching as the
following car ate up the distance that separated them. Just as they
passed the exit for the Hutchinson River Parkway, she stomped on the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 106

brakes pulling over to the shoulder. The Taurus was level with her,
but two lanes out. The action of the driver confirmed her fears.
An attempt to mimic her maneuvers nearly led to his colliding with a
massive 18 wheeler. The exit was just ahead, she took off along the
shoulder and slid down the ramp smiling, her heart racing, as the
Taurus continued along I95 to pull up hard, in a cloud of burnt
rubber and road debris, on the other side of the overpass.
The Taurus’s driver watched Jessica merge with the northbound
traffic, furious that he had been tricked. Or had he? He couldn’t
be certain that she had seen him. His instructions had been clear.
If he couldn’t capture her himself, he was to eliminate them as
cleanly as possible, without drawing attention, but that was not a
pre-requisite. Pollard was a freelancer, working for the remnants
of the Irish Mafia in Brooklyn, but was getting most of his living
doing contract work for the Russians in Brighton Beach. The call
had come, as most did, in the early hours. A beep on his pager with
a code instructed him to dial a bulletin board service with his
computer. There he downloaded an encrypted text file which carried
his instructions.
A full profile of his target was provided - name, address, phone,
bank account, credit cards, place of work, car make and registration
- everything he would need to make his contract successful. This
had come with an added bonus. Completion within 24 hours would
double his $10,000 fee. That there were children involved meant
nothing to him. Business was business. They even paid his mileage.
Checking his mirrors he couldn’t see any sign of law
enforcement. He threw the powerful Taurus SHO, stolen the previous
night and supplied with a phony registration that would pass cleanly
through a police computer swipe, into reverse and rocketed back
along the narrow shoulder lane. He remained cool as he swerved
across the ramp and punched the car forward into the lane, pouring
all of the 235 horsepower into the front wheels laying a long path
of burnt rubber. A motorist behind him lay hard on the horn as he
cut him off.
“Fuck you!” he shouted at the driver, snarling like a wild
animal. Given more time he would have taken care of the irritant,
but what lay ahead was his bread and butter. He floored the
accelerator and swerved out into the traffic straining to catch a
glimpse of Jessica’s car.
He had been fortunate - extremely lucky was how he thought of it
- that he had spotted her earlier. As he had rode into the village
of Stony Brook on the way to her home, he had seen her car leave the
bank. On a hunch, he had followed her, checking the license plate,
congratulating himself on his good fortune. Good fortune that had
started two weeks earlier, when he had concluded two, albeit small,
contracts rather quickly, netting himself his usual fee in a few
days, rather than the weeks a contract sometimes took. Pollard had
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 107

settled some gambling debts and took a long weekend, partying with a
few local hookers, a few bottles of tequila, and a large sandwich
bag of coke. He scratched his crotch unconsciously, his penis
sensitive from an infection he had picked up — a small price to pay
for a weekend of fun.
There she was about half a mile ahead.
“Now what’s the bitch going to do, stay on the Hutch or, if she
knows I’m here, cut off and hit I-95 again?” He stayed pumped as he
followed her, as a hawk would his prey.
Jessica spotted him tearing up on the outside lane at an
unbelievable speed. She had the option of engaging the five liter
V8 that lay under her hood but she didn’t want a chase. Though she
was a good driver, she realized it would lead only to an accident,
and with the children in the car she tempered her combative
instinct.
“Son of a bitch,” she muttered, biting on her lower lip. The
exit back to the Interstate sped towards her. This was her last
chance. In the light traffic, she remained in the center lane
maintaining a steady 60 mph, seemingly unaware of the pursuit, or so
she hoped to project to the car behind.
As the exit approached, Jessica turned on her left directional
signal, as if she was about to move into the passing lane; she
tapped her brakes as she saw the Taurus race up behind her. The
children said nothing; they had never seen their mom like this.
Paul opened his mouth to protest, but his sister motioned to him to
be quiet. Nudging the wheel, Jessica feinted a left turn but she
was in fact watching her right mirror, and when the inside lane was
clear, with just milli-seconds left, she swung on the wheel and slid
the long wagon into a hard right turn.
She nearly didn’t make it. The weight and length of the wagon
plowed the turn into a fishtail, the rear wheels hopped and spun
furiously as they attempted to bite into the hot blacktop. Assisted
in making the turn by the anti-locking brakes, Jessica’s car
rocketed up the narrow ramp to join I-95 leaving clouds of dust in
her wake. There was no way the car behind her made the turn. She
stomped hard on her brakes to make the merge into the highway
traffic.
Pollard cursed aloud, his eyes wild in anger. He had seen
Jessica in the center lane and he had nearly caught up. His Ingram
sub machine gun was cocked and ready on the passenger seat. One
burst would have sliced through the Buick killing them all.
He had no choice now. Losing her here would be final - he did
not know where she was going, and besides that, if he missed this
exit he had no way of getting back onto 95. The bitch had seen him.
He hauled on the wheel but was dramatically less successful than
Jessica. The front wheel drive car careened into the turn, but was
clipped by a Chevy Suburban, which spun the Taurus around wildly on
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 108

its axis. Insult was added to injury when another motorist, taken
completely by surprise, broad-sided him, pushing the passenger door
nearly into the center of the car. The airbag saved Pollard,
leaving him slightly dazed, the powder burned his eyes.
Pollard deflated the airbag, roughly ripping at it, snarling. As
he angrily attempted to start the stalled motor, a loud bang on his
window startled him. Outside, the fuming driver of one of the
crashed cars stood, attempting to rip the door open, his face bright
red under his baseball cap. Ignoring him, Pollard roared in
frustration as the motor wouldn’t catch, not surprising with the
extent of damage to the hood and side panels. Escaping pressurized
coolant hissed from the mangled engine compartment. He slammed the
steering wheel in frustration.
He had lost the Ingram in the crash, but as he leaned into
opening his door, assisted by the tugging from the outside, he
slipped his hand under the light jacket he was wearing feeling the
cool metal and plastic grip of the 9mm pistol he had secreted there.
“You stupid asshole - look at my car...” was the tirade that
greeted his ears, a punch in mid-flight behind it. Whipping his
hand from his jacket he slapped the man hard on the side of his face
knocking his baseball hat right off.
The forward gun sight ripped a deep cut across his attackers
cheek from the base of his right ear to his mouth, leaving a gaping
blood filled wound. Continuing in the motion of exiting the car, he
cocked the hammer and thrust his gun, angled upward, into the beer-
gut mass of the mans belly and pulled the trigger. The bullet tore
upwards, cleaving open the heart, and the man was dead instantly.
His size ensured that there was no exit wound. There was very
little blood - his heart was quite still. The shot was muffled by
the proximity of the barrel to cloth and flesh; the only indication
a shot had been fired was the tinkle of the spent cartridge casing
on the hot road surface.
A few anxious and dazed people were gathering - the traffic at a
complete standstill. The dead man slumped against Pollard, who used
the momentary confusion turning potential disaster into an
opportunity.
“Help me!” he called out, waving his meaty right arm, “I thinks
the guys had a heart attack.”
He repeated this a couple of times until he got some people’s
attention.
“I know CPR,” one middle-aged man called out, anxiously gripping
his wife’s hand.
“You’ll need to be Jesus to fix this one,” Pollard laughed under
his breath as he lowered the dead man onto the hot pavement, being
careful to cover the bright stain that was spreading from his lower
belly. The beer gut hid the fact that he had been shot quite well,
Pollard noticed.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 109

His eyes darted around looking for an escape vehicle. He could


hear the wail of a siren in the distance, he had no time to lose.
The traffic was at a standstill, but he was sure he could maneuver
back to get onto the I-95 ramp. His eyes lit up as he saw a car
attempting to get off onto the ramp. Walking quickly to the BMW 328
convertible, he waved at the driver, who in a moment of panic,
snapped the door locks shut, not realizing that the soft top roof
was down.
She grinned foolishly at Pollard who towered over her, wondering
if she had the time to get the car into gear and get away. The
decision was made for her as Pollard pulled his pistol from under
his shirt, the need for pretense now gone. Time was off the
essence.
“Out of the car...NOW!” he hissed. The driver complied, seeing
the pistol in his hand. The insurance would cover the cost she
reassured herself, as she jumped out grabbing her handbag on the
way. Anyway it wasn’t her car...
Pollard held the pistol in his right hand as he ripped the
automatic transmission lever into drive. He had to reverse to
maneuver into a good position. Looking forward he noticed that the
driver was blocking his path, her handbag clutched to her chest, her
right hand buried in it.
A smile broke out on her face as her hand touched the butt of her
service pistol, stored in a specially tailored recess of her bag.
Her smile disorientated Pollard, who beckoned with his gun.
“Get out of the way, bitch!” he shouted at her.
Lieutenant Gonzales responded, her face in mock surprise from
his coarse language, she shook her head from side to side. Pollard
gunned the motor aiming directly at her.
“Fuck you!” he screamed in rage, as he felt the rear wheels spin.
Gonzales removed her pistol in a fluid motion, casting her bag
aside, as she sidestepped the path of the oncoming car, cocking the
gun and steadying it in a two-handed grip.
As the first of two rounds exited the barrel she mouthed, “No,
fuck you!”
Pollard’s face, damaged from the rounds that slapped into it,
still registered a look of surprise when the coroner zipped him up
in a city issued body bag an hour or so later.
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“Jesus, what a day!” Nick muttered as he left through the back


yard of the Driscoll home. His back-pack, securely on his
shoulders, the rifle still broken down, at Seán’s insistence, all
fit into the bag, though the top of the barrel protruded, protected
from the elements by a stout layer of plastic shopping bags.
“You’ll have little need for that now.” Seán had warned him. But
he did not encourage him to leave it behind. Getting caught with an
illegal firearm was the least of Nick’s problems and besides, it had
already saved his life.
Much as Seán showed his displeasure at having his normally hectic
regime thrown to the wind by having Ireland’s most wanted man in his
living room, he admired Nick’s sheer willpower in managing to stay
ahead. At least Nick appeared upbeat when his world was falling
apart around him. His gut feeling, reinforced by Imelda’s
encouragement, had him trust Nick’s story, and despite his best
efforts, he could not get him to slip up on the details of his
remarkable experience. It had remained consistent, with Nick
unfazed, despite Seáns efforts to get him to contradict himself.
Fortified by a few hours’ sleep, and the strength derived from a
good meal, Nick now set off to meet with what he prayed was his
ticket out of Ireland.
Earlier in the day Seán had offered to give him a ride to his
destination after the fuss died down, but Nick refused.
“You’ve done enough already and it wouldn’t do you any good to
be aiding and abetting a criminal any further.” Nick had said with a
smirk.
Imelda was visibly relieved - the strain of her husband’s
occupation was hard enough. Getting him ejected from the police
force would make him a target for any of his past charges with a
grudge - a threat they already lived with on a day-to-day basis.
Seán had promised her an early retirement in Portugal - a promise
that they would keep funded by money they saved from two good
salaries.
She had just finished repaying her medical college loans - no
small feat in itself, considering the meager income she had lived on
for years of internship. But she was strong and intensely driven -
so much so that she was thirty before she realized that if she
didn’t take Seán’s offer of marriage seriously she would end up an
old maid, a rich one if she followed the career path she had chosen,
but alone none-the-less. Turning down an offer from the prestigious
Guy’s Hospital in London, she opted instead to develop her own life
and had no regrets. Now all she wanted was to hold onto him.
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The rain was a drizzle, hanging suspended from the sky like a
gray veil. The mountain tops were hidden, as was any feature more
than 250 yards away. He hadn’t expected to have to leave as early
as he did. John wasn’t due for another day or two, if he turned up
at all. Seán’s abrupt push out the back door, and the run to the
end of the field at the back of the house, was plenty to wake him up
properly.
Seán had given him an olive green wind sheeter for which he was
grateful. The afternoon forecast, on the national radio, had
promised that the weather would clear later in the evening. A brief
glimpse earlier at the television had shocked him, as the news
footage of the devastation in the aftermath of the parade was shown.
His bottom jaw dropped when he saw his name mentioned as a possible
suspect, though no photograph was shown. The news announcer made no
mention of the incident at O’Reilly’s farm at all. His surprise was
not lost on Seán or Imelda.
As he had gathered his stuff Seán had briefed him.
“When you leave, hike along the mountain behind the house. The
roads will all be watched. Get off the mountain quickly - it’s the
first place we look when someone is on the run. Good Luck.” There
was no time for a handshake.
Climbing the back fence at the end of the field from the Driscoll
house looked easier than it was. Raised on an embankment, the
barbed wire, strung on wooden posts, had seen better days, though it
managed to keep the sheep out of the vegetable patch. Neighbors
were well distant to either side, no danger of them seeing him.
Nick had two choices: go back to Dublin and lose himself in the
busy metropolis - which he dismissed immediately, his memories of
the preceding 24 hours were too vivid; or head South, perhaps to
Enniskerry, the nearest town. He had looked over a map that Seán
had given him.
He had to get out of this area first, a task made all the more
unpleasant by the sight of the Glencullen river, which he would have
to cross.
Birds chirped in the still, damp air as he tramped along the wet
heather on the mountainside of what the map referred to as Prince
William’s Seat. Nick had no intention of climbing it - at 1,825
feet, the near-bald elevation would have left him too exposed to a
searching helicopter. The air smelled of wet earth, sweet and
invigorating. He nearly forgot that his feet were soaking wet.
He decided to follow the river as it flowed through Enniskerry,
though it meant that he would have to cross a road along the way.
Glancing at his watch, he calculated that it would take him about
three hours to get to the town, as he wasn’t making great headway
through the undergrowth which clung at his legs with every step. He
tightened his pack straps and plodded on.
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“No, there’s no rentals here sir,” the local shopkeeper told


him, after Nick emerged from the brush a half hour ahead of
schedule. Nick had gone to great lengths to tidy himself up, but
his jeans were soaking and his boots had absorbed every drop they
possibly could. He looked like a hiker on a day trip. The
shopkeeper looked at him in a malevolent way. These bloody Yanks
were all the same - never came prepared for the weather, even though
it was mid-summer.
“I’m staying with a friend up in Glencullen.”
Nick kept as close to the truth as he could, no point in getting
caught in a lie, and causing unnecessary suspicion.
“He suggested that a moped might be a better way to see the
sights, at least better than this,” he waved to his disheveled
appearance.
The shop had a bright interior, recently redecorated with a mock
antique shop-front, which made it - as the guide books would say -
picturesque. Nick purchased a baseball cap and proceeded to ask
about rentals.
The town was pretty, nestled in a hollow, surrounded by tall
broad-leafed trees. Its streets - a circle really - sloped
Eastward. A road running from the town towards the N 11 motor-way,
ran parallel to the Glencullen river, with whose meandering upper
route he was now so familiar, and beyond to Bray. At the top of the
hill, south of the town, lay Powerscourt House and Gardens, its
former glory lost to a fire in 1974, but the gardens were still
intact and well kept.
The shopkeeper took money from another customer and bade them
good evening.
“A bit late in the day me oul son to be lookin’ for wheels,” he
commented, taking a Golden Pages directory from underneath the
counter. He flicked through it and found the place he was looking
for. Removing a pair of glasses from his breast pocket he flicked
them open and deposited them on his ample nose.
“Nearest place is Bray, far as I can tell, here.” he proffered
the book to Nick its pages flapping, as two new customers entered
the shop, “see for yourself.”
Nick nodded his thanks and looked over the pages. He asked for
paper and pencil, but the shopkeeper waved him off.
“Just rip the pages out; I’ve another book here.”
He gave Nick a long glance and frowned as if trying to place his
face, but gave up. A photo of Nick had been broadcast on the six
o’clock news.
When he turned to talk to Nick again, he found that he was gone,
but was pleased at the sight of a pound coin on top of the phone
book, which he promptly deposited it in his pocket. Later in the
week he would be kicking himself that he didn’t probe more closely -
he could have got a substantial reward if he had been a little more
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 113

patient and inquisitive. Nick picked up a UPS mailing package as he


left.
Bray, a coastal town nearby - a popular bathing and vacationing
place during the Victorian era - was probably a better bet, but it
meant cutting across a large swath of suburbia. Getting to Bray was
a lot easier than Nick expected. As he emerged from the store he
spotted a taxi cab depositing a passenger right next door. The
cabby was only too glad to get a fare which would bring him close to
home and had Nick in Bray and in front of the bustling main street
bike shop minutes before it closed. On the way Nick scribbled a
quick note and deposited it, and most of the contents from his
wallet, into the UPS envelope which they dropped off at a pick-up
location.
As the proprietor of the bike rental store was satisfied with the
deposit and advance payment in lieu of holding Nick’s passport, Nick
set off, map in hand, into the late evening traffic. The tiny
engine screamed in protest as he negotiated the hill south out of
Bray, past the Tudor-like town hall building. He still had a couple
of hours of daylight left, as twilight would remain until close to
11:00 P.M., after which he would have to find a bed for the night.
The sun had disappeared behind the mound of The Sugarloaf - a long
extinct volcano - to his right as he motored south past acres of
suburban homes, its rays shining a bright orange against the remains
of the clouds that had dissipated as the evening wore on.
It was a tranquil, if noisy, setting as the little bike roared
its way through the hills beyond Bray towards the dormitory town of
Greystones. The sea was hidden by the gentle granite slopes of Bray
Head, it’s heather cover ablaze in the late evening sun. The smell
of burning bracken was pungent in the salt laden air, as it was
burned off the hillsides to prevent its unwanted spread. Nick was
disappointed that he didn’t have the time, or the working equipment,
to record the images. Another time he promised himself.
As he traveled southward, he stopped in Greystones to check his
gas, after a harrowing descent along the long hill into the town.
His anxiety was not helped at all by the passing of a double-decker
bus which buffeted past him, its driver seeming to attempt to set a
new world speed record for such an awkward vehicle, noxious diesel
fumes billowing in its wake.
The bikes tiny motor had not consumed much on the climb - it cost
less than 80 pence to top it up. The rental store owner had told
Nick that he could get up to 50 miles out of a tank - it looked as
though it could hold little more than a couple of cup fulls, plenty
to get him through the night. As an added precaution, he filled a
glass 1 liter 7-UP bottle with petrol providing him with ample
reserve. He also made use of the grimy Petrol Station’s bathroom to
clean up, shave and take care of nature’s call.
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With a greasy but tasty meal of fish and chips in his belly, he
set off again taking the back roads, as Seán had warned, with the
aim of getting to the town of Wicklow before nightfall - by his
estimation 12 miles away. He didn’t mull over the events of the
previous days - he looked forward, hoping that he could get out of
this nightmare alive and unscathed.
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Handwritten and illustrated, circa 800 A.D., the Book of Kells


lies in Trinity College Dublin, displayed in a light controlled
hardened case.
Despite the passage of time, the vellum pages, especially
prepared from calfskin, can still be identified as to which is the
flesh side and which is the hair side. The inks, made from the
juices of plants, roots and leaves, provide impressions that haven’t
faded. The process that made up the five primary colors and the
browns and blacks has been long lost, and attempts to reproduce the
look and feel of the book have met with failure. Its original gold
cover was removed, never to reappear after the book was stolen in
1006 A.D.
Written with a reed, or Goose feather, there was not one author;
it was an unsurpassed achievement created in ancient monastic
communities headed up by Saint Columba. Trinity College’s Old
Library, which houses the book, was built in 1732, its ceiling
modified fitted with a barrel-vault in 1860. The library is filled
with over 2.5 million books, many of them ancient and most
irreplaceable.
The visitor to Trinity College — like many others on similar
missions in places of national importance that day — eased through
the throng of tourists, playing the part fully, even to the point of
consulting a tour guide book as she carried out her mission.
Her short hair was cropped fashionably close to her head. Her
clothes were nondescript, though her tee-shirt adorned with a Levi’s
logo in French satisfied anyone curious enough to wonder where she
was from. A minimum of makeup completed the successful attempt at
anonymity, hiding enough of her pretty features to make her appear
plain.
She followed the tour guide, closely observing the security
cameras and personnel. The day was hot, and everyone was relaxed in
this precious and rare gift from nature. As the guide commented on
the magnitude of the library, the vast quantity of books available,
and the pressing need for expansion, Clare slipped her hand into her
bag, letting it rest on the high tech device therein. Made
completely of plastic, it was barely larger than a small makeup box
and it fit in the palm of her hand snugly. Though she had practiced
this many times, she felt perspiration flow down her back, and her
heart rate increased. She relaxed her breathing and found the
control she needed. With slight movements, not noticeable to
anyone, she peeled off the paper backing to the adhesive strips that
covered one side of the package.
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“It needs two full minutes to cure and must be applied not more
than 50 seconds later,” her instructor had warned her. “Be careful
not to touch the exposed surface, it will capture a very defined
fingerprint.”
The device was a bomb but a very well made one designed for a
specific purpose. Its basic components were like any other. The
plastic explosive, C4, took up most of the space, shaped as it was
for maximum upward explosive effect. The detonator, buried in the
odorless mass, was connected to a triggering device. The basic
components came from a beeper with one modification - a trembler
device linked to a mercury switch. The bomb could be detonated by
two means. The first, the intended method, would occur simply by
using a telephone, from any location in the world. Entering the
beeper number and a code would activate the receiving mechanism and
set off the explosive. The second method was through the use of a
mercury tilt switch, which would ensure that anyone touching, or
attempting to remove or tamper with the device would complete the
circuit with the same net effect.
The black matte exterior was stenciled with a warning “Security
device - do not touch or attempt to remove!” along with a fictitious
logo. It was enough to fool even the security people.
Clare waited until the guide gathered the group around the Book
of Kells display case, before she made her move. She was one of the
first to look down on the ancient illustrated manuscript, bathed in
its glory by a special lighting system. As she moved away to allow
the next impatient viewer their turn, she dropped her guide book and
immediately dropped down to retrieve it. It took but a fraction of
a second to depress the activation button and push the device
against the bottom of the display case, which she did, as she had
practiced many times, with her left hand as if leaning for support
while she picked up her book. She glanced at it quickly as she
rose, it seemed securely fastened. The specially formulated glue
would make the bond permanent. As she rose grasping her book, she
smiled at the person next to her and said, “Pardonnez-moi.”
Exiting was a matter of simply following the tour to their next
destination, a favorite student watering hole, The Buttery. By the
time they arrived there, she was long gone but not at all missed.
And the bomb, now permanently attached to the bottom of the display
case armed itself after four minutes with nothing more than an
unnoticed beep.
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A wind gust alerted the pilots’ attention to possible problems


ahead. Flying, 2,000 feet above the dark cloud formations, it was
impossible to avoid the occasional wisps of clouds that raised their
tentacles upwards. The collision warning false alarm hadn’t helped
their nerves, frayed after a long bumpy flight across the North
Atlantic. Both pilots were tired, and the coffee they had consumed
stretched their nerves further.
“EI 621 requesting permission to begin descent to 26,000 feet,”
the copilot radioed New York approach. After a moment the ear piece
crackled,
“EI 621 negative. 34,000 feet maintain. Heavy weather advisory.
PIREPs advises wind gusting to 80 MPH. Low altitude wind shear
conditions. Cloud tops 32,000 feet. Advise you consider an
alternate airport,” the controller responded noting their position
on his flight control radar.
As if to remind the pilots of the fact, the clouds lit up like a
giant flash cube in front of the aircraft. The brightness blinded
them temporarily, but faded quickly. The captain consulted with his
copilot briefly to consider the advice, given by approach, that they
divert to an alternate airport. Considering the size of their
craft, only a few possibilities existed. Newark, New Jersey would
probably wave them off, considering the localized weather problem.
That left Philadelphia to the south, or Boston, both could be
reached, weather permitting, by flying through the storm front.
As the plane descended, the expected increased buffeting and
turbulence commenced. A courtesy announcement to the passenger
cabin ensured that all loose items were put away and the tray tops
secured. Nervous travelers strapped on their seat belts without
waiting for the overhead warning. Cabin crew scurried to their
positions.
With all of the latest technology on board, the pilots knew that
they could land in almost any weather. Despite this, the captain’s
gut tightened.
A call, just received through SatLink to his on board phone from
the Irish airport security, had warned of a bomb on board. Getting
on the ground was now a matter of imminent importance. Not wishing
to arouse any panic, he had divulged the information to only his
first officer. Their concern over the turbulence vanished.
Together they formulated a plan to search the hold for the bomb.
He had been warned that it could be tiny - the size of a cigarette
package, but not necessarily that shape - plastic explosive could be
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 118

in any shape. Their first step would be to notify the controllers


of the need for preferential treatment through an emergency landing.
As he set the coordinates for the alternative airport, the radio
came alive.
“Flight EI 621 be aware of an emergency - come to channel 19”.
The first officer complied.
“Be advised we have reports of the possibility a bomb on board
your aircraft. Do not change course without further notification,”
the radio hissed with static, as the controller conferred with his
supervisor who was now standing beside him watching the aircraft
transponder on the radar screen. The nervous flight crew did not
have to wait long.
“EI 621 you are cleared to land at Logan Airport, Boston. You
will be contacted by Logan tower.” There followed a stream of
technical data indicating the airport coordinates for the in-flight
navigation computer, weather information and more, all essential to
ensure the shortest time to arrival. That the plane was, as the
crow flies, thirty miles away from Logan didn’t help. It was also
five miles high traveling at over 600 miles per hour - 10 miles a
minute. The problem was to slow the aircraft quickly and loose
altitude at the same time without panicking the passengers. It was
decided to over-fly the city in a circular route and approach the
runway from the ocean.
In the belly of the craft, the device lay propped against the
bulkhead. As the plane dropped through 12,000 feet, the explosive
armed itself. This did two things, first it started a timer, which,
when it ran out of its 400 second countdown, would trigger the
device; secondly, it armed a pressure sensitive switch which, when
the aircraft passed through 3,000 feet, would fire the bomb. This
provided a backup should one or the other system fail.
The controller at Logan snatched up a pair of high powered
binoculars as the aircraft neared the end of the runway. Emergency
vehicles lined the taxi-ways ready to disembark the passengers. The
vehicle lights twinkled and twirled in the heavy rain that now fell
from the low thunderclouds that hung above the airport. The plane’s
landing lights glared as it sliced through the dark clouds,
lightning flashing, glinting off the brightly painted craft. The
landing gear hung like talons as the rushing air whipped past them.
Vapor trails poured from the wing tips. The hungry engines sucked
in the moisture laden clouds, spitting out a maelstrom of
superheated air from the exhaust ventricles in massive spinning
vortices.
The pilot was in mid-sentence when the pressure sensitive device
finally responded. The fluctuating high and low pressure from the
storm deceived it into thinking that it was higher than it actually
was. When it finally sparked, the timer was just a couple of
seconds from zero.
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The plane loomed massively into view as the controller adjusted


the focus on his binoculars. The explosion that burst in the hold
seemed to swell the aircraft’s belly, as the expanding gases ripped
through the baggage compartment, parting the aluminum surfaces and
bulkheads like a hot knife through butter. It ruptured through the
skin, just aft of the wings, billowing, outward in a jet of orange
and yellow, leaving for a moment a gaping hole that poured black
smoke. In the passenger cabin, a whole section of the floor
disappeared above where the explosion had occurred, swallowing
people and seats alike, the force scattering bodies in all
directions.
Still, the plane continued to fly, dropping through 2,400 feet,
speed now at 180 knots. However, the blast had driven white hot
bulkhead fragments deep into the fuel tanks where they cooled
fizzling in the volatile liquid. Now, at 1,100 feet, they were
within 900 yards of the runway as they approached over the sea. The
pilot concentrated on getting the aircraft down quickly, the
instrument array was alive with alerts and alarms. With one final
check of their airspeed, he shut the engines down and dropped the
nose a few degrees aiming at the long white painted strips that
bordered the beginning of the runway. Decorated with the tire marks
of countless previous aircraft landings, the runway rose to meet
them. Sweat covered the pilot’s face as he made last minute
adjustments while he flew on manual, overriding the flight computer
in an effort to get on the ground. Airspeed bled off until it
hovered at the 130 knot mark, barely above stalling speed.
“We’re going to make it!” he thought as he felt the massive craft
begin to flare as it seemed to hover over the end of the runway. A
strong cross wind gust pushed the tail section, and as the pilot
eased the rudder pedal to correct, he noticed that the yaw increased
- the controls were not responding. From the passenger cabin, those
who were not hysterical watched white knuckled as fuel cascaded from
the wing pods where the ruptured fuel cells had been ripped open by
the flying shrapnel. Hope at the sight of the approaching runway
turned to dismay as the plane turned, pushed by the cross wind until
it seemed that the left wing was where the nose should be. As the
air flow changed, fuel was driven outward on the wings until the
fuel splashed over the still hot engines.
The controllers, and all watching the approach, gazed helplessly
as the aircraft tipped on a wing and exploded in midair, only a few
hundred feet from and above the runway. The nose and tail sections
drooped, seeming to melt off the body. The central section
disappeared completely in an expanding ball of liquid fire. The
momentum of the molten mass continued its path towards the runway
and landed there as though cast down by the hand of God. Crashing,
tumbling, ripping, the remains of the once flyable object smashed
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 120

onto the tarmac, burning and seething as it skidded to a screeching


halt.
The emergency vehicles had their foam hoses ready at full power
as they raced toward the now stationary fireball though it took an
hour before they could quell the blaze. The tail section had fallen
into the water and it lay there, passengers still strapped to their
seats, scorched and quite dead. The nose section had hit hard and
rolled away from the main bulk of the inferno. As a fire truck
approached it, a bloody face appeared from the smashed first
officer’s window with an outstretched hand.
“Help us” he mouthed.
Rescuers threw themselves at the windshield, and one squeezed
inside. Both pilots were bloodied from flying glass, but otherwise
seemed relatively unscathed as they sat strapped to their seats.
Later they found that the first officer had a ruptured spleen and
broken ribs where the yoke had punched him in the chest at impact.
The rescuers were even able to evacuate them through the internal
cabin door, its anti-hijacking armor had saved them from the blast
and opened freely on its hinges.
By days end, 264 passengers and crew were dead, most charred
beyond recognition.
A call to the Irish Times, using a pre-agreed password, claimed
the atrocity in the name of the Protestant backed Ulster Liberation
Force, as retaliation for the parade slaughter.
In Dublin, a well dressed businessman watching the news on TV
poured himself a large gin and tonic and saluted himself in the
gilded mirror in his office.
“To a job well done,” he smiled at his reflection.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 121

The Buick left a dust cloud as Jessica roared up the ramp and
snapped into the heavy northbound traffic. A trooper noticed her
abrupt maneuvers, but chose to ignore ticketing her as she merged
cleanly and stayed in lane. He was distracted soon afterwards by a
call over his radio from a fellow officer seeking backup on the
Hutchinson River Parkway.
Jessica kept near constant eye on the rear view mirror wondering
if, or when, that Taurus would appear. She pushed her way into the
fictitious fast lane which slowed down as she went through road
works at New Rochelle, where the traffic was squeezed into two
lanes, bordered by an unbroken wall of concrete barrier on either
side. A huge truck rode perilously close beside her, its huge tires
spinning, the air brake belching streams of compressed air. She had
a nightmare of getting a blowout under such circumstances and, in
her minds eye, could see her car getting sucked under those huge
tires, the car becoming mangled...
“Mom?” her youngest asked, tapping her lightly on the shoulder.
“Mom?” he repeated.
“What is it sweetie?” Jessica asked, glad of the distraction,
feeling slightly ashamed that she had ignored the children for so
long.
“Ice cream - can we stop for some?”
“Sure, lets look out for a 7-11 or Carvel when we get off the
highway.” Jessica was relieved that she could comply, the granting
of the request eased her conscience. Christ, she admonished
herself, how could she have forgotten them?
Her eldest son interrupted her thoughts.
“Looks like you lost him, mom,” he confided in a low voice.
Jessica was going to bluff, pretending that she didn’t know what
he was talking about, but decided that she would be doing them both
a disfavor.
“How do you know honey?” she asked, glancing again at the rear
view mirror.
“He never made it onto the ramp,” Patrick replied emphatically,
“I was watching him in the side mirror, he should have been up that
ramp right after us but he never made it. I wonder what happened?”
“So do I,” Jessica thought, relieved in a strange way that he too
had seen their pursuer. She could, she thought, have been imagining
it, but Patrick’s confirmation reassured her.
A little over an hour later, they arrived at John Hussar’s house,
which she found easily, despite only having visited there once.
Nick’s directions were accurate. John lived in a split level ranch
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 122

at the end of a lengthy driveway. The house had just been repainted
and gleamed a perfect white in the sun.
It was a beautiful day. After an anxious moment when she
couldn’t find the front door key, and she thought she would have to
bust the door down setting off the alarm, she found what she was
looking for, an old can of WD40 thrown seemingly carelessly behind
some shrubs. Twisting off the lid, the inside was exposed, not an
oil can at all, but an off the shelf device for hiding valuables.
John had sprayed the outside with a light acid which had accelerated
the old look. The product line had been designed for interior use.
Heeding Nick’s warning, she left the children sitting on the
front lawn and entered the house alone. Referring to her notes, she
went from room to room checking for and removing various weapons she
found there. Her quick sweep of the ground floor revealed a Smith &
Wesson .38 revolver, a civil war era pre-loaded pistol, a shotgun
and a muzzle-loader dating back to the American Revolution. Jessica
never could bring herself around to asking John, with his WASPy
background, with which side had his great grandfather fought. There
had been other weapons Nick had mentioned, but they were absent.
Carrying her load to the attic, she dumped the lot underneath
John’s desk, which lay there burdened by two large computer screens,
cluttered with hard-drives and other electronic components. The
computers themselves lay underneath the desk. She knew from a tour
John had given her the one time she visited that the attic was
honeycombed with compartments, filled with what he regarded as a
treasure trove of heirloom goodies. Jessica just wanted to make
sure that her children left everything well enough alone to avoid
injury to themselves and damage to John’s property. Despite
protests from Patrick that he knew how to use the games on John’s
computer, she dumped the weapons there and locked the door, leaving
danger and temptation out of the children’s reach.
The house needed a cleaning, but Jessica only did what was
necessary, she hadn’t planned on an extended stay. She gave the
children chores, helping her to set up beds, though in the evening
they did all end up sharing John’s large king-size bed.
Next morning the UPS truck woke her with a package from Nick.
Inside she found a couple of thousand dollars in unsigned traveler’s
checks, some cash in the form of $100 bills, and a hurried note from
Nick offering her words of encouragement, and some suggestions for
what Nick thought would be a good next move for her. But Jessica
was way ahead of Nick, having been on the phone with her travel
agent friend the previous night, arranging, what she had determined,
the most obvious plan of action open to her. Cost was a major
factor, as was her instinct to hide the fact that she was traveling.
Jessica insisted that the tickets be booked under different names
which could be changed the day of departure. She considered booking
using her credit card, but the warning Nick had given her about the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 123

ease with which credit card transactions could be traced, made her
reluctant to use it on this occasion. Her agent friend sensed
something was up, and booked the tickets for her using an agency
order - perhaps she thought Jessica was having marital problems.
Jessica could pay for the tickets when she picked them up at the
airport. The travel agent was puzzled by the request that the seats
be booked under fictitious names, but let it be, as the unexpected
commission on the $4,200 was quite welcome on what was otherwise a
quiet day. She would try to get Jessica an upgrade for what would
be an 11 hour flight.
Using the instructions that Nick had given her, Jessica slipped
into John’s office and checked his e-mail. There were a lot of
messages for John and one from John addressed to her. In it he told
her that he had created an e-mail account for her, and gave
instructions, should the need arise, on how she could access, send
and retrieve messages. Jessica compiled a return message explaining
where she would leave her car, the keys, and closed with a note to
be passed on to Nick, that they were 100% behind him every step of
the way. She choked back a tear as she hit the send button, and the
electronic packet was sent on its way. She couldn’t help but wonder
when she and Nick would see each other again.
Next, using a calling card she had purchased the evening before
at the local 7-11, she called the Greek tourist board on their 800
number and secured the telephone number for the Leventis Hotel in
Aghios Nikolaos in Crete. She got through the first time but had
difficulty trying to explain with whom she wanted to speak.
Eventually the person on the other end of the line gave her another
number to call. It was getting late in the day, Greece was seven
hours ahead of US Eastern time. There was an echo on the line as
the connection went through.
She was using the pre-paid calling cards to avoid putting charges
on John’s phone, and to avoid recording the numbers on her or John’s
phone account, should anyone access either in an attempt to find
her. Paranoid she knew, but she was also practical, being well
aware of the advances in technology and the ability to track people
using their electronic fingerprints.
After six rings the phone was picked up, and Jessica was greeted
by a torrent of Greek, interrupted as someone attempted to pick up
the line and disengage the answering machine.
“Yani, please,” Jessica called in a clear voice.
“Who’s speaking?” the female respondent returned.
“Jessica Riordan, I’m an old friend.”
“Jessica? OK, hold on,” and the line went silent as it was put
on hold.
A few seconds later the phone was picked up again and a warm
friendly voice echoed across 7,500, miles to her.
“Jessica?”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 124

“Yani, it’s Jessica Riordan, do you remember?”


“Sure, sure, I remember you Irish! It has been some time since I
last saw you - 12 years?”
“Exactly.”
“So what’s up Jessica, what can I do for you?”
Jessica, aware of the cost of the call, launched straight into
her story and her immediate needs.
After a pause Yani responded, “I can handle it, Jessica, no
problem. But instead of staying at one of our hotels, I suggest an
apartment, like the one you had last time you were here. The same
one may be available, besides if anyone tries to shoot you, it won’t
affect my business.” He guffawed at his wisecrack.
“Love you too Yani,” Jessica had forgotten his dry sense of
humor, but she didn’t let it get to her. She ran over what she
needed, Yani gave her an estimate of costs and that was that. She
would see him the day after next.
“When did you say you were flying in?” he asked absent mindedly.
“Yani, I’m leaving here tomorrow - we’ll be arriving in Heraklion
at noon the day after.”
There was a silence on the phone before Yani launched into a
tirade of Greek - throwing the Greek equivalent of a tantrum. She
knew him well enough to know he was just blowing off steam, but knew
that the little extra pressure she was putting on him wouldn’t
hinder her cause.
Allowing a sob to enter her voice, she asked, “Now Yani, you will
help me won’t you?”
Yani immediately soothed his temper, and reassured her not to
worry, all would be taken care of. Yani was used to the tourist
trade where anything urgent normally had a two week advance warning
attached to it.
Nick and Jessica had met Yani some 16 years before, quite by
accident. He and his father were entrepreneurs in the tourist
industry. Yani’s family had a 20 room hotel which was in a half
finished state for much of the time they knew them. Yani was a well
manicured man, short but chubbily handsome in his own way, he had
dark features, but had striking blue eyes. His jowls always had the
appearance of being haggard, the result of too many late nights.
But his eyes retained a twinkle that lit up, adding to his natural
charm that had, according to him, wooed countless members of the
opposite sex to his warm bed.
They had met Yani while visiting his hotel bar after-hours late
one evening for a nightcap during one of many vacations to Crete.
The bar had been unattended so they had helped themselves to a
couple of beers and left the money and a note on the countertop.
The next day on a return visit to the bar, Yani had greeted them
like old friends, such was his delight at their honesty, something
that was severely lacking, he explained, among cash strapped package
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 125

tourists. Over the following six years they had returned three more
times to the same town, and each time had either stayed in Yani’s
hotel or in accommodations arranged by him. He had supplied them
with access to rented Suzuki jeeps and motorcycles, and they were
known to his family as the “Irish” of whom he was very fond, as
opposed to the Irish “virgins,” who would let him get them drunk at
his expense and then not give him so much as a feel before
staggering off to bed. These he had written off as a complete waste
of time and resources.
Jessica glanced at her watch, relaxing for the first time in what
seemed like an eternity, content that she had completed planning the
next stage of their journey. She didn’t allow herself the luxury of
fully understanding what it was all about. She didn’t want to dwell
on the obvious danger that Nick had relayed to her. She flicked the
remote control that lay beside the phone and put on CNN, just in
time for the headlines. She wasn’t prepared for the lead story and
was left feeling completely numb and aghast.
“Good afternoon this is Suzy Gallop, filling in for Jeannine
McKenzie who is on vacation. The top story this hour is an update
on the massacre in Northern Ireland two days ago...” The news
reporter recounted the numbers, now finalized at two hundred and
forty two dead and three critically wounded. Pictures of the
grizzly scene flashed onto the screen followed by a blown up photo
of Nick taken from his Press Pass.
“The British government has offered a one million pound reward,
that’s approximately one point four million dollars, for information
leading to the arrest and conviction of Nickolas Riordan, who they
describe as the main suspect in the orchestration of this attack.
Eye witnesses and photographs place him at the scene,” and the next
picture was one of Nick, blurred, holding what appeared to be a
weapon of some kind pointing directly at the camera.
“The toll free number at the bottom of the screen is confidential
for the largest man-hunt in recent Irish history. Mr. Riordan is
believed to be in the South of Ireland and police suspect that he
may be attempting to return to the US, where he lives in suburban
New York.” This was followed by a live picture of Nick’s home.
Neighbors were interviewed, with reactions of, “I can’t believe
this, Nick is a good neighbor, an honest and kind man,” to that of
old Mrs. Kealy, who Jessica barely knew, but was only to happy to
tell the interviewer, in her twangy Long Island accent, that “the
events didn’t surprise her in the least, that, this fellow was
rarely home...Irish and the terrorists...typical...aren’t they all
mixed up in it some way.” She went on to say that she was not in
the least bit surprised that he was suspected, “a bit of a dark
horse, and the fact that the family had obviously flown - probably
back to where they had come from - was the greatest demonstration of
guilt.” Jessica snapped the set off and flung the remote at the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 126

screen in frustration, missing a breaking news bulletin about a air


crash in Boston.
“Bitch,” she hissed. But instead of dwelling on the news, she
stayed busy preparing a picnic lunch for herself and the children,
which they consumed on the front lawn, basking in the heat of the
day.
Though tense, she did not mention the news to the children.
Instead of eating, she slowly ground the sandwich to a pulp in her
hand and threw it into the trees wishing that the roast turkey was
Mrs. Kealy’s neck. Patrick noticed her aggravation and he did what
he could to keep his brother and sister in line.
After fixing herself a large mug of coffee, Jessica sat on the
front steps and called the children to her. She was glad of the
khaki shorts that she wore; the day was truly a scorcher, the air
alive with the shimmer of heat, though she could see the formation
of an afternoon thunderstorm in the distance. She composed herself,
and told the children of the great adventure and unexpected vacation
that lay ahead of them. The reaction was one of delight, as would
be expected of young children. They were full of questions and
excited chatter. Paul quieted down first and asked the question
that she had been expecting.
“What about daddy?” he asked simply.
“We’ll be meeting him later on, but first we have to get packed
and ready. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow,” and she
ushered them off to finish packing.
Later, as she lay in bed, with the children who were fast asleep,
her thoughts drifted to Nick, wondering where he was and what he was
doing. She would check her e-mail before she left. She wished she
had the laptop to bring with her, but hoped that Yani had a computer
she could use. She did, however, pack a modem, a spare 28.8K that
had been attached to their computer at home. She made and checked
off her list in her mind, which was as good as counting sheep, she
was on the edge of sleep in five minutes.
She must have dozed off but she awoke suddenly with a feeling of
imminent danger. Slipping silently from the bed she stumbled to the
bedroom door, searching the darkness with her eyes as well as her
ears. A tight knot grabbed at her stomach as she wondered what she
should do. She reached back to the bedside table and took the
portable phone that lay there, a poor weapon, but the thought of
being able to summon the police was reassuring. She, for a moment,
wished that she had one of the weapons that she had left locked
upstairs. Retrieving the key from her jeans, she drew them on
tucking in the T-shirt she had worn in bed. In near complete
darkness, she climbed the stairs to the attic workshop.
Jessica jumped, barely suppressing a scream, as she saw a flash
at her feet. A bright blue flash lit up the hallway in an eerie
light, quickly followed by another. Jessica threw herself down onto
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 127

the stairs her mind racing, her eyes probing the darkness for the
source of danger. She lay there for a few seconds panting, her
chest crushed against the hard musty stairs. A movement of her hand
caught her attention. As her fingers brushed the carpet, a series
of sparks leaped from her fingers.
“Static!” she gasped aloud, relieved. Her relief was short lived
as she heard a noise again from outside. She fumbled on the stairs,
as she grasped for the door, unlocked it and went inside.
The property was surrounded by a dense and overgrown tree line
which came to within 50 feet of the house. This was something that
had caught Jessica’s attention that afternoon as they had sat
outside having their lunch. “It made the house dangerously
accessible,” she thought. But then, the cover could just as easily
be used to exit.
“Why didn’t I think to hide the car?” she wondered as she slid
across the floor to John’s desk, her slim hand searching and finding
the cold shape of the pistol that lay there. Its chrome skin was
cool to the touch and its weight, as she hefted the .38, gave her a
degree of confidence. Thus armed, she returned down the stairs,
carefully locking up again. She wished that she had her dog with
them, he would make short work of any would-be intruders.
She checked the alarm system in the hallway. All the zones were
armed, a mouse couldn’t move without setting it off. Further, the
system had the ability to indicate graphically the exact location of
the intruder when it was tripped. Jessica slid silently to a front
bedroom window and peered outside through the half-closed blinds.
“They could be anywhere,” she thought, though she was unsure who
“they” would be. The crickets were quiet at this late hour. A
series of running footsteps drew her back to the window again,
instantly alert, the pistol held ready to be cocked. She hoped that
her touching the blinds would not alert anyone outside but she had
to see, to set eyes on whoever was out there. Just as she peered
out, the clouds parted allowing moonlight to illuminate the lawn in
its silver glow.
A doe stood nibbling on the grass, probably enjoying a drink from
the dew. Jessica allowed the pistol to drop limp in her hand,
raising her eyes to heaven.
“Jesus,” she thought, her heart pounded as relief flooded through
her when she brushed the blinds closed and returned to bed.
“I’m getting nutty in my old age,” she thought, as she slipped
the revolver under the mattress and snuggled down amidst her
children.
She wouldn’t have thought so if she knew that outside, not two
feet from where she was standing, were the imprints made by someone
who was in the middle of deactivating the alarm system. He had been
warned off by his accomplice who had seen the blinds move. Instead,
he installed a tracking device on the Buick, and left to snooze in a
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 128

car further up the lane. Dawn wasn’t far off; the day would bring
with it the opportunity for them to follow their IRA commander’s
orders.
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The trip south went more quickly than Nick could have hoped.
Noise and insects aside, the scenery more than made up for the lack
of creature comforts. Not heeding Seán’s warning about avoiding
traveling at night, he carried on, reaching Wicklow town by 10.25
P.M.; its overlooking hill still lit by the twilight sun,
supplemented by the moon which had risen, promising to bathe the
landscape in its milky luminescence. Nick diverted towards the town
as he emerged from the side roads, spying a petrol station, it’s
colorful fluorescent sign interestingly pretty in the half light.
He bought a Snickers and a couple of cans of Coke, topping off the
near full petrol tank. A pint of dark Guinness would have been just
what the doctor ordered, but there was no time. A late evening
train bellowed out of the platform located behind the pumps of the
petrol station. Nick noted a police car in the train station
parking lot. Shortly after the train had left, three police
officers emerged from the platform and got back into their car.
Nick didn’t realize just how tightly the noose was closing in the
search for him. He decided to call Jessica, but would leave it
until later in the night so as not to disturb her sleep. He did
call John once again, at a contact number he had given him, but
instead of calling collect he used his AT&T calling card. No one
answered.
In a basement in Dublin, an operator was alerted by his computer.
The screen blinked with Nick’s calling card number and the number he
was calling. Immediately the computer went into a trace mode. This
was made all the easier by the digital phone system that had been
installed in Ireland under the leadership and direction of Michael
Smurfit, an Irish business tycoon, picked especially for the job of
revitalizing the then Stone age phone system. The trace was able to
determine that it was a pay phone and its exact location in County
Wicklow. This information was e-mailed to the relevant parties, one
of whom had a particular interest and roused his men ready for the
next intercept.
Nick made good time, traveling forty miles in the next two hours.
He called it a day at a town called Blackwater, a little off the
beaten path, but that’s exactly how he wanted it. It was a sleepy
hamlet, filled with souvenir shops and cafes. All were closed,
including the pub, though late night stragglers were leaving as the
bewitching hour approached. Summer closing time was 11:30 P.M., and
the premises had to be cleared by midnight. Seán had warned Nick
that this time of night was a time for roadblocks, as the police
checked for intoxicated drivers. It was as good a time as any to
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find a place to sleep for the night. He found an ideal spot behind
the sea shell encrusted, decorative water fountains in the center of
town on a bench. The thought of rats did not bother him in the
least, and he slept soundly for a few hours.
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“Why Wicklow? If he’d been smart he could’ve got out on a Stena


Ferry from Dun Laoghaire last night and been in England an hour and
a half later.”
“Right into the arms of the British police.”
“That’s beside the point. Where’s he off to? Rosslare?”
“We have a standby team ready to move at a moment’s notice.
There’s no way he can get onto a plane ferry without being spotted.”
“He could steal a small boat and head for England.”
“Highly unlikely - the sea’s extremely rough and will stay that
way for the next day or two. We’re checking car rentals - I’ll keep
you informed.”
“Do that,” and the caller hung up.
The phone call came at 5:15 A.M. the following morning. Nick had
called Jessica as soon as he reached his destination, and although
the conversation was brief, he had used his calling card, and the
tracing operators got a fix on the location. They notified the team
leader right away by cellular phone, who was waiting for word beside
his intercept cars.
No command was necessary, the black Saabs emerged from their
location in a warehouse close to the Point Theater in the Dublin
docks. Crossing the East Link toll bridge, they shot across
Sandymount Road, the sea visible far out in the moonlight as the
tide waned. The lights of the Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire twinkled
in the early morning hours, the roads empty, save for early morning
delivery trucks.
Turning left through the train crossing they sped down the
Blackrock road, buy stayed within the speed limit as they passed the
new Blackrock police station. Intersecting with the N 11 highway at
Cornelscourt, they turned south and increased their speed, the
traffic lights in their favor. The choice of car was as much to do
with speed and reliability as it was with the fact that they were
the vehicle of choice for diplomatic escorts. Once onto the highway
the drivers turned on their grill mounted flashing blue lights -
enough to keep a curious police officer puzzled, and discourage them
from stopping the speeding cars. The scenery that had interested
Nick barely 8 hours before flashed past unnoticed as their speed
exceeded 100 mph. Dawn was less than an hour away, and with it
there was a good possibility that they would lose their opportunity
to trap their quarry.
Permanent daylight at these northern extremes was only 300 miles
to the north during the summer months hence the short nights in
Ireland.
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The turbocharged motors of the Saabs were well capable of


exceeding 140 mph, which they did on the stretches of motor way
leading south out of Dublin. Their laptop chirped, displaying a map
and directions to their destination. “Plenty of time,” the driver
thought, his eyes never leaving the road as he whipped through the
Wicklow countryside.
In their wake another car followed, out of sight; it’s occupants
relaxed for their mission ahead. More than one group was capable of
monitoring the phone lines.
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The Cessna, crabbing — its nose off center due to the sideways
force of the wind on its tail — in the early morning breeze,
descended soundlessly, propeller feathered. With a gentle pop, the
tires kissed the concrete runway and the propeller spluttered to a
stop seconds after landing. Silently the light plane coasted to a
halt, turning completely on its left wheel to face back the way it
came.
An old plane, a 172 model, it had seen better days. However, a
number of paint jobs over the years ensured that its bright aluminum
skin remained covered from the elements. Where parts of the flight
surfaces moved, the flaps, aileron and rudder, the metal shone
brightly through the scraped paint. The prop blades were pitted and
scoured from the infinite impacts of stray stones and debris drawn
thought its turbulent vortex.
The airfield was deserted. A bright orange windsock swung lazily
in the light breeze; the tall wild grasses moved as though flowing
from the air that pushed against it. Between the slabs of runway
sprouted tufts of crab grass, jutting boldly upwards, occasionally
trampled by an arriving or departing plane.
Scattered around the single building that served the local flying
club, planes lay, mostly hidden under tarpaulins of a variety of
colors, shapes, textures and sizes. Securing lines, tied to the
wing tips, held the planes taut. A rusted, dilapidated, barbed wire
fence surrounded the property, decorated with wisps of wool from
sheep who chose to scratch against it.
The silence was complete and unexpected. Nick had visions of a
roaring aircraft toiling to the landing strip, waking the
inhabitants of the loosely strung necklace of surrounding homes.
From underneath the supported wing, the hatch clicked and swung
open on its leather hinges. A khaki clad leg swung from behind the
door, followed by a figure grunting from stiffness caused from a
long night of travel. Without looking at or acknowledging Nick, the
pilot reached over to the back seat and removed a dull black rifle —
his favorite, as Nick recalled, an AR-15, the semi-automatic version
of the military issue, M-16. Nick always smiled when he thought of
the civilian label, as if being hit with one or three rounds a
second would amount to a hill of beans when you were being shot at.
Squinting around the open field through his aviator sunglasses,
the pilot lifted the rifle and snapped a round into the breech,
pulling back on the rear mounted loading lever with his thumb and
forefinger. Swinging the carrying harness over his right shoulder,
he advanced from under the shadow of the wing, the rifle suspended
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 134

from its strap. He swept the perimeter of the field quickly before
his eyes settled on Nick and lifted his hand in silent greeting.
Grinning, he greeted Nick with a cheery “Dude!” His smile did
not belay the fatigue that lined his face.
Nick walked to him as they extended hands and shook, Nick patting
the pilot’s right elbow with his left hand.
“Thanks for coming, John,” Nick muttered quietly, hesitating he
added, “I didn’t know if you would.”
“Think nothing of it,” John responded, his grin getting wider,
“you’re paying for the gas and tolls — besides I need the flying
hours and who knows, if there’s some real excitement, I might even
get the theme for a next movie.”
“Was there a first?” Nick asked jokingly.
John responded by lightly slapping Nick on the side of his head.
John was a MacGyver — a jack of all trades and a master of a lot
of them. His college major had been in film production and he was
constantly working on scripts, rewrites, and trying to obtain the
quarter million dollars funding needed to get the whole show
started. In his spare time he was a superb computer tech, capable
of running rings around the best corporate computer nerds, as he
called them, while charming his female clients with his lean
muscular body, clear blue eyes and his sweep of blond hair. He was
a loner, never pressing on anyone, never needing anyone. Girl
friends came and went. But the big movie was what he lived for.
They continued the small talk for a few short moments. “What’s
that?” John asked pointing at Nicks rifle case. Nick unzipped the
case and handed the Anshutz over. John looked at it, feeling its
weight.
“Nice gun, but not much use in a fight — bet it jams a lot,” he
added, going on to explain the problems, that he accurately
predicted the .22 caliber would have. Nick was well aware of these
problems, but he allowed John to talk his fill anyway.
“Absorbs a lot of energy and if you use a low powered round, I
doubt if it would eject at all. Is it accurate?” Nick started to
recount his hitting a vicious pigeon at 100 plus yards, but John’s
attention was drifting. Looking over his plane, he lifted Nick’s
bag and walked over and threw it into the back seat.
“Got a smoke?” Nick asked his friend.
“Sure,” John reached into his breast pocket and threw them over
to Nick. Matches were wedged into the cellophane wrapper.
“Don’t light up too close to the plane,” his friend warned, “go
up wind — aviation fuel loves a spark.”
John continued his walk-around, checking out the plane he had
rented in Wales the previous night, as he prepared for their
departure.
Walking away from the plane, the light warm morning breeze tossed
Nick’s short hair, and he cupped his hands as he lit his cigarette.
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Standing, he inhaled the smoke and exhaled slowly, his mind mulling
over what possibilities lay before him. During the past days he had
little time to strategize, but it was coming to him...what he would
do, options that were open to him. One thing that was certain,
whoever wanted him wanted him very badly.
Looking at the tired plane and his friend, Nick realized that
despite their calls on the phone, it had been some time since they
had last met. John, “skin”, as Nick usually called him, though he
could not recall where the moniker had originated, was aging well
for all of his 36 years. He retained his athletic build despite the
garbage he fed himself. His shock of blond hair, now hidden under
an Ithaca College baseball cap retained its natural hue. His tan
appeared faded under his pale skin, paled from the tiring journey he
had undertaken without sleep, and lines were visible under his neck
- a sign of too much sun over the years. The plane had his complete
attention as he finished his walk-around.
John laughed out loud suddenly and turned to Nick.
“So, here I am in the land of the Leprechauns — I never thought
that I’d see it this way. This isn’t the main international airport
is it?” he grinned, sweeping his left hand around in a slow arch.
“Sure is,” Nick responded, not missing a beat, “should have the
747’s rolling in any minute now.”
He got a response of a toothy grin from John, who was
extinguishing his own cigarette on the heel of his boot. He flicked
the stub into the gravel beside the pock marked taxi-way.
“Do you hear that?” Nick asked, tilting his head into the wind.
John did not respond, instead he turned toward the direction Nick
was facing and craned his neck, eyes alert.
“Wait...now, do you hear it?” Nick quizzed. In the distance came
the ebb and flow of a car motor, straining at high speed.
“Trouble?” John asked, knowing the answer by the look he found in
Nick’s face.
“How the heck could anyone know?” Nick thought and dismissed the
question, as too many remained unanswered to date, and now was not
the time to debate.
“Sure you’re not being your paranoid self?” John jibed him, as he
tugged on Nick’s arm and led him toward the plane. John knew Nick’s
paranoia well, some would call it instinct, and knew also that he
was seldom wrong in his feelings, particularly in business.
John handed him the AR-15 and told him to get in the passenger
door.
“Keep your finger off the trigger,” John warned, “I don’t want
you putting a hole in the plane.”
Nick gave him a quick look of disgust and tossed his rifle case
into the back seat. Grabbing hold of the wing strut he heaved
himself into the seat, slipping the rifle between his legs.
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“Open your window and stick the gun out of it — be careful of the
wing strut and the wing,” John ordered, as he adjusted the controls.
Leaning out the window, Nick could hear that the car was much
closer now, it’s tortured motor screaming in protest, as the driver
pushed it to the limit in low gears to maneuver the narrow roads
approaching the airport.
“Well, they’re not going to church, that’s certain,” Nick
muttered, looking at John as he concentrated on his pre-flight
checks. John barely acknowledged him as he gave everything a once-
over and warned Nick to mind his head as he flicked on the ignition
switches.
“What?” Nick asked, only to blasted with a stream of cold air and
exhaust gases as the prop spluttered to life. Cursing he pulled his
head back through the window and closed it, leaving enough room for
the protruding rifle.
“Put these on,” John shouted at him, throwing a head set into his
lap.
Doing as he was ordered, Nick slipped them on and found both
instant relief from the engine noise, and John’s voice crisp and
clear in his ears.
“Double trouble,” John said loudly through the head phone,
pointing in the direction of the airport gates. Sure enough, not
one, but two cars were stopped, the driver of the first was
unlatching the steel gate and swinging it open between the granite
stone walls.
John had parked the Cessna facing into the wind at the end of the
runway and now throttled up, the engine bellowing as the prop bit
the air. Indeterminable increasing speed at first, the plane
waddled forward and John offset the rudder to keep it straight in
the breeze.
Nick prayed silently as he saw the cars speed across the open
meadow towards them. He watched John, his jaw tight, push the
throttle lever to the stop, and saw him observe the steady climb of
the air-speed indicator.
The first car was carving long gouges out of the grass, as the
wheels spun wildly fighting for traction. The windows that Nick
could see were lowered and dark snouts of weapons protruded,
bouncing wildly as the car lurched across the field.
The second car had stopped by a parked plane, and the passengers
were busy pulling the tarpaulin off it.
The first car was increasing speed and looked as if it was going
to collide with the plane any second.
With condensation smoking off the prop tips, John pulled back on
the controls, and the small plane skipped as the wings grabbed for
lift.
“Come ON!” John shouted and thumped the control panel in
frustration, easing back on the column momentarily before hauling it
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 137

back as if he was trying to rip it out of the panel. The plane


hesitated, as if trying to decide what to do, but a strong gust hit
it head-on and it lifted gently into the morning sky.
Nick’s stomach fell as the earth dropped away below them.
“Christ,” Nick thought, having never flown in a small plane before,
“this isn’t a plane, it a kite with a goddamn lawnmower engine.”
The car was nearly underneath them, skidding to a stop.
“Can’t you make this go any faster?” he begged John, panic rising
in his voice.
“Wanna get out and walk,” John hissed at him.
“We...we should have left right away!” Nick responded.
“Coulda, shoulda, woulda...” John’s voice trailed as he looked
beneath them coldly eyeing the situation as the car, now stopped,
disgorged its passengers.
Two men stumbled as they trained their weapons skyward, their aim
frustrated by their hurried exit from the car.
Nick was unable to drop the angle of his gun, as the arch of fire
was restricted by the window opening and the low altitude angle of
the plane.
He pushed the door open, holding it with his foot, the buffeting
air straining it as the propeller wash jolted the aluminum. He was
rudely pulled back by his collar, as John shouted at him that he was
causing them to loose airspeed.
Snapping the door shut, they could both hear the rip of an
automatic weapon discharge. A neat row of holes were stitched along
the right trailing wing flap — leaving shiny aluminum blotches where
the searing hot rounds had clipped through the white painted
surface.
John said nothing, but stomped on the left rudder pedal, skidding
the plane in mid-air, changing the angle of attack of the lifting
surfaces. Raising the flaps, he dropped the nose slightly to
maintain air-speed. As the end of the runway approached, Nick could
hear another blast from the weapons below, but could not hear nor
feel any discernible damage. He gaped in horror at the sight in
front of him, where large pine trees looked certain to block their
way — he covered his eyes instinctively.
John dropped the flaps to their fully lowered position and held
his breath. The metal bit into the air, dropping their airspeed,
but in turn compensated by boosting their altitude, generating
additional lift. The result flared the plane, thrusting it high
into the air, allowing them to clear the treetops. Nick looked
forward, anticipating the worst and instead he turned just in time
to see a tree top being mowed to mulch by the spinning prop. As
they cleared the tree, more rounds thudded into the airframe.
“Bastards!” John growled, “They shot the plane!”
Pulling the flaps back up he let the airspeed build as he quickly
checked the gauges. Nothing seemed amiss. Peering out, first to
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his left, and then past Nick to his right, he checked the aircraft’s
surfaces. He looked past Nick’s left shoulder and saw the jagged
holes that ripped from the rudder to the passenger cabin. The
rounds nearly missed the plane, as the holes were long and in some
cases the entry holes had matching pocked exit holes.
Pushing the rudder pedals carefully, he found increased
resistance. “Must have damaged the cable or the rudder hinges,”
John said to no-one in particular. He would have to minimize the
use of the rudders in case anything snapped.
The ground rushed past a couple of hundred feet below them as
John turned to Nick and informed him that he was about to have his
first flying lesson. He pulled the throttles back to their normal
setting and the engine’s roar dropped to an acceptable decibel
level. Nick was sweating profusely, a tight knot rose in the pit of
his stomach. His bowels wobbled queasily and he felt a cold clammy
chill in his spine.
John, not getting a response to his last instruction to Nick,
looked at him and saw the rising panic. Nick’s face was the color of
parchment. He reached over and hit Nick hard on the side of the
face — the immediate look of disbelief and rising anger made John
smile, as he knew that he had read Nick correctly.
John grinned as he patted his friends arm. “Need you to stay
together, bud. How about it — you’re flying lesson?”
Swinging the Cessna into a tight left turn, he told his friend
“Stay cool, I need you.”
Nick felt his anger abate and realized how close he had come to
losing control.
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The Saab plunged off the end of the runway, engine screaming as
the driver fought to slow the car and turn it at the same time.
There was no danger of hitting anything — whoever had built the
airfield may have been short on runway but left plenty of room for
overshoots.
Applying the brakes did little to slow the forward motion of the
vehicle. The driver swung the wheel hard and yanked up the hand
brake leaning the rear of the car into a sharp right turn arriving
at where the aircraft was seconds after it had lifted off. Sliding
onto the concrete strip, the tires finally found traction and the
car lurched to a stop. As the motor stalled, the rear passengers
flung open their doors, dizzy from the riotous approach, and trained
their weapons skyward.
One let rip immediately, aiming in the general direction of the
plane, which seemed to hang suspended from the sky, its propeller
wash spilling behind it. The other gunman shook his head and
levered a round into the chamber before taking deliberate aim. Had
he had an AK-47 or an M-16, he would have succeeded in his task of
destroying the target. However, in his hands he held a stubby Uzi
submachine gun which hosed a burst of 9mm rounds skyward, wildly
inaccurate as the distance to the plane increased. The ejected
brass shells clinked off the runway, spinning and glinting in the
morning sun. Emptying the clip, he saw with satisfaction that some
of the rounds hit, though he could not be sure if they had reached
the passenger cabin.
His associate, now steadier, lifted his gun again but as he
pulled the trigger, the plane suddenly crabbed sideways losing
altitude throwing his aim completely off. As he adjusted his
stance, the plane leapt skyward just clearing the trees at the end
of the runway. Firing off bursts of rounds the gunman lost sight of
the plane as it sped away, its shape obscured by the trees. Behind
them the only sound was the clicking of the Saab’s turn signal.
On the other side of the field near the maintenance shed, the
group of men from the second car were working feverishly, removing
the last of the securing lines from a parked plane. One of them
circled the plane more quickly than he would have liked, doing a
very brief pre-flight check before climbing into the cockpit. Two
others clambered in the opposing door hauling their weapons. The
propeller spun and the engine spluttered to life, a cloud of blue
smoke billowing from the exhaust manifold, whisked away by the force
of the vortex. Frantic gesturing from the leader of the intercept
group, now approaching from across the field, prompted the pilot to
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forego any other checks and the plane loped toward the taxi way.
Because of the planes location and the time it would take to line up
correctly, the pilot decided to take off with the wind in an effort
to become airborne quickly.
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“The controls are simple,” John explained, pointing out the air
speed indicator and the altitude gauge. “You know all this stuff —
this lever is the throttle...”
“In theory.” Nick protested.
“Hold the stick steady like this, and I’ll tell you what to do,”
John went on, ignoring Nick, demonstrating how to hold the yoke —
which he did easily with his left hand.
“Don’t make any sudden moves like pushing which will make us
crash or pulling which will make us stall,” John continued, “when I
signal to you I want you to straighten up the plane and fly straight
and steady.”
Nick shook his head in bewilderment, but with a determined look
on his face he grabbed the yoke with both hands, the cold plastic
covering felt slick from the sweat on his palms.
“Hey Nick,” John smiled, “relax, it’s just like driving a car.”
“Sure,” Nick responded in a croak, “except in 3-D.”
Flying in a low left turn 100 feet over the tree tops, John eased
the throttle back, reducing the engine noise further but leaving
enough power to maneuver. Treetops flashed past, and the plane
buffeted in the breeze. As John tightened the turn, condensation
streamed from the left wing tip. Still steadying the stick, John
took the AR-15 from Nick’s lap, and reaching over to the back seat
removed a spare clip from a duffel bag. Dropping the clip from the
rifle, he inserted the new one and wedged the other between the seat
and his right thigh for easy retrieval.
The Saab pulled up beside the second car, and the men gathered
around watching the second plane throttle up for take off. So
anxious was the pilot to get in the air that he was accelerating as
he turned onto the runway, causing his left wing tip to dip
precariously toward the ground. With a low wing set, as opposed to
the overhead wings on John’s Cessna, the ground clearance was
negligible.
A wiggle on the rudder lined the plane up, its rear skidding in
the propeller wash. All eyes were fixed on the plane, glad that
they were on terra firma. They didn’t notice John’s Cessna
returning as it swept in from just above the tree line until it was
too late.
“Steady, Nick, hold the Goddamn thing steady,” John murmured,
settling the AR’s stock to his cheek. The plane lurched as Nick
corrected the turn.
“Jesus, I nearly dropped it — hold it STEADY!” John roared at
Nick. “Stay above 300 feet — and no more surprises.”
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Nick completely ignored him, realizing that he literally held his


own life as well as John’s in his hands.
Turning back, John sighted the weapon as best he could. Suddenly
they cleared the trees, and there below and to their left, seemingly
within calling distance, were the two cars and the men who had shot
his plane. Accuracy was not a viable option, given the
circumstances.
He squeezed the trigger. Despite the ear phones Nick jumped,
though not from the sound. Searing hot brass cartridge cases
careened and bounced across the control panel and windshield as they
were ejected from the AR in a steady stream. Wincing, he grimaced
and held on to the yoke tightly, watching the gauges as best he
could.
The first rounds hurtled though the air like angry bees with a
powerful sting in their tail. Punching holes in the metal sides of
the cars, the rounds exploded on impact, scattering scalpel sharp
debris around the impact points. Some rounds went wide of the mark
throwing huge clumps of dirt into the air. The startled onlookers,
caught totally unaware, glanced skyward before diving instinctively
for cover. The air was filled with flying metal and concrete chips.
Shearing through the metal framework and upholstery, the rounds
didn’t need accuracy to find their targets. A round hit above one
gunman’s right ear, entering his skull and exploded just as it
exited in a eruption of brain tissue and blood, dead before his body
crumpled against the side of the Saab. Another, hit in the shoulder
rose aghast, his tattered arm held to his torso by fragments of
ligament and muscle. The second car burst into flames.
The driver, lying behind the engine block, his hands covering his
ears as he lay in the fetal position, didn’t know what hit him as a
wall of flame blasted him far into the airfield, flailing as he hit
the ground. He lay still, gasping, his neck broken. The leader
remained bloody from the deep cuts he received from the flying
fragments. Rolling from the Saab, which was fast becoming a sieve,
he rose to his feet and ran toward the plane, under John’s angle of
fire. He did not even think of returning fire, so great was his
urge to stay alive. Behind him his men lay dead or mortally
wounded, both cars burning and damaged beyond recognition.
The hammer fell on an empty chamber, and in a fluid motion John
released the clip which fell to the floor of the plane and replaced
it with the one he had under his thigh. Straining, he tried to find
the shadow that had run from the cars, but the moment of opportunity
was gone as the plane sped past. A pall of black acrid smoke rose
above the bright orange flames, but the view was lost behind the
plane.
Nick stared forward, the brief second of the encounter burned
into his mind. John slapped his window shut and released a long
breath, easing his neck as he grasped the controls.
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“How’d you do?” Nick asked.


“It’s a mess down there,” he looked puzzled. “There’s only one
problem.”
“What?”
“I wasn’t the only one shooting at them.” He looked around below
searching for something. As he turned back, he reacted
instinctively grabbing the controls.
“Jesus Christ!” John screamed, as he spotted the movement close
to the side of the plane.
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Snatching control of the plane away from Nick, John pushed hard
on the stick turning the aircraft to the right, while simultaneously
kicking the right protesting rudder pedal. His left hand snapped
the throttle lever forward so hard that the plastic knob on top
broke off clean in his hand.
The other plane had just lifted off, and as John’s craft was
banking around the end of the runway, neither pilot was aware of the
other’s presence. The chase plane was so close that John could see
the shocked expression on the other pilot’s face through the
spinning prop, seconds before what seemed then to be, the impending
impact.
Reacting instinctively, the chase pilot pulled up on his stick
stalling his plane as he attempted to make it stand on its tail.
The roaring prop ripped through the air uselessly, it’s angle of
attack too high. What saved the plane was the fact that the flaps
were still extended fully, in effect catching the plane as it began
to slide earthward from 275 feet.
Nick clutched the dashboard in rigid terror as John fought to
control the plane. The wings had snapped near vertical in response
to his sudden move and the entire plane swung on its axis as the
tail skidded, the rudder biting the air. The effect was to throw
the plane hard right and downward, creating distance and increasing
speed. However, as the plane was at maximum turn, nose slightly
down, the rudder’s angle increased the downward angle. Had the
engine more power, the torque effect would have turned the plane
upside down.
Deflected away from the oncoming plane a new danger presented
itself as the rudder refused to center. Fractions of second counted
as the plane continued to swing downward. The ground raced towards
them. Centering the wings back onto an even keel, John put hard
pressure on the left rudder pedal and just as he thought the control
cable might snap, the rudder righted itself. Quickly dropping the
flaps to increase lift, the plane, as if on a bungie cord, struggled
to remain airborne, finally climbing, as its wheels tore through the
tops of bushes, and they rose with the grace of a butterfly into the
air.
Nick knew he was going to die. His stomach was somewhere else —
he was caught totally by surprise by the sudden move. He had
watched in horror as the field rose to meet them, and he prayed
silently asking God to forgive him his sins. That he was an
agnostic was irrelevant. It had taken him some seconds to focus
before he realized that they were still in the air. It was the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 145

rising sun that startled him back into reality, as they were flying
directly toward it. Relief flooded through him as he watched John
ease up the flaps when the craft surged forward and more
importantly, upward. His shirt was wet under the armpits and he was
afraid to look at his crotch, he was sure that the dampness there
was not from sweat.
John checked all of the gauges carefully and peered over his
shoulder at the tail of the plane. The rudder was slightly off
center but nothing, for the moment, to worry about. Tapping the
fuel gauge with his nail, it remained steady although it looked
lower than it should. The motor was running slightly hot, but that
was to be expected from the punishment it had been through. All
else appeared normal.
Behind them the red Piper Cherokee bucked and climbed, grasping
for altitude. Unlike John the pilot did not have enough airspeed
for much maneuvering. Flaps fully extended, the throttle wide open,
the stall warning horn went silent. The airspeed indicator crept
past the stall redline. Hitting a switch in the console, a dull
shudder ran through the airframe while the landing gear retracted.
With the drag greatly reduced — the plane seemed to spring forward.
He pulled gently on the stick and the aircraft rose. Looking at his
passengers he saw the pale ashen faces, eyes glazed in shock, as
they, as Nick had, realized that fate had spared them.
John trimmed the Cessna, flying low, building up speed. Glancing
briefly out the cabin window, he grunted and turned to Nick who was
positively elated that he was still in one piece.
“Our troubles aren’t over yet bud,” he warned motioning backward
with his hand. Nick looked but couldn’t see anything. “Those
aren’t sightseers — they’re gunning for us,” John explained.
Looking back again he spoke to Nick.
“They’re flying a Piper which has a maximum speed 10 miles per
hour faster than us. They’re not much more than a half mile behind
us — if the pilot’s good, he should overtake us in less than five
minutes.” Pausing, he asked, “Do we stay around here and deal with
them, or do we head out to sea?”
Nick shrugged and made a face, “Why ask me?”
John thought for a moment before talking again.
“If I were that pilot, I would take my time, trading speed for
additional altitude. That would let him climb above us and
basically pick us off at will.” Checking his gauges again, he
added, “I think we have a fuel leak,” looking past Nick he pointed
and said, “There, half way down the wing...do you see the hole?”
Nick peered and sure enough gas was leaking, evaporating
immediately in the wind.
“Are you sure we have enough?” Nick quizzed.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 146

“No, I’m not but we’re fast running out of options. If we stay
here they will definitely get us. So we’re damned if we do or
damned if we don’t.”
John turned the plane to maximize the tail wind. Below them lay
Rosslare Strand, stretching northward towards Wexford harbor estuary
from which flowed the Slaney River. In front, the dark green Irish
sea was rough, the white-tops churning on this fresh morning. The
air was laden with the briny smell of salt. Seagulls wheeled away
from the aircraft as they idled, twirling in the wind.
Nick climbed into the rear seat. Fumbling with his backpack he
withdrew the remaining rounds for his rifle and checked the clip to
make sure that it was full of high velocity rounds. Climbing back
into the front, he slid the rifle barrel out the window — he would
have to shoot with his left hand. John said nothing, not sure
whether he should burst Nick’s bubble by telling him that the soft
lead rounds would be nearly useless. He decided to say nothing.
His own rifle would not be effective until they were very close
unless he had a telescopic sight, like Nick’s.
“Try to avoid their propeller — the blades will probably stop
anything from passing through. I’ll set the tail off center to let
you get a straight shot.” John nudged the rudder pedals setting
plane off at an angle.
Peering through the sight Nick thought about what John had said.
The red Piper drifted in and out of the lens. What did John mean,
avoid the propeller? That’s all he could see, the whole plane hid
behind its blur. Nick lined up as best he could and fired off a
couple of rounds. He could see into the cabin clearly, the pilot
was looking right at him, and he could make out the other men who
accompanied him. The one sitting in the copilot’s seat looked none
too happy, his gun cradled in his arm. The first round splattered,
just as John had predicted, against one of the blades in a puff of
disintegrating lead, the second tore through and hit the windshield
just to the right of the pilot.
In the chase plane, the first sign to alert them that they were
under attack was the anvil-like sound from the round hitting the
prop. As the pilot looked out, the windshield in front of him
shuddered under the impact of the second round, the bullet not quite
penetrating the glass, but surrounding the point of impact with a
spider web of cracks. He pulled back on the stick in an automatic
reaction, pulling the plane upward away from harms way.
Nick watched and continued firing until his clip was empty. Some
of the rounds went completely astray, but others slapped into the
bulkhead, where the wing joined the plane, ripping into the fuel
tank. The rounds were spent on entry. The fuel tank was full. Had
there been more oxygen available, the tank would have exploded.
The reaction in the plane was one of dismay, anger and surprise.
The pilot was aghast that his plane was being peppered by gunfire
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 147

and wanted to immediately turn back. The gunmen, however, with


little effort, warned him that turning back was not an option until
their mission was completed.
“Catch the bastard,” he was ordered, “get us a clear shot at
him.”
The pilot complied clawing for altitude at full power, a fine
spray of aviation fuel in his wake. He changed seats with the man
in his copilot’s seat, not too easy a task, but necessary as he
could see little through his shattered window.
“I think you’ve woken the hornets nest,” John remarked, as he
watched the chase plane climb out of view.
“They’re no more awake than they were a few minutes ago,” Nick
responded as he loaded his last rounds into his clip.
“They’re going above us, just as I thought. We have to do
something, and quick. This damn wing is in the way — I can’t see
them at all.”
It was a curious sight, as John noticed the sea ahead of him
erupt in needle fountains of white foam. It reminded him of World
War II nose gun footage from fighter planes when they hosed a
wounded bomber before the final kill — rounds that missed churned up
the sea as the bullets, expended their energy angrily at the waters
surface. He had been prepared for this, and responded by killing
the throttle and dropping full flaps. The plane decelerated quickly
as the flaps traded forward — kinetic energy — for lift. Nick left
his stomach a hundred feet below as they rose upward like a kite in
a strong breeze.
Nick took the controls as they had planned, and banked the plane
to the right while John slid his AR out his window, lining up his
aim carefully as the wing swept skyward. They were within hailing
distance of the other plane when he squeezed the trigger firing
rapidly into the body of the plane and into the engine cowling.
Sparks flashed when the bullets struck, and he could see their
consternation by the flurry of movement caused by his rounds slicing
through the thin aluminum skin of the passenger cabin. Suddenly the
chase plane was gone from view when Nick dropped the wing again
throttling up as he had been told. John left the rifle across his
knee when he took over the controls and turned their Cessna back
toward the shore. If his plan didn’t work, he wanted to be close
enough to dry land as possible if they had to crash land.
John’s rounds had done serious damage to the chase plane. The
inside was strewn with blood and gore, where his rounds had torn
through the seats and bodies inside. Amazingly no one was killed,
but the pilot was hysterical as his instruments spun wildly and the
engine coughed, black oily smoke pouring from the canopy, droplets
of oil smearing the windshield.
They could have survived had they concentrated on getting the
plane down right away. But one of the men, screaming in rage and
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 148

pain from his wounds, pushed his weapon far out of his window and
opened fire in the general direction of where John’s plane should
be. The hot cartridges rained into the slipstream, the muzzle
flashes scattered hot, burnt powder in the wake of the bullets that
spat out, igniting the fine mist of fuel that wet the side of the
plane.
Just before it exploded, a stream of fire raced along the outside
of the plane, so hot that it melted the aluminum, turning the
interior into a roasting oven. When it reached the fuel tank the
eruption disintegrated the fragile aircraft spewing the occupants
outward in a wave of concussion. They fell, still alive, strapped
into their seats as they plunged into the waters below.
John and Nick felt the shock and heat before they heard the dull
thud of the explosion. Without looking down, John turned their
plane again and set his course for Wales, behind them a black pall
of smoke hung in the air like an exploded artillery shell. He
thought of calling for the sea rescue, but, for whatever reason, he
never did pick up the radio hand set.
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The rumble of the plane’s motor became monotonous with time. The
dark ocean depths swallowed the glinting sunlight in their heavy
green troughs. A rising breeze whipped the froth off the bulging
swells. In the distance, a passing ferry, plowing evenly through
the choppy sea, proceeded steadily toward its destination unimpeded
by the choppy waters. Seagulls whirled lazily above the boat
awaiting scraps or garbage from the kitchen.
John was kept busy, poring over the map strapped to his thigh,
calculating distance and fuel consumption. He kept to himself,
suspecting that the fuel leak was greater than he had first thought.
The fuel gauge hadn't moved much since they had started this second
part of their dog-leg course. It was most likely stuck, but that
didn't tell him how much fuel was left.
The leak that had been visible some time earlier was now
impossible to see. The airspeed and head-wind combined to evaporate
it as it bubbled from the tear in the wing tip. The Welsh coast was
visible on the horizon, a smudge, hardly visible, covered by a
woolly blanket of wispy clouds. Nick noticed a change in the engine
pitch when John began a slow climb. Adding altitude would maximize
their ability to glide should the engine die, starved from lack of
fuel. From their current position they would splash in the ocean
long before landfall but every mile the engine lasted would increase
their chances of avoiding a long swim.
Nick's mind was numb. A heavy fatigue lay over him like a wet
shawl. The surges of adrenaline which had pumped through him were
long depleted. John, seeing Nick’s blank stare, recognized the
onset of shock. Rummaging through his bag he withdrew a chocolate
bar and a half empty liter bottle of Pepsi and dropped them on
Nick’s lap. When Nick glanced in puzzlement at him, John forced a
smile and prompted,
"Raises your blood sugar — go ahead eat up."
Nick fumbled with the wrapper of the chocolate bar and eventually
ripped it open nearly dropping the contents on the floor. John
twisted the top off the beverage container and took a long swig. He
passed it to Nick, who nearly emptied it as he slaked his ravaging
thirst. Almost immediately he started to feel better as his body
eagerly absorbed the sugars and carbohydrates.
The land features slowly became more distinguishable while they
droned onward. Occasional wind gusts buffeted the aircraft, and
John had to be constantly vigilant, correcting their course.
“Can this thing glide?” Nick asked nervously, stretching his arms
behind his seat easing his aching shoulders muscles.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 150

“Sure can,” John answered, hauling back on the stick trying to


reach 8,000 feet before leveling out and getting his airspeed back
to an even 120 knots. The airspeed indicator hovered around the 80
knot mark as he maintained his steep climb. They passed through a
layer of opaque cloud and a few seconds of near darkness enclosed
their cabin. As they emerged, the engine spluttered, coughing a
dark smudge of smoke from the exhaust.
John immediately leveled off the plane and whacked the fuel gauge
with his right hand. The shock cracked the glass, but the needle
responded, dropping down to the reserve redline. Making a mental
calculation, he figured they had but a few gallons of fuel left.
Referring to his map, he reviewed his options. He had already
marked a number of alternate landing sites on his map — they most
likely would not make it to Cardiff. Besides, he did not want to
have to declare an emergency, with the unwanted attention that it
would attract.
The most promising was a deserted World War II era airfield, that
lay close to a town near the Bristol Channel called St. Clears. It
was either that or try a beach.
When he achieved normal cruising speed he throttled back to
conserve whatever fuel they had left. The coast slid by beneath
them, a sandy shore followed by steep cliffs. Nick felt his throat
tighten as he realized that for the third time in three days he had
beaten the odds, that being a greater than 50% chance of dying.
Without turning, he keyed his mike and asked John what they were
going to do with the weapons. John instructed him to reach into his
backpack side pocket and remove the cloth bundled there. Following
his instructions, Nick bound the two rifles together and tied a
make-shift parachute to the flash guard on the AR. Fashioned from a
large silk scarf John had sewn cords to the four corners the ends of
which were now tied to the rifle. He hadn’t anticipated Nick’s
addition but he figured that as the stocks would hit ground first,
damage should be minimal. He had planned for this eventuality while
returning the plane to its original airport at Cardiff, he didn’t
want any questions asked about removing a rifle from the plane.
With surprising suddenness the prop simply stopped turning, the
engine gasped its last, and they were engulfed by the sound of
rushing air. John nudged the nose to a slight down angle to stay
above stalling speed. Even so, the airspeed indicator dropped
quickly below 100 knots. The airfield lay some distance away — six
or seven miles John guessed. He gave Nick instructions on how and
when to release their makeshift airdrop. Nick filled and zippered
their bags leaving nothing including garbage behind. On John’s
instruction he held them in front of him to act as a cushion in case
they nosed into the earth below, if they ran out of air in their
approach.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 151

The plane was nearly at a right angle to the overgrown runway.


John decided to wait until the last minute before he turned to avoid
bleeding off precious speed and altitude. The silence pressed upon
them, broken only by the whistle of the wind through the openings in
the doors and engine cowling. Neither spoke.
A mile out John peered down looking for a landmark. He spotted
what he hoped would do and had Nick slide the guns out the window.
The rifles spun slowly downwards away from the aircraft. The chute
looked as thought it was caught around the barrels, but just when
they thought they would crash into the ground, it ripped fully open.
The rifles spun on the ends of the cords until they were out of
sight.
Approaching the runway, John banked the plane and dropped the
flaps. Their shadow flitted across the ground a few hundred feet
beneath them. The banking effect caused the plane to turn sharply
and, he lined up on where the centerline should be, the plane
flared, riding on the cushion of air trapped beneath the wings and
the ground below.
“Too high and still to fast, but without enough energy for a
second try,” John thought as he retracted the flaps. The plane
dropped nose heavy. When they were about to plunge into the runway,
he dropped the flaps once more and the plane rose like a kite and
hung there ten feet off the ground before dropping like a stone,
bouncing off the rotted concrete. John grabbed a pack from Nick and
jammed it between his head and dashboard, as the Cessna tipped
forward and careened to a stop in a shower of sparks, its tail high
in the air, looking like a scorpion about to strike.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 152

It was like going from zero to the speed of sound in two seconds.
He lost control of his bladder sphincter, and his urine rushed down
his urethra smashing to a halt at the resistance created by the
rubber band.
He was the surviving member from the Wexford airport, quickly
immobilized by the IRA squad that had arrived shortly after the
Saab. John had indeed been right about someone else shooting.
Hardly any of his rounds had hit their mark.
He groaned loudly from the pain, his eyes rolling as he struggled
against his bonds. His entire body trembled and his muscles jerked
spasmodically as they responded to the powerful stimulant. A
metallic odor seeped from his nostrils as he tried in vain to
breathe deeply to calm himself. Shunts in both his wrists pumped
his body with saline, and a powerful diuretic, his body fought
against the burden while trying to expel the excess, but to no
avail. He wanted to vomit but there was nothing to void. Heart
muscles pumped harder and harder in response to his panic and the
excessive stimulants. It wasn’t long before his mind began to slip,
and he began to turn from a functioning human being into an animal
moaning from the searing agony and torment.
The interrogator watched, with neither compassion nor much
interest, from another room through a thick glass window as he
munched on a sandwich and coffee. A recording studio, it fitted the
purpose perfectly, hidden as it was in the Wexford countryside,
disguised to resemble an old cottage, it allowed international
artists to come and go unhindered. Closed this month for
renovations, it was completely deserted, and would be for days to
come.
It hadn’t taken long to get a reaction from the “client” strapped
to the studio chair. When he had been brought in, with a bag over
his head, he was, as expected, full of piss and vinegar. A half
hour in the chair, naked in complete silence, uneased him, and when
he was approached he expected questions and a deal to be made. This
was not the interrogator’s method. Matt preferred to chat later -
he wasn’t much of a talker this early in the day.
Gobbling the last mouthful, Matt tidied up, clearing away his
eating area. He tossed the newspaper in the garbage, having called
in a bet to the local bookies for a race scheduled later in the day.
Wasn’t sure why he bothered, he normally lost more than he won, but
it gave him something to look forward to. Leaning back he
stretched, yawning, and then reluctantly determined that he’d better
take care of business before the boss called.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 153

Snapping on two pairs of latex gloves — he was well aware of the


danger of AIDS from his experience as a nurse in the local hospital
— he slipped soundlessly into the interrogation room and walked to
the monitors which were hooked up to his guest.
“Tut, tut,” he admonished his writhing patient, as he noted the
racing heartbeat. The blood pressure at 210/160 gave him concern —
Matt didn’t want him to stroke out before he had served his purpose.
Detaching the syringe from the shunt in the left wrist, he removed
it and lay it to one side. In it was a solution which contained a
noxious dosage of nicotine - 10 mg - half of which had been pumped
into his “client” over the past hour. Enough to kill him if given
straight, but the solution diluted the effect nicely.
To drop his blood pressure, an intravenous dose of a vaso dilator
was given, but this did not relieve the pounding heart beat, as the
body attempted to control everything that was happening. Next, he
inserted a valved catheter into his penis, sliding the tube upward
until he hit the resistance of his crude but very effective
strangulating blockage, which, when all was secure he released, but
he did not release any of the urine which threatened to erupt from
the blocked off valve.
Taking another syringe, he inserted it into the shunt, depressing
the plunger slowly. As the sodium pentothal entered his clients
bloodstream its calming effect began to immediately relax him. He
no longer strained against his bonds, though his arms and ankles
were raw and bloody from the friction. Attaching a tube to the
catheter, he snaked and taped the other end to a large bucket — a 13
gallon waste paper basket - which would be disposed of later. The
patient was not himself, his mouth was parched and his body
dehydrated despite the infusions, as the diuretics drained his
tissues of water.
“Now me oul son, it’s time we had a chat,” he spoke gently to his
captive, lighting a cigarette from a packet of Rothmans. He lowered
the dosage of the sodium pentothal and watched as consciousness
slipped back into his victim’s eyes.
“I know ya can hear me — nod yer head — aaaah good. Now you have
two choices — pleasure or pain. I can have ya screamin’ again in
side a few seconds if ya give me the wrong answer, or I can leave ya
the way ya are, nice and comfy - ye get the picture? Sure ya do,” he
patted his arm and stubbed out his cigarette. Stretching forward he
flicked on a small cassette recorder and began his questioning.
After the first round, satisfied with the answers, he released the
catheter valve and let a full pint of urine trickle slowly from the
tube. He had to be careful, if he released it too quickly the shock
would kill his patient before he was finished with him.
“And to think ya told me to fuck off when we met, sure aren’t we
now the best of buddies?” he crooned, as he watched the decrease in
body fluids lower his patient’s blood pressure dramatically.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 154

“Old Joe wanted to string ye up like a chicken and beat ya half


to death, but Matt said no. Yep, we’re the best a palls.”
Progress was slow but methodical, Jack Fleming, he said his name
was, though almost completely intoxicated, he was full of useful
information. This was all recorded on tape and transcribed. Within
a couple of hours it was forwarded by e-mail to Sinn Féin
headquarters before the young lad from the local shop arrived with
Matt’s lunch. The information was very interesting indeed, and the
wheels of the IRA investigation began to spin very quickly. Their
information was days ahead of either police force, so was their
opportunity to take advantage of it. Their attitude towards Nick
Riordan changed dramatically — from one of suspicion to one of
understanding.
Matt’s team had already disposed of the remains of the other
bodies. Wood chippers had come into their own as an effective and
clean method of disposal. A fact Jack Fleming found out later that
day.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 155

“Our top story tonight on CNN is the bombing of the Irish Airline
at Logan Airport Boston. At 7:10 P.M. Eastern time, an A330, flying
a regularly scheduled flight from Dublin Ireland to JFK New York,
exploded as it made an emergency landing at Boston’s Logan airport.”
In the background, a shaky amateur video filled the screen
showing the large aircraft dropping from the sky. The camera shake
got worse as fire and flame erupted from the belly of the plane, and
the video was accompanied by excited garble, including a long series
of beeps when the operator uttered a stream of expletives at the
sight.
After reviewing the casualties, and the miraculous survival of
the captain and his first officer, there followed brief statements
from the Irish and US Governments, along with comments wrestled from
spokespeople for various paramilitary groups, denying involvement
and condemning the act.
“The situation in the Irish Republic is becoming tense, though
dialog continues with the British Government, who have offered every
assistance they have available in tracing the perpetrators.
Following this news broadcast there will be a 20/20 program on ABC
which was prepared last year. It traces the rise of Irish Prime
Minister Quinlan and his social democratic party since their
election three years ago.”
“In the light of recent events, Mr. Quinlan has unexpectedly
appointed a prominent Irish businessman and friend, Gerard O’Shea to
the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Mr. O’Shea has been outspoken
about the need for healing at times such as this, and is well
respected in business and social circles. This appointment was
sudden, reflecting a need for a prominent public figure in this time
of turmoil, according to our Dublin based correspondent. Though not
confirmed by official sources, there is rumor of pressure being
brought to bear on politicians to not attend their congressional
meetings and these threats have already resulted in at least one
death. We await confirmation of this information.”
“In further developments regarding the march massacre in Northern
Ireland, Irish troops have been mobilized to the border areas,
primarily as a means of completely shutting down access to the
province from Southern based IRA terrorists.” Images of armored
cars and scout vehicles of the Irish Territorials could be seen
trundling northward from Dublin, and from their commands in Donegal
and the West of the country. Whip antennas, donned with their unit
flags, waved; the first such mass movement since Prime Minister Jack
Lynch had done so in 1969, at the onset of the then latest rounds of
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 156

“troubles.” Lynch’s effort however, was one of providing solace for


fleeing Catholics who were being terrorized by enraged Protestants
in retaliation for the Catholic’s demand for equal rights under the
law.
“The Irish government said in a statement today that the move was
not one of aggression against the North, but one to finally cut off
a route of attack and escape for terrorists. Unionist leaders,
however, have rallied their members against what they term as a
pending foreign invasion, and have demanded that the British
government match the deployment one-for-one with the Irish troops.
While the British government refuses to comment, the crackdown on
Catholic enclaves continues with mass arrests and the reopening of
the H-block internment camps. British Troop movements along the
border have increased and cross-border traffic is being subjected to
intense scrutiny.
This is Kitty Chun with CNN news.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 157

“The British Government today announced that all marching permits


were to be revoked until further notice. This, in light of the
violence of last week, was met with anger from the Protestant
community who, as argued in the past, regard the right of free
assembly as a basic democratic right. Catholic groups have sided
with the government, especially in light of what is being called a
‘tit for tat’ reprisal bombing of the Aer Lingus A 330 and have
called for protection from the increasing acts of violence
threatened by the Protestant majority. President Clinton, in a rare
move, angered by the ongoing escalating tensions, called on the
Protestants to forego this ancient and I quote, ‘bigoted practice of
taunting the minority. It is similar to Nazi groups marching
through Jewish communities. Neither tolerable nor ethical, and
certainly not a right by a far stretch of anyone’s imagination.’ He
reminded the Protestant leadership that, despite their loyalty to
England, their heritage was as Irish as their Catholic neighbors.
Catholics are now close to 45% of the population and it is estimated
that by the year 2008, they will have an adult population of 55%.”
“The newly elected Deputy Prime Minister O’Shea has offered aid
to the families of the dead from last weeks massacre. This has been
rebuffed by militant Protestant leaders, who have told the families
that taking such aid would be aiding and abetting the enemy. In
response to cross-border skirmishes between terrorist groups, and in
light of the closing of the border by the British Government, Irish
troops have begun deploying on the Southern side, reinforced by
heavy units of armored cars and tanks. Reserves have been recalled
and are confined to barracks awaiting deployment orders. In
response to outrage by Protestant militants, the Irish government
had pointed out that the reserve recall is purely coincidental. The
summer season is the high point of training and exercises for the
reserves.”
“‘I would suggest to the militants that they look to heal their
own wounds before they strike out at their neighbors,’ O’Shea said
today, during a break from a EEC conference in Dublin. ‘The last
thing we want is another civil war. However, by definition, a civil
war is a war between inhabitants of a country - countrymen,
brothers. The Protestants have never regarded themselves as
Irishmen and women, never. Acts of violence therefore must be
regarded as acts of war from a foreign nation and dealt with as
such. Any act of retribution against the Catholics in Northern
Ireland or against the South will be regarded in this light.’ His
words have shocked many of those close to the negotiations. Never
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 158

before has such a strongly worded statement been issued through


official channels by a member of the Irish government.”
“When asked what was meant by Paul Kenny, a junior minister from
Cork, at a press conference earlier, when he appealed to Irishmen
everywhere to come to the aid of Ireland, O’Shea dismissed the
comment as irresponsible. However, he defended the representative,
quoting Ben Gurion from a statement in 1947 asking Jews to return to
Israel to defend the new state from its outside aggressors, who
coincidentally where also the British. A reporter asked, ‘Does this
mean that we will see a large influx of Irish returning to Ireland
to defend the country, plane loads from the corners of the earth?’
This was met by a laugh from O’Shea. ‘God forbid. How would we
feed them all! In the US alone we have 40 million Irish
descendants. Irish-Australians constitute a third of their
population. Add them all up and we’d have a descendent population
far greater than England’s 64 million.’ Pushed for clarification
O’Shea brushed off questioning with a dismissive ‘Che serà, serà.’”
“The UN has asked Britain to allow observers to enter the
troubled areas. Official sources have been quick to point out that
Britain would refuse such a move, but would ‘take it into
consideration.’”
“The IRA issued a statement today, repeating the denial of
involvement in last week’s massacre. In an unprecedented move the
IRA spokesman, speaking through a contact in the Irish Times,
offered aid to all the families affected, regardless of their
religious denomination, through a charity organization set up to
support Catholics. They said that an investigation of their own was
progressing well, and a report would be issued through the Irish
Times in the coming weeks.”
“After the break we will be talking to a panel about the ongoing
effect of these recent moves. This is Paul Schaeffer for the RTE
evening news.”
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The cars were driven to the dockside in Sligo town, where they
were left sitting for some minutes adjacent to mountains of coal.
The darkness of the night was complete, the moon hidden behind a
thick cloud cover. But that made no difference to the plan at hand.
The stench of the turning low tide filled the nostrils of those
present at the quay, the slime of exposed seaweed clung like a
predator to the damp bare quayside. Lights from a housing estate
twinkled orange on the black water of the Garavogue River, which
could be heard crashing over the weir under the nearby Douglas Hyde
Bridge. A church bell pealed in the distance, marking time through
the lonely hours.
The two Volvo S70’s, although capable of filtering the air
through their air conditioners, were incapable of moving. When
hauled onto the truck, two simple weld cuts each had disengaged
their front wheel drive train, but allowed the motors to be run - a
welcome relief to the passengers who were close to nausea from the
stink of congealed blood, and in the case of the second car, the
death of the driver. They frantically went through their options
for escape, but narrowed it down to next to nil.
The Reverend Ian Paisley was seated in one of the cars; the other
car was an escort vehicle. As the most outspoken critic of any
swing toward the involvement of Irish government in Northern
affairs, he was an obvious, though to date ignored, target for
assassination. His Protestant Fundamentalist Church was the
backdrop for his constant verbal harassment of Catholics, and his
vehement opposition of any drift towards changing the status quo in
the political climes in Northern Ireland. Paisley’s fiery public
denunciations were responsible for inciting countless acts of
violence.
Paisley had tested the theory that they could remove the rear
seat back and get out through the trunk. However, the half inch
steel that protected his back from rogue bullets now imprisoned him.
The thick bullet-proof glass became greener as the light faded,
heightening the fact that they were secure from entry, and from
escape. A chase car that had followed them from the border provided
the electronic jamming of any frequency emanating from the vehicles,
blacking out transmissions from radios, car phones and their
portable LoJack tracking system.
The truck which carried the cars Southwest had picked up an
immediate escort on crossing the Irish border at a point where the
truck and its driver were familiar with the border police. The
convoy had proceeded to Sligo without a hitch.
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The intelligence group located in Monaghan town, south of the


border, were monitoring the British Army frequencies, and it was not
long before a request for assistance was answered from Paisley’s
headquarters to search for his missing car when it had failed to
report in. Activating the cars LoJack tracking system had produced
no results. Two British Army Air Corps Lynx helicopters converged
on the roadway, one standing off while the other hovered, searching
over the last stretch of roadway from which transmissions had been
received. The pilot’s attention was attracted by two parked cars,
similar in color to the ones reported missing, and, after a brief
conference with his controller, it was decided to let four soldiers
rappel down from the aircraft to check out the area on foot.
As he set the helicopter into automatic hover over the cars,
ropes were thrown from the opened side doors in the belly of the
craft, and soldiers slid down to the roadway below. As they
acknowledged their safe decent, an electronic signal radiated its
way across from a field over a mile away. A Remote Monitoring Unit,
set in a tree overlooking the scene, recorded and broadcast, in real
time, the sights and sounds of the area to a receiver in the hands
of the kidnappers’ incursion patrol. Instead of beating a hasty
retreat to the border, they had made a forced march and awaited the
opportunity to confuse the situation further, giving the truck as
much time as possible to fulfill its mission, carrying Paisley’s hi-
jacked cars south of the border.
The leader of the incursion patrol, focusing his Nikon shipping
glasses on the area, was glad of the remote unit, because it made up
for the lack of the depth of field that the glasses provided,
although crystal clear in their imaging, they flattened the
perspective. The RMU had a directional antenna which focused the
broadcast signal into a narrow corridor avoiding interception from
British transmission monitoring units.
As the helicopter flared, turning away from the drop zone, the
leader depressed a red button on his remote control black box set to
particular transmission frequency. A millisecond later, a receiving
device located in both cars beeped before they simultaneously blew
apart in a tremendous fireball. Both cars were packed with 300
pounds of plastic explosives, each of the bombs wrapped tightly in
cellophane and lined with industrial ball bearings. The force of
the explosions accelerated the shrapnel shrouded charges upwards and
out shearing through the metallic skin of the cars. The soldiers
did not have a chance, they were ripped apart where they stood. It
was difficult to determine what had caused their death, incineration
or the steel balls. The mini projectiles, heated by the explosive
to near melting point, splattered flat against the soldiers Kelvar
body armor. What areas remained exposed were lacerated by the
lethal balls.
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The helicopter suffered a similar fate. The expanding gasses


ballooned it upwards and away. The steel balls sliced through the
taut aluminum skin killing the pilot and the remaining soldiers.
The balls, combined with the heat of the explosion, shredded the
rotors, turning the once flyable hunk of metal into an unaerodynamic
brick, which crashed to the ground in the fireball that resulted
from ruptured fuel cells.
The second helicopter, riding shotgun at a distance, turned as
the pilot reacted instinctively, hauling back on the collective and
kicking the right rudder, pulling the aircraft up and away from the
expanding flash. The heat of the blast overtook them, surging the
Lynx skyward in an unbelievable burst of acceleration. Fighting to
maintain control, only one of the warning lights that began to blink
meant anything to the pilot - that, warning of damage to the tail
rotor. Training warned him to set the aircraft down immediately,
lest this vital piece of equipment fail, sending them into a
terminal spiral as the torque of the main rotor would spin them out
of control in a matter of seconds. Reacting automatically, he
feathered the main rotor and let the nimble Lynx drop before hauling
on the collective to utilize the remaining lift being generated by
the turning prop. Relief flooded through him when he saw the ground
rise towards them barely twenty feet below.
A bright warning light, accompanied by a warning horn, shocked
him back into reality.
“Incoming!” he shouted into his throat microphone, he forced the
aircraft down while punching out three flares, a futile gesture he
knew. At this altitude the flares would barely have time to burst
into life before hitting the ground, but it was all he could do.
“Jump! Get out now!” he shouted to the troops in the rear, who
were happy to oblige, tumbling out of the already open doorway.
When they hit the ground, a couple of soldiers could see the trail
of smoke that followed the missile as it sailed yards above the
ground toward the hot exhausts. Although protected by heat shrouds
to fool heat seeking projectile, the helicopter now offered a very
large and attractive target to the missile, angled as it was toward
its sensitive nitrogen cooled seeker head. The flares did confuse
it for a fraction of a second, but had an overall negative effect.
The pilot had been correct in his assumption that the flares would
fall to the ground; they remained there burning furiously at a
temperature considerably higher than the exhaust ports.
At the missiles rate of closure - an American Stinger shoulder
fired model - in excess of twice the speed of sound, the distraction
did little to change its flight path, but in fact sealed the fate of
the already doomed machine. The missile attempted to change course
towards the more attractive targets but the Lynx settled to the
ground in its path and the Stinger’s velocity punched it through the
thin skin of the engine compartment where it was deflected by the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 162

heavy aluminum of the motor casing. It tore forward through the


padded firewall that separated the engine compartment from the troop
loading area before exploding right behind the pilots head. The
entire front end of the Lynx seemed to expand as the canopy
windshields blew out some twenty yards, fluttering in the air like
falling autumn leaves. The nose section literally fell off. The
flying debris killed all of the troops, a patrol of six who were
lying on either side of the now destroyed craft. The main rotor
still spinning, spun free, disintegrating and scything the
surrounding area with lethal debris.
The commander of the incursion force seemed happy with his work,
and in an Eastern European dialect ordered his men to move out on
their continued forced march southward. All that was left to do was
to depress the fire button on his remote control box once more, and
as he turned away he could hear the muffled sound of the RMU as it
destroyed itself, its parts scattering over a wide area of foliage
and roadway. They would remain unnoticed until sorted from the
remains of the cars and helicopters that littered the area, mingled
liberally with the flesh and thickly coagulated blood of the British
soldiers.
Paisley’s cars were unloaded from the carrier by a powerful
shunting truck. A tall figure approached and watched, smoking, as
they were loaded by a crane onto a small coastal cargo ship that lay
tied up at the docks, which in the damp gloom was illuminated by a
sole orange halogen street lamp. The whine of the crane motor was
the only sound as it wound up its coils of steel thread, lifting its
cargo onto the rusty deck of the freighter. Typical of freighters
that roamed the coast for most of the past century, these ships
operated close to the coast, ready, if the weather turned, to race
toward harbor for shelter. They were, for many years, before the
advent of the more economical and timely diesel truck, the backbone
of Irish inter-town and inter-island trade, favored highly in the
delivery of coal and other essential supplies to less accessible
areas. This relic had been bought from its owner five months before
for a tidy sum. It still flew the flag of commerce, albeit
irreverently.
Applying a device to the car body, much like a hydrophone used by
submariners, the passengers in the lead car were surprised by the
sound, although tinny, of the voice that addressed them.
“Reverend, how nice to see you!” the sneer could be detected even
through the metallic resonance. Paisley sat up in his seat
illuminated by the reading lights that lit the interior. Squinting
through the glass, he could not see his captor.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“A Taig,” he said using the derogatory Protestant term for a
Catholic, “and a vengeful one at that, you pompous dinosaur.”
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Still Paisley couldn’t see, he turned to his security chief


questioning him with a touch to his shoulder. The security chief,
trying to analyze in their situation, shrugged his shoulders, he
could only see his own reflection in the glass. Men approached the
cars, portable blow torches in hands and set about applying a
further weld to the doors, trunk and hood.
“Doomsday has arrived,” the anonymous voice crackled through the
makeshift communications device. “But you won’t be around to see
it.”
Paisley bristled, “Show yourself you coward!” he called.
“Surely,” he added as he calmed, trying to buy time when he heard
the large ship engines come to life, “surely, there must be a way to
negotiate some agreement...”
The newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland walked away,
waving his right hand to another figure unseen in the shadows.
Paisley braced himself, as he felt the tires being removed from the
car, followed by the sound of a pneumatic punch which blew 1 inch
holes in the top surfaces of the car including the roof of the
passenger compartments. The lingering smell of blood, combining
with the stench of the oxidizing seaweed outside, did nothing to
settle their already upset stomachs, as they realized that the vents
were not for air, because they had that already, but to let in sea
water. The cars, one at a time, were hoisted and lowered onto the
deck of the ship and loaded into containers. They had to wait for a
time for the tide to turn, hoping and praying that help would
arrive. But it never did.
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“They’re bloody killin’ themselves in their eagerness to see


justice done,” Peter Flanagan commented from the passenger seat of
their unmarked car, flicking through a tabloid article covering all
aspects of the air disaster.
Seán, his thoughts on other matters, was miles away, like how he
was going to explain his extra hours to his wife. They didn’t need
the overtime money, but they did need the time together. Imelda was
concerned that she would get a phone call late one night to hear the
news that Seán had been killed - not an unusual thought given his
line of work — and their life together would be over before they had
time to get to know each other properly. They knew each other
intimately; sex had been the glue that bonded their early
relationship having hardly got out of bed when they were together.
No, they needed time for themselves and screw everyone else.
“Rippin’ each other apart,” Flanagan was a great one for
exaggeration, “pissing blood, gobbin’ at each other like school
children,” he said, as he tried to get Seán’s attention.
“What?” Seán finally allowed his consciousness to register what
Peter was saying.
“Oh, the Prods and the Catholics up north.”
“What are you gas bagging about?”
“They’re gonna friggin start milling about, killin’ each other
over this mess the other day.”
“They already have - haven’t you seen the reports?” Seán knew
that Peter preferred to watch the TV or listen to the news on the
radio to keep up to date. On an international scale, news agencies
were normally well ahead of intelligence resources due to the people
they had on the ground and the miracles of digital technology. But
Northern Ireland was different, because everyone looked the same —
no skin color differences. They dressed and spoke the same way —
religion was the barrier.
“Sure. One things certain. All the good brought about after
that peace referendum is shot — gone out the window. The army up
there is interring Catholics and radical Protestants alike by the
truck load without a hope of them getting out — they’ve extended the
internment from 7 to 14 days without a charge.”
“Exactly what we’d do here,” Seán thought. He merely nodded.
Traffic was heavy, as was Seán’s heart, wondering what was going
to happen next — to Nick, to the south, to his family.
A call came over the his cell phone.
“Fifty six,” Seán responded.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 165

“Shooting reported at the top of Booterstown Avenue. How close


are you?”
A loaded question. They were, as the crow flies, three miles
away, but they were stopped in traffic in Clonskeagh. They were
immersed in rush hour congestion.
“Fifteen minutes.” Seán responded, and flicked on his flashing
blue lights, which were nestled both behind the grille on the front
of the car and inside the rear window.
He added, “Can you check to see if the gates are open in
Belfield?” He referred to the trestle gates at University College
Dublin, nestled in the heart of the south Dublin suburbs. If they
were open he could shave 5 minutes off his estimate. He checked his
watch. It read 8:05 A.M.
“Will do - faxing you the incident details.” And the dispatcher
hung up.
The flashing lights and the whooping siren had the desired
effect. Seán was able to turn the car around quickly as the early
bird motorists woke up and cleared the way, happy for the break in
their monotonous routine. They would have something to talk about
in the office over coffee.
Seán did not spare the horses as they roared up Clonskeagh Road.
He was careful to watch out for cycling students who wound their way
lazily to college, some, no doubt, hungover from the night before
and not quite with it at this early hour.
The dispatcher called as they made their left turn into Belfield
and confirmed what they could already see, that the gates were
indeed open.
Speed bumps aside, they were across the campus in under three
minutes. They raced across the highway overpass on the Stillorgan
Road, turning south into three lanes free of traffic. The traffic
on the rush hour side was at a crawl. Seán was grateful that their
destination was in the opposite direction. Flanagan was trying, in
vain, to mop up a coffee stain caused from a spill when Seán had
taken the right turn onto the highway more abruptly than Peter had
anticipated.
Three sets of traffic lights later, they made their left turn
onto Booterstown Avenue and slowed to check street addresses. They
need not have bothered. The blue lights from the white patrol cars
marked the spot quite nicely.
The fax machine hummed with their brief sheet, and Flanagan read
it over as they drew up to the house.
“A politician, Alice Goggin, Independent, 44 years old, married,
husband Peter, two kids.” He read out mechanically.
They stopped and were approached by a uniformed patrol man, who
was looking around him warily.
“Mornin’.” Flanagan greeted him.
“They could still be in the area.”
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Flanagan reached into the back seat of their car and picked up
the UZI he kept there - arming it simply by pushing the safety off.
Seán, meanwhile, removed an Ithaca semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun
from a saddle underneath the same seat, loaded with double-ought
buck shot, both standard issue for the armed portion of the police
force. The uniformed personnel were unarmed, a position that left
them at the complete mercy of any thug carrying a weapon. The
policy was not a popular one within the force, considering that the
job came with the same danger to life and limb that all other police
forces worldwide dealt with on a daily basis.
“One adult female dead; one adult male wounded, badly from what
the ambulance guys said.”
Other task force cars pulled up, their occupants spilling out
onto the roadway, holding weapons high, looking for targets as they
began their well rehearsed and often used dance. They spread out to
check the house and surrounding neighborhood. Seán was the senior
man on the scene.
Seán and Peter walked inside the house noting the neatness of the
lawn. The victims cars were in the driveway still covered with the
night’s rain. Neither had been moved this morning.
“Where are the children?” Seán asked the accompanying patrol man.
“No kids here sir. A neighbor told us they’ve been away on
holiday with an aunt in Galway.”
“Thank God,” Seán thought, as he made his way into the warm home.
The smell was the first thing that hit him. A familiar smell to
someone in his field. They made their way up the staircase and into
the master bedroom. Other patrolmen were there but did not enter
the room. They stood quietly, ashen faced, eager to be relieved.
“Oh Christ!” Flanagan gasped, as the brunt of the odor of blood
and death reached their nostrils.
There would be little need for a ballistics check, the work was
obviously done with a shotgun.
The woman was still there, her torso anyway. Her head was spread
over the bedroom wall. The warmth of the central heating had
coagulated the mat of blood, brains, hair, and bone fragments into a
dark crimson, nearly black mess, on the pocked wall where the
buckshot had lodged. On the other side of the bed the sheets were
wet with blood, where her husband had been shot. Seán walked slowly
around the bed looking at the floor. He lifted the sheets with the
barrel of his shotgun but was rewarded with nothing. He had hoped
that an empty casing might have been hidden there. He checked under
the bed.
“The rest of her head is on the floor,” he commented to Flanagan,
who was making notes.
“Take some Polaroids.” Seán instructed him. The state
pathologist’s office would take more detailed shots later, but
Polaroids were for the file. They saved time waiting for copies.
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Flanagan turned to the bedroom door and asked one of the patrol
men. “Any sign of a forced entry?”
“Sure. The glass on the kitchen window was cut out.”
“Cut out?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Show me.” Seán went with him.
It was obvious that the attack had happened while both were
sleeping. The breakfast table was set for two. The coffee pot off,
the kettle cold. The counter top was covered with a few fragments
of broken glass, but the gap in the window was more or less a clean
square cut.
Flanagan examined the area. The patrolmen had opened the back
door and he went outside and looked around. He went back inside to
Seán who had just taken a call from the office.
“They stuck, I would guess, a one by two foot section of
cellophane onto the window. Cut the edge six inches inside the
border with a glass cutter, and pulled it out with a suction cup.
The remains are outside.” He instructed the patrol man to have the
detectives check for fingerprints.
Seán raised his eyebrows questioning, “An alarm?”
“Quite an elaborate one by the looks of things,” Flanagan
responded going outside again.
When he came back he gave a shrug.
“The phone cable is intact as is the alarm bell under the eave.
The power is still on.”
Seán walked into the hallway and looked into the closet. The
alarm lights were all working but the key was in the off position.
“Seems they left it off last night. Caught them both in bed.
The positioning of the blood stains suggest that she was awake and
sitting up...”
“Or told to sit up?” Flanagan muttered.
Seán nodded. He dialed the office, gave a brief update. When he
hung up he looked puzzled. Flanagan raised an eyebrow in question.
“There have been two other shootings similar to this in the city
this morning, and three more in various parts of the country.”
“Go figure.” Flanagan responded grim faced, withdrawing a pack of
cigarettes from his pocket. They went outside for a smoke while
they waited for the coroner to arrive.
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The Newsnight program, broadcast that night, drew the attention


of most of the Irish population. It posed many questions — but
answered few.
Who was behind the attacks remained a mystery. Not a shred of
evidence linked any one person to the atrocities, nor any group of
people for that matter. The obvious assumption that these were
sectarian attacks did not require a college degree to figure out,
par for the course in the thirty years of continued violence. What
was different was the ferocity of the attacks — the sheer audacity —
the boldness of the attackers. Why kill all those people so
indiscriminately, particularly in light of the hard won peace of the
Good Friday Accord? These and many more questions were being
reviewed by security forces on both sides of the Irish border.
The British tabloid newspaper headlines did little to quiet the
storm. “IRA Bastards Silence The Innocents,” “Irish Hands Awash In
Blood,” and perhaps the most poignant for the Daily Mail, “When
Irish Eyes Are Killing - No Peace This Millennium,” set the tone for
a shaken populace. Following the march massacre, radical Republican
newspapers claimed a great victory, though, the IRA newspaper, An
Phoblacht did project restraint and the need for calm. This was due
in a large part to a call from a furious Gerry Adams when he learned
that the original headline was to have been “About Bloody Time.”
Their jubilance was silenced abruptly after the downing of the A
330.
In the south, the politicians, on the their summer recess, were
recalled to discuss emergency measures should a response be needed.
Money was set aside for a relief fund and appeals were made through
the government owned national television and Radio Telefis Eireann
renouncing violence and the people behind the carnage. A reward
fund of considerable size was set up along with a toll free number
for people to call. What was not mentioned were the death threats.
Each member of congress, or the Dáil as it is referred to in
Ireland, had received repeated threats advising them to stay to
their constituencies and to avoid returning to Dublin.
Ignored as a prank, these threats received the members undivided
attention when three Government congressmen were found shot in the
head, along with a note from the same source. The fact that these
notes were from the same source did not require the detective work
of the police, because each was delivered and printed on Irish
government stationery. An emergency meeting was called, but little
could be determined. The politicians were human after all and
feared death as much as everyone else. New notes delivered the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 169

afternoon of the three killings indicated that future “enforcement,”


as it was referred to, would include families, if the instructions
were not carried out.
Much to the annoyance of Irish Prime Minister Quinlan, a number
of higher ranking officials decided that overseas business needed
immediate attention, and duly disappeared along with kith and kin,
despite warnings that they would lose their government seats and
pension. Like cattle shuffling nervously in the slaughter yard, it
quickly became a stampede when indeed a congressman’s entire family
was killed that very afternoon. The politicians disbanded in
complete panic, despite assurances from the police that they would
be protected. The police force was stretched to near breaking point
in an effort to track the source of the distress.
Word spread to the media, and within the course of one edition of
the evening papers, the country was in an uproar of jittery
speculation. The bars did great business, being the focal point of
the communities where people gathered to discuss what was quickly
dubbed as the “emergency” - borrowing the term Ireland used during
World War II, which it rode out as a neutral country. It took some
days for reality to set in — the reality of who would govern and
lead at a time of crisis.
Speculation was rife as to who was behind the whole affair. Some
logically concluded that it was an effort by Northern Ireland to
destabilize the Republic, to avoid any hope of reuniting the
country, a fact so close a week previous — now a distant, if not
fond, memory. Some thought that the North was going to invade the
South to reverse the progress of fifty years of independence.
The remaining members of government who stayed in Dublin did what
they could with the approval of the Prime Minister. They declared a
national crisis and enacted the powers that went with it. The army
was called out of their barracks and assisted the police in
patrolling the streets in preparation. In preparation for what, was
anyone’s guess.
Through all of the confusion, one newspaper projected a stable
and uniform message. The man behind the newspaper, a successful
Irishman who had made his fortune in America and returned to invest
in his homeland, was a rock of good sense, and used every
opportunity in his publication to advise for calm restraint and to
publicly advise the government as to what he thought they should do.
He had bought the near bankrupt Irish Press some years before,
promptly renamed it the Irish Chronicle, and changed the format to
resemble something similar to the world renowned Wall Street
Journal. He avoided muck spreading and the much touted success of
the tabloid format, concentrating instead on providing in depth
investigation of world, as well as home news. In doing so he put a
large dent in the fortunes of the other dailies, The Irish Times,
and The Irish Independent. Well respected both publicly and
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 170

privately, he was frequently called upon to advise those in


government circles who cared to listen.
His name was Gerard O’Shea. He was born in 1947, in a blue
collar neighborhood in North Dublin. Educated by the Christian
Brothers, and later by the Jesuits in Belvedere College, where his
father used every penny he had saved to ensure that his only son
received a solid education, he graduated from University College
Dublin in 1969 close to the top of his class in business and
history. He went onto Harvard in the U.S. under the umbrella of a
business scholarship. While at Harvard he developed a keen interest
in two areas of business, communications and technology. He used
these interests to invest his early finances in both industries.
His early successes attracted the interest of investors. Before
long he created, and for twenty-five years maintained one of the
most successful investment firms on Wall Street, creating vast
wealth for himself and his clients. In 1990 he retired, and his
departure from the world of finance was touted as the only loss he
had ever made for his investors. Close links with Ireland, and his
generosity with investing his money in all things Irish, ensured
that upon his permanent move there, he was welcomed as a returning
hero.
O’Shea’s influence was such that, in this time of crisis he was
the only stable ship in a stormy sea. It was quite understandable
that his country would ask to be tethered to his unwavering side.
The appointment was not lost on Gerry Adams, who watched the show
in silence knowing that one of his biggest fears was coming true.
He had heard rumors of O’Shea and his dark side. Ireland had just
appointed a dictator.
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A strange sensation overcame Nick after he said good-bye to Ted


Smith at Heathrow Airport. Nick was overwhelmed by a feeling of
sadness — loss, while he waited for his flight to Newark, New
Jersey.
“Very strange,” he thought, trying to rationalize an emotion that
he had not felt for years. His mind flashed back to those late
August days, waving good-bye to the friends that he had made at
summer camp as they all headed home, back to school. Things would
never be the same again, and they never were. It lay heavy in his
gut for most of the day as he traveled to the U.S., under an assumed
name, his hair cut short.
Ted had been expecting him when he arrived in London, after a
hitching a ride from where John had landed the plane in Wales. Ted
had greeted Nick like a long lost son. He had put on some extra
years but had lost weight since his triple by-pass. Conspicuously
absent were the blue packets of non-tipped French Gitane, Ted’s
cigarettes of choice, which he used to consume as if he was a
shareholder in the manufacturing company. Nick had never seen him
look so well, what with the color in his cheeks and a glint in his
eye.
Ted had been waiting for him at the gangplank of his river barge,
which was moored to the banks of the Thames in the suburb of
Hampton; the morning was cool following a night of sporadic rain.
The heavy clouds were gone, replaced by high cirrus which streaked
the sky. Weeping willows lined the bank, their fronds caressing the
water as they leaned river-ward. A taxi had dropped Nick about half
a mile away just as Ted had instructed, when they spoke on the phone
the previous afternoon. Nick had waited fifteen minutes, observing
cars traveling past on the tree lined street. None stopped nor even
slowed. However, twice a young woman in a jogging suit passed him.
“Strange,” Nick thought, as he looked up at her the second time,
“she hasn’t even broken a sweat.” She did not look at him nor
acknowledge him in any way. Slung to her midsection was a fanny
pack which hung low.
After the allotted time, Nick used the directions Ted had given
him and made his way down the river bank, pausing occasionally to
see if he had any company. At this early hour none were visible
but, as he saw Ted, the jogger was working her way back toward him
again. Ted saw the distraction in Nick’s eyes as he greeted him.
Before Nick could ask, Ted said in a low voice, “She’s one of mine.”
As she passed this time, she flashed them both a smile, visible
only to them, so quick was its passing.
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“Come in, come in,” Ted led him to his barge and across the
beautifully finished teak deck into the cabin below. The exterior
paint work was in traditional colors - black with a red finish. The
brasses shone and the river gurgled by on it’s journey down through
greater London. They had to stoop as they entered, and Nick caught
the waft of cooked bacon and eggs rising from the cabin.
“Bonjour!,” Ted’s wife Muriel smiled broadly, as Nick emerged
from the stairwell. She rushed over and hugged him, kissing him on
both cheeks as was the French custom. Her perfume, a light pleasant
scent, assailed his senses. Muriel, Ted’s second wife, many years
younger than he, was a sight for sore eyes. Her blue eyes sparkled,
and her auburn hair was tied back in a pony tail, her skin was soft
and wrinkle free. She did not look her forty-one years. She wore a
cotton track suit which did little to hide her well proportioned
body, and Nick felt a little ashamed at the strong sense of arousal
that he felt at her touch.
“Let me look at you,” Muriel held him at arms length. “Mon Dieu,
you look tired, and I think you need a shower!” she added, as she
jokingly sniffed at him.
“I will have breakfast ready in ten minutes - yours - Ted is on a
strict low fat diet.” Ted looked at her in mock disgust, smiling.
“Please go and have a shower. Ted has left some clothes out for
you in the changing room.” She led him back deeper into the boat,
and swung open the bathroom door.
“You will find it a little tight in there but the water is hot
and you will have all you need. Throw out your clothes when you get
undressed, and I will put them in the machine.”
She fussed over him and would not pause to allow him to speak.
Nick was quite happy to have someone tell him what do. When she
left him, he quickly peeled away his dirty clothes, disposing of
them as Muriel had instructed, and turned on the shower. The shower
was indeed cramped, but heaven once the hot water cascaded down onto
him, needling his tired flesh. He felt the tension ebb away with
the dirt and sweat of his journey.
“He looks awful, Ted!” Muriel commented as he returned to the
kitchen.
“He’s had a tough week sweetheart - reminds me of the war, that
same weary look of a combat soldier.”
Muriel picked up a mug of coffee and sipped. “Can you help him?”
“I’ve made discrete inquiries, and he’s in a lot of hot water.
Seems like he’s getting the blame for that whole incident in
Northern Ireland a few days ago. His story checks out though - I
spoke to his wife Jessica last night. She called me after she saw
the news reports, and I told her to do exactly as Nick had told her
with a couple of minor changes.”
“Like what?”
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“I told her to contact our New York office. They will get her
secure means of communication - a SkyTel beeper and a secure
portable phone and whatever else she needs. She’s smart though, she
didn’t leave a number and she will have them picked up when she
chooses. Anyway, that end is taken care of for now.”
“Is Nick involved? I mean is it possible that he was behind the
attack or involved in some way?”
“Of course it’s possible, but I’ve known the guy for years. He’s
a shrewd businessman and despite some past family connections with
the IRA, all my checking has turned him up clean.”
Ted set the table for breakfast, and he and Muriel talked quietly
until they heard the shower stop running.
When Nick returned, he looked like a new man. He had shaved,
and his skin was tight from the heat of the water. His hair was
combed back still wet, and the clothes that Ted had left him,
although a little large, hung well from his frame.
“The shoes where too big Ted,” Nick apologized, as he paddled to
the table in his bare feet. Ted asked him his shoe size, and
disappeared up into the bright morning light, returning a minute
later.
“We’ll have you all fixed up in a little while.” Pointing to the
food on the table, he urged Nick, “Eat, eat, time to refuel.” Nick
did not have to be asked twice.
They made small talk as they ate. Muriel chatted about life in
London and how Ted had made a marvelous recovery since his
operation. Satisfied, Nick sat back in his seat and said, “I hate
to say this in front of you Ted, but I’d love a cigarette.”
Muriel smiled and rose from the table. She reached into one of
the small cabinets that lined one wall and withdrew a packet which
she tossed to Nick.
“You’ll have to smoke on deck, cheri.”
Nick had expected to get down to business right away; however,
Ted urged him to go below and rest. Protesting all the way, Nick
did as he was bade and when he settled on the bunk, sleep overcame
him. Later that afternoon when he awoke, he felt refreshed. On the
floor beside his bed lay a pair of new high-top sneakers, still in
their box. He tried them on and they fit him perfectly. Set beside
it was a fishing rod.
After a cup of tea, Ted and Nick set off in Ted’s car.
“So where are we off to?” Nick asked him.
As they turned onto the entrance to the M 40, Ted replied,
“Oxford and the environs.”
They chatted lightly throughout the trip. Ted pointed out
landmarks, in particular, “follies” built a century earlier. These
peculiar structures were constructed for no particular reason other
than to provide labor for a work force during hard times. They had
no purpose - one in High Wycombe was a tower without windows. Tall
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and gray, it stood, left as it had been finished, unused, paid for
with funds supplied by a wealthy landowner so that his tenants could
eat.
The motor-way turned into a well paved two lane road, bordered by
the low hills of farming country. Gentle slopes were clothed in
waving blankets of barley and wheat. Freshly plowed earth stood in
proud rows as a tractor cleaved open the grassy pasture, exposing
the rich soil beneath. The occasional pub flashed past, wooden
banners hanging from poles proclaiming their names, tables set
outside laden with golden lagers, and more so with the brown ales
indigenous to the region. They exited onto a winding side road
passing through what seemed like a deserted town - no one was
around. Turning past an old church, a manor house rose from the
countryside and Ted turned into the driveway.
“I was born here,” Ted offered. “Not in the main house, mind
you, but upstairs in the maid’s quarters. Lived here most of my
childhood. My father and mother were part of the staff, my father a
butler and my mother a maid.”
“When did you leave?”
“With the onset of World War II - I was a whipper snapper - 15 at
the time. I joined up after the battle of Dunkirk. I lied about my
age, but then we all did. Went off to see the glories...the horrors
of war.”
Ted stopped the car halfway up the approach and turned off the
engine. As he got out of the car Nick followed his lead. Ted
instinctively patted his breast pocket searching for the cigarettes
that he knew were not there. With a sigh, he leaned back against
the hood and turned his face skyward letting the evening sun warm
his rugged face. The silence was broken only by the sounds of
blackbirds and jackdaws cawing in the trees. In the distance the
sound of a mower rose and fell in the gentle warm breeze. The air
smelt of freshly cut crass. Ted wiped his face with one of his huge
hands and gazed at the house.
“Saw action in North Africa in ’41 fighting under “Monty” - Field
Marshall Montgomery. We kicked Rommel out in August of ’42 but not
before I lost a lot of my army pals. A German shell landed square
in our position. I was lucky, having a piss in the latrine. Heard
the shell crackling towards us and I looked up. It left a vapor
trail as it arched across the sky. A large part of the lieutenant
crashed through the roof of the latrine; I had to fish it out of all
the shit and muck. He had a cigar clenched between his teeth, still
there when I retrieved his bits. Anyway, the rest of the detail
were strewn about - limbs, torso’s smashed against the earth. I
buried them all and joined up with an American outfit shortly
afterwards.”
Ted continued his story as they walked through the Oxford
countryside. He recounted how he had been befriended by a Jewish
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soldier from Brooklyn, and how, after the war, in ’47 he had helped
run guns to Israel through the British blockade.
“We British had promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine after
the war, but it never happened. It took the resistance tactics of
Ben Gurion and his small army to get Britain to the negotiating
table which resulted in independence for the newly founded state in
1948. We British were a pompous lot then, but times have changed.”
Smiling he added, “Maybe not.”
“Didn’t you feel badly about helping an enemy of the state?”
“Yes and no. I was still full of the vigor of youth, and it
helped lay the foundation for my career in the international trade,
which over the years became a respectable outfit providing a
language translation service to many of the world’s leading
companies.” He laughed. “Little did they know that much of the
profits of the business were used to provide financial assistance
for arms shipments. All for a good cause though,” he added. “I
never did back a side just for the profit. I backed the side that
was the underdog. Most of my leads were provided by the Israelis
and the Americans. I even managed to squeeze in a College degree in
London.”
“How long have you been retired from the arms’ business?”
“I sold off the trading business fifteen years ago. I wanted to
end my career in a real business, buying and selling like everyone
else. But you know, every business has its dark side, and in some
cases even the best companies do things that made my gun running
look positively angelic.”
They set up camp adjacent to the Thames, some miles south of
Oxford, close to the town of Lechlade. The evening clouded over,
and as darkness fell, so too did a heavy rain shower. Their tents
were on high sandy ground, and the water had little effect other
than to make them smell the dampness in their clothes. Later, a
wispy fog settled around them. It made no difference to them, as
they sat for most of the evening in a local tavern sipping on pints
of brew and talking into the wee hours about everything but the
predicament in which Nick was in. This served the purpose of
further relaxing Nick, and brought back an air of normality, as
temporary as it was, to his life. By the time that they settled
into their down sleeping bags, Nick’s mind was muddled with nothing
more than sleep.
Nick awoke to the sounds of chirping birds and the bright light
of the sun that filtered through the wall of the tent. A sharp
headache above his right eye reminded him of the previous evening’s
drinks, but it was nothing that a Tylenol couldn’t take care of. As
he zippered the tent flap open, the sparkle of the sun reflecting
off the river water caught his eye, so did the sight of Ted sitting
on a folding chair with fishing lines draped from their poles into
the gently flowing current.
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“Coffee’s brewed.” Ted called out, not looking behind him.


“Good morning. What time is it?” Nick responded, wiping the
sleep from his eyes.
“A little after eight. C’mon out here. Should have breakfast
any time now.” As he said that one of the lines went taut, and the
reel whirled as a fish caught the lure and ran with it. Ted leaped
over and grabbed the rod, snapping the reel restraint and hauling
back on it.
“Its a big one!” A silver flash splashed from the river surface,
as the fish surged upward in an attempt to evade whatever had
snagged its mouth. Its tail whipped in mid air before it plunged
back into the brown water.
“A trout!” Ted worked the fish for a few minutes while Nick got
dressed. By the time that he emerged, Ted had landed and gutted the
fish; the pan perched on top of the gas stove was sizzling with
melted butter.
“I allow myself a little fat on special occasions, but I’ll have
to walk it off later.” He smiled and beckoned to Nick to join him
at the small table he had set up.
The fish was delicious - it cooked perfectly in minutes.
Accompanied by steaming coffee and fresh French baguette, bought
locally the previous evening, they consumed their sumptuous meal
quietly. Satisfied, Ted refilled his coffee cup and asked Nick to
get him up to date on his troubles. He refrained for now from
telling him that he had seen the coverage on the news.
It took the better part of an hour, during which Ted listened
intently. Finally Nick set his cup down, exhausted and holding his
hands skyward he ended with, “And then we went fishing.”
Ted quizzed him on parts of his story. Silent for a moment, he
started to analyze the position that Nick was now in. “You’re in
the shithouse, Nick. Big trouble. The TV news has you listed as
one of the most wanted men in years, right up there with the Jack
the Ripper and Colonel Qaddafi. I checked with some of my sources
and they told me that you’re a walking dead man; shoot to kill is
the order, and they’re pulling out all the stops to get you.” Nick
said nothing, just looking intently at Ted while he talked.
“What about your videotape...where is it?”
“Gave it to John...thought he might have a better chance of
getting away and, besides, I felt it might be safer in the US.”
“Damn shame, it could have helped you here...helped you a lot,
actually.”
“It was damaged Ted. A round caught the camera through the lens,
I didn’t want to touch it until he had seen it.”
“Nothing we can do now. Someone wants to peg you with the blame
for this, to set you up, as they say in America, as the fall guy.
Unfortunately the media has played right along with them.”
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“What should I do Ted, I mean I’ve got to get out of here, got to
make sure Jessica and the kids are OK?”
“The only one you have to worry about right now is you. You did
the right thing having Jessica leave, but they’ll find her and you
in the States. You can’t live indefinitely without using a credit
card or a bank account or whatever. Got any ideas as to what safe
place you can get her to?”
“Crete. We vacationed there many times, and I did some business
with a local hotel owner over the years. Assuming he’s still there,
he will help Jessica, “ Nick said. “He had more than a professional
interest in her last time we were there...” Nick smiled in
recollection.
“If you can get her there, I can have somebody protect her. I
would prefer if you could get her to Israel...”
“And what then Ted? She knows nobody there. We’d stick out like
sore thumbs. In Greece she has friends in a vacation town and will
fit in quite well. Yani’s got pull with the local police....”
“Leave the local police alone, they’d be next to useless in a
case like this. I’ll make some calls and arrange something.”
Ted rubbed his stubbled chin grimacing as he thought out Nick’s
next move.
“You have to get out of the UK. I may be able to get you out in
a transport plane, rather than a regularly scheduled flight. Like
horses do you?”
“Huh?”
“A colleague of mine flys thoroughbreds to and from Virginia. I
may be able to get you on board as a stable hand.”
He saw Nick’s downhearted look and patted him on the shoulder
reassuringly.
“Just kidding,” he laughed.
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“Tell me the name of one politician who isn’t on the take?”


Flanagan said, referring to the back-handers that were common in
day-to-day Irish life.
“They can’t all be....”
“‘Course they are in some way or other.” Flanagan enjoyed showing
off in front of the uniformed staff at the cafeteria.
“From the top to the bottom, it’s how the politician survives.”
He could make sense when he had been off the booze for a few days.
There was hope, some joked, that there could be intelligent life
somewhere under the graying mop of hair.
“You’re just saying that because of that Haughy scandal!” He
referred to a former Irish Prime Minister accused, in his twilight
years, of accepting bribes from businessman in return for political
favors.
“That’s part of it. But if the man at the top was guilty, you
have to admit that it casts a shadow over the rest of them.”
The uniformed cop was thinking of his local congressman. He did
drive a Mercedes, but that didn’t mean....
Flanagan slurped at his coffee and took a deep drag from his
cigarette. A hand brushed his shoulder, and he turned to look.
“Howya Pete.”
“Hey there Cullen.”
“How’s it going?” Cullen sat opposite him. His coffee ran over
the edge of the mug dripping onto the Formica topped table.
Reaching over, he took the sugar dispenser and poured, what looked
to Flanagan like most of it, into his mug. As he stirred the
mixture, he lit a cigarette with the other hand and stared at the
uniformed officer giving him a patronizing “now’s a good time to
leave” look.
The uniformed cop missed the hint and continued eating.
“So lads, what’s going on?” Cullen asked.
“Detective Flanagan here says that all politicians are on the
take, and I just can’t believe that. Sure if that’s true, ye can’t
trust anyone.”
Cullen gave Flanagan a snide look. “What was this fucker talking
like that to the rank and file for, especially with the current
problems in this very area. Regardless of the fact that it was more
true than even Flanagan could imagine,” Cullen thought.
“So’s the Pope!” Cullen announced.
“What?”
“Ya have t’understand that the good Detective here is just
yankin’ yer chain. That’s his way. Does it to everyone.”
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Flanagan tried to protest, but his mouth was full of an apple


turnover, and all that came out was a gagging sound. That stopped
too when he felt pressure on his foot, hard pressure.
The uniformed officer looked over at Flanagan noting the redness
in his face. A further stomp from Cullen brought the answer needed.
“Sure he’s right - no truer word was said,” Flanagan muttered
disgustedly.
Cullen looked at the uniformed officer. The lad was not in the
force more than two years, probably was not yet 21. A fine young
man, his accent placed him as a Midlands man - probably form
Longford. Assigned to police headquarters for the experience — he
had shown promise. The last thing needed was to get too smart too
soon. Might end up going somewhere. Like that other genius
Driscoll.
The officer excused himself and left.
Flanagan turned angrily to Cullen. “Ye made me look like a
fuckin’ eedjit.”
“Jesus Peter,” Cullen laughed at him. “Ye know well you can’t
fuck around like that with the new boys. Word’ll get upstairs and
it’ll come back to haunt you.”
“Sure I was only talking.”
“Loose lips sink ships!”
“For fucks sake, I can’t say a word in this place.”
“Any news on the Riordan guy?”
Flanagan had decided that there was no point trying to keep
anything form Cullen. He’d only find out the next time they went
for a few drinks. Peter couldn’t help himself. Besides, he could
do with friends in other departments, to put in a good word for him
from time to time.
Lowering his voice he said, “That plane crash in Wexford four
days ago. We think there was a connection.”
“A plane reported as missing from Wexford?”
“Yeah. We found one. Crashed off the shore. Locals were
complaining about an oil slick, so the local police investigated.
Found the wreck in thirty feet of water.”
“So? A plane crashed. Happens all the time.”
“The plane hasn’t been recovered yet. The weather hasn’t cleared
enough. But it’s listed as stolen, and we’ve recovered three bodies
so far.” Flanagan took another cigarette from his pack and lit it
up.
“So?” Cullen urged.
“So they died from drowning. But their bodies were burned. The
plane was on fire when it hit the water. One of the bodies had a
bullet lodged in his neck.”
“Could have been a fragment from an exploding fuel tank couldn’t
it?”
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“Nope. The round was practically intact — .22 copper round. The
coroner found it in the back of his throat.”
Cullen said nothing, his mind whirring.
“Any ID on the men?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“No, which is what put the case into our department. That and
the submachine guns they were carrying.”
“And that leaves Riordan where?”
“My best guess...”
“Driscoll’s guess you mean,” Cullen thought.
Flanagan continued, “Riordan was either on that plane and it
crashed, or he’s flown the coop in another one.”
“Riordan was last seen in Dublin, how do you tie him in down
there?”
Proud of himself, Flanagan took a long drag of his cigarette
before answering.
“Evidence. No other plane has been reported missing, so he could
have been in the one that crashed. An eye-witness reported two
planes in the air that morning, along with reports of gunshots - a
lot of them. And, of course, the phone records from the airport
payphone record a long distance call to his home in New York. Given
the pressures on him, I would say it all fits together nicely.”
“So what do you think?” Cullen asked finishing his coffee.
“Personally, I think the guy’s into it up to his neck. He knew
how to get away. Seems he was carrying a piece.”
“I’d hardly call a .22 cal a piece.”
Flanagan went on unfazed.
“An airlift out. All too convenient. If he was innocent he’d
have turned himself in and be a free man today.”
“And a dead one.” Cullen thought. He looked at his watch. He
had a call to make, now that he knew what to report to O’Shea about
the missing men. Not one had checked in.
“Pint later?” Flanagan asked, sensing he deserved one.
Cullen nodded and left the table without a word.
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“What the hell is going on?” Prime Minister Quinlan asked O’Shea
as he entered his office without knocking.
O’Shea appeared startled, but inwardly he had been expecting this
reaction, although he had thought that it would have happened a
little earlier.
Quinlan had spent the previous few hours traveling, as O’Shea
well knew, from the UK where he had met with the British Prime
Minister. It was the British PM who had told Quinlan the disturbing
news about the additional troop movements in the Irish Republic —
that they had been roused in the pre-dawn hours, assembled and
rushed to the border. He had managed a brave attempt to hide his
initial shock, but the PM’s eyes twinkled in his knowledge that he
had caught his Irish counterpart off guard.
Rush hour was just starting and commuters were confronted by the
sight of army patrols surrounding government buildings and the main
broadcasting authority based in Donnybrook. All over the country,
strategic national assets: power plants, fuel depots, airports, and
transportation centers were being sealed off in a similar fashion.
Dubliners had seen this some 25 years before, during a time when
bombs exploded all over the city in 1974. What was different this
time was the obtrusive number of armored vehicles on the road, and
the manner in which they were used. They had been positioned on
pavements without regard to the damage that the vehicles,
particularly the tracked ones, would inflict on the aesthetics of
the city.
Pavement edges were ground down to dust where the tracked armored
personnel carriers had mounted them, scouring deep ridged scars in
their roadway. Sandbags were unloaded from army trucks and lifted
into position at key intersections behind which signal corps
antennas snapped in the stiff morning breeze, their unit insignia
fluttering, weapons bristling from ports, set at varying angles.
O’Shea paused, elbows on the desk in front of him kneading his
fingers. “I’ve alerted the army to a high level threat...” he
began.
“Alerted the army without my, the senate’s, or the president’s
approval is tantamount to treason!” Quinlan shouted, beside himself
with rage.
“I have spent most of the night here...”
“Gerry, have you gone out of your fucking mind? Did you lose my
telephone number or that of any of the members of the government.”
He hammered the desk. “First thing I heard about deployment was
from the British Prime Minister!”
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“Desperate diseases demand desperate remedies!”


Quinlan shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe what I’m
hearing. You’ve put us on a path that could result in an outbreak
of hostilities without the consensus of the people, and,” he added,
“the British government must be laughing their themselves silly
knowing that I as Prime Minister didn’t have a clue as to what was
happening.”
“The people wouldn’t know what was good for them if it jumped up
and bit them in the ass.” Rising from his mahogany desk, O’Shea
walked to his window and gazed out into the morning light. “Have
you any idea the number of alcoholics that exist on this island; how
many of the people that walk past here every morning are in the
throes of a hangover?”
“What the hell has that got to do with anything!” Quinlan
interjected angrily, wondering if O’Shea had finally gone off the
deep end.
“It has to do with the perception of reality! The reality that
these people have no idea what is right or wrong, what’s good for
them or for the country. How could they, they’ve barely got their
wits about them to get to work?”
A silence fell as Quinlan sized O’Shea up. The man was a
psychopath.
“To the matter at hand! I authorized the army to commence
maneuvers as a precaution after that plane bombing last night. We
don’t want loyalist hoards romping through the country killing women
and children at will as they have for centuries.”
“You’re off your rocker!” Quinlan grunted, reaching for the
phone. As he punched in the numbers for the Government security
office he heard a loud click from the direction in which O’Shea was
standing.
“Hang up the phone!” O’Shea hissed.
“What the?” Quinlan’s eyes opened wide in disbelief as he turned
and saw the small chrome-plated silencer-equipped automatic in
O’Shea’s hand. It pointed directly at his chest.
“Hang up the phone,” O’Shea repeated, indicating what he wanted
done with a toss of his head. “I’m quite serious.”
Quinlan reacted with the speed of a cat, throwing the phone,
cradle and all, at O’Shea’s face. Before the objects had made
contact, he was down low running for the door. He nearly made it.
As he grasped the brass handle, he felt a blow to his head smashing
against his skull like a hammer. His world went instantly red as
blood cascaded from his temple, and faded to black as he crashed
against the still closed door.
In fact, his impact with the door had been the loudest sound in
the room. The automatic had fired with a barely audible plop. The
action of the breech ejecting the spent cartridge was louder - metal
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scraping against metal. O’Shea pressed a speed dial on his mobile


phone which was answered after the first ring.
“Get the cleaners up here quickly before the bastard’s blood
destroys my rug,” he muttered, pressing the end button with his
thumb. He glanced at the video monitor beside his desk through
which he could see his secretary’s ante-chamber outside. It was
empty, just a little too early for Maeve to be at her desk. He
depressed a button adjacent to where his phone would have been, had
Quinlan not thrown it, locking the outside doors. His hand stung
from the impact of the phone which he had avoided. He had expected
such a reaction, he knew his now ex-boss well. Besides, Quinlan’s
move was just what the government ministers had been taught by the
special security contingent that guarded them as an anti-terrorist
tactic to catch the aggressor off guard.
He turned to the window, stooping momentarily to retrieve the
spent casing which he slipped into his jacket pocket. Smiling, he
held the weapon to his lips and blew the smoke from the barrel in
the direction of Kildare Street which was now bathed in bright
morning sunshine. Everything had gone very smoothly, just as he had
planned. Now if only that damn American, Pollard would just check
in.
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The Royal Dublin Society Hall was filled with supporters on their
feet, applauding the new Prime Minister as he glowed in the public
attention he was getting. He had opened with his sincerest regrets
about what had happened to Quinlan — who had been found shot to
death in his car — the regrets of a grateful nation. He had assured
the Quinlan family that all would be done to find the murderer and
that they could continue living in the PM’s residence for as long as
they wished.
Television crews were present from around the globe, conveniently
tipped off that this would be an event worth the coverage, and that
they would not be sorry. They were in Dublin as part of an EEC
junket being hosted by the Irish Government at the time that Quinlan
went missing. Although it was just a short while since O’Shea had
assumed the mantle of power, rumor had it, that in light of the
recent upset in Northern Ireland, he would institute a state of
emergency to bring the tense border situation under control. That
these powers would also harness the media and his opponents was just
beginning to occur to everyone.
“Economic issues aside, I want to say a few words about the
continuing aggression that is festering North of the Republic’s
border.” The crowd hushed and hardly a sound escaped in expectation.
“It has come to light that the IRA and so called Loyalist
paramilitaries are hell bent to destroy the Good Friday Accord
which, by the approval of the electorate, had have been carefully
put in place. This accord was destined to failure as has been amply
demonstrated with the recent loss of almost six hundred innocent
lives. Some say that there is no solution to the Northern Irish
question, no means of resolution left. There is one. Personally,”
and O’Shea paused, knowing the reaction that he was about to
receive, “personally, I regard Northern Ireland as part of Ireland,
and in my official capacity as Prime Minister I declare the
Government of Ireland Act signed by the pro-treaty forces on
December 6, 1921, and all treaties since signed with Britain,
including the now defunct Good Friday Accord, pertaining to Northern
Ireland, null and void.”
His words were met with a stunned silence. Not in a million
years had anyone expected to hear anything remotely close to what he
was suggesting. This event was an inaugural ceremony, low-key out
of respect for the circumstances of Quinlan’s demise. An electric
stillness filled the hall, broken only by the whine of the video
cameras and the static from the microphone.
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“As such, I am enabling the Emergency Powers Act, updated and


available tomorrow from my office. In it, provisions will be made
for the emergence of Northern Ireland into Irish sovereign territory
in 60 days, by whatever means are available to us and are necessary
to achieve this goal. To our Protestant brethren, I offer them a
place in our State in which to prosper and grow in peace and
tranquillity.”
“To those who oppose us I give two choices, which have been given
in many former British colonies, particularly those in the former
Rhodesia and South Africa. If your loyalty to England is so strong,
the State will pay for your resettlement in Britain. If you
violently resist, I can assure you that I will fight fire with fire
to ensure that at last this nation will be whole once again.” The
audience shuffled uneasily.
“To that end, the Irish Army, and I refer to the one employed by
the state, will seal the border as of four o’clock tomorrow morning”
A hush fell on the crowd like a blanket as they waited for O’Shea to
continue. They simply could not believe their ears. He was
treating the amalgamation of the country as if it was a line item on
the state budget. But O’Shea had saved the best wine till last.
“The festering hatred, the anarchy, the remnants of the
apartheid, and outright racism that has been the cross of the
Catholics and Irish citizens of Northern Ireland have had to bear
for generations, is one that finds its roots over 400 years ago
during the reign of James I.”
He paused, savoring his words, the crowd was hushed.
“The deliberate plantation of our country with English and
Scottish settlers was designed to ensure a strong pro-British
sympathy in the maintaining of the status quo.”
Among the crowds a few heads nodded as O’Shea struck a chord
close to home among nationalists. O’Shea smiled inwardly.
“A tactic the British used wherever they went - America; South
Africa; Zimbabwe, formerly known as Southern Rhodesia; India....” He
paused again as the crowd murmured agreement.
“None of these colonies succeeded in regaining their sovereignty
until the people took control, and, by all means at their disposal,
made the country in question impossible to police and unaffordable
to govern. World events, and the growth of the influence of the
international media, have rolled up the maggot filled carpet of
colonialism since World War II. At this point we now have only a
few vestiges of imperialism left under the control of the British
government since the return of Hong Kong to China.”
The murmur had become a rolling roar as O’Shea’s words fell like
nectar on ravenous bees. He raised his voice, though unnecessarily
as the public address system was more than adequate.
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“And they are, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Northern


Ireland.” He raised his right hand to calm the crowd and paused for
effect.
“The commonwealth process of retreat through attrition is not,
any more, an acceptable solution - we have to throw the buggers
out.” He smiled and added for foreign audiences, “Just as our
forefathers helped to do in America in 1776, India in 1947, our
Jewish brothers did in 1949, Zimbabwe in the 1970’s.”
His speech had struck a raw nerve in all Irish people, and there
were countless thousands of those who agreed with him, shouting
their agreement in their living rooms, invisible to the huge throng
standing, waving their hands in support in front of him. Others
watched in awed silence, wondering, praying, that this was some kind
of sick joke.
O’Shea basked in the glory of it all, glad that he had not
listened to his advisors — who had urged him to temper his delivery
— not that he ever did listen.
“At last,” he thought, “at last.”
He let the applause run its course before continuing, his hands
grasping the podium tightly as he projected his words forward.
“While my opponents voice dissent, a calling for patience, I
would remind them that it was violent conflict and violent conflict
alone that saw the rebirth of the Southern Republic - a sacrifice
that cost many brave men and women their lives.” The hall exploded
in a barrage of noise as the audience roared themselves hoarse and
stomped their feet. It was a full five minutes before it began to
subside. O’Shea stood there throughout, his face grim, his eyes
gleaming in the spotlight. He yearned for a sip from the gin and
tonic that lay beside his notes, but didn’t, lest he break the
spell.
“While Prime Minister Quinlan and myself did much work together
to solidify this matter, there is still great work to be done. The
sticking point remains, when will Ireland be whole again? The year
2,000; 2,050; 2,100? This wonderful nation belongs to the Irish
people, the people whose allegiance is to the Republic and not,” he
pounded the podium with his fist, “to a foreign country!”
“Ireland, from this day forward, assumes the cloak of
responsibility to dictate our own policies” and stealing from a well
known song, a suggestion from a sympathetic junior minister who
would never get credit for it, he ended, “one Ireland, one nation,
one people!”
With that a huge tri-color, the flag of the Republic, unfurled,
lit up by intense halogen spotlights and O’Shea left the stage. The
cries from the crowd rang in his ears for many hours later, and
rolled across the oceans that surrounded the island nation like
distant thunder.
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The restaurant, Rules, was one of the oldest continuously


operated in London, situated a few streets away from the bustle of
Covent garden. Founded in 1798, it had survived countless years of
social unrest and wars. World War II had laid waste to adjacent
streets, but apart from a few broken glasses and a crack in the
plaster wall, the restaurant, unlike many of its wartime patrons,
had survived unscathed. Though more than a few minutes ride away
from his wartime headquarters situated in Little St. James’s
Street, Churchill was a frequent visitor, German bombs seldom came
between his stomach and his evening meal in one of his favorite
restaurants.
Service was slow, but that was to be expected in a restaurant of
its caliber where each course was made from scratch with fresh
ingredients. The wine list was second to none, again expected.
Plainly furnished with hunting prints on the wall, discretion was
the order of the day. The waiters were always patient, impersonal
and not intrusive. To anyone used to American standards of service,
they could be regarded as being borderline rude. Patrons were
address by their surnames and favorite tables allotted in a time
honored way. In fact, all of the tables were well appointed, just
out of earshot of their neighbors. Adorned in silver and glass
ware, the tablecloths were of a crisp white cotton. Catering to a
strict reservations only list, walk-ins were neither encouraged nor
welcome. Despite leaps in national culinary tastes the leather
bound handwritten menus offered the same delightful house specials
as they had for the past century.
“Wrong place at the wrong time.” Ted continued, munching on his
pheasant. The hastily arranged lunch with his friend, Chief
Inspector Frederick Mortimer of Scotland Yard, had turned out to be
a culinary delight.
“How can you be sure? They’ve a photo of him circulating, which
places him at the scene with a weapon in his hand.”
“Digital file was it? Have to be sent here so quickly. Ever
heard of a piece of software called Adobe Photoshop?” Ted lay down
his utensils and swallowed a mouthful of Bordeaux. He dabbed his
mouth with his white starched lined napkin.
“This software has many uses, among them an excellent utility,
facilitating retouching. With a few mouse clicks, I could put your
head on that picture and put a shovel in your hand. With a little
extra work, your own mother would swear that it was you.” He raised
his hand to stop his friend from interrupting.
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“This isn’t exactly the latest in high tech - been around for
years. Not like the old days of burning one photo into another. I
suggest you follow up this line of inquiry, particularly as that
picture was released very soon after the event. Also who took it?”
Satisfied for the moment, he resumed eating.
“Well, old chap, we are familiar with technological advances,”
Mortimer said a little indignantly, scribbling in his notebook, “but
you’re right, we didn’t have time to check it out. The photo was
distributed by the Irish government, dispatched by modem right into
Scotland Yard. With all the upset we distributed it right away to
catch the rascal if he crossed into our country. As to who took it
— I don’t know.”
“Sounds a little convenient that this photo was the only one
available, considering that the Army didn’t secure the area for
nearly an hour afterwards, while they were checking for bombs - and
the direction from which it’s taken, seems as if the photographer
took the shot from an elevated position half way down the street in
which the victims were trapped. Now if that isn’t convenient...”
“All right, All right, point taken.” Inspector Mortimer, held up
a juicy morsel of his Duck À L’Orange in anticipation. “You could
have got yourself into a lot of trouble if caught with a fugitive of
that caliber, despite your network of contacts in government
circles, might have opened a whole can of worms.” He observed his
friend through his bushy eyebrows but was disappointed with the lack
of emotion on his face.
“For goodness sake Mort, the man’s a photographer! He’s innocent
and he may have some evidence for you. Nick and I met many years
ago in New York when we both were performing work for a large US car
company. Nice family, and I wish his wife was around my way thirty
years ago - lucky bastard. Anyway he impressed me as a decent
fellow, saved me a couple of hundred grand when a local production
house tried to pull a fast one on me. Sent my kids gifts now and
again and always kept in touch, particularly right before, during
and after my bypass.”
“Did he have any idea of your real occupation - could he have
been using you?”
“None whatsoever. He called me out of desperation, half scared
to death. You should have seen the wreck that arrived at my door a
few days ago.” Mortimer ate silently listening to every word,
pausing only to briefly hold up his eyeglasses to inspect some of
the meat that he was consuming - a habit he had from eating wild
pheasant, when he wanted to avoid consuming shotgun pellets.
Ted went on. “As a photographer and video cameraman, he had an
interest in recording one of these marches before they became
extinct, what with the passing of that Good Friday Accord into law
and all.”
“Never happen,” Inspector Mortimer shrugged.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 189

“Regardless, he went there, set up and now he thinks that he has


a record of the entire event on tape.”
“Thinks?”
“A slug plowed through his camera lens jamming the mechanism
burying itself in the casing adjacent to the tape, it could be
damaged.”
“I would be happy to have the chaps back at the lab look it
over...”
“Too late, he’s having a specialist analyze it.”
“How convenient. Where?”
“State side. Riordan flew out today.”
Instinctively Mortimer looked at his watch.
“Too late, his flight arrived hours ago.” Ted had read his mind
and despite his ignorance about who Nick’s rescuer was, or how the
tape had traveled, he did not want his police associate complicating
things by notifying the US authorities.
“Pity.” Mortimer resumed eating, making a mental note to have the
flight manifests checked.
The waiter came to top off their water while the wine captain
refilled their wine glasses.
“So where is this Nick chap now?”
“Out of harms way, trying work out how best to protect his wife
and children. They got away just in time.”
“Good gracious, you can’t be serious. There’s been an attempt on
them?” Mortimer lowered his knife and fork with a clatter, inviting
glances from other tables.
“This is unraveling at a terrific speed. They had barely left
their home when she noticed that they were being followed. Managed
to shake the bugger off but, Jessica was quite certain that this was
not chance occurrence. I know you won’t mind if I don’t tell you
where they’re holed up...”
“Of course, of course, old chap.” Mortimer was dying to know but
knew better than to ask. That Ted had only a vague idea himself did
not occur to him.
Mortimer sat back waiting for his plate to be removed and was
already looking forward to the sorbet he had ordered for dessert.
Looking at his friend, he thought that he was looking very well, for
a man who use to consume such large quantities of cigarettes and
lived life to the full. Ted was looking younger than he should,
with a full color to his complexion.
They had known each other since college days when they attended
the University of London together, their paths crossing frequently.
Their close trust and bond was set in Israel in 1973 when Ted had
saved Mortimer’s life during the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ted had
been there as an advisor and supplier to the Israeli army, Mortimer
as an official of the British secret service. Not a glamorous
position, attached as he was to the embassy, he stuck out like a
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 190

sore thumb with his lily white skin, his haughty accent, but then
that was the point.
He operated openly, plainly visible for what he was, while others
hid in the shadows carrying out their tasks. Not familiar with the
shifting boundaries in the Sinai desert, Mortimer had wandered
through Israeli lines close to the city of Elat, to take tourist
pictures he had recalled later. That his roll, when developed by
the Israeli Mossad, contained close-ups of defense positions, didn’t
help his case in the army court held the day after his capture by
Israeli soldiers.
Low on ammunition, the Israeli soldiers were exhausted, having
fought a fierce tank battle. After they fired their last shell,
without any sign of re-supply, their only means of offense had been
the vehicles themselves. Urged by headquarters not to give an inch,
they had driven over the Egyptian troops, the same men that they had
played games with days before at the Suez Canal, and, against all
odds had captured over 600 of them.
Mortimer’s presence could not have been more ill-timed. Despite
a couple of bruises, he had not been mistreated, but was assured
that if he had fallen into Arab hands, he may have awoken the next
day to enjoy the full heat of the sun staked to the desert floor
providing breakfast for the ants and vultures. It was a chance
encounter that had saved his life. Ted had been organizing an
emergency supply of tank shells through a Turkish supplier, as the
US had been slow to respond to the Israeli cries for help.
Not intentionally, but the US had been as surprised as Israel, by
the Yom Kippur Syrian and Egyptian onslaught. Only the sheer
determination and superior air power of the Israeli defense forces
had stopped the joint attack in its tracks, reversing it and
inflicting heavy losses in terms of both men and fighting equipment
on the Arabs.
Ted was one of a number of suppliers to the region, but was the
first to respond, anticipating the call as soon as he heard of the
outbreak of conflict. He had obtained, through persuasion bordering
on coercion, from a commander of a US base situated in Greece, most
of the base’s supply of high explosive anti-tank shells, and got
them to Tel Aviv by borrowing a tourist ferry.
He had been enjoying a late evening drink with a grateful
associate, Yakov Ostreicher, a commander in the Israeli Defense
Force, when Ostreicher had brought up the subject that one of Ted’s
countrymen was to be shot the following morning. Ted had been
curious about the charge and, when told the name of the prisoner,
made mention that Mortimer was part of the British diplomatic corps.
Ostreicher got angry at the suggestion, reminding Ted that a spy
was a spy and in the event of a national emergency diplomatic
privileges did not exist for someone caught so red-handedly.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 191

“He is also a friend,” Ted had added quietly. Ostreicher stared


at Ted for a long moment and quietly picked up the black phone on
his desk, dialing a number Ted could not make out. Identifying
himself tersely, he spoke briefly in Yiddish. Without a word he led
Ted to a balcony overlooking the port city where they watched the
last remnants of the sun set over the Mediterranean. Neither spoke
as they sat in wicker chairs.
Twenty minutes later, a black Mercedes drew up to the gate of the
courtyard that surrounded the villa and entered after the sentry
identified the driver.
“I have a gift for you Ted,” Yakov declared. Ted had been
expecting as much, but bowed anyway in appreciation. “Israel has
been very much in your debt....”
Ted shook Yakov’s hand and thanked him for Mortimer’s life.
Yakov nodded and accepted Ted’s thanks, with a reminder that it
would be unwise for Mortimer to revisit Israel again.
Exiting the villa he pulled the heavy wooden front door closed
behind him and slid into the car. Invisible to prying eyes through
the dark tinted window glass Ted settled in beside the hooded
prisoner shackled to his plainclothes guard. Another sat in the
front passenger seat, his Galil rifle propped in his lap.
They pulled up outside Ted’s hotel. Mortimer’s handcuffs and
hood were removed as Ted got out. Startled, Mortimer looked around
him like a frightened deer. Without a word Ted reached in and
grabbed his arm, leading him through the foyer to his room where he
poured him a large tumbler of Scotch. Mortimer drank it back
thirstily.
“Damn fool thing you did getting caught like that,” Ted had
scolded him, beckoning to him to join him on the balcony. Facing
each other outside they raised their glasses in a silent toast.
“Thanks,” Mortimer said, “but the embassy would have got me out
before the end of the week.” He blanched when Ted told him how
little difference British diplomatic efforts had made — he was to be
shot early the next morning. Asked why he had been so blatant in
his espionage, Mortimer explained that his blundering was cover for
removal of a British commando reconnaissance force which had become
trapped in all the fighting nearby, and that his capture had not
been accidental.
“Quite the contrary old chap, I was romping around like a bull in
a china shop,” he said, quite pleased with himself in the afterglow
of the whisky. “I’ll have another — surprised the blighters didn’t
catch me before then, never seemed to notice me, doesn’t say much
for their security.”
“They were doing you the courtesy of waiting word from
headquarters as to whether they should shoot you out of hand - they
had been observing you for over an hour - you were lucky the Mossad
had an interest. As for the commando force, the Israelis had more
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 192

to worry about than getting involved in a fracas with a bunch of


lost British paratroopers. The Israeli Defense Force let them
escape - in fact they were on the verge of walking in and offering
them a lift back to Tel Aviv - they preferred to let the group save
face and get out under their own steam. You nearly lost your life
for nothing, Freddy.”
On his return to London a month later, Ted found a roll of film
and transcripts from a radio scanner. The pictures contained images
of the Egyptian front lines, the words spoken by the drivers and
gunners of the IDF tanks desperate for re-supply and a picture of
soldiers of unknown origin firing at the Arabic attackers. Later he
learned that Mortimer and his commandos had knocked out in excess of
six tanks during that night the Israelis were waiting for re-supply.
Mortimer had been caught as he had exited the battlefield, providing
cover for the exhausted British troops.
Since then Mortimer, his face too well known, had quit the
“foreign affairs” department and got himself set up in a good
position within Scotland Yard. A favorable word from the foreign
office had ensured his quick promotion and the confidence given him
had paid off handsomely with his ability to hunt down terrorists and
keep British soil relatively free of unwelcome foreign influence.
He carried a big stick and was respected throughout the political
administration and police force. He never forgot his debt to Ted.
“So what can I do to help, Ted?” Mortimer asked before he slid a
spoonful of sorbet into his mouth.
“Call off the dogs for now, check out that photo and let’s find
out who’s really behind this. My instinct tells me it’s a new
group, and I’m off to Ireland to find out.”
“Never liked the place much myself - a clannish bunch and those
IRA are a bugger to catch...”
“Careful, my grandmother came from Wexford, and Irish ancestry
runs deep in our blood,” Ted smiled at him, sipping his black
coffee, having passed on dessert. “And besides your own stock hails
from Scottish highlands, tartan, clans and all. Descendents of the
old Irish, if the history books are to be believed!”
Mortimer let out a hearty guffaw, and in his next breath nearly
choked as Ted made a final suggestion, that of calling a colleague
in Ireland in an unofficial capacity. On this somber note they
finished up and, after Ted paid, they went their separate ways.
Before leaving, Mortimer gave Ted a telephone number along with an
invitation for Nick to call it if the wolves were closing in on him.
Later that evening, Ted made a call to an old friend in Israel
inquiring after his health and requesting that a party of children
and their mother be given refuge in Israel should the need arise.
He received an affirmative response and was asked their present
location. Unable to provide an exact one, Ted promised to call back
as soon as he got the information, which he did the following
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 193

morning after quietly checking his computer, through which the


telephone line was routed, recording all numbers dialed from the
main handset. Checking the numbers Nick had dialed prior to his
departure, through special reverse directory, he was able to check,
via the Internet, the names, addresses and exact locations behind
the numbers. Satisfied, he went about making arrangements.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 194

“Fucked if I know,” Flanagan turned the device in his hand, his


head still weary from a late night session with his friends, though
it was now close to lunch time. His armpits sweaty, he handed the
plastic encased box over to Seán.
Seán grimaced, embarrassed at the state that Peter was in,
particularly in front of their English counterparts. They smiled as
if they didn’t notice.
“A beeper?” Seán offered. It was about the size of a beeper but
with a sealed aluminum finish, hard to know what it was.
“Close enough Seán.” He pronounced it ‘Shown,’ Flemingworth’s
English accent couldn’t match the softness of the Irish name.
Though labeled as a special branch policeman, he had spent some
years with the Special Air Services. His family pedigree didn’t
stop his army sergeant from attempting to pound his body to dust
during the months of training. His file was labeled secret — all
that anyone was meant to know was that he was a cop. His file in
the Irish Police headquarters had a detailed resume, detailed enough
to surprise even Flemingworth with its thoroughness. “Interesting
photos too,” Seán thought, though he wondered how Flemingworth had
been photographed in such a compromising position.
Flemingworth went on. “It’s a tracking device, a simple form of
a transponder, similar to the ones they use in aircraft to identify
them with air traffic control.”
Seán made a face inwardly, he knew quite well the function of a
transponder, but he revealed nothing, his face dead pan.
“We, er, use them to track VIP vehicles and personnel, a recent
development,” Flemingworth explained.
“Like the vehicle tracking device that has been in use in the
U.S. for the past ten years?” Seán suggested.
“Quite,” Flemingworth replied tersely. “except that these are
more readily portable.”
“Get to the friggin’ point,” Seán thought.
“We embed these in vehicles which allows us to pinpoint their
location quite accurately. They are passive, insofar as they only
respond when interrogated from a satellite channel.”
Seán glanced at his computer screen as it flashed a warning of
incoming e-mail. He had never got used to e-mail, always had an
urge to read it immediately, though he was rarely impressed with its
contents since they usually demanded an immediate reply.
Flemingworth sensed Seán’s distraction. “We found this
particular one in Sligo,” he said.
Seán glanced back at him raising his eyebrows questioningly.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 195

“Belongs to one of the cars that the Rev. Paisley was using,
found it on the quayside, a bit rough for wear but functional
nonetheless.”
“Any ideas how it got there?”
“A couple of theories. One thing is certain, this one was
dropped from the emergency hatch adjacent to the petrol tank. It
can be activated by a manual wire pull, like the ones used to open
petrol caps, from inside the cabin.”
“How long?”
“What?”
“Was it there?”
“Oh, a day perhaps. An operator spotted it after the alert was
raised. We retrieved it as soon as we could.”
“We could have done it for you,” Seán commented. British agents
weren’t exactly free nor welcome to conduct business in the Republic
as they pleased. This met with a quiet smile from Flemingworth but
no verbal response.
“What the hell were they doin’ in Sligo?” Flanagan interjected.
“On the quayside?”
“What indeed, unless the car was dumped or crashed in the
harbor...”
“Or taken for a boat-ride,” the British officer’s, until now,
silent companion offered. A robust man, he was a more friendly sort
- with an unfortunate name of Fuchs.
“We should be able to conduct a search, the harbor is not very
deep, and from what I know of the area, it’s shallow at low tide.”
Flanagan offered.
“I, we, would prefer not to bother,” Flemingworth continued.
“In God’s name why?” Flanagan blustered.
Flemingworth paused. He retrieved a satellite photo from his
briefcase which showed Sligo harbor and the bay in black and white.
“We received a second signal from a different location,” he
pointed to the photograph, stabbing his finger on an empty tract of
ocean out to sea.
“But there’s nothing there,” Flanagan commented, licking his lips
at the prospect of a pint later in the day. The blahs of the
morning hours were fast disappearing.
“It can only have got there by boat...” he observed.
“Or have been planted,” Seán suggested.
“Unlikely, why not just smash it to pieces instead of going to
all the trouble of dumping it out to sea?” Fuchs explained.
“Any ideas?” Seán asked.
“One, this coastal steamer was in harbor that evening. The
harbor master’s manifest indicates that it left for a few hours,
returning before dawn. The notation shows that they were testing a
refitted engine. No other ships in the area.”
“Have you run a check on it?”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 196

“Certainly, it’s owned by a firm registered in the Isle of


Man...Hanran Enterprises Limited. Privacy issues have had to be
overturned to trace ownership back to the holding company, but we’ve
come up with two companies, both registered in Panama.”
“O’Shea.” Seán muttered.
“What’s that?” Flemingworth quizzed.
“A theory we’re working on. Here let me print out a list of
companies that we’re investigating. If you find a match, let me
know.”
“You know something further?”
“Just a guess, a private theory, that I’ll be happy to divulge
after you look over the list. Not making me very popular higher up,
but popularity isn’t my job.”
Flemingworth was beside himself. “What did Driscoll know?”
“One more thing,” Seán addressed him. “Why the ocean?”
“That’s what we’re about to find out.” Flemingworth responded.
“We’ll get back in touch tomorrow or the day after.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 197

“The only way out of this is to find who was really behind it.”
Nick spoke earnestly to John.
Nick had arrived back into the US early that morning using the
passport that Ted had acquired for him. The UK passport did him
justice considering the minor changes he had to make to his features
to change enough to fool British emigration. Gone was his hair,
shaved to the scalp, a great source of amusement to John when he
picked him up from Newark airport that morning, as were the
diplomatic papers that got Nick through the US immigration barrier.
“So you’re a British soldier,” John laughed, as he read the
transcript, “attached to the British consulate. Well that’s ironic,
considering the circumstances!”
Nick laughed as well, relaxing for the first time in a week. He
was unhappy with the haircut at first, which Ted had insisted upon,
but he was getting used to it; the sun felt good as they trekked
northward in John’s open Jeep Wrangler toward the Tappenzee Bridge,
which would bring them to John’s home in Westchester.
“Beer?” John popped one out of a cooler from the back seat.
“Excellent,” Nick beamed, “keep them coming,” even though it was
a little after ten in the morning. For a few moments he was able to
forget his troubles and enjoy the scenery. It wasn’t long though
before his thoughts went to Jessica and the children. The familiar
knot crept back into his stomach, but the beer helped to ease the
longing. He hadn’t drunk anything on the plane so that he would be
alert in case he was questioned on his arrival in the US.
Strangely, since his hop across the Irish Sea, his fear of flying
was just about gone.
“I’ve been monitoring the police computers for the past few days,
watching them build your file, looking for new suspects...”
“How’d you manage that?” Nick asked in mock incredulousness.
John’s well deserved reputation as a hacker was well known. He made
a living by protecting banks and large corporations from the prying
eyes of people just like himself.
John smiled, glad of the compliment and tapped his nose with his
forefinger, in the familiar yet unspoken “Me to know, you to find
out” gesture.
“So what’d you find out?” Nick asked.
“Lots of stuff. You’re a popular guy, and I don’t mean that in a
good sense.” They were on the back roads of Westchester now,
scooting along under the canopy of trees, the journey north had
taken close to two hours.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 198

“You’re still the number one suspect. Given the circumstances,


if I didn’t know you better, I’d pin it on you myself. All the
evidence is there — they’ve got a picture of you at the scene
carrying what looks like a gun.”
“My video camera...”
“I know, I’m just telling you the facts. Now all they have to do
is find evidence of collusion or premeditation and you’ll be the
first guy hanged in the UK for years.”
Nick sat quietly brooding.
John interrupted his thoughts. “You haven’t asked about the
tape.”
Nick had completely forgotten about it.
“Well?”
“To quote a Vietnam movie, Full Metal Jacket...‘Hard-core man,
fuckin’ hard-core’...took a bit of work to get the tape playable but
it works OK.”
“I’m not so sure I want to see it.”
“The whole world can see it — I digitized it and loaded a low
resolution version onto the Internet. That way we have a copy that
can be accessed from anywhere. It‘ll need work though. You might
want to send it to your buddy who got you over here.”
“Definitely — how about sending it to the police?”
“Not yet. It’ll only incriminate you further. They’ll wonder
why you taped the show. It needs close analysis by someone with a
strong stomach and an eye for detail.”
“Why?”
“Well, toward the end, there’s a shot of a guy wading through the
mess delivering ‘coup de grace’ head shots to finish the wounded
off. Cocky bastard, he’s bareheaded. Could be a lead.”
Nick took it all in, belched loudly and opened another beer. A
thought sprang to his mind. “Hey, who’s goin’ to pay for that plane
you crashed?”
“I crashed?” John laughed. “We survived and walked away. Be
glad!” Nick had a nagging suspicion that John had used Nick’s
credit card number as a deposit.
“I paid cash. I even got a receipt...here.” John dropped it into
Nicks lap. Nick looked it over, reading the name that the receipt
was made out to, which wasn’t his...or John’s.
“Who’s David Newton?” he asked reading the name out loud.
“He’s the guy whose credit card I used.”
“You stole a credit card?”
“Oh please! Borrowed.”
“You know what? Don’t bother, I’d prefer not knowing.” Nick
dropped the subject, smirking. He could strike a $30,000 bill for
replacing the plane off his list of worries.
Later that evening, using an anonymous e-mail server, they sent
Ted a message containing the electronic address or URL where the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 199

tape was stored. It would take Ted a while to download the file and
a lot of hard drive space. But John had saved it at the lowest
resolution so that it could be viewed without overloading a hard
drive. They decided to leave it until the next day before calling
Ted to ensure he had received it. John suggested that they eat at a
local Chinese restaurant. Nick was happy to oblige.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 200

“Sure he’s an oul’ whore,” the old fellow smirked, his pint in
his hand, toasting the recipient of his praise as he spoke.
The cameraman never flinched, but the interviewer, Angela
Pauletti from CNN, cringed not knowing exactly what the interviewee
meant, but feared that it wasn’t kosher. A quick glance at the
representative from the Irish Journalist Union confirmed this,
however the rep encouraged Pauletti to continue, tumbling his fore-
fingers knowing that it would be lost on all but Irish viewers.
Besides, this was a live feed.
“Exactly,” Pauletti caught herself, and launched into her next
question, referring quickly to a note pad. “What kind of man is
O’Shea in the eyes of the ordinary punter?”
“Ordinary punter?” the drinker asked raising his eye brows at the
indignity of being referred to in such a manner. Sure wasn’t he
like the great Brendan Beehan, an author in waiting summoning up his
thoughts, his long wholesome soliloquies, at the high, albeit beer
stained, altar of life. He took a long swig from his near depleted
pint of draught Guinness. Grimacing at the bitter taste, not of the
pint but at the referral, he took a deep breath, a drag from his
cigarette and hissed the smoke through his yellowed teeth before he
responded.
“O’Shea...O’Shea is a man who could change the world, if he was
let. Not a genius by any means, but smart enough to ride into power
on the coat-tails of one. He’s not a man of the streets mind
you...” Another gulp drained his glass and a nod to the barman
ensconced at the end of the bar brought about a fresh one as if from
thin air. Satisfied by the sight, the fellow went on.
“This country needs a firm hand - one that’ll direct it into the
next century toward a brighter tomorrow and a future where
unemployment is reduced from a real rate of 17 to 20% to a near
perfect rate of 8% or under.” The interviewer was impressed and
urged her subject to go on.
The man shifted in his padded bar stool. “His ideas of expanding
our tax-free base may be unconstitutional and against the EEC
treaties, but if carefully implemented, the penalty of losing
corporate taxation will be offset nicely by the multiplier effect
initiated by full employment, accompanied by a healthy pay-as-you-
earn tax roll which will balance our budget by the year 2,000,
making Ireland one of the most prosperous countries in the Western
Hemisphere.”
A cheer rose from the regulars huddled at the snug at the end of
the bar, and the interviewee looked quite pleased with himself as he
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 201

raised the fresh pint to his lips and took a long pull. He flicked
his tongue across his upper lip removing most of the frothy mustache
deposited there by the hearty beverage.
The interviewer was also impressed. Could it be that the entire
nation was made up of such intellectual phenomena? That her subject
was non other than a retired professor of economics from Trinity
College was never told to her at the time that she entered the pub
looking for a chat with an average “Dublin Joe.” The others had
laughed merrily as they pushed McCarthy forward, a man well used to
the limelight, the educator of the middle classes, and the soon-to-
be befuddler of world news.
Before the interviewer could ask another question, McCarthy
raised his yellowed forefinger to indicate that he had more to say.
The interviewer patted down the creases on her dress and waited.
“To be sure,” he raised an eyebrow at his consorts a few yards
away to ensure that his Irishness was appropriately measured, and
received the approving raising of beer glasses, “he’s the man for
the job. With his background, of which I know of only from the
likes of yourselves,” he gestured in the direction of the news crew,
“he’s got a hard backbone — doesn’t mind a few jars,” he motioned
towards the drinks lest anyone mistake what he was talking about.
“and, God bless him, he has a sense of nationalism that would put
Padraig Pearse,” he blessed himself as he said it, “to shame.” His
gesture was in deference to the memory of the martyred signatory of
the Irish Declaration of Independence in the Easter Rising of 1916.
“So you think he’s the man for the job?” the interviewer asked,
glad that she had in fifteen minutes filled the sound-bite for the
late evening broadcast - it normally took hours. Once this was over
they could wrap up and head back to the hotel for some well earned
rest.
“Oh sure he’s a grand man. Like another that comes to mind, he’s
certain that the path ahead is clear and certain that he won’t let
anything nor anyone come before the good of the country. All of the
problems are to be taken care of, such as the itinerants.” He was
referring to the group of traveling gypsies — not related to the
original tribes from Hungary or Rumania — who traveled the roads
scrounging a living from begging and from the generosity of
householders. Legend had it they could be traced back to 1653 when
Cromwell told the Irish that they had the choice, on being evicted
from their homes, to decide between going to “Hell or to Connaught”
- referring to the near barren Western province of the country. In
recent decades many attempts had been made to settle the gypsies and
house them in accommodations with running water and electricity, but
to no avail.
“The end of the dole, of the free loaders, and it’s every man for
himself. His proposals for conscription will add discipline to the
youth and a respect for authority in the future. The state take-
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over of banks will...” he paused in mid-sentence looking for a


cigarette which was thrust to him from a source outside the camera’s
view point, he nodded his thanks, “provide a steady cash flow from
and on the behalf of the people. The clamp down on law and order,
the raising of the issue of North of Ireland ‘peace without
negotiation’, as he says it himself,” McCarthy took a gulp from his
pint to moisten his throat, “his assurance that Northern Ireland
will be part of the Republic within 60 days - all adds up to a
powerful man like no other we’ve seen, except once this century.”
The interviewer, aware that she was just about to wrap up,
prompted McCarthy to finish. “And who might that be?” she asked,
winding up the slack on the microphone lead.
“Ah sure none other than the man himself,” McCarthy drew it out
emptying his pint and plopping it down on the saturated beer-mat on
the counter. Pausing, the interviewer pursed her lipstick faded
lips and raised her eyes brows in expectation. McCarthy wiped his
mouth and looked right into the camera despite being asked to aim
his responses away from it.
“Oh yeah,” he continued, “ the lad himself.” He raised his empty
pint shaking it asking for another.
“Well,” the interviewer asked, regretting her insistence as soon
as she got her answer.
A fresh pint in his hand, he raised it to the television viewers
and quietly said, “Hitler.”
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An invitation to visit was not uncommon. Embassy security was


part of Driscoll’s portfolio. What was uncommon was the idea of the
US Ambassador inviting him to talk to her about “current events” as
she put it. Seán was quite relaxed with her. They had known each
other informally for many years, meeting at various venues whenever
he pulled the shift. More often than not he was tagged for US
security - at the insistence of the ambassador herself - though he
was unaware of her influence. The conversation had swung quickly to
the turmoil that was brewing in the country. The ambassador had
been frank, as was her manner, getting to the point at once. Seán
was unrestrained in his criticism of O’Shea’s leadership. Jean had
a calming effect on him; he knew that their conversation would go no
further than the room they were in. The TV interview comparing
O’Shea to Hitler was the talk of the town, as were the troop
movements and the increased army activity on the streets.
In response to a casually put question, Seán explained to the
ambassador the difficulties involved in orchestrating any response
to O’Shea and his threat to the stability of the country. O’Shea
had chosen his path carefully, appealing to the nationalists who
wanted reunification of the North and South at any cost. And, he
was appeasing the moderates, the vast middle class, who
instinctively leaned towards nationalism, but were governed by
education and the bigger picture. Above all they did not want their
tranquillity and comforts spoiled.
There were divisions too within the security forces, leaning in
most part towards O’Shea for two reasons: nationalism again and the
chain of command. The Irish President, traditionally head of the
armed forces, deferred to O’Shea in providing guidance and orders to
the officers after Quinlan’s murder. The police force was also
split. It was near impossible to know where allegiances fell. The
prospect of promotions and rewards under O’Shea, as opposed to the
loss of career for not following orders, was not to be ignored.
Over tea, the ambassador highlighted the information that had
been gathered by her own intelligence staff about O’Shea and his
suspected activities. Seán could see, from the way the facts were
presented to him, that his own suspicions were, for the most part,
correct. There was, the ambassador pointed out, a lack of tangible
evidence tying O’Shea into any conspiracy theories, merely
circumstantial evidence. Something was needed that would link him
irrefutably.
Seán knew that officially he was walking on dangerous ground;
chatting like this was tantamount to treason — if taken the wrong
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way. He was technically treading on very thin ice between his duty
as a police officer and an Irish citizen. But what choice did he
have? There was no one he could trust within his own service, and
the country was preparing for war, as unbelievable as it sounded.
And here he was cavorting with a foreign power, albeit a sympathetic
one. The only one that had been instrumental in bringing the
conflicting parties to the negotiating table. He had known the
ambassador for several years and had on a number of occasions spoken
to her while on duty, supplementing her own escorts. Her Irish
sympathies were well known, a family heirloom.
Seán made up his mind and told her about his interview with Nick
Riordan. The ambassador knew much of the story already, but her
ears pricked up when he made mention of the video tape that Nick had
socked away in his backpack. Although he had not had contact with
him since he left his house some days before, he knew there was a
reason for all the fuss in trying to track him, though he was unsure
who was after him.
He pointed this out to the ambassador and his theory that perhaps
it was the IRA.
“Thankfully no,” she smiled.
“How do you know?”
“Two reasons. First if it was the IRA, they would have run him
to ground by now. They’re pretty good at that.”
“And?”
“I have contact with Gerry Adams and he has, shall we say
interviewed, one of the pursuers that nearly got Mr. Riordan while
he was making good his escape from Wexford. The interviewee was
insistent that he was working for an Irish government figure - a
direct referral to our Mr. O’Shea.”
“Christ.” was all Seán could muster, shaking his head.
“What?” the ambassador pressed.
“I spend my career protecting people like you from Adams’ band of
merry men and here you are chatting to him like an old friend.”
“We go back a way.”
“Leave it at that, I don’t want to know.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” she smiled again, “More tea?”
Seán nodded an affirmative, his mind buzzing with ideas.
“Whatever is on the tape is important to O’Shea, so we’ll just
have to find it. Any idea where he is?”
Seán didn’t know and really hadn’t a clue on how to contact Nick.
“Perhaps through his parents, they live in the suburbs.”
“I would suspect that their phones are tapped and the house
watched in the event that Riordan tries to contact them,” the
ambassador offered.
“By more than one party, I would guess. So how do we get a
message to them?”
“Mr. Adams already has.”
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Seán could hardly believe it. Two weeks before, this


conversation would never have happened. It was unimaginable that
the representative from the US would be on such good relations with
the top man in one of the most feared terrorist organizations in the
world; even though he was fast becoming a respectable politician.
When push came to shove, perhaps there was a logic to it — fire
fighting fire.
“I have a meeting scheduled with Mr. O’Shea this evening. The
state department has instructed me to make him aware of our
suspicions in the hope that it will encourage him to pull in his
horns. Personally, I doubt it. He’s been preparing for this for
too long.”
She looked at him for a long moment.
“I have a favor to ask.”
Seán shrugged signaling her to go on.
“It has been our experience — the US State Department’s actually
— that many people store very personal information on their
computers. For some reason, people think that their personal
computer is beyond outside interference, particularly when they try
to protect it through the use of passwords or encryption. Between
you and I, nothing could be further from the truth. And I think
that one way to crack open Mr. O’Shea’s case is to access the
computer he has in his office. I want you to get that information
for me.”
Driscoll paled and put his cup down abruptly.
“How? Why ask me?”
“It’s a matter of trust, Seán. I can’t trust anyone else to do
it. If it is shown that we are involved, and O’Shea is innocent,
there would be an almighty incident.”
“And if I’m caught I’m expendable. I know the drill, I’ve seen
the movies.”
The Ambassador knew better than to coddle him.
“Seán, this is a matter of national security, the stability of
the entire European Federation depends upon settling this matter
quickly. If Ireland declares war on Britain, no one knows how this
will end up. Britain will, if provoked enough, make a desert of
Ireland. Their tolerance for this kind of threatening is low enough
as it is. O’Shea’s posturing is bound to lead to an incident.
Perhaps,” she added, “that is his design.”
She was met with silence as Detective Seán Driscoll contemplated
his loyalties; the moment of decision had arrived.
“At least listen to what I propose. Will you Seán?”
“Go on.”
“As I said, there is a very good chance that the information we
need is stored on his computer. The key is to copy all of the
information on his hard disk.”
“I can hardly walk in there and chat with him while I do it.”
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The Ambassador ignored his quip and continued. “Attached to his


computer is a high speed modem. I have a layout of his office and
he is known to be an Internet freak. We also have the phone number
for the line that it is connected to. I need that modem and
computer turned on after O’Shea leaves his office for at least an
hour and then turned off again before he returns.”
“How do you suggest I do that?”
“That you’ll have to work out for yourself. Any evening will do.
When you have it on, call this number and they will take it from
there.” She gave him a cell phone number. “Only make sure that you
turn it off again after an hour.”
“I’m not sure this is something I want to be involved in.”
“You already are Seán, otherwise you wouldn’t have spent the last
hour talking with me. I will understand if you can’t, or won’t
help. But I would, and your countrymen would also, be grateful if
you did.”
Seán knew he was being fed a line, but he knew that what she
suggested did make sense, and perhaps it could help resolve the
controversy surrounding the future of his country.
She lead Seán out to his car. They shook hands and Seán left.
The ambassador wondered if, when this was all over, Driscoll would
consider taking a position at the US embassy. She liked him.
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“Life goes on, as usual,” Flanagan muttered to Seán, as they


passed through another roadblock.
They had to stop at each one, show their identification,
occasionally having it verified with headquarters. Every car had
their license plate checked with the traffic computer before being
allowed to pass.
Had it been a police block, they’d have been waved through. But
this was an army stop, one of many in place since O’Shea had put
himself in charge of internal security in response to threats to the
members of government. And, because of his influence, the threats
and assaults had stopped as abruptly as they had started. So credit
was given where credit was due, thus bolstering his growing
political power.
What Driscoll could not know was that the soldiers were as
disgruntled as he. Long hours, policing the very people that they
were meant to protect, they were nervously awaiting notice that they
might have to move north to the border to supplement the sizable
Irish army contingent already in place. Not that they were afraid
of a fight — far from it. They were amongst the best trained
soldiers in Europe.
Their leaders had lived long enough to know that any aggressive
action against the British forces in the North would result in a
similar counter action in the South. Before long it would turn into
a free for all. That was why it had never been an option tried in
the past — studied to the point of exhaustion, but with the same
conclusion, a no win situation.
“So, you never told me. What did Casey do to you, when he went
to visit you at your house?”
Seán had been waiting for the inevitable questions. He had just
been surprised it had taken the normally curious Flanagan so long.
He suspected Cullen was behind it. He had probably told him not to
push to hard for information. Seán had to guess that whatever he
told Flanagan would be in Cullen’s ear before night.
“Never thanked you for the tip-off.”
“Screw that. C’mon spill the beans.”
“I told Casey that I tracked Riordan down to his hotel and called
him. The transcript was a recording from a phone interview.”
“Just like that?” Flanagan barely hid the sneer.
“No, not quite. I checked the hotels and found him registered
under his real name. It was luck really. The hard part was trying
to get him to talk,” Seán lied.
“How’d you manage that?”
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They pulled up to the government buildings from Kildare Street


and stopped at the gate, identified themselves and were let in after
the security ramp was lowered. Driscoll left the car running while
he contemplated what he was about to do. He continued the
conversation while they made their way into the building.
“I told Riordan I could cut him a deal if he told me who he was
involved with here.”
“But you can’t.”
“He didn’t, and doesn’t know that. Funny though, that he spoke
as long as he did. He must have known I could have had a squad
there to pick him up. Anyway he denied any involvement.”
Flanagan would have to do with that, as they had to pass through
security again at the main door. As high ranking police officers
they were let in and shown to O’Shea’s office where they were told
to wait in an outer room. His secretary regarded them with
suspicion.
“I don’t have a note about any meeting with the Prime Minister.”
Seán was patient.
“We spoke this afternoon and he asked me to come over.”
“And the purpose of the meeting.”
“Matter of state security I would assume,” Seán responded with a
grin.
She wasn’t impressed and retained her dour expression.
“He won’t be back for at least an hour. You’ll have to wait.”
“Any chance of a cup of coffee?”
A look of exasperation crossed her face. It was going to be
another late night of unscheduled overtime. However, she resigned
herself to the fact and sauntered off to get them their beverages.
She had hardly closed the door when Seán rose soundlessly and
crossed to O’Shea’s mahogany office door. Without a word, he opened
it and slipped inside. He left Flanagan open mouthed, wanting to
know what was going on. Within a minute he was back as quietly as
he had left.
Flanagan looked at him expecting an explanation but Seán motioned
him to silence. Instead, he enjoyed the coffee when the secretary
returned. She did not engage in any small talk, but returned to her
desk and tapped away on her computer. The time passed slowly.
“And to what may I owe this unexpected pleasure?” O’Shea greeted
them as he strode into the room some time later. Seán was startled
by his earlier than expected arrival. O’Shea’s face was flushed
from the effect of a late afternoon cocktail in his club, and he was
in a jolly mood. Seán and Peter rose. Seán handled the
introductions. O’Shea looked well in his blue tailored suit. The
“unexpected” was not lost on his secretary who glowered at them from
behind O’Shea’s back.
“We’re here to discuss your personal security Prime Minister
O’Shea.” Seán began.
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“Oh, indeed, please come into my office.” He opened the door for
them and ushered them in.
“Have a seat gentlemen. Do you mind waiting a moment? I’m dying
for a pee.” He left the room through a side door.
“Peter, go to the window and see what the vantage points are
outside...do it!” Seán urgently ordered. Peter complied and
sauntered to the double window. As he did, Seán reached over and
turned off O’Shea’s computer and modem. He hoped the US embassy
people had enough time to take what they wanted. He hoped even more
that O’Shea hadn’t noticed that they were turned on when he had led
them into the room.
O’Shea returned and sat at his desk as Seán explained his
concerns about O’Shea’s personal security. O’Shea listened and
nodded appropriately. When Seán had finished he rose indicating
that they should do likewise and strode to his office door.
“I shall take your recommendations gentlemen. But security is
something I take seriously already. I have a contingent assigned to
me from the army. The army rangers actually, you’ll meet them as
you leave. My thanks again.” He dismissed them, and put a call
through to their boss, Chief Superintendent Casey.
In the ante room, two civilians stood by the door. One male, one
female, barely concealing the weapons slung underneath their
jackets. They didn’t acknowledge either of the detectives as they
left. In fact, they looked right through them — neither spoke a
word of English.
As they drove out of the gate, Seán commented to a quiet
Flanagan, “The rangers haven’t hired any female personnel yet. I
wonder how she got there?”
Flanagan could have cared less. He knew Seán was up to
something, but couldn’t put his finger on it. He’d have to be
careful what he told Cullen. By including Flanagan on the trip, any
information that might be whispered back to Seán could only have
come from one source. Checkmate.
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Superintendent Casey gave Driscoll a roasting for his unwanted


attention in visiting O’Shea’s office. This was as a result of the
call that O’Shea had made to Casey’s office shortly after they had
left. There was nothing to be done, as Seán was within his limits,
though he had stretched his leash. The matter was dropped quickly
and they moved onto other business.
“No one reported missing?” Chief Inspector Casey asked Driscoll,
as he flicked through the file update that had been routed to him.
The autopsy on the crucified John Doe was completed. The cause of
death was obvious.
“Yes sir, I have one that may match the description of the John
we found.”
“Meaning what? The pathologist’s report doesn’t give you much to
go on.”
“Actually it did narrow the search down: Caucasian, male, 5 feet
8 inches, 50 years old, evidence of heart disease, a smoker - his
lungs were rotten, no liver damage...”
“So what?”
“So he didn’t drink or indulge in drugs,” Seán went on with his
litany. “Sallow skin - evidence of past sun damage to the backs of
his hands, face and neck. Callused hands but the palm tissue was
soft from the application of oils or creams, no earrings. Digestive
tract had remains of a recent meal - what was left after the
amphetamines had flushed out his system...”
“Cut to the chase - what’s your conclusion?”
“Teetotaler - rural background. From Connaught, now a
professional, possibly with money.” Seán held his breath, “Here it
comes,” he thought.
“What’s the evidence?”
“Sallow skin signifies a Mediterranean bloodline - possibly a
local dominant Spanish influence dating from the Spanish Armada...”
“Horse shit! He could have been a foreigner!”
“Sun damage and callused hands is conclusive with a farming
background, at least in younger years. The use of hand skin
softeners signifies someone who takes care of themselves at this
stage...”
“And?” his boss raised his eyes exasperated.
“A politician, a lawyer, or an accountant, from the West of
Ireland.”
“Dig deeper - we need more than that.” He dismissed Seán with a
wave of his hand. “Full report on my desk by end of the day,
please.”
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Seán hesitated. “I do have something else that I didn’t have


time to put in my notes.” Casey waited.
“We had a missing person’s report filed in Galway City. I just
got wind of it yesterday morning. A college professor from the
University of Galway who never returned home from a trip to Dublin.
His wife called it in to the local police station there.
Unfortunately we don’t have much to use as a means of identification
aside from photographs.”
“How about DNA?”
“That requires a tissue sample taken before he died. I’m looking
into that.”
“So what makes you think that it’s him?” Casey was only half
listening. He had a busy day ahead of him.
“Circumstantial evidence. His wife told me that he was here to
meet a businessman regarding an article that her husband had written
about him. Seems it was picked up by a regional paper, but never
managed to get to the national press. Her husband suspected behind
the scenes tampering, and was here to investigate his suspicions.”
“What kind of article?”
Seán handed him a smudged copy that had been faxed up from the
newspaper’s offices. Casey read it, shifting uncomfortably in his
seat as he got to the end. He slid it back across his desk to Seán.
“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. The killing had the
hallmarks of the other recent political murders. How do you explain
the note found at the scene?”
“It was a ruse. A slight of hand, without meaning, designed to
throw us off. The writing on it was practically illegible. Part of
it was missing. All that struck the eye was the government
letterhead. Combined with the threats that were sent to members of
government, we would have to draw the obvious conclusions and look
at it as politically motivated when, in my opinion, it was an act of
personal vengeance. It also casts a shadow over the subject of the
article, Prime Minister O’Shea.”
“You’re speculating.” Casey looked over the fax again. “This
was written by some pissed off local yokel, who sees O’Shea as a
threat to his grant money.”
“That article was written by the Professor of Political Sciences,
he’s hardly someone that...”
Casey rose from his seat, agitated. “Pure speculation without
hard evidence. Look into it further and get back to me.” He
dismissed Seán curtly.
As the door closed behind Seán, Casey’s look of authority changed
to worry. Seán had no idea how close to the mark he was. Chances
were that Seán would have it put to bed before the end of the day,
and the shit would hit the fan.
“Too good at this,” Casey thought. Time to distract Driscoll.
He tapped the intercom, “send Driscoll back.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 212

“What’s your read on this Riordan character?”


“Photo-journalist. Grew up here. Emigrated to the states ten
years ago. Thirty-eight years old. Married, three kids. Wife’s a
nurse.”
“I’ve read the report - I asked you what you thought of him.”
“An unlikely suspect. Lacked a motive and the means. His being
at the scene was mere coincidence.”
“Did he register for a press permit with the security forces
prior to the march?”
“No - leads me to believe that his being there was an impulse or
in a non-professional capacity.”
“Do you know him personally?”
Caught completely off guard, Seán stammered a negative response,
confirming a suspicion that lay in his boss’s head.
“His wife and mine trained together in the early 1980’s.” Seán
covered his tracks quickly.
“Any contact with him recently, other than the phone interview?”
“No, sir.” Seán answered, strangely quiet. “Shit!” he thought.
“You would report any contact with him, wouldn’t you.”
“It goes without saying.”
“It should. OK you’re dismissed.”
His boss pulled out a map of South Dublin. An ordinance survey
map, it had a scale of an inch to a mile. He found the farm where
the disturbance of the night before had occurred, and then
Driscoll’s house — barely four miles apart. He called his man in
internal affairs, who arrived breathless into his office some three
minutes later. The boss did not like to be kept waiting.
“Pull phone records for Seán Driscoll for the past two weeks:
office, car, home, e-mails, and correspondence.”
The IA man wrote it all down.
“I need it all in before noon - my eyes only.”
The Internal Affairs man didn’t protest. It would have done no
good. When he left, Casey made a call and arranged a new lunch
appointment.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 213

The moonlight washed the hillside, bathing it in its eerie


beauty. Crickets chirped, pulsating their rhythm. The ancient
landscape virtually untouched by man over the ages radiated the heat
of the day back into the cool nighttime air. A breeze from sea
dispersed the sometimes overpowering humidity, though it did little
to deter the marauding swarms of mosquitoes as they sped silently on
their quest to fill their gullets with warm blood. Inserting their
needle probes deep into their preys skin, they injected a squirt of
anesthetic so that they were fed and gone before discomfort set in.
In the distance, music wafted from the heart of the Aghios
Nikolaos’ bustling tourist filled clubs. The breeze fed ebb made
determining the song near impossible to identify. Bats flitted
between the scrawny treetops, hunting for night time insects and the
occasional mouse. Jessica enjoyed the sights and sounds. She was
always close to nature and appreciated quiet moments like these.
Her thoughts were with Nick, wondering, for what seemed like the
millionth time, where he was, what he was doing, and if he was
alright. She pushed worry from her mind, though it clawed at her
stomach.
Jessica thought of lighting a cigarette but ignored the urge.
Her “minders” were out there somewhere. She had skirted them as she
crept silently barefoot to the base of the tree on the top of the
hillside. The house was close by should any of the children wake
up, which was unlikely after their day of hectic activity at the
beach. She suddenly felt a chill - her instinct aroused. Peering
into the darkness she could sense something out of the ordinary. No
cars were visible on the road that wound past the hillside, and she
could hear no movement anywhere. This did little to reassure her.
A flash of light in the corner of her eye startled her — could it
have been her imagination? Unsettled she made her way back to the
house, her feet patting on the cool marble floor as she quietly
closed the front door and made her way to check on the children.
Satisfied that all was well, she went into her own room. Lying
on her bed she picked up the two-way radio beside her bed and keyed
the talk button for three seconds. She did not say anything — the
transmission would squawk in the ear piece of her protectors
outside, notifying them that she wanted to talk.
A second later a voice responded with a curt, “Yes?” Hesitating,
not knowing what exactly to say, she asked, “Everything OK?”
“Everything’s fine,” the guard responded and added, “next time
you want to go out please let us know. We had to change our rounds
to accommodate your excursion.”
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Jessica smiled and mouthed a quiet “Thank You” to him before


turning over to go to sleep. She must have heard them moving
outside. With a sigh she drifted off to sleep.
On a desolate hilltop, a quarter of a mile away, a soldier with
different loyalties talked on his mobile phone, recounting the
movements of her guards as he slid his rifle back into its case,
being careful to turn off the laser sight he had just used to get an
accurate range to his target.
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The radar on board the British trawler swept the surrounding


waters for signs of air and sea traffic. It was not of the
commercial variety. Stowed below decks, easily activated by the
intelligence gathering staff who occupied the space normally
reserved for a second engine, a defensive armature would
automatically rise festooned with four ground to air missiles, ready
for operation if an air threat appeared.
The trawler was developed in 1984, toward the end of the cold war
as a spy ship. However, it never saw service in the arena for which
it was designed, that of spying on the Soviet Bloc. Not that the
Admiralty had any reason to complain, they had plenty of uses for
this unique vessel.
Modifications had been made to accommodate a mini-sub, designed
for deep sea searches, which could be lowered to the ocean depths,
manned or by cable control. They were situated off the Sligo coast
on Ireland’s Western shoreline, eight miles due west of Roses Point,
the blink of the Black Rock Lighthouse was clearly visible as was
the twinkle of lights from Sligo town and the sea-side resort
village Strand Hill.
The ship was painted a dull gray to blend in with the surrounding
waters, its bulk capable of handling the heaviest of seas when
underway, its arching bow able to cut through the ocean like an ax
blade. The massive single engine’s power was fed through a gearbox
providing ample torque to the twin brass props. An auxiliary engine
at the front of the boat provided power for the computer controlled
thruster props recessed into the bow, ensuring stability for the
dive platform in rough seas.
In the late Summer’s night the dusk lasted until nearly 11:00
P.M., and in the distance the sharp leading edge of the mountain of
Ben Bulbin could be seen, like an overturned ship, its top dark and
gray catching the final seconds of daylight. To the southeast,
Knocknarea Mountain, topped with its Megalithic Tomb, the legendary
resting place of Queen Maeve, stood like an upturned breast, a
necklace of sodium lights at its base marking the treacherous Strand
Hill Beach.
No lights were visible on the boat. Any illumination was
provided by red lamps inside and on the deck facing due West to
lessen the ships profile from any observer on land. Work had to be
done in the errie light or with the assistance of a night vision
scope. Even the heat signature from the engines was suppressed to
the bare minimum by routing the exhaust pipes through water cooled
baffles which exited the boat through a heavy muffler just above the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 216

waterline. Unintentional electronic emissions were carefully


monitored during the operation — the hull was specially designed to
keep radiation to a minimum. Essential computers were kept running,
housed below the waterline in the engine compartment.
All was ready, the submersible had been prepared on the trip from
Belfast, equipment checked and rechecked. All that was left to be
done was to winch it over the side.
***
Far to the north, a Royal Air Force AWAC radar plane monitored
the region, providing early warning threat detection information
from its station sixteen miles off the Donegal coast. Orbiting in a
racetrack pattern at 22,000 feet, its search radar reaching far out
in all directions for over 150 miles. A British Navy vessel, the
trawler was technically trespassing in Irish waters. To the west
over Scotland, and as far as the Irish sea, commercial aircraft
routes were busy, which was normal at this time of day. However,
the aircrews’ attention was focused on the West coast of Ireland
where air traffic was minimal. Sligo’s airport was a rural one used
for light private and commercial hops by the national airline.
Further to the South, in the town of Knock lay a somewhat more
substantial runway. It was capable of handling international
flights, large enough to accommodate a fully laden 747, despite the
fact that it lay surrounded by a bog, on a hillside, and to all
intents and purposes in the middle of nowhere. It had been
constructed using Irish taxpayer’s money in the early 1980’s under
the urging and direction of Monsignor James Horan, who saw its
completion shortly before he died in 1986. Often called a white
elephant, it was built in anticipation of “build it and they shall
come” philosophy, hoping that it would ignite the religious fervor
of European and American Catholics alike in their rush to see the
Basilica of Knock, where over a 120 years before on August 21, 1879,
a sighting of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John appeared - an
apparition seen on a foggy night by, as the commission of inquiry
recorded, 15 men, women and children.
“It’s 8,200 feet long, no wonder the Americans were eager for its
completion.” The captain smirked to himself, reading off the
technical statistics that accompanied his brief “ILS 110.7 category
1, IDENRT ICK, Tower radions 130.7....” Had the cold war not
abated, the US had plans for the airstrip in the event of a
heightening of tensions between the then superpowers - with or
without the co-operation of the neutral Irish government. It would
have made a fine forward base, easily defended, ideal for AWAC’s and
long range reconnaissance.
His attention was brought back to the radar image as a blink of
light flashed briefly on the screen. It disappeared just as quickly
and didn’t reappear. The operator advised that it was a flock of
birds. However, he highlighted the area of the screen with his
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 217

track ball, which created a screen within the larger one. To


augment the trace he increased the power of the radar to a higher
setting.
Forty three miles away, to the south, the submersible camera
platform was ten feet below the surface having completed its self
diagnostics. It was a model, the plans of which had been purchased
from the US in 1989, that was capable of reaching depths in excess
of 13,000 feet or 2.4 miles. It achieved this depth using gravity
aided by an internal chamber loaded with lead balls. When the
module was required to surface it dumped these balls through a
chute, and with the positive buoyancy provided by compressed air in
its tanks, it rose.
For this dive however, into 240 feet of water, the submersible
was driven by powerful bi-directional electric motors situated in
pairs, fore and aft on swivel joints, allowing the operator to
maneuver the craft in any desired direction. A manned model could
house three people, indeed the US version “Alvin” had been used to
visit the remains of the Titanic some years previous. Housed
underneath was an array of lights and cameras, still and video,
recently updated to take digital pictures which were fed through a
cable to the operator overhead, and from there, if the need arose,
through a satellite feed back to the London headquarters.
This was not the first sortie in the area. They were searching
for the source of the emissions that had interested Detectives
Flemingworth and Fuchs. Unfortunately the emissions had since faded
out. The seabed had been scanned by Royal Air Force helicopters,
obstensively on training exercises, to detect any magnetic anomalies
of sunken metal. A few promising sites had been visited, but
without success. Examination of this area would fill a gap in the
grid.
The skipper was concerned with the direct line of sight from
shore, but was reassured that they were not being swept with any
kind of threatening radar. The only hits being received were from
fishing trawlers far to the south and west as they made their
nighttime fishing run. A coastal vessel tramping up from Galway now
off the Mayo, coast, swept the area intermittently, but its signal
was lost behind the clutter of the broken, Atlantic ravaged, Mayo
coastline.
***
The blip returned to the radar screen. The operator interrogated
it, unsure exactly what it was. It did not return a transponder
code and just as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared again.
“Check for a heat signature next time around, could just be a
weather or terrain anomaly,” his supervisor advised.
***
The submersible sank, its search lights off until it was deep
enough, so that when they were turned on they would be invisible
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 218

from close range except from directly above. The last thing they
wanted was a bright plume of light glowing out to sea. As it sank,
the officer in charge turned on the cameras and checked them using
an infrared lamp. Everything was working properly. There were many
fast moving currents in the area. Aside from the rush of the
Atlantic, Sligo Bay emptied out its contents twice daily as the tide
ebbed, creating countless dangerous rip currents for any diver. The
same would apply for the submersible; however, it was controlled by
a computer which compensated by running the motors to keep it in
position through synchronization with its Global Positioning
Satellite link.
At fifty feet, the officer turned on the main lights. The silt
and plankton in the water smothered any escaping light, it was
barely discernible even to an observer from the deck above.
Parkinson, the sub’s operator and designer, a graduate of the now
disbanded British 1st Paratroop Regiment, had spent time in Cyprus
as part of a contingent sent to the island in 1956 in response to
Greek attacks on British forces. The island was, following the
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, a Turkish possession, but was under
the administrative control of Britain. In 1954 Greek Cypriots
founded an organization with the express aim of uniting the island
with Greece. British troops were sent there to combat increasing
acts of violence against the British citizens. Parkinson often
reflected, now that he was nearing retirement age, that the army had
behaved similarly to the Gestapo, or the SS, in the way that they
enforced the mandate and hunted out Greek terrorists. Perhaps it
was the sight of missing British soldiers found hanging from tree
limbs, their windpipes and spines severed by piano wire, as they
were left to die slowly, the effort to free themselves hacking the
thin wire through the layers of flesh, that roused the young
soldiers blood. By the time they were found, very often the birds,
insects, and sun had turned their corpses into stinking nearly
unrecognizable carcasses.
He swore it would never happen to him. He was part of a six man
guerrilla squad. They brought the war to the terrorists on their
own terms, spending weeks in the bush with nothing but their huge
backpacks filled with foodstuffs to live off, and of course,
weaponry. They were one of the first units issued with rubber soled
boots, a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing for the
comfort it brought, but the ridged soles left clearly defined
footprints. To combat this in a practical way, the soldiers wrapped
their boots with muslin and eliminated the problem.
Following Cyprus, Parkinson was sent to Egypt as part of the
Anglo-French invasion of 1956, after the nationalization of the Suez
Canal by Egypt. He escaped both conflicts unscathed, but with a
distaste for killing and a determined wish to get out of foot
soldering altogether. His interest in mechanics and, during the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 219

late sixties and early seventies, in electronics, combined with a


degree paid for by the army, got him into more specialized areas.
Diving was one of them; and in 1976 he was transferred to the Royal
Marines where he was assigned a position in electronic
eavesdropping. Despite his best intentions, he saw action again in
the Southern Atlantic on board a British submarine during the
Falklands conflict. His vessel sank the Belgrano, an Argentian
troop ship killing 1,800.
However, he kept his politics to himself. With age came wisdom
and the big brother policies of the British government disturbed
him. More so because, in his innocence, he had been an instrument
of their enforcement. Still he was an Englishman through and
through and swore an allegiance to the crown, right or wrong. His
current duties in the recon submersible were due to his expertise
and the fact that he had been recently honorably discharged from the
regular service. He had assisted in building the sub they were
using today. Despite his familiarity with the controls, the younger
operator — he liked to be referred to as the copilot — a sprightly
Yorkshire lad, was more than capable of taking over Parkinson’s
duties and would, permanently, one of these days.
***
“A glitch?”
“How about the thermal image?”
“Our angle doesn’t help, I’ve got plumes of heat all around there
from homes.”
“There it is again, here let me try something,” his supervisor
took control from his console.
The plane they flew, a Boeing 767, was leased from the US
Government, while they awaited delivery of their own fleet. The
British government was purchasing these jets to supplement the AWAC
fleet. Their smaller size, and the fuel efficiency wrought from
their two powerful engines, made them more suitable for regional
roles than their four engined E-3 Sentry cousin.
Highlighting the ghost target again, the supervisor depressed a
button which fired off a laser beam burst. On striking a solid
object it would be reflected, identifying it as such, as opposed to
a flock of birds or ground clutter. The computer would then take
over and paint the target with a laser, displaying an outline on the
operators screen.
“Bingo!” he whispered, as the shape of a helicopter appeared. It
was gone a few seconds later. “Next time you pop up, we’ll be
ready.” Strange that a civilian aircraft had no transponder, its
electronic means of identification, without one it would have to be
treated as a threat.
***
Parkinson watched as the gauges read off the depth of the mini-
sub, and he noted that the tide was beginning to turn as the craft
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 220

maneuvered to keep itself steady while it descended through layers


of currents. The sub also had a bottom radar with which it could
scan the sea-bed for features of interest.
“Strange,” Parkinson thought, “the sea-bed charts for the area
show an uneven muddy bottom.” On the display in front of him were
scattered rectangular shapes. He picked one and had the sub steer
towards it. Using the visible light camera, he looked for an image
through the murky dark water, ignoring the stray fish - these waters
had been long over-fished - and the debris of the turning tide.
Visibility was, at best, six feet. When the sub was twenty feet off
the bottom, he put it into a hover mode as he searched for whatever
was down there through his video camera monitor. A reflection
caught his eye and he nudged the joystick forward, inching the sub
toward what had captured his attention. Using a laser scanner, he
mapped the shape. Examining it, as the computer rendered a model
using a central processing unit designed specifically for the task,
the computer first outlined the object, and filled in the details on
subsequent passes, enabled by employing two lasers. Within 80
seconds, when the computer matched the scanned image with its
internal library, he had a fairly good idea that what was lying
there was a 38 foot cargo container used by trucks and trains alike.
Using the short range radar he extended the arms of the
manipulators, opening their jaws to shield the craft in the event of
a sudden forward surge.
There it was not ten feet away, the ridges of the top of the
container clearly visible on the low light camera monitor, where the
metal was squared off for reinforcement. There was a lot of fish
activity concentrated on what looked like a row of holes that dotted
the top of the container at regular intervals. An examination
showed that they were close to three inches in diameter when
measured against the scale scored onto one of the grapple arms. He
watched as forward wash from one of the thrusters sucked white
debris from the hole nearest the area where the camera was focused.
Parkinson maneuvered the sub carefully around the container so as
not to snag any cables. Examining the doors, partially buried in
the sand and silt, he saw that they had been welded shut at the
hinges, and where the two doors met. No need to try and work them
loose, the weld would have held them in a solid grip. He searched
the rest of the area and saw that there were seven containers in
all. They did not look as if they had been there long, lacking any
great cover from barnacles and shellfish and they were not battered
in any way by storm damage. They all bore the logo of the Irish
national railroad.
All had fish around them except one which lay at an off angle as
if one end descended more quickly that the other when they were
dropped into the ocean. Parkinson selected the fiber optic camera,
which could be extended some distance from the sub and was ideal for
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 221

investigations such as this. He put the sub into an auto hover mode
- he would have liked to have set it down but the angle at which the
container was resting would not allow it.
He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, or at for that matter.
These containers, though not new, didn’t look like discards and
besides why dump them in the sea? And why weld the doors shut? To
keep whatever was in them from falling out when the containers hit
the bottom? But that would have made them near impossible to sink
empty, perhaps that explained the row of holes, they may have been
matched underneath by identical holes. The bottom set, in addition
to the natural leakage through the seams, would allow the container
to fill with water and the top set would let the air escape. Made
sense. But he had to see what was inside.
Carefully he extended the grappling arm and poked the fiber optic
camera cable through the hole that he had selected. The cable
consisted of two fiber strands harnessed together and complemented
each other in so far as one housed the camera link while the other
was a light source. It was a tight fit, but they were well armored,
and a little pushing and shoving would not damage them. All of the
work he was doing was being transmitted simultaneously by satellite
to a near identical setup in London.
***
“Here he comes again,” the captain notified his supervisor. Sure
enough the helicopter was back, though its motion was vertical with
little discernible horizontal movement. “Could be a commercial
sprayer.” It was good practice, tracking the elusive contact, it
broke the boredom of what had been an uneventful few hours.
“He’s climbing this time, close to maximum rate, 3,500 feet, huge
thermal plume from his exhaust - making that engine work pretty
hard, 4,500 feet,” the operator called out.
“What’s he up to?” He depressed his throat microphone and called
his operations center in Northern Ireland requesting fighter cover.
The flight captain did not feel it was needed, but the regulations
stipulated that he should do so, and besides it would make an
interesting exercise. He could not give the fighter pilot a
destination, as the contact was well within Irish airspace, but he
was told that the pair of Harriers would be on station circling over
the closest British occupied county, Fermanagh, within seven
minutes.
“It’s at 6,500 feet and climbing.”
***
Parkinson cursed softly to himself. Though he had been as gentle
as possible, his nudging of the manipulator arm had raised some silt
and this obscured his vision. The cable slid through the hole and
he flipped on the illuminator switch. Part of the head of the
camera and light combination was an auto focus transceiver. It
fired out streams of infrared waves, and the time taken on the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 222

return of which from the object of interest determined the distance


to the subject. Everything however was completely out of focus and
it took some great effort to make out what he was looking at. He
fed the cable deeper into the container.
***
“Captain,” the operator called over his microphone. “You might
want to look at this.”
“It’s now at 8,500 feet and leveling.” For some reason, which
would have to be explained later at a court of inquiry, no one
thought to warn the ship for which they were providing sentinel
cover.
***
Even the trawler captain’s hardened stomach was not ready for the
sight that awaited him, as he made his way down in the red lit
stairwell. When he approached the observation room, a whiff of
vomit greeted his sensitive nostrils.
On entering the room, he saw Parkinson hunched over the controls.
In the corner, Parkinson’s assistant was gagging and retching into a
waste paper basket. Puzzled, Captain Wilson strode the few steps to
sit in the co-pilot seat, which was the traditional term for the
seat next to Parkinson; the control panel in front of it was a
duplicate of Parkinson’s. It took a second, but he slowly pieced
together what he was seeing on the screen in front of him. It
looked for all the world like a picture from a World War II
holocaust newsreel.
“Jesus,” he whispered. The container was packed to capacity with
bodies in varying stages of decomposition. As he watched, sea worms
devoured the pale, lifeless flesh. Heads, with their mouths open in
silent pleas, stared back at him. The water was filled with pieces
of flesh, loosened by the contact with salt water.
“Is this being sent to London?” he asked Parkinson. A silent nod
was his answer.
“How many more containers?”
“Six.”
“Check them all.”
“I can’t Jack, for Christ sake, they’re right below us, a charnel
house...”
Captain Jack Wilson lay his hand on Parkinson’s arm in
understanding. He told Parkinson’s assistant to leave, and in as a
nice a way as possible to bring his bucket with him. He had spent
many hours, day and weeks watching how Parkinson operated the
equipment and he attempted to recall exactly how it went as he
looked over the control panel. There was no time for niceties, he
simply reversed the sub pulling the fiber optic cables with it.
***
“Sir, SIR!, he’s illuminating. Jesus Christ he’s turned on an
attack radar!”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 223

“Tiger Flight, state position.”


“Four minutes to rendezvous,” the Harrier flight leader squawked
back.
“Need you here right away. Can you see the contact radar?”
“Roger.”
“Advise split the flight. We need cover here. Send the other
directly to intercept.”
“We’ll be violating Irish airspace, I’ll need to confirm with our
controller.”
“Do it. And hurry!”
***
Captain Wilson nearly crashed the mini-sub. Parkinson growled at
him as he watched Wilson maneuver it spasmodically towards the next
container. He snatched his own joystick and disabled Wilson’s
controls. On this container he was able to set the sub down before
he poked his mini eye through a vent hole. The water this time was
surprisingly clear. The monitor screen went white from the near
mirror reflection. Parkinson adjusted the angle of the light and
the computer adjusted the aperture of the lens.
***
“Launch! LAUNCH! The contact has launched an air-to-air missile
right at us! Second launch, same trajectory.”
The pilot of the AWAC immediately pulled the plane out of orbit
and began a steep dive westward towards the coastline some 47 miles
away. Had he had gone north instead, they might have just made it.
His co-pilot began electronic countermeasures and the defense
computer pumped bundle after bundle of chaff from the canisters
fitted into the rear of the plane along with a pattern of flares.
“What’s chasing us?” he asked the operator calmly.
“Two missiles inbound. Seems like they’re heat seekers, the
helicopter attack radar is off.”
Inside the aircraft the steep dive of close to 2,000 feet per
minute created near weightlessness. Styrofoam coffee cups and
pencils floated, though most else was fastened or clipped down.
The operator kept watching his contact. “He’s illuminating
again.”
“Shooting at us again?”
“Negative, he just lit off a couple at the Harriers.”
The Harrier flight leader was traveling at 480 knots when he
heard the tweedle-tweedle of the threat warning and the steady whine
following the launch of the missiles. Calmly he broke his flight
apart and began evasive maneuvers.
“Another launch sir! Air-to-ground - right at the trawler!”
“Warn them!”
“They already know sir, they have their own warning system.”
***
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 224

There were now five missiles in the air, all traveling in


different directions, all in excess of Mach 2. The two aimed at the
AWAC flew straight and true. One of them was a Russian built radar
guided model. It’s built-in radar turned on a minute after launch
and acquired the large diving aircraft immediately. The other was a
heat seeker which, though limited in range, locked onto the target’s
hot signature against the cold night sky.
The Harriers were being chased by the radar guided variety, but
had a distinct advantage in that they were built to evade this very
threat. They both dove and turned to meet the missiles head on,
providing narrow profiles and converging with the threats at a
combined closing speed of nearly Mach 3.
***
The helicopter began a dive of its own heading earthward and away
from the launch site. The air to ground missile was an aged, but
functioning, anti-ship French built Exocet. Jury rigged it had been
precariously fitted to the underside of the helicopter’s belly; it
had been touch and go as to whether it would be able to launch at
all. At over fifteen feet in length and weighing in excess of 1,500
pounds, the pilot feared that it might simply fall off, so poor were
the fittings, but they had been good enough. The air to air
missiles were diversionary, though they were reliable. As the
Exocet lit off, it already had an altitude of 8,500 feet and began a
steady dive toward its target, building up to its 684 MPH cruising
speed. It’s on-board computer acquired the trawler, then plotted a
course to bring it in at wave top level. It was completely self
contained; time to target was a mere minute and forty seven seconds.
***
On board the trawler a klaxon sounded.
“All hands. Missile inbound. Battle stations!”
Parkinson laughed out loud. “Battle stations!” There weren’t
any on this tub. The best advice was to get the hell off. He
screamed at his assistant to do just that when the young fellow ran
into the operations room to see what all the fuss was about. “Grab
a life vest and just jump over the side - quickly!” Advice that the
captain repeated over the intercom, when he shouted, “Abandon ship.”
Parkinson checked that the link to London was still operating and
spoke with his controller there. He maneuvered the fiber optic
cable downward. His last vision was that of a blue Ford Scorpio’s
windshield and the faces of its dead occupants languishing inside.
Seconds later the missile struck, its final approach visible from
its fiery exhaust plume. If anyone had been watching they would
have seen the shock wave of its near supersonic advance, rippling a
rooster tail over the surface of the ocean.
***
The Harriers both escaped unscathed. The AWAC was not so
fortunate. The first heat seeking missile ran out of fuel five
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miles short of its target. Kinetic energy kept it going in its


arch, detonating on contact with a flare that was ejected from the
side of the aircraft, it’s remains tumbling harmlessly into the sea
below.
The second missile had a good lock and proceeded to home in.
Seconds away, the pilot pulled up and away from the inbound, the co-
pilot worked the counter-measures furiously, filling the air behind
them with bundles of aluminum. The missile, confused momentarily
having to choose between two targets, did what it was supposed to
and exploded behind the aircraft. It showered the aluminum skin
with a rain of deadly shrapnel, which punched their way into the
starboard engine casing, where it destroyed the spinning turbine
housed inside.
“Fire in number two!” the co-pilot warned.
“Shut it down! Get that fire out!” the pilot responded,
struggling with keeping the aircraft in the air. Their airspeed was
near maximum, the craft shuddered and struggled to stay flying with
the loss of power on one side. Smoke poured from the now defunct
engine, and he had to fight with the rudder pedals to keep the plane
from yawing terminally.
One of the Harriers formed up a hundred yards off his left wing
tip to act as a decoy, should any more launches be detected. The
other scanned the area from where the launches had been detected,
but found nothing - no radar emissions, no helicopter, nothing.
Instinct warned the pilot that following the ghost into the
mountains that guarded the north of the county of Mayo might not be
advisable at this time, a fact that was confirmed by his controller,
who diverted him to the ship’s last known position to search for
survivors.
***
In London, Flemingworth watched the satellite feed splutter out,
but he had seen enough to now know where Paisley, and many other
missing parties were to be found. A fax from Seán Driscoll
confirmed that one of O’Shea’s companies, did indeed own the ship
they were investigating. The evidence was added to O’Shea’s file
which was forwarded to the British Prime Minister through the
detective’s boss, Inspector Frederick Mortimer.
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“Madam Ambassador, we may be a small nation in geographic size


and in population, but our sphere of influence is worldwide.”
O’Shea flicked a speck of lint off the crossed leg of his
beautifully tailored navy suit.
“Not quite to the degree of our imperialist neighbor nor your
good selves. We don’t, for example, have an aircraft carrier like
the JFK ,to visit overseas ports to remind the world of the
firepower we can bring to bare if we don’t get what we want.” He
flashed a cold smile.
The US ambassador shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Her
intelligence reports were making O’Shea out to be more than an
opportunistic politician, a murderer was how they had put it, a mass
murderer, if the latest information from London was correct.
“Ambassador...Jean,” O’Shea smiled, sensing her attention
drifting, and was pleased with the slightly startled reaction as she
recovered her poise. “I don’t need to remind you that the Irish
constitute in excess of 15% of the US population...15% of the white
voting population, a block that a senator from Massachusetts, a
relation of yours, will attest is vital to the election of those
wishing to remain in power on Capitol hill.” The patronizing tone
behind the delivery was difficult to ignore.
“What an asshole,” Jean Kirkpatrick thought, returning his steely
gaze. The Irish immigrants in the US would not be so pleased if
they knew what kind of man was running the country of their
forefathers, but they would soon know.
“Might,” she reminded herself, contingent on the computer
enhancement of the video they had downloaded, following a tip from
Scotland Yard. They would need the original, however, for greater
detail and to determine authenticity.
“Prime Minister,” she fought the urge to turn her wedding ring, a
habit she had under stress, pointed out to her by the CIA during a
training session many years prior to her taking her position in the
country of her ancestors.
“I have been instructed by the President himself to deliver a
warning to you...”
“So send it in the open through normal diplomatic channels,”
O’Shea interrupted.
Kirkpatrick ignored him and continued, “in the strongest possible
terms, that he will not sit idly by while you destroy all the work
that has been done over the past seven years in an effort to
rekindle a violent conflict with,” she chose her words carefully,
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avoiding the word “ally”, “a friend of both our countries while the
pursuit of a peaceful settlement to the conflict was near its end.”
O’Shea looked her over as he would an impertinent subordinate.
Rage rose inside of him. How he would have liked, no loved, to have
pulled his pistol from his desk drawer, shoot the bitch and send her
home in a garbage bag.
How dare anyone interfere in the affairs of Irish national
importance! The Americans with their nuclear arsenal, playing
Russian roulette with anyone who threatened the status quo. How
dare they! The American peoples’ roots lay in nations such as this,
yet like a spoiled brat they came back to threaten their parents.
Instead, he ran his hand over the length of his tie and
straightened himself in his seat, rising above his guest. “Strange
words from a nation which wrested itself from the control of the
same adversary, albeit over 200 years ago.”
Kirkpatrick did not respond, her many years of diplomatic
experience knew that the pot was on the boil and she would not
hinder the venting of steam. ‘“Funny”, she thought, “they all react
this way...”
“Ireland is not Iraq. We do not possess anything in the way of a
strategic importance to the US. We do not possess oil, uranium,
nuclear warheads, in fact, if this country disappeared tomorrow, I
doubt that the President would even notice.”
“Please do not take me for a fool,” Kirkpatrick could hardly
contain her contempt for the man. She had never liked him. Even as
a fringe politician, he was always full of his own importance, never
letting his guard down.
“You know quite well that in this era of peace, wrought from the
experience of two world wars and threat of global annihilation
during the cold war, that a violent conflict is not the answer - it
never has been. Neither the U.S. nor the EEC will let it happen.
There are procedures to resolve these issues, and resolved they will
be.”
O’Shea stood up, interrupting, his face white and drawn.
“This country had been the victim of racism and ethnic cleansing
long before it was fashionable in Bosnia, South Africa or Alabama.
What you see north of our border are the seething remnants of a
policy that was deliberately put in place over 400 years ago, for
Christ’s sake the Protestants still regard the withdrawal of British
troops as ‘Doomsday’ - a time for all Protestants to unite to
destroy the Catholics. Well, by God, they’ll have their Doomsday or
whatever they wish to call it because I will not let you, the US or
anyone interfere with the process of history. NO ONE!”
O’Shea slammed his fist on his desk top smashing a cup and saucer
set into fragments which flew in all directions, a piece of which
cut the ambassador underneath her eye. Blood pouted from the wound,
slight as it was, she trembled as she wiped the area, the crimson
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 228

smearing across her fore finger. O’Shea towered above her and she
was within a millisecond away from touching her bejeweled lapel.
Doing so would have activated a radio panic button summoning her
bodyguards from where they sat, at an already high state of
readiness, in an adjoining ante room. Armed with compact submachine
guns, they would have died to get to her, and remove her to the
safety of the embassy on Elgin Road. In the process they would have
had destroyed anyone and everything to fulfill their mission, Prime
Minister included. O’Shea did not realize how close he had come to
the end of his career.
Kirkpatrick and O’Shea both realized the unforgivable breach of
protocol. Because of her instructions, and the gravity of her
mission, Jean did her utmost to underplay the incident, hiding as
best she could the damage done to her person.
O’Shea noticed the blood and despite the fact that he did not
wish to show his hand at this stage, he decided that he may as well
play it through its conclusion. His ego would have it no other way.
“My apologies Madam Ambassador,” he made his way to offer her a
tissue to clean off her garments, but was rebuffed sternly as
Kirkpatrick regained her dignity. She regarded him in her acid
glare as she rose to depart. Her contempt was visible to O’Shea and
he responded, his anger rising again.
“I, the nation, will not let the US interfere with the workings
of this ancient country nor the conclusion of its destiny. If I
detect any sign of interference,” he straightened his jacket, re-
fastening a button that had popped loose, “I will provide your
chickenshit President with a demonstration of what exactly the Irish
can do to harm the status quo of your great country,” he sneered at
the reference. “Be warned, our geniality belies a serpent
within...as a review of our recent history will attest. Good day
Ambassador!”
Kirkpatrick looked him over and decided that it wasn’t worth it.
O’Shea knew what he was doing and he was daring her to rebuke him.
“Fuck him,” she thought, her cheek was beginning to ache and she
turned to go.
“Madam Ambassador,” O’Shea called out, “don’t underestimate what
I say. If you do I will be forced,” he smiled at the thought, “to
demonstrate my sincerity. And the world,” he added, “will not sit
idly by and allow you nor your country to bully us when behind their
adoring gazes they are supporting us 100%.” He turned his back to
her until he heard the door shut.
He pumped his arm upward in victory only to be cut short by a
cold voice. Kirkpatrick had not yet left the room.
“Don’t bet your life on it.” She left the door open as she went.
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The days tumbled past as John and Nick immersed themselves in the
research they undertook. A phone call with Ted Smith, narrowed down
the search. He suggested that they investigate none other than the
most prominent person in the media, Gerard O’Shea. When Nick asked
why they should look into O’Shea, Ted told him that he had received
information from a British intelligence source backed by recent
derogatory media coverage that O’Shea was receiving locally in the
UK. As a professional hacker, John knew where to start looking, but
as time passed it became clear that their target of inquiry was
squeaky clean.
Frustration mounted as did the reams of records they pulled from
various electronic sources. Bank accounts, credit cards, property
transactions - the list went on and on, filling a new half gig hard
drive they had allocated for the task. John would prowl the
electronic connections in the wee hours when most systems were quiet
or backing up. There was always the danger of a security specialist
tracking them down, but John used a series of call transfer and cut-
offs — which he changed frequently — through university sites, to
connect to the various databases. A trace would yield little in the
way of pinpointing his exact location.
His calls originated from any of six different cellular phones
that he had bought for $1,000 in the Bronx - the numbers stolen from
their unaware owners. Using a specialized matrix, each call
originated using a unique calling number - virtually untraceable
except by the FBI who, John hoped, had bigger fish to fry, as the
information he was accessing and downloading was just that,
information, not credit card numbers or data that could be of
fraudulent use.
A case some years previously had instilled in him the use of
extreme caution. A super confident and careless hacker had been
traced even though he was using a cellular phone. He was so
confident that he would not be caught that he continued using the
same phone from his apartment, and was surprised when the FBI came
knocking at his door.
Despite being able to access the data and read it on a computer
screen, Nick preferred to format it and print it out. While John
slept during the day, Nick would pour over the records and highlight
anything he did not understand or areas of interest for later
discussion with John.
Following O’Shea’s retirement in 1990 and his move to Ireland, he
concentrated on his media interests. Indeed, the Irish companies
were bought at times of distress at excellent prices.
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With his reserves other bidders simply backed off knowing that
they could not outbid him. They had seen him in action in his
overseas acquisitions where, more often than not, he got what he
wanted and at a good price.
His political aspirations emerged seemingly from two sources.
First, his media holdings made him privy to every event of
government in the Irish state, a relatively small country, where
everyone knew everyone else’s business. The state’s agenda was
limited to keeping the country stable and economically sound.
Foreign policy was a courtesy only, due to its neutral stance in
world events, except for St. Patrick’s Day when the only politicians
not on an overseas junket were the ones who were buried in their
local graveyard.
The second, was his intense interest in the land of his birth
which, combined with his recent lucrative retirement, gave him all
the time in the world to involve himself in fringe political issues.
At first, outspoken against the socialist political lie of the
country - a necessary stance due to the high unemployment and lack
of natural resources - he softened his attack upon the counsel of
his political advisers lest he alienate a large portion of the
electorate.
Change he knew could only come from within. His model was the
US, where personal responsibility was a Republican ideal. The
expensive social net of the unemployment insurance system in place
in Ireland was simply not tolerated in the US. His other social
agendas were not public knowledge merely rumors.
O’Shea became a man of the people, a success story, never
campaigning openly for public office — he had far more freedom
commenting through his media outlets. Quick with a handshake, long
with a chat, and free with his money when he would take time off in
a pub. His charisma rubbed off on most of his growing following.
His personal wealth left them in awe, and people reasoned that if he
could do that for himself he could do the same for the country
should he ever run for office.
It was in the most unlikely of places that they spotted a
possible chink in his armor. While slogging through old newspaper
clippings at the New York City Publin Library, Nick found an article
written by a former disgruntled employee of one of O'Shea’s company.
The suit, filed by an Eileen Barr comprised of accusations of
harassment and she claimed that on one occasion O'Shea had
physically threatened her. The suit was settled and that was the
end of it. Ms. Barr died shortly afterward in a drunk driving
incident - despite a claim by her husband that she never drank. The
autopsy showed that she had alcohol in her system; however, her body
was decomposed somewhat due to submersion in a New York reservoir
where she had run off the road a week before in an area she never
frequented.
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Nick made a note to follow up on this lead by contacting her


husband under the guise of a journalist. A phone call yielded
nothing except for an answering machine - the electronic kind
supplied by the phone company. Not wanting to arouse suspicion or
leave his number he simply hung up each time until one evening he
was lucky. Introducing himself as a freelance journalist, he
quietly informed Mr. Barr that he was writing a follow up piece on
the case and the accident and would Mr. Barr be gracious enough to
give him an hour of his time.
“You’ve got five minutes,”
“Excellent,” Nick asked him for his opinion on Eileen Barr’s
death.
“I’ve said all I will say in the newspapers. There is no doubt
in my mind, however, that O’Shea killed her. And if he didn’t do it
himself, he had someone do it for him.”
“Why do you think that?” Nick asked.
“You’ve read the reasons,” Barr sounded like he wanted to hang
up.
“Yes, I have, but how can you be sure?”
Barr was quiet, sounding unsure how to answer. Nick could hear
his breath heavy on the phone as he mulled over a decision he wanted
make. Instead Barr asked a question.
“Why are you so interested?”
John’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at Nick’s answer.
“Because he’s trying to kill me too.”
Barr didn’t comment right away.
“My wife kept a detailed diary. And copies of papers from the
office. I didn’t tell the media about it at the time of her death
because I couldn’t stand the publicity or having her dragged through
the spotlight.”
“Is there information that might incriminate O’Shea?”
“Plenty. And before you ask about why I didn’t bring it to the
attention of the police, it’s because I was afraid.”
“Of O’Shea?”
“Yeah. Do you want to see the files?”
This was more than Nick could have hoped for. He agreed
instantly and wanted to leave right away. Being that it was late in
the evening, Barr said that it would have to wait until the morning.
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“What?” Jessica thought, as she heard the night sounds fade


suddenly and then die out completely. She knew this moment was
almost certain to come about, despite the reassurances that Yani had
given her. She and the children were not safe here, how could they
be? It wouldn’t have taken long for someone to find that of all the
European vacation spots that she and Nick had visited in the past,
Aghios Nikolaos, was on top of the list. Any of her friends could
have told them, and probably did, she thought, as she strained her
ears.
The protection that Yani had given her had consisted of four men
on two shifts, all locals, who seemed fine and fit. Their parents
had fought the Germans during the W.W.II — memories their
grandparents, still alive, retained vividly. German tourists were
treated with open hostility and disdain when they came as sightseers
in their villages. More often than not, they seemed to understand
and would go on their way. On the rare occasion that a young German
would stand his ground, grandfather would mutter and disappear
inside the cottage, blustering a heated warning that he was going to
get his gun and drive the Krauts into the sea. The rest of the
family would reassure the visitor that all was well, but he or she
might be better off elsewhere, in a place less boring than this
particularly insignificant village.
Grabbing the two-way radio from the shelf beside her, Jessica
slid out of bed. Standing on tip-toe, she reached to the top of the
wicker wardrobe and her small hand enveloped the large and heavy
pistol that lay there, a Colt .45 pistol, a relic left behind by the
Americans after the Second World War. Gingerly, she drew back the
slide and armed the weapon.
The gun’s blue metal was dull and fingerprints — hers— covered
the barrel, placed there when she had caressed it in her lap late at
night, asking herself if she would ever use it. The nagging doubt
could never be answered until a night like tonight, and she knew she
would not hesitate.
Softly opening her pine bedroom door, she was aware of the breeze
that blew gently through the shutters. She shivered, goose bumps
rising on her thighs, more from anticipation than cool air. She was
thinking completely in the now, everything else was blocked from her
mind. Clearing her mind she saw nothing but the open door, she was
aware of the heavy pistol in her right hand and the radio in her
left. She hoped the radio would crackle with the jolly banter that
her minders ceaselessly at times engaged in. But it was strangely
silent now, not a whisper, not a chirp.
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She had insisted that the children all sleep in one room.
Security was her objective. Once asleep, the children were
comfortable, their room cool from the evening ocean breeze. Getting
them to sleep was the problem. Over the past few days however, she
found that gathering them close for a family reading worked. She
usually picked a lengthy book which drew on the children’s
imagination. A soft tale, usually about Irish mythology, was the
norm. One by one they would snuggle down in their shared beds and
drift off. She missed the nuzzle of the dog eager to leap onto the
covers beside her as if to also listen.
Raising the pistol as she had been taught by Yani when he had
given her the gun, she lifted her hand to follow her eye. She knew
that the recoil from the .45 would throw off her aim if she didn’t
brace her wrist with the other hand, but the security of the radio,
the need for outside contact was necessary, until she knew if
something was wrong.
Sweeping the kitchen and living room area, she saw that nothing
was amiss. All the doors were closed and the shutters tight. She
had rigged an ultrasonic alarm system in these rooms, a simple box
plugged into the electrical outlet, backed up by a nine volt battery
which would emit an ear piercing multi decibel sound if anyone
walked into the room breaking the even pattern of ultrasonic
emissions. It also kept her guards out of the kitchen, preventing
their pillaging her refrigerator of late night snacks.
Before stepping across the cold marble floor, she turned off the
hall light and briefly let her eyes get used to the darkness, not
enough for full night vision, but close enough. Stooping down,
Jessica creaked the children’s door open. Her eyes and ears were
instantly alert should anything be out of the ordinary.
Instinctively she listened to the sound of the children sleeping,
all breathing normally as it turned out. She lifted her pistol
toward the ceiling to avoid scaring anyone who might wake up and see
her squatting there.
Nudging her eldest son Patrick, she urged him to wake up. She
had warned him before that the occasion of this middle-of-the-night
arousal might occur, leaving out a few pertinent facts. He moaned
quietly and his eyes were instantly awake. “Hey, big guy,” she
whispered, “this is it, I need you now.” Nodding he lifted his
weary blond head. He propped himself up on the pillow and rubbed
his nose and eyes with his hand. Pausing, he asked calmly,
“So what’s the gun for?”
Before she could answer, he had slipped out of bed and was
kneeling beside his sister who he woke gently.
“Come on, wake up,” he needled her, getting a dismal response,
“we’ve gotta go.”
Jessica shushed her as she began to protest this rude awakening.
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“Get dressed and grab your stuff,” she urged her, adding, “wake
up your brother.”
This proved to be less of a problem as he was already awake
wondering what all the fuss was about and “couldn’t everyone chill,
and keep it down.”
Checking that everyone was dressed and had their bags, Jessica
opened the air vent at the bottom of the wall that led outside.
They had practiced this as a fire drill since they had arrived.
Removing the inside mesh, she reached through and released the
outside grill. She slid through first. Looking left and right
everything looked OK. She began to emerge from the opening when a
shadow, a slight movement caught her eye. She waved the children
back with her right hand, she turned down the volume and gave the
radio to Patrick. It had an LED readout to show any voice traffic
and she warned him to watch it.
God, her back was hurting. Jessica slid the pistol out and
looked hard into the night trying to pinpoint and focus on the
movement she had seen. Not a sound, the crickets maintained their
silence. Pulling her feet from inside, she stood upright and pushed
her back hard against the exterior wall of the house. Sniffing the
air, Jessica caught the sweet smell of tobacco. She slid along the
wall, careful to avoid the occasional stone that might crunch
beneath her feet and give away her position.
Rounding the front of the house where an abutment drew out for
the chimney, she came upon the back of a person standing there, a
rifle cradled in their hand.
“Now, what? Stay or go back?” she thought anxiously.
She knew that if she went back the children would certainly alert
this prowler. Gathering herself for a second, she held the pistol
in both hands and slid it up to the ear of the person in front of
her.
“Don’t move!” she hissed.
Her target stiffened but did exactly as ordered.
“Grab the rifle by the barrel with your right hand and pass it
back,” she whispered. The person did as asked without hesitating.
Grasping the rifle, she slung it over her shoulder by its strap.
Holding her hands rigidly, the large gun pointing forward she
instructed the person to move, placing their hands behind their
heads and to follow her directions exactly.
“I’m new to this, stumble and I’ll squeeze the trigger. Do you
understand?” she quizzed her captive. A positive shake of the head
was the only response. Nudging the prisoner forward Jessica made
her way back to where the children waited. Patrick had already
emerged from the ventilation shaft.
“Get them all out, now,” she whispered. “Quietly, very
quietly,” she added. To the person in front she whispered, “If you
so much as twitch, I’m going to pull the trigger — remember that.”
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When they were all outside, Jessica slid her captive’s rifle
gently into the shaft. She told the children to quietly make their
way to the first gathering point, as she had drilled them. They did
as instructed and, amazingly, stayed very quiet. They stared at
their mom in awe and gazed at the prisoner, looking for some inkling
of recognition.
Instead, their mom lead them down behind the apartment through
the underbrush to where her car was parked, hidden from view, as
Yani had instructed her. She bundled the children inside, all the
while training her pistol on her captive. She motioned to him to
walk away, which he did. Gingerly, she maneuvered herself into the
driver’s seat and drove off quietly in a billow of dust leaving her
prisoner staring intently after her in the darkness. When she had
disappeared, her captive spoke urgently in Hebrew into a collar
microphone as he ran back to the apartment.
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The route south from the north coast of Crete is lined with
dizzying heights and vistas of breathtaking beauty. Jessica chose
not the quickest route but perhaps the most scenic, not for its
aesthetic value, but to throw any would be tail off track. Yani had
told her that at the first sign of any trouble, she should head
southwest, crossing the mountain plateaus to Agia Galini, a former
fishing village, now a mecca for tourists, where his cousin would
get her to the mainland by boat.
Instead, using her eldest son as navigator, she turned south, not
far west of Malia and climbed through the village of Kasteli, taking
the back roads before intersecting with the main East-West route.
The motor hummed as the car climbed the steep ascent and the
lowlands dropped away, the mountain peaks inviting them upward.
Behind them, the turquoise glimmer of the Aegean Sea twinkled in the
bright sunlight, tousled with whitecaps as the heat of the day began
to cover it with a blanket of haze. Their journey, although short
when viewed on the map, would take them most of the morning due to
the winding narrow roads that traversed the landscape. She didn’t
expect to arrive until after noon.
Occasionally, a tour bus would block their path, its diesel motor
bellowing in protest, spewing black smoke into the fresh highland
air as it labored its way upward. On either side lay fields of
rocks and scorched grass surrounding islands of olive groves.
Vineyards were also visible, though at this time of the day they
were deserted of workers and farmers who enjoyed a siesta in unseen
huts. The mountain goats, however, were abundant, leaping from one
precarious position to another on seemingly sheer rock faces,
remaining sure-footed as they hunted for tufts of sweet grass.
Above them, the sky became more clear and blue as they climbed 700
feet above sea level. Jessica spent much of the early part of the
journey pointing out the flora and fauna, spotting the odd hawk and
animal, explaining to the children that everything was much the same
as it was for centuries.
Following the map closely, Jessica took a less traveled route to
get to the hamlet of Téfeli, where, under a stripped canvas awning,
she and the children enjoyed a lunch of Greek salad and stuffed vine
leaves prepared by an old woman dressed in traditional Greek
clothes. The salad teemed from the serving bowl, laden with
tomatoes, sweet onions, and crumbled feta cheese. They washed it
down with fresh orange juice, and though Jessica was tempted, she
avoided having an ice cold beer which the lady offered, the green
bottle dripping with condensation. She needed to keep a clear head.
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After making sure that the children had used the bathroom, they
piled into the car and continued their journey, bellies full. After
a few minutes she smiled as she saw the three of them fast asleep in
the back of the car, the motion of the car lulling them, as they
made up for the sleep they had lost from the unexpected early start.
Jessica was glad that they were able to take all the excitement in
stride, she had made a great effort to shield them from the stress
that she had been under, and they had all responded amazingly well.
Jessica enjoyed the hour of peace that she had, as she progressed
towards her destination and whatever the future held. Her resolve
was absolute, her mind determined to see this through. She managed
to compartmentalize the episode of the night before for later
digestion. Her mind wandered to thoughts of Nick and his welfare as
it did through most of the day, when she had a few moments without
distraction. She longed to be with him again, to share their bed.
She positively ached, and laughed to herself at the longing that
remained after sixteen years of marriage. Though they had a stormy
relationship, their bond grew throughout the years so that they had
become like a single person. They could read each other’s moods
from a mile away. The nature of Nick’s work would keep him away for
periods of time, and while they would invariably argue the night
before he left, the homecoming was a time they both looked forward
to.
She snapped back to reality, her peripheral vision spotting a
refection of light in the rear-view mirror. She was approaching the
main road to Agia Galini, in fact she was surprised that she had not
yet reached it. Quickly she scanned the road ahead and saw a grove
of trees on the left. Gently braking the car, she swung in
underneath them and got out leaving the engine running.
Scanning the sky she walked to the edge of the trees and listened
intently. She could only hear the gentle purr of the car motor, so
she walked back and turned it off. Listening again she could hear a
distant engine noise ebb in and out in the near windless air, and
then she saw it. Not more than a mile away a helicopter was
following the contours of the road, flying barely 200 feet above its
dusty surface. As she watched it bank to avoid rocky outcrops, it
left behind a cloud of dust thrown up by the vortices created by the
spinning main rotor.
She looked around quickly realizing that the trees, while
providing shade, would not provide adequate cover should the
helicopter investigate closely; the car would be visible through the
leaves. She ran back to the car and snapped open the rear door,
waking the children from their slumber, urging them to follow her.
She led them to the cover of a stone wall where she pressed them
against the base of the stones, they would be invisible from the
air, above them a rocky outcrop would deprive the aircraft of the
space necessary to fly closely. Covering them with a blanket, she
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 238

warned them to stay still and not to come out, no matter what
happened, unless she called them.
The hum of the helicopter was closer now, it would be upon them
in a matter of seconds. Looking at the car she wished she had
driven it closer to the trees, but there was nothing she could do.
Reaching to her waistband, she realized that she had left the .45 in
the car underneath the front seat. Without hesitating, she leapt
across the wall and dashed for the driver’s door desperately
grabbing for the butt of the weapon and the spare clip, finding them
just as the helicopter rounded the last bend and rushed up the short
stretch of road toward her. They must have been traveling too fast,
because they over-shot the grove, a rush of wind from the rotor
blasting through the tree limbs. Jessica used the opportunity to
get back to where the children lay and she pressed herself closely
against them shielding them instinctively as she cocked the heavy
handgun.
The helicopter flared, as the pilot turned, its white and blue
aluminum side gleaming in the sunlight. Jessica squinted through a
gap in the top of the wall and confirmed her belief that this was no
coincidence. From the side door of the helicopter, a khaki clad man
was training a weapon in the direction of the car as the aircraft
drew level, no more than 50 feet away. She had seconds to react,
and in that time she knew she would decide the fate of Nick, herself
and the children.
A deep anger grew inside her. She was tired of being chased,
pursued like a rabid dog. Scenes like this were from the movies, it
could not, and should not be happening to her. Who the hell did
they think they were, endangering her and her children? She watched
as the helicopter moved slowly forward, its main rotor wash scouring
the landscape beneath it. The pilot and passengers vied to see the
car more clearly. Jessica slid away from the children, and took a
deep breath.
With strength and speed that she never thought she had in her,
she rose, cleared the wall, and ran breakneck towards the hovering
aircraft. The air parted close to her head as the gunman slung from
the doorway fired instinctively as he saw the threat. Jessica did
not slow as she ran directly underneath the belly of the aircraft
and raised her pistol in a two-handed grip. Deliberately and with
great determination she fired upward, loosing off round after round
until the hammer fell on an empty chamber. Releasing the clip with
her right thumb, she withdrew a fresh one from her jean’s pocket
slapping it home cleanly as if she did this everyday of her life.
Above her the helicopters skin was dotted with holes, the nearly
half inch wide rounds ripped through the fuselage into the cabin
inside.
The pilot reacted, hauling back on the collective, slamming on
the power as he attempted to pull away. The door gunner was slumped
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 239

forward hanging out the opening held in place by his seat belt, his
weapon dangling from his limp hands. Jessica cocked the gun and
fired again, her aim compromised by the rush of down coming air and
the changed angle of the target. Her rounds were not wasted as they
hammered into the engine compartment. A flume of black smoke poured
from the rear of the helicopter; her bullets ripped through the
hydraulic lines inside, spilling oil onto the searing hot exhaust
manifold. Jessica stopped shooting, having counted her shots,
realizing that if she emptied this clip she would have no way to
protect herself; her remaining cartridges lay in a box in the glove
compartment in the car.
She watched in fascination as the pilot fought for control, the
aircraft reared and bucked like a rodeo horse. She ran back through
the trees fearing that the helicopter might explode over her head,
and continued to the relative safety of the wall. She saw flames
leap from the engine cowling and smoke pour from the passenger
compartment. She could see the pilot plainly while he fought
gaining altitude, heard him throttle up as the rotor bit the air.
Then he seemed to turn the engine off as it fell silent. Dipping
the nose forward the pilot aimed the aircraft at the roadway and the
craft fell like a stone. When he was just feet away from the
surface, he hauled the nose up again using the torque remaining in
the spinning prop to flare the aircraft on a cushion of air. It
landed with a sickening crunch. The force of the impact crushed the
undercarriage and the helicopter dipped on its side, the spinning
rotor blades destroying themselves as they lashed the hard blacktop,
the body of the unflyable craft shuddering and rearing from the
transferred energy. Quite suddenly it lay still. The air reeked of
the strong odor of aviation fuel.
Jessica rose and trained her gun on the smoking wreck.
“Get into the car. Patrick you start it. Don’t stop! Just
run!”
The children did as they were told though the sight of the
wreckage tugged at their attention. Jessica followed them, her face
grim the barrel aimed at the limp forms that slumped inside the
burning hulk. The pilot attempted to unbuckle his harness but
failed, his right arm lay limp and he couldn’t reach with his left.
Jessica’s medical training fought her instinct to flee while she
watched the flames spread rapidly.
Making up her mind she ran to the pilot’s door and tried to open
it, but the frame had buckled during the impact. The rear door had
burst open and a foot protruded from the interior, smoke billowing
out over it. Carefully, she peeked inside, her weapon aimed
steadily, she was ready to fire, but nothing moved. There were two
people in the back. The foot belonged to a woman who still clutched
her rifle, though unconscious. Jessica grabbed it and threw it
outside. She coughed as the acrid smoke irritated her lungs. When
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she climbed in, the woman grabbed her ankle. Jessica responded by
pressing the cold muzzle of her .45 against the woman’s temple.
“I’ll blow your goddamn head off - let go.”
She did not have to ask twice. Reaching into the front she
unbuckled the pilots harness and backed out, as he got out of his
seat groaning with pain, nursing his damaged arm. The remains of
his aviator sunglasses were askew on his face, but he did not seem
to notice, blood seeped from his right ear. Outside, Jessica tugged
at the woman’s leg and shouted at her to get out. The flames were
intense, now threatening to scorch Jessica’s hair. Running to the
other side, she undid the harness holding the door gunner into his
seat, and he fell onto the roadway face forward. She backed off
when the pilot and the woman emerged, staggering from the other side
of the aircraft.
“Help your friend,” Jessica ordered, which they did grabbing an
arm each and dragging him away from the inferno.
The fuel tank blew when they were just 20 yards away and the
force of the explosion threw them onto the ground, the pilot
screaming from the pain of the impact onto his shattered arm.
Jessica, further away, shielded her head with her arms and cast a
worried eye at the car where her children’s faces looked from the
back window.
Jessica did not offer to help the wounded people in front of her,
her humanity only went so far, she would shoot them out of hand if
they so much as made a threatening move, and she told them that.
They didn’t seem to care. They made their way wearily to the trees.
A sudden gust of wind blew the flames in their direction, licking
the trees, leaves snapped and exploded in the sudden heat, but they
did not catch fire.
Jessica signaled with the gun that they sit.
“Throw me your weapons and wallets.”
They complied, the woman had a small hand gun, and she removed
the unconscious man’s wallet for him. The pilot attempted to say
something.
“Shut up!” Jessica waved the .45 in his face and he did.
Squatting she picked up one of the wallets and flipped it open,
inside were some credit cards. She flipped up the section normally
used for a driver license. Looking at her was a photo of the woman,
but what got her attention was not the shot but the identification
card. She checked the other two and they looked the same — military
ID’s. She was not familiar with the printed language.
Jessica never noticed the arrival of the BMW which coasted to
stop twenty yards away, nor the figure that reached out and fired at
her knocking her flat on the ground. As she drifted to
unconsciousness, she could hear the anxious cries of her children,
and there was nothing she could do about it.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 241

“John, wake up...,” Nick urged the slumbering mass, lying on the
mattress on the otherwise spotless bedroom floor. The room reeked
of the sweet odor of alcohol. The smell turned his stomach.
“Wake up...wake up!”
John snorted, rubbing his face with the inside of his hand and
grunted, opening his swollen eyes.
“What’s wrong?” he slurred, coughing.
“Trouble man, I heard a car pull up outside...wake up and listen
asshole!” Nick hissed.
That did it. John’s filthy mood at being woken was now directed
at Nick for the insult.
“Don’t you call me that you little Irish fuck!” he roared, as he
lifted himself up in his bed, a sheet barely covering his crotch,
where the hair from his belly met his bush of pubic hair. He
stopped when he saw Nick smiling at him with a baseball bat in his
hand.
“What’s goin’ on?”
“I couldn’t sleep. About five minutes ago I heard a car going up
the hill.”
“So what, it was probably the Hydes’ coming home...what time is
it?”
“Four thirty. Listen to me! A few minutes ago I heard some
noises in the trees behind the house.”
“Deer, they come around my yard like friggin Bambi, it makes
cutting the grass a real howl, messy bastards.”
“Except that Bambi doesn’t use a laser sight.”
John was all ears now, and crawled out of bed stark naked
struggling to heave his jeans on while wiggling on the floor. He
rarely wore underwear. "Wish I didn’t...”
“Drink so much,” Nick finished. “Here I brought you some Tylenol
and a glass of water, figured you’d need it.”
John nodded gratefully and gulped them down, hesitating before he
swallowed to avoid gagging. Lurching for the door to his bathroom
he muttered something about needing a leak and Nick had to wait an
anxious minute while he heard urine splash more or less in the
direction of the toilet bowl. Despite his fuzzy head, John did have
the sense to leave the light off maintaining both of their night
visions in the darkened house.
“Get the guns out of the wardrobe,” he instructed Nick, as he
very carefully zippered his fly. He pulled a fresh T-shirt over his
head, his tousled mane popped from the top.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 242

“Clips are on the top shelf. Get my black bag as well, down
there behind my boots.”
“What should we do?”
“Well, were not staying here that’s for sure. If there’s a
shooting match I don’t want it here where my house will get
wrecked.”
“How do you suggest we leave, walk out the front door like
nothings happening?”
“Leave the thinking to me, go upstairs and get my laptop and your
bag of stuff. Bring them down here while I have a look-see.” He
grabbed his AR-15 from Nick, slapped a clip into the breech and
armed the gun. He handed it back to Nick and quickly checked the
.38 pistol which he held onto.
“Leave the safety on. I don’t want you getting spooked and
blasting a hole in my office.”
“John, you feeling OK, you sound like shit?”
“No, I’m not, but what can I do now? Remind me not to drink any
more Jack Daniel’s, I’m goin’ to keep to beer from now on, my head
hurts!” he groaned.
Nick did as John had asked and picked up his own pre-packed bag
and note pad from his room. He moved, keeping low, below the
windowsills. All of their research and printouts had been packed
away in the basement, with the exception of a few odds and ends.
John had insisted on this precaution in case they did have to leave
suddenly. He wanted to make anyone curious enough to enter the
house work hard to find any evidence of their investigation. What
remained, Nick stuffed into the side pocket of his bag. John
stumbled into the room.
“Purge your hard-drive, you’re right we do have company. Use the
program I installed for you and leave it. It’ll do it all
automatically. Take the back-up optical disks.” Before Nick could
answer John had disappeared again, to do the same to his own
computer. All of their work as well as huge volumes of Johns own
could fit quite comfortably on his laptop and the 3.5 inch optical
disks that John had mentioned.
Nick turned on the computer and dimmed the screen to its lowest
viewable setting. He used a floppy disk to boot up, and within less
than a minute he had, with a few clicks of his mouse, set in motion
the sequence that would reformat his drive. He click off the screen
when reformatting commenced and left the room to find John.
“Turn on the alarm, full setting. If they break the circuit the
house will light up like a ball park. In fact...” John trailed off,
as he pushed past Nick and set the system himself.
“How do we get out if that’s on?”
Ignoring him, John beckoned that he should follow him down the
short steps to the living room. “On you’re stomach...crawl after
me.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 243

Nick lay flat, and as he inched forward, it reminded him of his


childhood days of playing cowboys and Indians, carpet burns and all.
They kept a watchful eye on the windows when they passed into the
kitchen where the going got better on the linoleum floor.
Reaching the basement stairs, they heard the handle on the
exterior kitchen door being turned. The handle creaked against its
spring, and Nick had to squint to spot the slow movement.
“Quick,” John whispered, taking the AR from Nick. “They’re
coming in — this way.” Slipping the safety off his rifle he led the
way downstairs where they were engulfed in complete darkness. Nick
had to grab hold of John’s belt to keep from falling over items that
lay strewn about. The only light came from the flickering glow that
emanated from the boiler, which burst into action as they shuffled
across the underground space, casting erie shadows on the white
washed walls.
“This way, through here,” John led on past tall piles of boxes
and other odds and ends of junk. He reached in behind a bookcase
that was flush to the wall, and feeling behind it he released a
hidden catch. The bookcase swung outwards on a hinge, and John
eased behind it pulling Nick with him just as they heard the sound
of glass smashing on the floor of the kitchen above them.
Nick tensed waiting for the alarm to go off but nothing happened.
“John,” he whispered, “the alarm it didn’t...”
“I reset it so that it wouldn’t go off until a pressure pad is
depressed. I don’t want the whole yard lit up until we get out of
here.”
“Out of where, what is this place?” Nick could see little,
though John had illuminated the room with a small lamp, red tape
covering the lens. They were in a small airless room with concrete
walls and a concrete roof. A single unlit light bulb hung suspended
on a chord from the ceiling.
“My father had it installed back in the ‘60’s, it’s a nuclear
fallout shelter.”
“But we’re trapped, what if they find us?”
“The walls are over 18 inches thick, made of reinforced concrete.
The door is three inch layered steel. Running water and a
generator...lots of food in cans. And a phone...”
“Jesus, John we can’t stay here.”
Smiling in the darkness, knowing his friend to be claustrophobic,
John paused before answering,
“We won’t, look here and hold the lamp.”
Reaching up he removed a rusted metal grating, it shuddered as he
wrenched it from its frame. Behind lay a hole large enough for them
to crawl through.
“Where does it lead?”
“Originally, it was an air-shaft fitted with a scrubber to remove
airborne contaminants. Now it leads to the tree-line emerging at
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 244

the wood shed.” The shed was far enough away from the main driveway
not to be seen.
“Right near your car!”
Above them they would hear movement as someone crossed the living
room floor. Still the alarm didn’t sound. John handed his rifle
back to Nick, checking to make sure the safety was back on. As they
began to enter the shaft, John hesitated and reached into his inside
pocket. Satisfied he went on wiggling through the opening. Nick
followed him avoiding his feet, as his only source of light was from
the lamp that John had clenched between his teeth. The air in the
shaft was damp and smelled of earth. There was no room to turn
around. They pushed on through until John stopped.
“Quiet, ssshh! Stay here.” he whispered.
Inching onward John disappeared as he rounded a curve. Nick’s
knees were soaked through from the dampness that lined the tunnel.
His shoulders ached from his cramped posture, and the fact that he
had to drag his pack and John’s rifle behind him. One of his boot
laces had come undone but there was no way. The bulge in his belt
dug painfully into his ribs, such was the position in which he
crouched. On their way out John had reached up into the suspended
ceiling in his den, pushing aside a tile, and retrieved a heavy Navy
Colt pistol that he had hidden there. Thrusting it into Nicks hand
as they rushed to the basement he apologized, “All I can give you,
I’m afraid.” Nick was unfamiliar with the use of the weapon, but
tucked it under his belt.
The silence and darkness began to press down upon him. Closing
his eyes and opening them again made no difference - he could see
absolutely nothing. Insects scuttled away from them as they
progressed. Shuddering, Nick could feel them crunch beneath his
hands and knees. Just as he felt that he would begin to panic, he
heard a low voice call him from just ahead, and he gratefully
crawled forward toward the dim glow that now lighted the tunnel. A
blast of fresh night air greeted him when he reached the spot where
John had gone out of sight, and he was glad to see the exit appear
in front of him.
“Hurry up,” John urged.
Puffing and panting, Nick traversed the last few feet and nearly
tumbled from the mouth of the tunnel except that John grabbed his
collar at the last second stopping him.
“We can’t get near the car,” John mouthed, as he retrieved his
rifle checking it with his hands in the near darkness.
“Someone’s standing there. See.”
Nick peered through the trees and when he was about to dismiss
John’s words as a hallucination he saw the movement near the Jeep.
A figure, the red glow of a cigarette dangling from his lips, looked
over a weapon at the house waiting for them to bolt. They were
about ten yards away.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 245

“How come the alarm didn’t go off?” Nick whispered.


“They must have checked the house by walking at the edge of the
room, obviously professionals. However, I can change that quite
easily.”
John withdrew a small box from his shirt pocket, similar in size
to the arming device for a car alarm.
“I can set the alarm off with this. A panic button.”
“What if they’ve disconnected the alarm itself?”
“Not likely, its got a battery backup and will automatically
sound if tampered with.”
As John lifted his arm, aiming the device, with a soft click he
depressed the button, and the box projected a ray of infrared energy
towards the house. His aim was off because of his poor positioning
in the foliage that surrounded the exit from the tunnel. Had he
been closer to the house he would have missed completely.
However by the time the narrow beam had traveled the distance it
had spread like pellets from a shotgun and blanked the front of the
house with its invisible energy. Mounted adjacent to the front door
was a receiver wired directly to the alarm system inside. It
interpreted the code carried by the beam as genuine, activating an
electrical switch which closed the circuit on the alarm. As
predicted it did light up the entire house, as all of the lights
tripped on and a wailing siren screamed to life, filling the garden
and surrounding lots with its searing piercing wail.
John grabbed and held Nick’s head close to the ground. There
were two reasons, the first was to remain immobile as the area was
lit by the bright halogen security lights, the second was to
maintain their night vision should they decide to leave through the
adjoining woods.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 246

Jessica awoke with a throbbing headache. Her whole body seemed


to be trembling. Her mouth was dry, her tongue swollen. She
attempted to open her eyes and sit up, but her eyelids would not
respond to the messages from her brain.
“Mom, MOM,” her eldest son’s voice urged her to fight harder, and
she finally lifted her head focusing on the source of the sound.
Her heart beat powerfully in her chest and her breath came hard
rasping in her arid throat.
“Mom,” her eyes opened, and she lifted her head to look for the
source of the call. She felt like she was going to throw up. She
was lying on a gurney a drip feeding into her left arm. Movement
was impossible, as she was strapped onto the stretcher. Jessica
could just make out the features of the room in which she lay.
Her son reached over and stroked her hair which was damp. Her
forehead glistened with sweat. His hand was cool and reassuring.
“Where...are we?” she croaked.
“Just sleep mom,” he urged.
Jessica strained to focus, but all she could make out was the
confines of the rumbling room and just before she passed out again,
she felt a wave of despair. What she saw seated beside her son, and
the sleeping children, was a grim faced armed soldier, and then
nothing.
The helicopter rumbled out over the Mediterranean away from
Crete.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 247

A drop of condensed dew fell onto Nick’s head with a plop, its
icy cold spread through his scalp like a broken egg. He kept his
eyes tightly shut, his chest felt as though it was in a vice grip.
He wondered if he was having a heart attack, his heart fluttered
from the tension and panic that engulfed him. He was certain that
the click of his valves opening and shutting must be audible giving
his position away.
The Navy Colt .45 was of Civil War vintage. A heavy weapon it
was the predecessor to the modern combat revolver with one distinct
difference. It didn’t use cartridges. Instead each chamber of the
6 shot weapon was hand loaded with black powder, a wad and a lead
ball. To detonate the rounds primer caps were fitted onto the rear
of each chamber which when hit by the descending hammer ignited the
charge and fired the round. The long barrel ensured reasonable
accuracy at close range. It had one additional feature that made it
popular, the revolving cylinder could be dropped out and refitted
with a freshly loaded one, making it a true predecessor of the
modern handgun. A good weapon as long as the primers and powder
didn’t get wet.
The size of the soft lead rounds were enough to take a man’s leg
off. A museum piece, it should have been preserved, but John
believed in the premise that if it works, use it, and he did. He
didn’t vouch for the reliability of the pistol, as he had loaded it
some years previously and hadn’t used it since. Still its bulk was
reassuring and John was practically certain that he had replaced the
percussion caps. John had the AR-15 but kept the .38 for himself as
a backup.
Nick trembled and opened his eyes slowly. A snap of a breaking
twig caused him to instinctively look in the direction of the sound.
John was a couple of yards ahead of him, silhouetted in the light
from the house. He was gazing intently through an available light
spotting scope, another one of his toys, sweeping the tree-line
looking for signs of activity. He reached back and touched Nick’s
leg and pointed. But Nick couldn’t see anything, but understood the
gesture to mean that John had seen someone hiding under the densely
packed trees on the other side of the lawn. Destroying his night
vision, John swept the front lawn ahead of them, his night spotting
scope practically blinded him as it caught and magnified the glare
of the halogen spotlight that illuminated the side of the house.
“We’ve got to move,” he whispered to Nick, “The alarm is wired to
the police station down the road.” Nick squatted beside him.
John’s breath smelled strongly of liquor. He hoped that he would
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 248

maintain his alertness. “If instinct serves me correctly,” John


continued, “these guys will finish their work and then sweep the
perimeter before they leave, they won’t just bolt.”
John rose to a low stoop and edged further into the underbrush.
Nick was watching the house, letting John move ahead before
following him. Nick didn’t see what happened next, but heard a
sickening thud and the crash of John’s unconscious frame falling
heavily to the ground. Nick remained frozen in the spot he was in
and slowly tried to ease the large pistol from his belt. It snagged
and he couldn’t extract it without straightening his body. He could
see little in the bad light. All he could see of John was his shoe
as it lay inert a couple of yards ahead of him. With a grunt, he
hauled the pistol from his belt and held it in front of him. John
had told him that there were only five rounds, he stored it with the
hammer resting on an empty chamber. He had also warned him that
cocking the hammer would require a good haul, but once cocked it had
a hair trigger. These weapons were built to last.
The long barrel pulled his wrist earthward, the weight strained
his wrist. Calculating what he should do, he controlled his
breathing, waiting for the attacker to make his first move. He had
a strange sensation of deja-vu. Why didn’t the fellow show himself?
And besides, where exactly was he? Nick licked his dry lips, but
found his tongue parched. Concentrating, using his thumb, he drew
back on the hammer, nearly dropping it from the spring tension. He
could feel the chambers turn and suddenly he had the hammer cocked,
accompanied by a click that he was sure could have been heard from
some distance. If he had known better he could have relieved the
tension by depressing the trigger part-way until the hammer locked
into position, but he didn’t.
He heard a noise ahead of him and caught a fleeting sight of a
figure rolling across his line of fire. Nick followed the movement
and depressed the trigger, closing his eyes in anticipation of the
roar and flash that would surely follow. Instead he was greeted by
a loud metallic click when the hammer fell on the primer which
failed to ignite. He fumbled, repeating the cocking action, but had
lost sight of his quarry, so he ducked low lest he become the
target.
He scanned the surrounding trees, but, frustratingly, he could
see nothing. Slowly, keeping the pistol in front of him he edged to
where John lay, found the night scope and peered through it. The
night instantly became as bright as day though with a green tinge.
What had been shadows were miraculously transformed into brightly
lit areas, so bright it seemed that a spotlight was attached to the
lens. He could see John’s jeep parked close by. They could make
it, Nick thought. But first he had to deal with whoever had hit
John. He scanned the tree line.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 249

And there he was, not ten yards away crouched behind a tree.
Staring right at him, raising his weapon and pointing it straight
where Nick was squatting. Nick had guessed correctly, that the
gunman was relying on sounds to locate his target. Unsure of what
to do, Nick reached over and lay his hand on John’s cheek. The
pressure was enough to extract a groan, which in turn was enough for
their pursuer to home in on them. There was nothing else to do, so
he depressed the trigger again.
There was a loud snap as the hammer hit the primer, which in turn
exploded, igniting the black powder charge. Nick leapt up as the
leaden ball hurtled forward. The roar of the pistol would have
woken the dead, and the bullet left a large white cloud of burnt
powder in its wake. Nick didn’t wait. He grabbed John and
attempted to sling him over his shoulder, no easy task given that
John was semi-conscious.
But Nick managed, half dragging, half carrying John. After a
dozen steps he was able to throw John and the rest of their gear
into the rear of the jeep. The keys were in the ignition. As he
turned them, he could hear the sounds of shouting behind him, orders
being given. Releasing the parking brake, he let the car roll onto
the street under its own momentum — the reversing lights would have
given away his position. A thought popped into his head while he
started the car. He slipped the clutch and moved the jeep forward.
Nick cocked the Navy revolver again and threw it high over the trees
into John’s yard. It hit the ground as he changed into second gear,
and discharged with a loud flash and bang on impact. There was a
fusillade of gunfire in the direction of the discarded pistol, and
by then Nick was gone, roaring down the hill toward the main road,
the wailing of the house alarm siren fading into the distance.
“There’s an abandoned house at the other end of town.” John
groaned sitting up. “Take a right at the bottom of the hill and
I’ll show you.”
Nick did as he was told and drove at high speed through the
sleeping town of Armonk, not even slowing for the blinking red
traffic light. A police cruiser whipped past them going in the
opposite direction.
“Turn here.” John ordered.
Nick hesitated, but John grabbed the wheel and slewed the jeep
into what appeared to be a tree covered hillside. The jeep stalled.
John pushed Nick over and taking his night scope back, drove up a
long overgrown driveway, all but invisible from the roadway. He
drove with the lights off; he could see quite clearly through his
scope. John let the jeep slow avoiding the brakes until the last
second, when he heaved on the parking brake and they coasted to a
rustling stop.
“Best we stay here ‘til the morning.” he told Nick. The silence
surrounded them, even the crickets were quiet while Nick and John
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made their way into the nearby abandoned house. The electricity was
off, so they made themselves as comfortable as they could on the
rickety kitchen furniture. Neither slept, waiting for day break.
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The advertisement ran in the Irish Times, the New York Times and
several other international papers over the course of a number of
days, but Nick Riordan never saw it. Nor did he see it on the
Internet version of the Irish Times — even though he checked it
every day, watching the slide towards anarchy, towards chaos,
towards a civil war. It said the same thing. Nick R, call your
dad. Simple and straightforward, but ineffective.
The morning after their narrow escape from Armonk, Nick and John
drove to Manhattan. Nick called his parents’ home from an office in
the city where an obliging receptionist had allowed him to use the
phone. John had left him while he handled some business of his own.
Nick was on the line for only twelve minutes. In that time the call
was traced, and he passed someone in the hallway of the building
sent to intercept him as he left. He wasn’t recognized because he
had heeded John’s advice. To be un-noticed, be noticeable. During
his time in John’s house, he had grown a goatee and mustache. He
had an earring, and he kept his head shaved to a stubble. The look
complimented him. His blue eyes radiated. But it was enough of a
change that his wife would have done a double take before
recognizing him.
His father, aware that the line was certainly tapped on his end,
gave it to him straight, after the initial small talk, reassuring
each other that everyone was fine.
“Imperative, son, that you contact an old friend of yours in the
IRA. Crucial.” Nick was shocked. His contact with them had been
what seemed an eon ago, and even then it had been but for a few
months. What the heck did they want him for? His mother had warned
him during his first years in college. “Once in the IRA, always
in.”
So he responded to his fathers direction the only way he could,
asking “How?”
His father, reading from the type-written page that had been
dropped off at his home some time before, gave him a number in New
York, and told him that the only way contact could be made was for
Nick to identify himself with information that would be asked of him
on calling. For a moment Nick wondered if his dad was being coerced
into giving him the instructions, but he knew his father well.
There was no way he would put Nick in harm’s way. He had to trust
his father’s instructions. Wisely, Nick decided to get to another
phone before making the call. The receptionist was beginning to
give him the evil eye. He found a pay phone, a taxi ride away in
Union Square.
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Through the noisy street traffic Nick heard the phone answer on
the first ring with a gruff, “Hello?”
Nick hesitated but then decided that he had little to lose at
this stage and identified himself by name.
The answerer responded in fluent Irish. Nick caught most of it —
it had been a while since he had spoken a word of the language. The
voice asked if he understood, “An dtuigeann tú?” “Sea,” Nick
responded positively. He had been told that he would be asked a
series of questions, and he had to answer them correctly
immediately, or the phone would be hung up, permanently.
The questions taxed his brain. But they were pertinent to him,
and he managed the responses well. “Actual place of birth; social
security number; Irish tax ID number, he stumbled through this;
mother’s maiden name; paternal grandmother’s first name; date of
maternal grandfather’s death,”... it went on and on for over five
minutes. It was possible that someone could fake the answers with
enough research, but that would have required a response lapse to
search through data.
Nick fed more money into the phone. There was a silence that
lasted half a minute.
“Put the guy behind you on the phone,” the instruction sent a
chill up his spine. Nick had been so engrossed with the
conversation that he did not notice that he was now hemmed in from
behind by four men, rough looking characters who looked at him
without expression. He held the phone out to have it taken by the
smaller of them. He smelled of sweat, not surprising, considering
the heat of the New York day. His eyes never left Nick as he
listened to his instructions and hung up. He gestured with his head
that Nick should move away and into a car that was waiting, rear
doors open. Nick got in, to be flanked on either side by his
guards. The car’s air-conditioning blasted out tepid air.
He felt panic rise as the car pulled away. His heart pounded,
sweat poured from the soles of his feet making them slippery. The
words from the small fellow did not make him any more comfortable as
they shot into the Midtown tunnel, “Welcome back Nick,” accompanied
by a glimmer of what could have been either a smile or a sneer.
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“Line two,” his secretary said over the intercom. Line two was a
secure line, with a voice scrambler which, matched with a duplicate
phone on the other end, modulated so quickly that no eavesdropper
would make sense of the conversation — that it was a gift from the
US Ambassador was speculation.
Adams picked up the phone.
“Jean, top of the morning to you.”
“And the rest of the day to yourself, Gerry.”
“And to what do I owe the call?”
“We should meet, this morning if possible.”
Gerry laughed out loud.
“The thought of the head of Sein Féin meeting the US Ambassador
for lunch in one of the better restaurants in town would have the
columnists flying. You might even get recalled!”
Jean Kirkpatrick laughed along with him.
“I’ll send a car to the usual place. Say eleven o’clock?”
“Make it 11:30, as you can imagine, I have a few things to take
care of here.”
“See you then.”
Phoenix Park, situated in the northwest of the city center with
1,760 acres, is the largest enclosed urban park in the world. In
1671, the Duke of Ormonde had walls erected around the park to keep
the deer population from straying. It contains the Peoples Gardens,
the Irish Army headquarters, Dublin Zoo, the papal nunciature, the
residence of the Irish President, and the destination of the
unmarked, but armored, car that carried Gerry Adams to his lunch
date, the residence of the US ambassador. Adams didn’t notice any
of this when he checked the knot on his tie in the glass reflection
of the back seat.
He of all people knew Dublin and its history well. At times he
preferred it to his native Belfast. During the current unrest he
decidedly preferred it. Being in Belfast would have left him very
exposed. He had no intention of getting shot a second time in his
career, once, as he had in 1984, was enough.
Adams was dumbfounded by the information that Kirkpatrick showed
him. Even his intelligence arm had not picked up a fraction of what
the ambassador displayed to him on her laptop computer. The
information that her staff had downloaded from O’Shea’s computer was
pure gold. His files had indeed been encrypted but he had used a
program that was easily cracked.
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The Ambassador showed him O’Shea’s plan for the takeover of


Northern Ireland, his supply routes, attack routes. There was even
a designation of which army divisions would attack where.
“What are the helicopter symbols?” Adams asked.
“I would imagine that they represent air support.”
“Ireland doesn’t have a fleet of attack helicopters, there must
be thirty of forty there,” he counted.
“O’Shea has an aircraft refurbishing plant in the West of Ireland
close to Knock airport. I have to assume he has an assembly
facility as well. I need you to have this confirmed.”
“That plant is staffed by foreign contract workers. Irish
staffing is minimal and restricted to front office only.”
“You’ll find a way.”
“I don’t recognize the other symbols.”
“O’Shea has contracted mercenaries, again from Eastern Europe.
Not a lot, maybe 300 total but they’re battle hardened, well paid,
and hungry for work. He uses them for his personal protection.”
“You know quite a bit for an American lassie,” Adams said in mock
admiration, feigning complete ignorance, though he had suspected
about the mercenaries. “Where did you get this information? How
accurate is it?”
Jean ignored his first question.
“The source of this information is gospel. And there’s quite a
lot of it. I’m only showing you what I consider relevant to you.”
“You mean there’s more?”
“Plenty. But we only received it recently and we’re trying to
fit it all together.”
“So what can we do?”
“WE can do precisely nothing. The US can’t take a position
because of its relationships with Ireland, England, and the peace
process. O’Shea has been careful to appeal to the nationalist
spirit, and by the looks of things he’s succeeding.”
Adams noted that she didn’t include him in the “we.”
“Do you have any evidence linking him to any of the violence, the
bomb on that plane in Boston?”
“We have mention of it in the files that we apprehended. But the
evidence is circumstantial. There’s nothing that proves that he was
directly involved.”
“Pity.”
“This will be of interest to you and your loyalist counterparts
for one reason.” Kirkpatrick tapped the laptops keyboard until she
came to the right slide. She was silent as Adams read the action
plan which called for the elimination of all known political
dissidents on both sides of the fence, including their known
relatives, north and south of the border.
“Do you think he can do this.”
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She flicked the keyboard again, displaying a slide made from the
transmissions from the British trawler shortly before it was
destroyed.
The face of the Rev. Ian Paisley, blanched and bloated looked
down at them from the depths of the ocean.
“He already has,” was all she said.
Adams had seen death many times before, but this was a shock.
Not so much the sight of his nemesis locked in death’s embrace, but
the fact that he was there at all. Paisley, despite his racist
agenda, was an untouchable. His Protestant Democratic Unionist
Party, political and paramilitary, was extraordinarily powerful at
focusing the hard edge of public opinion. Killing him, much as his
opponents wanted to, would have lead to a slaughter of many
Catholics. Consideration was also given to who might replace him if
he was killed. Those who stood behind him were in some cases far
more militant than he, without the political veneer. So he had been
left alone under the auspices of the “better the devil you know”
category.
Adams realized with a chill that it was now not a case of whether
he would be hit, but when. O’Shea was not operating under any rules
of engagement.
“We have plans to eliminate O’Shea.” He knew he could be frank
with Jean as long as he didn’t tie her in with anything. “Perhaps I
should move up the schedule.” His eyes were grim and his jaw set
tightly as he realized how close he was to joining Paisley in his
watery grave, luck had been the only thing that had stopped him from
being first.
Jean shook her head disapprovingly.
“That will accomplish precisely nothing. O’Shea’s momentum is
such that his elimination will only serve to enhance his reputation
and his so called cause. It would do more damage than good.
Besides,” she added for the record, “the United States government
does not condone assassination of any kind.”
She saw the look of defiance on his face.
“We need direct evidence of his involvement to stop him in his
tracks. Only by appealing to public opinion, a smear campaign if
you will, can we turn this whole thing around. If there is time.
Hopefully it’s not too late. Any ideas?”
“I have heard through a source of my own that Nick Riordan, who
was in the news right after the first attack...”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Well it turns out he is, or was, depending on whether he’s
alive, a photojournalist. My source also tells me that he was at
that parade with a video camera and recorded the whole event. We
are trying to get the tape, but have been told that it was damaged
when he was shot at before he left Ireland.”
“Who shot him?”
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“He wasn’t hurt, but it was one of our paramilitary units


responding to an attack that he was thought to have made on one of
our operatives. Riordan, as it turns out, was not involved. We
interviewed one of O’Shea’s men shortly after the Riordan incident,
and found out that O’Shea operates through a number of command cut-
offs. Again there’s a link to him but nothing tangible.”
“We would like to check out the original of that tape.”
“So would we. Let me see what I can do.”
“I don’t think I’ll be seeing much of you over the next few
weeks. I take it you’ll be going to ground.”
“Like a rabbit before the hounds.”
“How do we keep in contact?”
Adams pondered and smiled as he rose from the table extending his
hand in farewell.
“I have, shall we say a mutual friend, Seán Driscoll.”
Kirkpatrick was genuinely shocked.
“You know Seán?”
“Not exactly the best of buddies, but he’d be happy to help.”
“I hope you’re right!” Kirkpatrick smiled.
“Me too,” Adams said to himself as he kissed her on the cheek in
farewell.
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Flanagan was being overly cautious, Driscoll decided. His call


came early in the morning just as Seán was rising and preparing to
go to work. Peter didn’t say anything over the phone, but the tone
of his voice displayed his anxiety.
“Meet me at the usual McDonald’s for breakfast at seven,” was all
he said, and he simply hung up. Seán didn’t like to eat fast food
for breakfast, and only met Peter there on a rare occasion. It was
his nature to be suspicious, but considering the current clime,
nothing was beginning to surprise him.
He kissed his still sleeping wife good-bye. Imelda opened her
eyes and wished him well, and promptly fell back to sleep.
The McDonald’s in Stillorgan was sparsely occupied and he saw
Flanagan immediately. Seán ordered tea, McDonald’s coffee was not
something he enjoyed, and joined him. Peter was working through his
second Egg McMuffin, and nodded a greeting.
“They’ll kill you,” Seán advised.
Peter nodded contemptuously, and continued to scoff the remainder
of his sandwich.
Seán glanced at his watch and waited for Peter to finish.
“So what’s up?”
Flanagan was agitated and lit a cigarette, glancing out the glass
paneled front of the restaurant.
“Two things. First, I don’t know what the hell you’re up to and
frankly I don’t want to know. I don’t want to get mixed up with it
any more than I am already. But Cullen has been pumping me for
information for the past week. Every opportunity he has, he wants
to know what you’re doing, where you’ve been, who you’re meeting
with.”
“And what have you told him.”
Flanagan blushed and Seán knew that the answer would be a lie.
“Eh, I’ve fed him little bits.”
“It’s none of his damn business. He doesn’t even work with our
department.”
“I know, I know,” Peter said defensively.
“Be careful of him Pete, he’s a nasty bastard.”
“I know that too.”
Seán could see the fear in Peter’s eyes and while he felt
betrayed, he knew that Cullen had a way of making someone of Peter’s
frail character bend. Cullen had a reputation for it, particularly
at the wrong end of a few pints.
“What else?”
“You’re out of the loop.”
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Driscoll squinted questioningly.


“Cullen told me last night that you’re going to be suspended
today, pending an inquiry for your participation in cooperating with
Riordan’s escape.”
“You know that’s horse-shit.” Seán felt his own color rise, not
in embarrassment but in anger.
“Is it Seán? Is it? You have had contact with him, there’s a
record of the conversation in the office. And what the hell were we
doing in O’Shea’s office? You could have got both of us in the
crapper and I can’t afford to get suspended. I’ve got bills to pay.
There’s not much in this town for a fired cop.”
“So you told Cullen everything to save your job?”
“No Seán, not everything. I left out what you did in O’Shea’s
office. Otherwise I would have implicated myself for Christ’s sake.
Look,” he said, nearly pleading, “I’m telling you this because I’m
your partner. You know what Cullen knows. And Cullen must be
feeding the information to someone, the boss maybe. The bottom line
is, when you go to work today you’re going to get an immediate
suspension, and I thought you would be better off knowing before it
happened.”
Seán looked Flanagan over. Peter was always a weak link. He
wasn’t a bad officer, but better suited for the regular detective
work, foot slogging around collecting information. Still, he was
his partner, and was demonstrating his loyalty, albeit with Judas’
hindsight.
“All right Peter. Thanks for the tip off.” Peter looked
relieved.
He had anticipated a protracted argument.
“But Peter,” Seán looked him straight in the eye. “you’re still
my partner. Watch my back.” As he rose to leave he added, “and
you’re own.”
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The Prime Minister sheaffed incredulously through the report that


had been passed to him by the US Ambassador to London at the evening
cocktail party. It was unbelievable, simply unbelievable. Britain,
through the Defense Minister, his friend Peter Woolworth, had
provided O’Shea with the stick with which to beat themselves. It
was outrageous, but its source was not to be ignored. All of this
on top of the loss of the Royal Navy trawler attacked from Southern
Irish airspace. It was too much.
He was tempted to pick up the phone and question Woolworth
immediately, but his better judgment prevailed. Ordinarily, a
document such as this would have been routed through British
intelligence services, but he was a friend of the US Ambassador, and
with the timing involved, formalities would have to be done away
with.
“Who else was involved?” he wondered. Woolworth was one of his
best friends. They’d known each other so long, he couldn’t put a
number on the years. He’d only known his own wife longer. So he
did what his sharp instinct told him and put in a call to his
colleague in Scotland Yard, Chief Inspector Mortimer, and another to
MI5. He had his secretary call Peter Woolworth, who was
unavailable. Blair held his head in his hands for a long moment,
and then shrugged it off and continued to plow through the file. It
would take some time for the invited parties to arrive at the Prime
Minister’s Chequers Estate, and at this late hour he needed some
good advice from his foot soldiers before diving headlong into the
fracas that the next day was sure to bring.
Mortimer was the first to arrive, driving himself in his
unmarked, but powerful, Range Rover. He was ushered into the PM’s
study by the butler, who despite his domestic look, was in fact a
member of the Special Air Services, as were most of the staff that
had direct contact with officials. He didn’t speak to Mortimer, nor
was he expected to.
The PM’s face was grave as he shook the police chief’s hand and
pointed him to a leather armchair. The butler returned with a tray
of tea and biscuits and left as soon as he served them.
The PM didn’t bother with formalities but launched straight into
his brief.
“It would seem that we have a rat in our midst and I need your
advice concerning what I am to do about it.”
Mortimer said nothing, merely stirred his tea with a spoon, but
his ears pricked up at the prospect of a high profile case. For the
Prime Minister to be involved it must be a big one. If successfully
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concluded, this would guarantee him a promotion, maybe even a


knighthood.
The PM ran through his notes and outlined the relevant details.
He refrained from using Woolworth’s name. He detailed the amount
and type of arms that had been exported, where to, by whom, delivery
dates, and the costs involved.
Mortimer spoke up, “Sir, with all due respect, these seem like
normal arms export transactions.”
“Except that the final delivery was not made to the Brazilian
company.”
Mortimer raised his eyebrows in question, finishing his cup of
tea.
“Those deliveries were made to Ireland.” the PM said quietly.
Mortimer’s jaw dropped. “That must have required complicity from
the highest level.”
“It did.”
“Any idea who?”
“Yes, Peter Woolworth.”
Mortimer was not given to shows of emotion but he visibly shaken
at the prospect.
“Woolworth comes from a good family sir, a long line of close
party supporters. For God’s sake you and he are...”
“Were, Mortimer, were. It’s amazing what a shortage of cash will
do to a man.”
“Heard he’s fond of the booze as well.”
“Always was.” The PM ignored the comment.
“So what do you want from me?”
“I want all of these leads checked out. Also, I want you
personally to keep an eye on Woolworth. See what he’s up to, who he
meets. And keep a very tight lid on this, no leaks.”
“In light of this sir, we may have to rethink this whole affair
with Riordan - the fellow caught on film at the march.”
“Why? He is probably in cahoots with O’Shea.”
“I have had contact with an old friend who knows him. He tried
to persuade me that Riordan was not involved.”
“But there were photographs of him there for goodness sake.”
“Digitally altered. He was there all right but my contact
informs me that he was holding a camera not a gun.”
“Look into it.”
“Want me to investigate O’Shea?”
“Thanks but no. Not your department. I’m due to brief the
foreign office and MI5 any time now. You will report directly to
me. And don’t pick up Woolworth until I tell you.”
“Goes without saying sir.” Mortimer hated being told the
obvious. The retort was lost on the PM who was busy sorting his
file for the next briefing.
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Ted Smith hadn’t received a call so early in the morning for a


long time. He had been up very late watching developments in
Northern Ireland on the extended news program. Any past co-
operation between the British and Irish governments was but a
distant memory, now that O’Shea had assumed leadership. Irish civil
servants based in Belfast were fleeing southward, and nothing was
being done to stop them. The Catholic and Protestant populations
were at each others throats. The two enormous acts of violence had,
in a macabre way, evened the score, even though both sides knew that
they were not responsible.
Enclaves were barricading themselves in anticipation of the
rumored invasion of Northern Ireland by southern troops. The
British commander of British troops in Northern Ireland, was beside
himself, in preparation for a war that he promised would be over
before it started. British troops were pouring in by air and by
sea. Helicopter reinforcements for ground support were buzzing over
the province, armed to the gills with missiles. Tornado jets were
due to be delivered the next day. The border areas were closed
tightly. All roads had been blocked with formed concrete obstacles,
and while it was near impossible to have permanent soldiers lining
the entire border, roving patrols supported by close air support
faced off their southern counterparts most of the way from the
northern tip of Donegal to the south of Antrim in the East. There
was no way in or out.
Rumors and counter-rumors circulated about the part O’Shea may
have played in the events leading up to this point, but it was all
speculation. Feelings south of the border were running high as
well. Many were volunteering to join the army. Others were
preparing for a British counter-attack by forming vigilante groups,
arming themselves as best they could. The flag of the Irish
Republic was displayed prominently across the country.
O’Shea’s speeches and press releases were increasingly
inflammatory, designed to boil the blood. He spoke of ending 800
years of oppression in one fell swoop. He taunted the United
Nations for their lack of support, asking why they wouldn’t support
the overthrow of the last apartheid regime in the Western world. He
appealed to Irish Americans to pressure their senators, and indeed
the President himself, into supporting his Irish reunification
goals. He offered free passage to any Irish Americans who would
come back to fight the last great battle of Irish freedom.
Smith decided some time before that O’Shea was well capable of
playing to the media. British media saw the news as local. However
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CNN and SkyNews saw the larger perspective, and reported it as


objectively as they could, making parallels between O’Shea’s quest
and the plight of the African National Congress lead by Nelson
Mandela during the struggle to free South Africa. Charges that
O’Shea was involved in the killing of innocents were brushed off as
British propaganda.
“Typical,” he was quoted as saying, “of the defamation that the
English have used throughout the centuries against all Irish
patriots.”
Curiously enough the Irish airline fleet, Aer Lingus, was flying
its routes as normal, but many pilots having completed their
outbound leg of the journey would not fly back. They preferred to
sit it out and wait. Consequently, the appeal to Irish Americans
was a case of semantics, because, of the four A 330’s that flew to
the US daily, two did not return.
It was impossible to gauge the feeling among the ordinary people
of Ireland. O’Shea had imposed a curfew which severely hindered the
ability of journalists to interview anyone after the fiasco in the
pub, but the look on the peoples’ faces was enough. Fear and
despair was prevalent, a stark contrast to the flag wavers who, it
seemed, could not wait to go to war.
Mortimer wanted to come right over and Ted agreed. While he
waited, he put a pot of tea on the stove, and out of habit patted
his empty shirt pocket for a cigarette. “Damn,” he missed them.
It was raining heavily when Mortimer pulled up alongside the
barge. Despite the early hour, two of Ted’s security personnel were
there to meet him, one with an umbrella, the other parked the car
further down the street in a private secure parking area.
Mortimer was bone tired and was surprised to see Ted looking as
fresh as he did.
“Don’t you ever sleep?” he asked his friend.
“I do until people like you call me. Drink?”
“Tea, just tea. I’m going straight from here into the office.”
Mortimer draped his raincoat over the back of a chair and slid
onto the sofa, leaning his head back in an effort to relax his tired
neck muscles. He waited for Ted to pour his tea before he began.
“Some time ago, you came to me to discuss Nick Riordan. I had
that photograph analyzed and it turns out that it was indeed
retouched. I believe, from our experts, that it is a relatively
simple process to manipulate a digital image, and fairly difficult
to spot any tampering.”
“Just as I told you,” Ted said to himself smugly.
“I received information confirming that others were involved in
this Irish melee. Riordan, you told me, has a tape recording of
that event. We need that tape for analysis. ASAP.”
“You’re in luck Mort. I received an e-mail from Nick last
evening. His associate, on my request, redigitized the tape at a
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much higher resolution. It’s at a new Internet address. Despite


the amount of hard drive space required, the quality is remarkably
good. I didn’t go through it all. Couldn’t stomach it.”
Ted accessed his e-mail from his computer, wrote down the site
address, and handed the slip of paper to Mortimer.
“There’s a password too you might want to write down.”
“Go ahead.”
Ted called out a string of numbers.
Mortimer repeated it to make sure he had it right.
“Any relevance, or an abstract number?” he asked.
“O’Shea’s personal line.” Ted answered with a tight grin.
Pocketing the information, Mortimer finished off his tea.
“What’s your read on this Irish situation?”
“You want the short or the long version?” Ted asked, leaning
against the kitchen counter top.
“Short.”
“O’Shea is the mastermind. He’s a shrewd bastard. Well
organized, focused. He’s captured the attention of the
international media. With his background and reputation in
business, he’s not being regarded as a local despot. It’s hard to
pinpoint where the genuine article ends and megalomaniac begins.
One thing is certain, the Irish government brought a lot of it on
themselves by allowing him to attain the political power that he
has. They gave it to him!”
“They were not in a very good position. From what I heard,
O’Shea looked like a savior to them.”
“What’s done is done. I was in Ireland after our last talk, just
for a day. I got some background on O’Shea and I can tell you he
has no love for us as a nation, and he’s not too fond of a lot of
his fellow Irish either. During the fight for independence his
paternal grandparents were killed by the Black and Tans. In the
civil war that followed, his maternal grandfather was captured,
tortured and killed by the anti-treaty forces. His father was shot
when O’Shea was just a young boy, during an IRA raid in the
South...and O’Shea hasn’t forgotten. His mother featured
prominently in his life, reinforcing the prejudices and the hatred
that has been a driving force in his life. What surprises me is
that he is not aligned with the IRA now. It would make his efforts
a lot easier.”
Ted went on.
“Our forces outnumber the Republic’s troops by about three to
one, but that works in his favor. He doesn’t care if his troops get
wiped out. If that happens, world opinion will fall right in behind
him and he’ll win. If he scores some military victories, all the
better for him.”
Mortimer thought about it and saw the logic behind Ted’s
thinking.
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“I have some information on that, but it falls under the Official


Secrets Act.”
“Doesn’t everything. All right.” Ted had been bound under the
Act before.
“The PM received information last night that sheds light on a lot
of this. I’m not sure of the source, but it’s deep. O’Shea’s
invasion plans call for the elimination of all paramilitaries both
loyalist and nationalist.”
“That’s no surprise, we’re been trying for years.”
“Complete elimination. A new twist to solving the age old
sectarian problem. He intends to kill each and every one of them,
their families, and then he’s going to raze the areas in which they
lived. When he’s done there’ll be no trace left.”
“I would assume that he intends to this in the South as well.”
“No details on that I’m afraid, but I would assume the same.”
“How does he intend to do all of this? You’re assuming that he
had to battle his way into the North and take over completely. Last
time I checked, there seemed to be more soldiers there than people.
The Irish army’s equipment consists of armored personnel carriers
and a couple of tanks, but they have, to the best of my knowledge,
little or no air support worth mentioning. He won’t even get one
foot across the border.”
Mortimer hesitated before he went on resigned to the weariness of
it all.
“O’Shea has been importing a lot of military hardware. From what
I have heard, he’s got plenty of anti-tank, anti-aircraft missiles.
We have reason to believe that he may have as many as fifty fully
equipped helicopters in strategic locations ready for action.”
“He didn’t get these at a convenience store, did he?”
“Seems that he bought a large amount of our surplus, from us,
through an as yet, unnamed source.”
“Smart bastard.” Smith knew better than to push for a name.
“Still, the odds are against him,” Mortimer mused.
“On the contrary. He has the media behind him. And when all is
said and done, this will be viewed as the last great Irish freedom
effort. The province isn’t all that big. With a hard push he could
overrun the place in a day — two tops. He will have to contend with
a large portion of the population who will resist him fully. The
Protestant population has close to 100,000 registered firearms.”
“He’ll kill all of them.”
“How does he intend to break through the border?”
“Intelligence claims that he has a combat hardened force of some
300 mercenaries fresh from the killing fields of Bosnia. Once the
shooting starts, the rest of the army will have no option but to
join in.”
“If I were he, I would have the British troops fire the first
shots. Any response would then be justified.” Ted laughed. “He
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 265

can’t lose. Even if every member of the Irish armed service is


killed he will still have won - defending what the world regards as
rightfully Ireland’s. We can’t drive into the South without
incurring the wrath of three million Southerners. We can’t bomb the
South for the same reason.”
“You haven’t answered your own question though. How will he
cross the border?”
Ted rubbed his head before answering.
“It’s actually very simple. He’ll have his mercenaries fire on
the Irish and British troops at the same time.”
“That would require that they be inserted behind the British
lines.”
“If O’Shea is as smart as I think he is, they already have,
Mortimer. They already have.”
Mortimer thought it through and saw what Ted was saying indeed
made very good sense. His old friend’s mind was still as sharp as
the day they had met.
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Just as Flanagan had predicted, Seán was called into the Chief’s
office as soon as he entered the building. Casey looked as if he
had been working all night, but that was no concern to Seán as he
stood before his desk.
Casey didn’t invite him to sit down, in fact he didn’t even
acknowledge his presence until after a few long moments. He put his
pen down and stood up himself.
“You’re suspended from the force pending an investigation. The
charges include aiding and abetting a known criminal, obstruction of
justice, and withholding information vital to an investigation.” He
proffered a folded sheet of paper, “Consider yourself served.”
Seán didn’t have to be prompted on what to do next, nor did he
offer any argument, there would have been little point. He removed
his gun from it’s holster and lay it on the desk along side his
police ID badge.
“Turn over all your files to Peter Flanagan, including any files
on your laptop.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Do you have anything to say.”
Seán remained emotionless.
“No, sir.”
Casey looked him over for a few seconds, before dismissing him.
As Seán passed the desk of Casey’s secretary she pointed him to
the en-suite bathroom. Seán stopped, unsure of what she meant, but
did as he was bade and entered. He decided a leak wasn’t a bad
idea. The door opened and closed quietly behind him. He finished
up and flushed the urinal. Casey was standing there with a brown
manila package in his hand.
“You’re in deep trouble Seán,” he whispered. “We all are.”
Seán was taken back.
“This may be the only room not bugged by O’Shea’s security
people,” Casey explained.
He proffered the envelope. It was heavy.
“Whatever you’re doing I hope it’s for the best, because you’ve
pissed off O’Shea and his people. My advice is to get out of town
and keep you’re head down.”
Seán took the package and asked, “Why the change of heart?”
Casey looked downhearted and shuffled his foot grinding at an
invisible speck on the tiled floor.
“A foolish dream, Seán. I really thought the man could deliver.
But I’ve seen his methods and he scares the shit out of me. I
received a call from a colleague in Scotland Yard who put me
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straight...I hope it’s not too late.” Casey slowly regained his
composure and, looking at himself in the wall mirror, straightened
his crumpled tie.
As Casey left he mouthed, “Watch your back, son.”
Seán opened the package and found a pistol there identical to his
own, and an identity badge bearing his picture but with a different
department, “Special Operations,” the highest security clearance
available to the police force. Funnily enough, that didn’t make him
feel much better, but for the first time he was sure that the path
he had chosen was the right one.
His first priority was to call home and get Imelda and their baby
safely stowed in a hotel well away from the center of Dublin.
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Seán had just got off his cellular phone with Imelda when it rang
again. It hadn’t taken much persuading for her to agree to get out
of town to a quiet guest house they both knew in County Clare in the
southwest part of the country. He told her not to go home after she
picked up the baby from her mother’s house before departing.
“Driscoll.”
“Ah, Seán, me ‘ol fellow. How are things?”
Seán recognized the voice. A voice from the past. One also
familiar from the television.
“Gerry Adams?”
“The one and only. Are ye free for a spot of tea?”
Seán was flabbergasted. In days full of surprises, this was the
last call he had expected.
“I’m not so sure I’d want tea with the likes of you.”
“Ahh Seán, that’s no way to speak to a pal.”
“You’re no friend of mine.”
“It would be in the best interests of the country and perhaps of
your own health, that we meet.”
Seán had been threatened before and by harder men than Gerry
Adams, but there was an uncharacteristic strain in his voice that
made him think.
“All right. When?”
“I’m waiting for you at the top of the ramp as you exit the car
park.”
And so he was. Driscoll slowed to let him in. Adams glanced
around before opening the door and slid into the passenger seat.
Seán was silent as they drove away. The uniformed policeman manning
the gate did a double take as he saw Adams enter the car, but
dismissed the notion as a mistake.
“We’re wanted men, Seán,” Adams began, taking his pipe out of his
coat pocket. He began scraping the bowl with his pocket knife,
preparing it for a fresh smoke. Its heavy tobacco aroma permeated
the interior of the car.
“I’d prefer if you didn’t smoke that thing in the car.” Adams
obliged and pocketed the pipe after he had refilled it with tobacco.
“The IRA’s been on the top of the list for years. What’s so
different about now?” Seán drove slowly north around the 22 acre
park of St. Stephen’s Green, keeping a look out for military check
points. It wouldn’t do to be caught with Adams in his car.
“When I said we, I meant ‘we’, you and I. We have a mutual enemy
whose put us both on the hit list, although I take the honor of
being higher up on it than you.”
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Sean’s blood ran cold.


“How do you know?”
“I know. That’s all that matters. When all this has blown over,
assuming we survive of course, I don’t want you knowing my sources.”
“So what do you want?”
“I have to go into hiding for a while.”
“You should be well used to that,” Seán answered with a wry
smile.
“Ah, sure let me finish. Are you sure I can’t smoke my pipe?”
Seán glanced at him and saw the weariness of the years of
struggle. Not that he cared, Adams and his ilk had been killing all
of those years as well. But seeing as both were — much as he
disliked to admit it — he hoped temporarily, in the same boat, Seán
reluctantly conceded.
Adams puffed the pipe until the bowl was glowing red before he
spoke.
“Besides our common enemy, we have a mutual friend. Jean
Kirkpatrick.”
He got the reaction he wanted, as Seán swerved the car in
surprise.
“Yes, Jean and I go back awhile,” Adams added puffing away.
That was all he got to say as Seán slowed the car.
“Checkpoint ahead, they’ll want to check our ID’s.” Seán looked
around for a lane way to turn off the main road. He was stuck
between a rock and a hard place though, because the military would
look for this maneuver and have a secondary checkpoint to catch
people making the turn. He was simply too close.
“Why don’t you put on your blue flashing light and barrel
through?” Adams suggested, not seeming at all perturbed.
The thought had occurred to Nick, and it seemed like the only
option. So he did, and put on the siren for good measure.
The cars in front pulled aside and let him glide up to the
checkpoint. Fortunately it was manned by Irish troops, not O’Shea’s
henchmen. He had been harassed by troops who recently seemed to be
coming out of the woodwork and didn’t speak great English.
They checked his ID and asked what the hurry was.
“Shooting outside the American Embassy,” Seán offered.
The soldier nodded in Adams direction.
“Your partner, let’s see his ID.”
Adams reached inside his coat, and for a second thought about
pulling out his .32 cal. Mauser pistol, but what good would it do?
So he pulled out his wallet and handed over an ID he selected. Seán
was making small talk with the soldier and when he handed over
Adams’ ID, it only got a cursory glance. They were waved on.
Seán was handing it back when he decided to look at it.
“Flanagan, Peter H., Special Branch,” the card read and had a
photo of Adams looking brazenly at the camera.
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“You’re a cheeky bugger,” Seán admonished him. “I should hold


onto this.”
“I really wish you wouldn’t. It may save my life again soon.”
Seán threw it back on Adams lap.
“So you know Jean. What’s that got to do with anything?”
“I’m going to need a go between to communicate with her. We will
need each other in the days ahead.”
“And I’m the chosen one?”
“You should be happy. This’ll work wonders for your career.”
Seán snorted but realized he wasn’t in any position to argue.
“The IRA is going to be an integral part of what is going to go
wrong for O’Shea in the next few days. I can’t be seen nor can I go
to my office. You will have to be my eyes and ears on the street
and with Kirkpatrick.”
“Jesus, Gerry you flatter yourself.”
“Seán, me ‘oul sausage, you know me as well as I do you. You
have the lives of a cat. I know ‘cus I saved you from execution
more than once. You’re not as bulletproof as you might think on
your own.”
That made Seán think, and kept him quiet.
“I’ve got Nick Riordan flying in to Dublin at some stage
tomorrow. I’ll need you to pick him up and keep him safe. He’s got
the goods on O’Shea. We hope he’s going to be the one to draw
O’Shea out of cover long enough for us to take a shot at him.”
“Nick isn’t a military man. He’ll end up dead for sure. What
about his wife and kids?”
“They, I’ve been told, are in troubles of their own. Only with
O’Shea out of the way is there any hope that he will ever see them
again. So I’m certain of his co-operation.”
“You’re a hard bastard Adams.” Seán saw an army patrol vehicle
keeping pace behind them in his rear view mirror. The knot
tightened in his stomach again.
“The life of one, to save many, Seán. I’d freely give my own if
it would help.”
“Sure you would,” Seán responded sarcastically.
Adams nodded and lowered the passenger window and waved his hand.
“How come you haven’t popped O’Shea before now?” Seán asked, as
he watched the Nissan patrol vehicle speed up to overtake them.
They were alongside the American Embassy in Ballsbridge by now. He
was surprised when the Nissan swerved to stop in front of him.
Adams seemed undisturbed.
“Because I only found out of his singular involvement, as you
did, recently. Had I proof that he was responsible for those
attacks, I would have had him ‘popped,’ as you put it, sooner.”
“Since when do you need proof to kill anyone?” Seán was
uncharacteristically unsure of what to do, the conversation had
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 271

distracted him. He drew his pistol unconsciously as the soldiers


from the stopped patrol vehicles approached the car.
Adams patted his knee.
“No need for that Seán, I’ll talk to them. And no killings are
carried out without a full burden of proof. In theory anyway.
Sometimes the hot-heads get carried away, but that’s a topic we’ll
chat about in the future.”
“If we have one, there’s another patrol behind us.”
Another army vehicle pulled up behind them, lights flashing. The
soldiers surrounded the car, guns at the ready. Seán feared the
worst, until he noticed that the weapons were pointed away from the
car, not at it.
“Ah, my lift has arrived.” Adams smiled proffering his hand to
shake Seáns. “Best of luck. I’ll be in contact later today.” And
he was gone.
Seán was in a bit of a daze. He sat in the car watching as Adams
jumped into the front Nissan patrol. He knew Adams was well
connected, but the sight of the army vehicles moved his respect for
him up a notch or two — the man had balls of steel.
Seán pulled away from the curbside and glanced at the US embassy.
For a second, he could have sworn he could see Jean Kirkpatrick
smiling down on him from the top of the building, but when he looked
again, she was gone.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 272

The Huey fluttered down over the Bronx rooftops, high enough to
avoid jutting antennas, low enough to avoid the radar at La Guardia
or Newark airports. The thumping main rotor blade made noise that
was distinctively different than the din of the street traffic
below. The drab, olive colored craft crabbed, fighting to remain
straight, in the strong afternoon breeze.
“Two minutes,” the pilot muttered, adjusting the throttle control
to slow the helicopter. It descended as they passed over the
stretch of water that connects the East and Hudson Rivers at the tip
of Harlem.
The rotors spun in a blur, the helicopter proceeded, it’s
chopping sound reminiscent of the Vietnam era. Its shadow dropped
over the water and rushed to meet it again as they passed over the
Manhattan shoreline. Harlem rushed past on either side as they
raced southward on Park Avenue, following the Amtrak rail line,
which lay below, elevated from the street.
Passing 97th street, the railway tunnel lay three blocks ahead.
The rails disappeared toward the labyrinth of Grand Central Terminal
at 42nd street. The gunners headphones crackled.
“Fire for effect, range your guns,” the pilot ordered.
“Roger,” was the dual response from the door gunners, as they
swiveled their M60 machine guns downward on their pivots, each
gunner cocking his weapon, pulling back the arming lever, which
loaded the first shell into the breech from their belt fed
ammunition.
There wasn’t much aiming to do. Though the pilot had drastically
reduced speed, the proximity of the buildings made them blur past —
actual aiming was impossible, but the effect was all that was
expected.
The guns were loaded with explosive ammunition. Jacketed with
copper for maximum penetration, the rounds would explode in a
fraction of a second after impact, destroying anything with which
they came in contact. Each gun was capable of firing in excess of
500 rounds per minute. The heavy gun barrels would dissipate the
excessive heat of over firing effectively. The only limiting factor
was the finite supply of ammunition in each loading case.
Checking that the belts were feeding properly, the gunners fired
a three second burst, expending 25 rounds each in a loud chatter.
Empty shells, and the disintegrating link belt onto which the
individual rounds were fitted, spun and clinked as they were ejected
from the breeches, streaming like a garden hose. To improve on the
task of aiming, every fourth round was a tracer. Fine at a
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 273

distance, but in these close confines it gave but a slight


advantage.
These first rounds splattered across the seventh floor levels of
the buildings at which they were aimed. Some rounds, but not all,
buried themselves into the concrete and brickwork, exploding forth,
and throwing out large clumps of masonry. Others cleaved through
the glass windows, ripping through all that was in their way,
furniture, walls, floors, before exploding, destroying the room in
which they detonated. Little remained of any human contact except
for a mist of blood and damaged tissue.
“Free fire,” the pilot ordered, steadying the aircraft over the
Park Avenue centerline, anticipating the expected wind gusts from
the passing cross streets.
In response, the gunners aimed backward from their bay doors to
improve their aim, but more to avoid damaging the helicopter from
erupting debris. Their backs rested on the cold metallic sides of
the ammunition drums stacked behind them. Not comfortable, but
comfort was not an anticipated luxury with the task at hand. Their
assistant replaced their spent belts as quickly as they ran out.
Closing their fingers against the triggers, they set about their
task and opened fire, smoke pouring from the flash guards at the end
of the large barrels, while they hosed destruction into the glass
and metal buildings on either side. For maximum effect, the gunners
lifted and dipped their weapons, so that the firing would have a
larger target area, two or three floors instead of one.
On the street below, pedestrians stood gaping at the destruction
that rained into the buildings above them. They were rewarded for
their curiosity by showers of glass and debris which sliced
downward, maiming the unwary. A lone police officer returned fire
quickly but uselessly, emptying his Glock 9mm pistol skyward. One
building got special attention from the gunners - that of the
Waldorf Astoria, with its gilded gold exterior. The helicopter
slowed momentarily to allow the port gunner time to concentrate his
aim at the lobby area, ripping it and its inhabitants to pieces with
countless searing rounds of lethal projectiles. While he did this,
the pilot activated a switch on his stick flipping the protective
cover open. Depressing the button, the gattling gun attached under
the nose of the cockpit spat out its own deadly contents.
Inside the pilot’s visor was projected a target symbol in a
heads-up display. Wherever the pilot turned his head, the gun would
follow. The Met Life building stood at the end of Park Avenue, its
acres of glass were half bathed in shadow. Round after round plowed
through the panes. Inside the building the people became aware of
the danger when they heard the plink and tinkle of the bullets
entering through the glass windows - the helicopter was too far away
for them to hear the noise of the discharging nose gun. Afterwards,
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 274

those who lived would remember the sound that followed the onslaught
as a roar, a ripping sound like a straining chain-saw.
Later, lower Park Avenue would be closed for a week, while
detectives combed through the wreckage and rubble looking for clues.
They would find absolutely nothing - even the empty casings were
absent, collected by the gunners in burlap sacks attached to the
ejection slots like horse feeders. The bullets themselves, being of
the explosive variety, left only fragments. Even those that didn’t
explode were so scarred from their entry through the glass and
masonry that they left little if anything of the rifling of the
weapon that discharged them.
Though adrenaline coursed through his body, sparking off a rush
of endorphins, the pilot maintained an outward calm expression and
tone in his voice.
“Going up,” he said clearly into his intercom. The side gunners
stopped firing in unison as did the pilot while they prepared to go
to phase two. As soon as he had spoken the words, he hauled back on
the collective, pitching the blades of the main rotor upward, and
the helicopter rose like an elevator. Rising above the office
towers, the pilot radioed a pre-determined code on an open frequency
using a tone keypad like that on a telephone. The code was a
meaningless series of tones except to one listener, situated in
Melville, Long Island.
A high antenna rose above his roof, as a ham radio operator -
that was his cover - he needed it to extend above any interference
from intermediate hills, of which there were few on the island.
Melville sported the most significant, rising 200 feet before the
broad expanse that stretched to Manhattan’s glittering glass towers.
The operator noted the time on his note pad without responding.
The helicopter heeled westward, skimming the rooftops until two
blocks away it reached 6th Avenue or Avenue of the Americas as the
street signs boasted. Around them lay an immense expanse of glass
covered structures. The port gunner had the most opportunities,
because the target buildings lay on the west side of the avenue.
The pilot flew north on 6th, utilizing his weapon for maximum
effect, while the port waist gunner hosed the buildings from top to
bottom. So efficient was their plan that the pilot took care of the
distant towers and the waist gunner the nearest, until the entire
avenue was awash in glass and steel. The starboard gunner’s
opportunity came at Rockefeller Plaza and Radio City Music Hall, and
he wasted no time in catching up with his companions.
The final phase had to do with a prominent international building
on the West Side - a few minutes travel away. They used this time
to reload. Empty ammunition cases were kicked out of the gun port
doors when the pilot made a lazy turn high above the East River.
The cases fluttered soundlessly to the murky water, splashing into
it, and sinking almost immediately.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 275

In police headquarters, the phones rang off the hook with reports
of the uptown onslaught. The police helicopter unit was immediately
notified, as were a number of the SWAT teams. The police
helicopters, three of them, took off, bringing with them marksmen
who set up their powerful rifles on a specially fitted bracket in
the rear of the helicopter. A call from the police chief notified
both the National Guard based on Staten Island and the Coast Guard
unit on Governor’s Island.
The helicopter had the United Nations’ Building, their final
target, in it’s sights. Prior to their mission their information on
the status of air defenses was uncertain. From his vantage point a
hundred feet above the building, the pilot could see that the
security personnel had indeed the shoulder launched SAMs his
intelligence sources had warned him about. He sprayed the roof top
with the remaining rounds from his nose gun making sure that he
eliminated any immediate threat to his aircraft. Heeling the
helicopter hard on its axis, he raced over to the Queens side of the
East River before reinforcements ventured onto the United Nations
Building rooftop. The waist gunners provided cover until the
receding building was out of range.
Almost adjacent to the Queens 59th Street bridge, the pilot
lowered the aircraft, allowing his passengers to jump safely to the
ground on an abandoned pier. While they did, he tied off his
controls using a combination of rope and duct tape and jumped out
himself. The helicopter hovered momentarily and began to edge out
away from the pier while the men jumped into a waiting car, their
mission of destruction completed. They didn’t wait to watch it
flutter uselessly and splash into the brown river water where, after
churning the water into a cauldron, it sank quietly to the bottom.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 276

Ted Smith left the review of the redigitized copy to the


professionals. He didn’t have it in him to watch it again. So he
set about trying to contact Nick Riordan. All he had for a contact
was an e-mail address on America On-line and a beeper number in New
York. He tried both twice and then all he could do was wait...and
wait.
He put a call into Mortimer, who was tailing Woolworth.
Woolworth’s movements were routine. Mortimer hated tailing through
traffic, because he had to be close enough not to lose the target,
but far enough away so as not to be constantly in the rear view
mirror and thus avoid detection. He had no sleep the previous
night, and he had to make every effort to stay awake. He told Ted
he would keep him informed.
Nick eventually did call, but not in response to Ted’s attempts
to contact him.
“Have you seen the news?” Nick asked.
“Yeah, I’ve been watching the Irish situation closely.”
“No, New York. Some loonies in a helicopter literally shot up
Park Avenue and tried to blow some holes in the UN Building.”
Ted flicked to CNN and watched the coverage as he spoke to Nick.
After a minute of watching he muttered “Jesus,” and turned it off
again. There were more pressing matters at hand.
“We need that tape Nick. You still have it don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. But first I need some advice.”
“Shoot.”
“I’ve run into some people here that want the tape as well.”
“Really! And who might they be?” Ted asked, thinking perhaps
that a media group may have had an interest.
“The IRA.”
Ted was silent.
“And?”
“They want to use it as bait to get O’Shea to break cover.”
“Why should he? He doesn’t have an interest in it.”
Ted heard a beep from his second line.
“Nick, hold on I’ve got to answer this,” and he put him on hold.
“Ted, Mort here. That tape is priceless. After reviewing the
enhanced digital version, we have a clear shot of someone who looks
awfully familiar firing shots into the bodies on the street. We’ve
got to have the original tape though, and work from that.”
“That’s a breakthrough. I think I can work something out.”
“You’ve got to, and I’ve got to go old chap. Just got word we
have to pick up the suspect I’m following. Bye,” and he hung up.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 277

Ted clicked back to Nick. For a second he though he lost him as


there was a long pause before Nick spoke again.
“Nick? I need that tape today if possible.”
“The only way is for me to messenger it over to you. I’m a
persona non grata in Blighty. There are plans afoot over here to
ship me back to Ireland, to use me as bait to get O’Shea.”
“He’ll kill you in half a heartbeat. Wait, if the IRA have you,
why are they letting you call me?”
“They’ve made me an offer I can’t refuse Ted. I am in their
custody for my protection, not as a means of intimidating me. I’m
free to go as long as they accompany me. I’m very worried about
Jessica and the children. She’s not responding to any of my calls.
I’ll call you back as soon as I can figure out what I’m going to
do.”
“Wait, I’m going to book you onto a British Airways’ flight into
London tonight. You can pick up the ticket at the airport. I’ll be
waiting for you at the terminal, and I’ll get you cleared through
customs.”
There was a pause. Ted was sure that there was someone else on
the line. There had to be. If Nick was in IRA custody, he would be
under tight wraps. Ted could hear muffled talking on the other end
of the phone while he waited.
“Ted, you will need to book two tickets. The only way they will
let me leave here is if I am accompanied. You will receive a call
from an IRA contact in London to make arrangements about what they
have in mind for the tape.”
“Let me give you a number.”
“I think they already have it. I called you remember... sorry.
See you tomorrow.”
“Nick, Jessica has ...” but the line was dead.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 278

O’Shea was furious. He stomped across his room and flung the
communiqué onto his desk, which it missed and landed in a flurry of
paper on the floor. His secretary stooped and picked it up, leaving
it in a tidy heap on his desk. She waited, knowing that her boss
would have instructions for her after his temper had blown off. But
that was a ways off she thought — first the storm.
“That Goddamn American bitch. Who the fuck does she think she
is?” His eyes blazed and he pounded his fist into his palm as he
strode the room.
He was reacting to a letter sent over to him from Jean
Kirkpatrick, which in no uncertain words told him that the game was
up. It had been a carefully calculated ploy which, after
consultation with the U.S. foreign office, had been decided to hint
at the information that the U.S. possessed concerning O’Shea and his
designs. The Ambassador was showing her hand to a certain extent,
but after the incident that had left her bloodied, and telling the
President about O’Shea’s reference to his being of the “Chickenshit”
variety, she was, with the blessing and support of the US President,
given a free hand in managing the affair. Kirkpatrick had e-mailed
off her plans for a response after Adams left the night before, and
had an approval, with a couple of revisions, that morning. The
basis of the US stance was that it did not recognize O’Shea as a
political leader and therefore he would not be offered the
privileges that were afforded that position.
The main thrust of the document included statements that: the US
was withdrawing from any official diplomatic communications with the
O’Shea led Irish government until the democratic elected leaders
once again took office; all economic aid would end immediately; at
the behest of remaining Irish officials, who had registered their
request through the US Ambassador, all Irish commercial funds and
state assets in the US would be frozen immediately; no commercial
or civil aircraft would be permitted to travel between Ireland and
the US and that would include grounding the remaining Irish aircraft
in the US; the US Ambassador and the American personnel that
staffed the Ballsbridge embassy facility were to be recalled, and
only essential personnel and security staff would remain.
O’Shea knew the implications. Other countries would follow suit.
Ireland would become a diplomatic ghost town overnight. He would
have to move quickly.
What disturbed him even more was the statement that the US was
going to release irrefutable evidence of his alleged involvement in
the mass killing of innocents. That date had not been set, but it
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 279

was too late O’Shea thought. A selection of items of the military


hardware that he had imported was also listed.
“Woolworth, the little shit,” he thought, “must have talked.”
But Woolworth was still up and running providing him with key
information regarding British moods and military deployment. O’Shea
stopped his pacing and turned and stared at his computer.
“Could it be possible that someone had cracked my encrypted
files?” he thought. “Impossible!”
Snarling, he turned on his secretary.
“Has anyone been in my office alone?”
His secretary was startled. The office had only one entrance and
she was there to buzz visitors in.
“No. I don’t even go in unless you’re here.”
“No one has had access to my room? You’re absolutely sure?”
“Your security personnel are here 24 hours a day...”
“They’ve only been here a week. How about before that?”
His secretary wished she had her desk diary so that she could
check. A dim memory surfaced.
“Last week we had a visit from two state security personnel, a
Detective Driscoll and his partner. I left them alone outside your
office for a couple of minutes while I got some tea. They’re the
only ones I remember.”
“Driscoll again. He’s been suspended from the force, right?”
“All done according to your call to Chief Casey yesterday.”
“Something smells. I should have taken care of Driscoll a long
time ago. Get Cullen over here right away.” He thought of
something else. Woolworth had outlived his usefulness.
“Have my office in London send Peter Woolworth a bottle of
champagne with my compliments. Tell them to take any of the bottles
out of my office refrigerator. I want that done immediately.”
His secretary waited in case there were any other orders.
“Go on, get on with it!” was his curt dismissal.
He sat at his desk reviewing his options. His plan called for
further escalation prior to his attack timetable, set for three days
from now. He would have to move the schedule up and provoke the
Brits a little harder. He smiled as he realized that he could get
some payback with Jean Kirkpatrick. He was screwed diplomatically
anyway.
“May as well get hanged for stealing a sheep as for a lamb,” he
thought as he called a number outside of London. It was time to
push Britain a little harder toward the brink.
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As the Royal Air Force flight leader taxied his Tornado fighter
aircraft to the end of the runway, he made last minute pre-flight
checks, referring to the list strapped to his thigh. Since his
downing during the Gulf War, he had been doubly careful, because he
had been blown out of the sky by a large Soviet made SAM - the last
of three, having successfully evaded the first two. A proximity
fuse was what got him, a second more and he would have been clear,
but the missile had exploded aft of his tail, ripping through the
control surfaces. Despite the extensive damage, the flight computer
kicked in and took over, enabling the aircraft to continue flying
much longer than he could have on his own. However, when the rear
ailerons literally fell off moments later, the flight computer
became just another piece of useless electronics while the plane
spun, spiraling through the dark night towards the cool desert sands
below.
Flight Lieutenant DuPont had ejected at a low altitude, having
radioed his position to his base, and had practically landed on top
of an Iraqi patrol. As he thumped into the ground, his parachute
shroud billowing around him, he was greeted, not too
enthusiastically, by a group of heavily armed Iraqi soldiers whose
units had been bombed to bits by B52’s earlier in the night. That
he had managed to live was a tribute to his survival skills, and the
shrewd negotiation of a high ranking American general.
As the war progressed, and Iraq learned that the coalition forces
could indeed place a bomb wherever they pleased, deals were made
that certain areas would be removed from the list in return for
certain downed pilots. Lt. DuPont was one of the fortunate pawns
and was released prior to the end of hostilities.
“Flight leader, cleared for take off,” the tower signaled as he
rolled onto the runway, his wing man shadowing him. Glancing at his
bare wings which glowed in the pulse of his navigation lights, he
tapped his brakes lining the aircraft up on the runway. The flight
had minimal armament. The two 27mm nose cannons were armed and two
air to air Sidewinder missiles were slung underneath the wing tips.
Swept forward for takeoff, the wings would, after takeoff, be swept
back to provide a maximum speed of Mach 2. The two 15,000 pound
thrust engines, during normal flight operations, would require the
addition of wing hung fuel pods. However, tonight’s flight had a
duration of under an hour as their flight plan had them fly over
Wales, west across the Irish Sea and north to Belfast.
Behind him, in the second seat, his co-pilot was busy checking
his instruments, his helmeted and visored face bathed in the glow of
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 281

the cockpit lights. The rest of the flight waited in pairs on the
taxi way while DuPont slid the throttles to the stops, igniting the
afterburners. Twin tongues of flame shot from the engine exhausts —
a bright orange settling into a focused blue, like a blowtorch.
The powerful aircraft shuddered like a racehorse, straining
against the starting gate. DuPont released the brakes as he and his
wing man began their take-off roll simultaneously. He felt the G-
forces push him back into his seat, and he braced his head against
the headrest while he waited for his speed to reach rotation
velocity. Behind him, the squadron began to roll, taking their
place on the runway, awaiting clearance before hurtling down the
tarmac into the night.
Their mission was to travel to Belfast at near maximum speed for
two reasons. The first was to notify the renegade Irish Government
that the flight was taking place, as they would be flying in the
clear at 22,000 feet, easily detectable from the controller’s radar
at Dublin airport. The second, traveling at high speed would
provide a demonstration of just how fast these aircraft could get
into action - a psychological threat was how the defense Minister,
Woolworth, had put it. It was sign of the clout that the British
could bring to bear, amplified by the sonic boom that would rattle a
few window panes on the East coast of the country. Woolworth had
notified O’Shea of the flight plan as he had been instructed.
Once over the Irish sea they would fly northeast towards Dublin
increasing speed and height quickly so that they would pass just
east of Dun Laoire, a major ferry port south of Dublin, at close to
1,400 MPH. The sonic shockwave would provide an ample demonstration
of their power. Their remaining trip to their destination would
take all of three minutes as they traveled a mile every four
seconds.
As soon as DuPont had cleared the ground he punched off his
afterburners to conserve on fuel. The night air was still, much of
the turbulence expected from the warm summer’s day dissipated into
the cool night. He was distracted momentarily by flashes that
filled his rear view mirror.
“What going on back there?” he asked the second flight leader,
who had taken off behind him.
“Er, unsure, turbulence?” the pilot responded checking his
control panel in dismay, as oil pressure dropped on his number one
engine and his second engine spluttered. His first thought was that
he had strayed into the jet wash of the preceding flight, but he
dismissed that option because the takeoff gap was sufficient and the
wash would have dissipated.
The second element of the flight had barely cleared the end of
the runway before they were bombarded by an upward hail of hot
steel. From near point-blank range a triangulated set of FN MAG
machine guns lanced the planes soft aluminum fuselages with 7.62mm
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rounds, traveling at 2,800 feet per second. Every third round was a
tracer - a bullet with a hollowed rear end filled with combustible
material which ignited when the round was fired, and burned brightly
for the few seconds of flight, giving the machine gunner an accurate
method of aiming in darkness.
Though aiming was haphazard, the volume of fire from the three
weapons filled the night sky with a sufficient quantity of deadly
projectiles to serve their purpose. Given the velocity of the
aircraft, the gunners relied on their ears and their own position at
the end of the runway, to give them an idea of where the aircraft
were, and they simply filled the sky in front of it with fire, and
let the planes fly right into the fusillade.
From sites prepared some hours before under the cover of
darkness, the ground assault team had, following detailed
instructions and hours of training, entered a field adjoining the
air base. The van that had dropped them didn’t even come to a
complete halt, so as not to arouse the suspicions of the regular
patrols of MP’s. The men had jumped from the side door of the van
into the hedgerow and waited patiently for a second van to pass some
twenty minutes later.
From this, their equipment was thrown, in two large heavily
padded army surplus kit bags. The men carried with them folding
shovels which they used to excavate shallow fox holes. Using the
excavated soil they built up mounds in front of them onto which they
set the barrel mounted swivels. They continued digging as late as
possible, each shovel full adding to the degree of their firing
angle. The added benefit was that they were all but invisible to
roving eyes as they, inch by inch, lowered themselves into the soft
earth surrounded by the tall grasses of the meadow.
Their orders were to use the first flight for ranging and gauging
the speed and takeoff direction of the following aircraft. By the
time their leader’s watch alarm went off, they were ready, poised
for maximum effectiveness. Their escape route was simple. Taking
their weapons with them, they would booby trap the foxholes, run for
the hedgerow and be picked up by a passing ambulance. It all came
down to timing.
As the flight leader roared above them, they followed his
silhouette, using the glow from the luminous paint dabbed on the
front and rear gunsights. When the glow of his afterburner snuffed
out, they turned their attention toward the end of the runway and
waited.
Smoke filled the cockpits of both of the second flight’s planes,
as the jacketed rounds sliced into the airframes destroying
everything that lay in their path. Alarms inundated the pilots when
all of their systems failed. A navigator shouted, “Bail out, bail
out!” while he reached underneath his armored seat for the ejection
handle. His fingers were torn off by a round that passed through
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 283

the floor plate before ricocheting upward through the canopy


shattering the reinforced Plexiglas.
However, his pilot pulled his control handle ejecting them both
on their rocket packs through the canopy into the night sky. The
crew of the second plane was not so fortunate. Their afterburners
were still lit when fuel cascaded from their ruptured tanks. The
pilot yanked back on his stick instinctively, fighting for altitude,
his tail section ablaze. The fuel spurted from the gaping holes
with the added G-forces, and, on contact with the searing hot metal
of the engine exhaust nozzles, shot a sheet of flame that jumped the
length of the plane. The effect was devastating, the intense heat
literally melted the airframe, and the plane fell apart. The pilot
and co-pilot hadn’t a chance.
DuPont banked his Tornado high and turned back to investigate.
He caught the explosion that rocked the sky as both of his second
flight’s aircraft smashed into the ground not more than 200 yards
apart, lighting up the surrounding countryside in pillars of angry
orange flame. His call to the tower to abort the remaining flight
wings was relayed to the aircraft on the ground. However, the third
pair were already committed, too late to stop.
Both pilots had seen the destruction ahead of them as they rolled
down the runway.
“Separate on takeoff,” the third flight leader radioed his wing
man, calculating what he should do with seconds to spare. As in
Iraq, though from a higher altitude, he had seen the familiar
necklaces of tracers arching upwards clawing at the sky, and knew
that he had to rely on instinct to motor through.
On the ground, the assault team watched the sky waiting for their
next victims. The result of the initial onslaught had been more
than they had expected. That they had successfully downed both
planes was a bonus. That in itself represented in excess of 30
million pounds sterling of collateral damage, though they had lost
sight of the flight crew that had bailed out successfully, and this
represented an immediate danger, should they be brave enough to
track back from where they had landed.
The assault team leader called out to his men, preparing them to
meet the planes that he could hear roaring towards them. However,
this was not to be so easy. As the planes left the ground, on the
leading pilot’s instructions, they separated by using hard rudder
movements to change direction, because it was too dangerous to bank
at such a low altitude and airspeed. Popping off their after
burners immediately, they were still within the airfield perimeters
as their noses swung away from their intended flight path. When
they passed over the end of the runway they were a hundred yards
apart, traveling at 160 knots, time seemed to slow down in the few
seconds of flight.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 284

Below, the assault team scanned the sky waiting for the sight of
their quarry. Having seen the bloom of the afterburners in the
night sky, they were surprised when on either side of them, far from
where they had expected, the shapes of the aircraft loomed. They
didn’t see them so much as hear them.
On a command from the lead pilot, they simultaneously threw their
throttles into full afterburner, their aircraft leaped forward as if
on rocket sleds.
The gunners arched their weapons to follow them, but they had
been set up for maximum effect in one direction - aimed at the
centerline at the end of the runway. When they swung their FN’s,
taking the weapons’ full weight in their arms, they could only hope
for a snap shot - a lucky strike as the aircraft, flying level only
yards from the ground, raced past them. They started to fire, but
it was like trying to hit a fast moving target with a fire hose, and
the tracers swept the sky harmlessly. They could feel and smell the
heat from the afterburners, the scalding exhaust searing the night
air.
At a further order from the lead pilot, both aircraft, now
traveling at 300 knots and accelerating, knocked off their
afterburners, banked hard and punched out a trail of missile decoy
flares, which popped and crackled as they illuminated the ground
below. They had the effect of blinding the assault gunners,
depriving them completely of their night vision. The flares swung,
burning furiously from their parachutes touching down in the meadow
long before their combustible material ran out. The tinder dry
grass caught fire immediately, the flames fanning out in wide pools
from their source fed by the evening breeze.
The attackers had trained for most contingencies, but not for
this one. They saw that the flames could well cut off their route
of retreat if they did not leave immediately. However, their
mission was not yet complete. The leader keyed his radio hand set
and muttered a code word into it. In the distance the siren of an
ambulance wailed, though its lights were still out of sight. The
men gathered their weapons and set their booby traps that would
hinder the search for evidence, and, they hoped, take some
unsuspecting British Military Police with it.
The remaining flying Tornadoes were long gone, having radioed
their base and having received instructions to continue to an
alternative airfield to check for damage. DuPont had ideas of his
own, however, as he had his wing man fly shotgun high above the last
flight out. The field from which he assumed the attack originated,
lay bathed in light from the spreading fires some three miles away
and 2,000 feet below his slowly circling plane. He confirmed that
the flight path was clear while he made brief adjustments before
rolling back on a course that would bring him into a silent shallow
dive over the field.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 285

Below, the assault team ran to the airfield perimeter fence and
poked their weapons through the wire mesh fence. Spaced 15 yards
apart, they aimed at the retreating grounded Tornadoes as they raced
for their hardened bomb-proof bunkers. They opened fire without
receiving any command from their leader, and marched the steady
stream of bullets over open sights to the planes. The leader
concentrated his fire on emergency equipment that raced out from the
service buildings.
He had no idea of his effectiveness, but gauged the results by
the flight of the tracers as they arched lazily across the bare
airfield. After a few seconds of continuous fire, they had to
reload with their final cache of ammunition slung around their
necks. These they fired in quick bursts, and as they turned to
leave, fires erupted from successful hits on aircraft and vehicles.
The pickup ambulance was now within a few hundred yards of the
field and slowed, its blue lights flashing in the night air, though
the image was distorted by the shimmer caused by the low flames of
the burning grass. At a command from their leader, the assault team
broke cover and raced for the hedgerow, the belts of nearly depleted
ammunition whipping and clanging against their weapons as they ran.
Surprise registered on their faces when the ground around them
erupted.
Two went down shrieking, their bodies shuddering from the impact
of incoming fire. Their leader was more fortunate having tripped
and fallen yards behind. He stayed prone, covering his head with
his hands while the ground shook under him, as high velocity cannon
shells tore into it from the diving Tornado. It was over as quickly
as it had started. The aircraft howled over his head. He rose
loosening off what remained of his ammunition in the general
direction of the receding plane, easily visible from the blue
torches of its engines.
Stooping beside the remains of his men, he ignored the weapons
that lay bent out of shape beside them. The weapons had long since
been subjected to the heat of a welders torch to remove all
identifying marks and serial numbers. Both men were a complete
mess, literally shredded by the force of the cannon shells. One had
his head intact, and the leader smashed at it with the stock of his
FN, fragmenting his teeth to avoid giving any clue to his identity.
Finally, he withdrew two phosphorous grenades, and slinging his
weapon over his shoulder, removed the pins, allowing the arming
lever to start the detonating sequence. He threw one on each of the
remains and ran for the hedgerow at a full gait. With dull thumps,
he heard the grenades explode behind him, and he crashed through the
bushes without looking back. Beyond, the ambulance side doors stood
open, and he was hauled inside by hooded armed men who, on noticing
that he was the only passenger, slammed the doors shut and shouted
an instruction to the driver.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 286

The assault team leader threw his weapon onto a stretcher and
grasped his fatigue jacket for the source of the burning that seared
his back. His discarded jacket smoldered on, but the agonizing
burning continued.
“Stop the truck!” he shouted at the driver beating on the panel.
“Why?” one of the hooded figures asked.
Without answering, the leader slung open the door and jumped
outside as the ambulance stopped. He ran to the ditch along side
the road and grabbed through the grass at the bottom. He scooped up
a handful of mud and slapped it against the muscle area of his
shoulder from which the torturous pain emanated.
The relief was immediate when the phosphorous that was burying
its way into his flesh was deprived of oxygen. Tears streamed from
his eyes at the severity of the pain, while staggered back to the
ambulance under the stony gaze of the men that awaited him, neither
of whom spoke nor offered to help. With a jolt, the ambulance
driver resumed his journey, and they were swallowed up by the night,
unhindered as they raced to their dispersal point.
High above, DuPont watched as best he could, unsure whether or
not to press the attack on the ambulance, but he tracked its
progress updating his controller at regular intervals. MP’s had now
reached the burning field, but were under orders not to proceed
pending the arrival of the army’s bomb sniffing robot. They need
not have worried, when the fire consumed the dry grass of the field,
it set off the explosives that had been placed to trap them,
spurting large globs of dirt and hot ash skyward.
DuPont lost the ambulance when it turned off its lights before it
merged with motor-way traffic heading for London. A stream of
emergency vehicles converged on the area from different directions,
and DuPont turned his plane to aid them in any way he could, because
he was concerned as to the fate of his downed pilots. The image of
the scene that had taken place in under four minutes would be the
basis of an all night debriefing.
The assault leader relieved the driver of the ambulance of his
portable phone and dialed a London number. It rang once, and when
answered emitted a series of low beeps. He dialed in a series of
numbers and pressed the pound key sending his message to a beeper,
which moments later sounded in the governemnt offices in Dublin.
Satisfied, he lay back and had one of the men dress his wound, after
he had removed the remnants of the phosphorus under his agonized
direction.
He would have to shower prior to changing for his flight later to
Dublin. The loss of his associates meant nothing to him - his
instructions had been to dispose of them anyway on their return to
their base. It was after all, as he smiled to himself through the
pain, one less thing to worry about.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 287

After reviewing his timetable for his opening attack, O’Shea


called his tailor to make sure that his latest suit was ready. It
was, and would be dropped off later in the afternoon — not soon
enough. He had passed on orders to commence hostilities at 9:00
P.M. that evening. A quiet threat got a promise from the tailor to
have everything delivered by lunch time.
O’Shea watched CNN while he had his early morning breakfast. He
was disappointed that there was no mention of the attack on the
English Air Force base. That was more than made up for by the
images that flashed in front of him of the shattered buildings in
New York. The newscaster repeated that it was thought to be the
work of an ultra-right-wing group. O’Shea was feeling jubilant, and
made the mistake of allowing his ego to overtake his reason. He
picked up his phone and called Jean Kirkpatrick. She made him wait
some time before she picked up. She was not in the least bit
friendly, nor did she attempt to be. O’Shea acknowledged receipt of
her package the previous day, and asked that she reconsider her
position.
“After all, you don’t want to be on the wrong side when this all
shakes out,” he urged.
“O’Shea, the official stance of the US Government is that we do
not deal with terrorists.”
“Tut, tut. Name calling does not become you.” O’Shea felt the
sting of her admonition.
“Is that all you want? I have a busy schedule.” Kirkpatrick
responded curtly.
“That helicopter attack in New York was unfortunate.”
Kirkpatrick said nothing. She wanted this conversation over
with.
“An unfortunate loss of life. And needless.”
The Ambassadors ears pricked up. What did he know about the
attack other than had been mentioned on the news?
“What are you getting at?” she asked.
“I’ll save your investigators some time. The four guys in the
‘copter were upset with the way you were handling this situation and
took it upon themselves to voice their displeasure.”
Kirkpatrick was glad she was recording the conversation.
“While you have my sympathies for the loss of life, it should be
fair warning that Irish Americans will not stand by idly, without
taking steps to ensure that their voice be heard.”
The ambassador was speechless. Had this buffoon orchestrated an
attack on the nation’s trading capital? Could it be?
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 288

“You did this?” she hissed. “You wouldn’t dare!”


O’Shea laughed loudly.
“Would, could, and did,” and he ended the call. In doing so, he
effectively put the nail in his own coffin.
It didn’t matter any more. It was too late. No one could stop
the inevitable. He left his breakfast unfinished, called in his
chief of staff, and proceeded to give out the orders of battle.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 289

In times of crisis and peace, the offices of Irish Government,


continued to function normally. Curfews aside, the country’s
economic life went on. People went to work, relaxed at the pub,
went home, continued with their daily lives. Apart from the sight
of soldiers tooling here and their in their patrol vehicles, all
seemed normal — outwardly.
The bars, the social hubs of Ireland, were buzzing with the
latest news, the latest gossip. With the exception of those who had
a few drinks too many, great care was taken not to criticize O’Shea
too loudly. He had a popular nationalist following whose memory of
the past war of Independence and the Irish Civil war, though seldom
first hand, was bolstered by their knowledge that they were to play
a part in the making of history. The unification of the country on
the Republic’s terms had been the goal ever since the Irish
Government was founded. O’Shea’s enforcers made sure that anyone
who talked against his historical quest was to be regarded as
consorting with the enemy, so conversation was kept in hushed tones.
The Irish and British governments were no longer communicating by
any means. O’Shea had made it abundantly clear, through his
actions, that he was beyond dialog and goaded the British into
making the first move. The US President was reluctant to speak
about the crisis, preferring instead to inform the public that it
was a case of waiting and seeing. He had a vested interest in Irish
issues, as he had been instrumental in bringing all of the sides
involved in the Northern Irish conflict together to a final
settlement. It was important that he not be seen to take sides. He
instead called for restraint and forethought before either Britain
or Ireland made any irreversible moves.
“There was too much to lose,” he said, “and too little to gain,
and the real danger of tremendous loss of life on both sides.”
Efforts to bring O’Shea and the British government back to the
bargaining table were met with barely disguised contempt from
O’Shea’s camp. O’Shea made it quite clear that this was an Irish
issue and needed no input from the US. Irish interests in the US
were putting pressure on the President and Congress to do something.
There was an even split between those who wanted him to support
O’Shea in the renunciation of Ireland by force of arms, and those
who wanted the US to pressure the United Nations to enter the
conflict as a buffer. There was an obstacle here, however, as both
Britain and Ireland insisted that this was an internal matter and
therefore outside the scope of the United Nations mandate.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 290

Jean Kirkpatrick was a voice vehemently against O’Shea. Being


the President’s eyes on the ground in Ireland, she was against any
negotiation with O’Shea at all.
Kirkpatrick argued that the elimination of O’Shea was only
halfway to solving the problem. She insisted that, if he was guilty
of the crimes that the US suspected him of, the only sure way of
relieving the pressure cooker of tensions was to publicly discredit
him in front of the Irish people. To that end she was talking with
Irish politicians to craft a method toward this goal. However, it
hinged completely upon finding irrefutable evidence that O’Shea’s
interests were more than political, and the public being made aware
that he was indeed the megalomaniac that he was suspected of being.
The helicopter attack in New York was being reported by the media as
the work of some right wing crazies. That would change, however,
before the end of the day.
To that end, the President left Kirkpatrick to her own devices.
She had been the Ambassador to the Emerald Isle for over a decade
and was well connected socially and politically. He supported her
plan of discontinuing diplomatic ties with O’Shea and his
provisional government, until such time as he returned to the
negotiating table and backed off his hostile military strategy.
Despite the President’s resolve not to interfere militarily, he
did concede on two points. He supported Kirkpatrick’s wish to
remain at the embassy, and to protect her he authorized flying in a
company of marines. The four platoons would be divided equally
between the embassy and her official residence, with a squad at the
ready to escort her. This would supplement an already powerful
force of Secret Service personnel who always accompanied her
wherever she went.
The other concession was not evident immediately. The aircraft
carrier, US Independence, on rotation from the Mediterranean back to
Norfolk Virginia after a three month tour, was to make a diversion
northward.
The attack on the British airfield never reached the news. The
destroyed aircraft were written off as an accident during a routine
training flight. But as low tech as the attack was, the effect was
exactly as O’Shea had predicted. British forces went to their
highest state of alert. There was little the politicians could do
but wait, despite their anger, as Northern Ireland’s fate rested on
the control that the commanders had over their troops, and the self
control of the individual soldiers on the ground.
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The British Prime Minister called the US Ambassador to England to


thank him for the information that he had passed on. Of course it
was a major embarrassment that information about Woolworth had come,
not from his own intelligence services, but from the Americans. The
Ambassador told him to think nothing of it, and apologized for being
the bearer of bad news. The PM noticed that there was no air of
patronization. The Prime Minister and the US President were, as
head of states go, close friends. Of similar age and educational
backgrounds, they had struck it off the first time they met. During
the course of the Northern Ireland peace talks this friendship had
helped immeasurably. Agreements that would not have been possible
during the reign of the Tory party — as they relied heavily on the
Northern Irish Unionist votes in their election — were struck. The
US President had quietly brokered the deal through his
intermediaries. What was threatened now was not only the hard won
peace in Ireland but also the withdrawal of major US funding in the
form of grants for both Northern and Southern Ireland — a behind-
the-scenes penalty clause in the agreement. The Ambassador asked
him to await a call from the President.
Presently the phone rang and the quiet voice of William Clinton
greeted the PM. After the usual formalities, Mr. Clinton, as was
typical of his style, abruptly got down to business. He reviewed
all of the information they both had.
“Have you any idea of a timetable for O’Shea’s plans?” he asked
the PM.
“Our intelligence services picked up a flurry of transmissions in
the Republic this morning. I fear that we might have trouble on our
hands as early as tonight.”
“That soon?”
“Yes. But we’re well prepared to meet anything he might throw at
us.”
“I’m going to give you my opinion even though you haven’t asked
for it.”
The PM had expected as much, and indeed privately welcomed it.
“You cannot react to any acts of aggression that O’Shea makes —
defense aside.” The PM was stunned. This was not what he had
expected.
“Let me explain. O’Shea has planned to open this conflict on
three fronts. First, as you know, he has his own private army in
place, scattered around the country. Of most concern are the
numbers that are already positioned in Ulster, whose job it will be,
from what we have determined, to ignite open conflict between the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 292

Catholic and Protestant militias. The second will be a rear action,


again by these previously placed troops, on British barracks,
communications facilities, and on army personnel. Finally, he has
in place and, from our satellite data, already begun dispersing a
sizable fleet of helicopters, which will initiate the main battle
and drop troops at key areas all over the Province. The success of
the plan depends completely upon on the concurrent execution of all
three of these missions. Furthermore, his success, and I can’t
overstate the importance of this, will be determined by drawing the
Irish Territorial Army into the conflict. They will provide the
muscle to accomplish the task.”
“Blitzkrieg?”
“Exactly.”
“Christ, we hadn’t...” and he stopped himself in mid sentence.
Political friend or not, he had to stop himself from demonstrating
any weakness or lack of knowledge. “So, Bill, you’re suggesting
that we don’t fight at all?”
“Not so. You have advance knowledge of what is going to happen
so you can make preparations for it. I believe that the plan we
have in mind will, assuming we’re not too late, resolve this matter,
and bring political matters back close to where they were before
this entire fiasco began. But it will require that you stay out of
any conflict.”
“I find that hard to swallow Bill. We’re teetering on the verge
of war.”
“I understand completely. But let me explain. O’Shea is a very
smart man. Not an astute politician but then he never planned it
that way. He has the support of the Irish people, the way the
leader of a mob leads the crowd. By keeping up the pressure on the
domestic and political fronts, he has very cleverly managed to keep
the Irish public off balance, unable to think through their position
rationally as a nation. His appeal to nationalist fervor has struck
a chord that has in turn thrown the weight of public opinion behind
him. Anyone who opposes him is afraid to speak out, fearing the
consequences. You have read his manifesto, or plan, or whatever you
want to call it. Nationalism is his aim, but his motivating factors
are revenge, for what was done to his family in the past, and
genocide. Once united, he will systematically eradicate any
opposition north and south of the border, until he has a country
that will be tailor made to his specifications. Many, many
revolutionaries have tried this before, some on a larger scale,
Stalin and Hitler for instance. Others smaller, Idi Amin of Uganda
and Castro come to mind. It is the idiot ideology, simply because
it does not work. It can’t.”
There was a pause as Clinton took as sip of water. His Chief of
Staff, seated in the Oval Office with him, nodded encouragingly, and
gave the President a thumbs up. Foreign affairs were not the
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President’s forte, but he was doing very well — he had authored the
US response himself.
“If British troops come into conflict with Irish troops, O’Shea
will win. You may pound him militarily but you will ignite a
country wide war that will shake Europe to its foundations. You
will be seen as beating up the little guy and O’Shea has, for now,
the media on his side.”
The PM chewed on his pencil. All of this was being taped for the
record.
“What I am suggesting is that we, the US, take the initiative.
The US has been the peace broker, we’ve been actively involved in
Irish politics for years. We are in the position to resolve this
problem, if resolution is possible at this late stage. The media
will scream bloody murder, I know, but we can take the heat.”
The PM had scribbled a note to his assistant to call in the
cabinet to his Downing Street office as soon as he had got the gist
of what the President was suggesting. Within minutes they began to
arrive in his ante-room, waiting to be called into the main office.
The US President outlined his plan to an initially reluctant PM.
But by the end of the conversation, the PM saw the logic behind it.
Now all he had to do was get all of his ducks in a row. In his
cabinet briefing after the call, he had to relieve more than one
member from his post to accomplish this.
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From his vantage point on the upper floor of the house on


Coliemore Road, Gerry Adams watched the sea, oily calm, slop against
the shore of nearby Dalkey Island. The barren island was desolate,
save for the goats that roamed its rough pasture under the gaze of
an abandoned Martello Tower — one of such 20 defensive towers that
dot Dublin’s coast, built in 1804, to withstand a Napoleonic
invasion that never materialized — and the seventh century ruin of
St. Begnet’s Church. On a pleasant summer morning such as this, the
waters should have been speckled with sail boats and wind surfers
alike. But the population was distracted by the prospect of coming
events.
Adams was secure in a safe house in the South Dublin suburb of
Dalkey. The house’s location left him a number of avenues of escape
should the need arise. It was quite clear to him what had to be
done. The latest communication from Jean Kirkpatrick, faxed to him
through Seán Driscoll, highlighted in no uncertain terms, what
O’Shea’s plans were for the troublesome elements of Northern
Ireland.
As Adams poured over the lengthy fax, he became increasingly
disturbed. O’Shea planned the complete eradication of all
nationalist elements. Further, O’Shea intended — and from the notes
that Kirkpatrick had included, had already started — to prune the
Unionist majority of its more militant members.
From his contacts with his IRA counterpart Martin McGuinness, who
was in Belfast, he knew that emotions in both the loyalist and
nationalist camps were at crisis point. Acts of indiscriminate
sectarian violence were rekindling. The ancient enemies were
dangerously close to open confrontation of a kind never seen before.
Perhaps, Adams thought, the plan was to let these hostilities boil
over into street warfare, providing O’Shea with yet another reason
for his planned invasion. Kirkpatrick had received Adams’ note the
previous evening when his operatives in Mayo confirmed that O’Shea’s
assembly plant did indeed have a large inventory of completed
helicopters. His operatives had no need to break into the plant to
find out. Flight tests were being carried out quite openly. It
didn’t take a genius to realize that this was the main means that
O’Shea intended to use to as a weapons platform. What was amazing,
was his ability to keep it secret to this point. Not much happened
in Ireland that Adams did not know about. So he made two calls.
The first was to Martin McGuinness, whom he urged to keep a lid
on things, and more importantly to distribute the cache of surface
to air missiles that had been imported through Wicklow some months
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 295

previous. McGuiness had protested, arguing that these were weapons


of absolute emergency. Gerry soothed his concern, and stopped his
protests cold, by telling him an abbreviated version of what he had
leaned. McGuiness assured him that the weapons would be made ready
for immediate use and distributed around the province and in Dublin,
to the IRA personnel already trained to use them. Adams quietly
rebuked his concern over Adams’ safety assuring him that he was
fine. He wished he felt it.
The second call required some thought before he put it through.
He decided that honesty was the best policy and dialed the number.
The worst that could happen was that the recipient would say “No.”
“Peter Benson.”
“Peter, Gerry Adams.”
There was a long pause. Adams figured that Benson was either
going to hang up or hurl a tirade of abuse over the line for the
intrusion. Benson was the head of the Ulster Unionist Party.
“Well, Adams, what do you want?”
“You and I have a common problem. We’ll have to come up with a
joint solution.”
“You’ve got to be joking. We would never have anything to do
with a nationalist terrorist group.” He made no effort to conceal
the contempt in his voice.
“You didn’t seem to have a problem dealing with one during the
peace accord talks.”
“Only because we were forced to.”
“Hear me out. You can decide then whether I’m making any sense.”
Adams construed the silence that followed to be an agreement. So
he launched into the information he had about O’Shea, his political
visions, and Adam’s knowledge of his ambitions to reunite the
country.
“I know a lot of this already, I have my own sources. It’ll
never happen.” Benson said impatiently. “O’Shea is a pimple on the
backside of history and just as easily squished.”
Adams bit his tongue. Speaking with this bigot civily was
exceedingly difficult. So he dampened down the anger that
threatened to spoil his composure.
“There’s more to this than meets the eye, Peter.”
“Och, go on Adams, spit it out.”
“In a nutshell, Gerard O’Shea’s plans for Ulster includes the
eradication and elimination of all Loyalist and Nationalist hard-
liners.”
“Elimination? Fancy words for a terrorist.”
“All right then. He’s going to kill us all. You, me and
everyone else.”
“I find that hard to believe. I wouldn’t be surprised if you
were in cahoots with O’Shea. You and your nationalist ilk have
everything to gain from his moves. Which I may add, will come to
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naught, just as your terrorist activities for the past thirty years
have achieved nothing.”
“It got you to the negotiating table. It got the Unionist party
to make concessions. It improved the way of life for the Catholic
minority dramatically.”
“At the cost of over 3,000 lives!” Benson shot back.
“A drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. Your
friends, the Brits, killed more in one hour’s bombing in World War
II.” Adams knew that he was loosing the point and went on before
Benson could hang up. “And a fraction of the deaths that will occur
over the next few weeks if O’Shea manages to have his way.”
“So what has this to do with me?”
“It has everything to do with you. You personally are on his
list just as Paisley was. And he got rid of him easily enough.”
“And how do you know about all of this?”
“I have been made privy to a document taken from O’Shea’s
office.”
Benson was silent.
“Adams, you started this whole fiasco by breaking the cease fire
killing our people at our commemorative march.”
“Just as you retaliated by destroying the Aer Lingus flight in
Boston.”
“We had nothing to do with that!” Benson protested.
“Nor had we anything to do with that march.”
Benson was obviously conferring with someone listening in on the
call. Adams heard a muffled heated conversation in the background,
the scuff of a hand over the telephone mouth piece.
“Adams, why should I listen to you?”
“Despite our differences, we have little choice but to co-
operate. We may hate the sight of each other, but unless we unite
to combat O’Shea, we will be but insignificant blips in the grand
scheme of history. O’Shea plans to divert the British armies
attention at a critical moment by igniting open hostilities between
Loyalists and Nationalists in Belfast, Derry and other areas. He
had troops in place scattered throughout the province, who will open
fire on both our constituencies at the same time. And he will
coordinate rearguard attacks on British troops, who are protecting
key facilities. The British army will in essence be fighting a war
on two fronts. A battle that cannot be won.”
“How can I believe you?”
“I’m going to give you the telephone number of the US Ambassador.
She will confirm what I have said. She, if you are willing to
listen, will provide you with the same information that she has
given to me.”
“The US ambassador is mixed up in all of this?”
“Just as she has in getting the peace process in hand over the
years.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 297

“I will have to confer with my council.”


“Then may I suggest you do so very quickly. There’s very little
time. This conflict could begin as early as tonight. Either we
fight back to back, or by tomorrow we’ll be lying dead beside each
other, our blood mingling in the soil of Ulster.”
“Oh Christ, the thought of it.”
“My sentiments exactly.”
“Very well, I’ll get back to you.”
“One other thing. You will have to sell this to the RUC
commander to avoid police interference. There’ll be a lot of armed
Nationalists in the streets. I don’t want this to backfire.”
Benson snorted, but agreed, contingent on a few provisions.
“There is no room for negotiation here,” Adams reprimanded him,
“we’re fighting for our very existence.”
Benson heard the urgency in Adams’ voice. Perhaps he was telling
the truth. Benson wrote down Adams’ cellular number, told Adams he
would get back to him and hung up.
Gerry Adams then called his own council to pass on the news.
Their response was even more heated than Benson’s, Adams thought he
would lose the day, but with threats, promises, and flattery he got
them around to his way of thinking, and a new era of cooperation in
the long bloody history of Ulster began.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 298

The flight from New York was uneventful. Nick declined the
courtesy beverages, though he wished he could throw a few down. He
had a inordinate interest in a couple of the female cabin staff, a
side effect from being away from Jessica for so long. He stowed his
lust away with his fear of flying and tried to nap. For once he was
successful waking only when the British Airways 747-400 touched down
at London’s Heathrow airport twenty minutes early, the large plane
benefiting from the strong easterly jet stream.
Nick was exhausted, drained from the constant barrage of stress.
He was sick with concern about Jessica and their children, but there
was only so much his mind could take, so he put it aside until he
could be in a position to do something about it.
After the plane landed, a shadow of apprehension about being
arrested flitted through his brain. But he was too tired to be
nervous while he exited the plane and made his way with his one
carry-on bag to passport control. Long lines lay ahead. An IRA man
had accompanied him, but had made no contact with him during the
flight. He took up position a few yards behind Nick in the line,
his eyes nervously scanning for signs of trouble. The IRA men in
New York were a hard bunch and not overly friendly with Nick during
the days he was with them. Then again they were not all that warm
with each other. It had been a relief when he found out that they
had not intended him any harm. Their only concern was to make sure
that he had the video tape on his person. Once that was certain,
they left him be, allowing him to use the phone, but they wouldn’t
let him out of the run down Elmhurst, Queens, apartment at all.
He had the pleasure, albeit dubious on Nick’s part, of speaking
with Gerry Adams, who told him the IRA’s intentions for him and, in
no uncertain terms, the dangers involved. As instructed, Nick had
put a call into the O’Shea’s office and after introducing himself,
spoke directly with O’Shea. As coolly as he could, he offered to
make a deal with O’Shea. He informed him that he had a number of
offers from the media to purchase the tape. Nick also told him that
the tape was damaged, but he would agree to hand it over for
guarantee that he and his family be allowed to go unharmed.
O’Shea didn’t beat around the bush. He had a passing interest in
the tape and would go along with Nick’s offer on the condition that
he deliver it personally. When Nick asked him if he thought he a
fool, O’Shea casually asked how Jessica and the children were
enjoying their stay in Aghios Nickolas. The inference chilled Nick
— O’Shea had known their location all along, and could, should he
desire it, have them killed, if, Nick realized with a start, he had
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 299

not already done so. Nick asked how he was to know that they were
all right now. O’Shea laughed and answered “you don’t.” He
instructed Nick to contact O’Shea’s office at whatever time he got
into Dublin.
Nick was deeply concerned about Jessica. Calls that he made to
her apartment were answered with a busy signal. Yani was
unavailable. There was little he could do but pray.
An armed policeman approached him as he stood in line and asked
him quietly, but firmly, to accompany him. A glance to the rear
showed another policeman backing up the first, so Nick picked up his
bag and did as he was told. His IRA companion strained to see what
was happening, unable to interfere. Throwing down his hand luggage
in frustration, he angrily pushed his way out of the line and,
finding a payphone, made an urgent call.
Relief flooded through Nick as he saw Ted waiting for him at
passport control, where he was handed over without even a courtesy
glance at his passport.
“Welcome back,” Ted patted Nick on the back, as he led him to his
car which was parked illegally outside the main Heathrow arrivals
terminal. A policeman was speaking excitedly into his walkie-
talkie, as Ted approached him he flashed an ID badge and apologized
for the man’s trouble. The Bobby walked off, back to his beat,
eyeing both disdainfully.
When they drove off, Nick asked where they were going.
“Scotland Yard, assuming you have the tape with you.”
Nick nodded affirmatively and drifted off to sleep as they
entered the busy M 4 Motorway to London.
Nick jolted awake to find himself in the parking lot of Scotland
Yard. The tall building soared above him, small by New York
standards, but substantial. He glanced at the rotating sign, so
often seen in movies or used as a backdrop by news reporters.
Shaking himself awake, his body hot in the early morning sun and
from the nap in the car, he followed Ted through security clearance.
Mortimer had sent one of his staff to get them through.
After a quick introduction, Nick handed the tape over, along with
the original damaged cassette casing that Ted had told him to bring
with him, the AK round taped to the side.
Then they did what everyone does while they wait in England, they
had a cup of tea and made small talk.
It was close to 8:30 A.M. when a technician knocked at the door
and handed a package over to Mortimer. He slid the contents onto
the desk. Out fell the original video cassette, refilled with video
tape, and the bullet was where John had originally found it, nestled
between the cover and one of the spools.
“This is what you’re going to bring to Dublin.” Mortimer began.
“The tape is a copy of the original, except that it has been damaged
further to hinder proper viewing. But it will play. Inside is a
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 300

hollow AK round fitted with a transmitter inside. We did this at


the behest of...” he hesitated, grimacing, “an Irish
organization...”
“The IRA,” Ted interjected.
“Yes, the damned IRA. I can’t believe we’re assisting a known
enemy in this way.” Mortimer calmed himself and went on.
“Anyway, they are presuming that O’Shea will keep this tape close
to him, and they have an interest in, shall we say, keeping an eye
on him.”
“I have to get you back to the airport for a 10:40 A.M. flight to
Dublin. We’re lucky there are any flights at all.” Ted said to
Nick. “You’ll be met at Dublin airport by a Detective Driscoll.”
He saw Nick’s eyes light up.
“You know him?”
“Yes...it’s a long story,” and he left it at that.
“You should try to meet with O’Shea publicly if at all possible.
I won’t bullshit you, he has no interest in you personally, other
than in getting the tape. You have to hope that the fact that it is
damaged will be enough to convince him that you haven’t seen it or
shown it to anyone.”
“He’s going to kill me.”
“There’s a good possibility that he will.”
“I hope that whatever plan the IRA have in Dublin, will be enough
to keep me alive.”
“Much as it makes me sick to say it, the IRA does whatever they
put their mind to. So I would give you a 50/50 chance.”
“He knows where Jessica and the kids are. He told me as much
when I spoke to him. Do you know anything?”
Mortimer and Ted exchanged a glance. Out of Nick’s line of sight
Ted shook his head.
“Were not sure where they are Nick, I’m sorry.” Mortimer
answered. Ted looked evasive, but Nick put it down to his being
uncomfortable. It had been decided that the information they had
about his family would wait.
“So why should I do this? They could have been captured or
already dead,” Nick said coldly.
“Three reasons,” Mortimer replied. “First, you don’t know for
sure what happened to them. So you have to assume they’re alive and
well. Second, this is the only chance we have at saving hundreds,
if not thousands, of lives. Third, you owe it to yourself to see
this through. What life will you have if O’Shea’s going to hunt you
down forever? It must end.”
An assistant put her head around the door and spoke to Mortimer.
“Sir, the studio is ready for you now.”
He nodded his acknowledgment.
“Good luck, Nick,” and they shook hands.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 301

Ted offered his as well. Nick was surprised, expecting that he


would take him to the airport.
“I have something to take care of here. We’re preparing a little
something for O’Shea tonight that will take every second we have to
complete. There’s a staff car waiting to take you to Heathrow.”
“Well, Ted, keep a look out for Jessica and contact me as soon as
you hear anything.”
Ted avoided his eyes but nodded his agreement. Mortimer buzzed
his assistant and she escorted Nick out.
“You’re a bastard Ted.” Mortimer admonished his friend.
“I know Mort, I know.”
Mortimer was well aware that Ted knew more about Jessica than he
was saying. But the powers that be had demanded that nothing be
told to Nick at this stage.
“So,” Ted changed the subject, “did you pick up the suspect you
were following yesterday?”
“The shit was about to open a bottle of champagne when we busted
through his door. With all that’s going on you’d think he’d be
packing his bags and heading to Spain or some distant land.”
“May I ask who he is?”
“None other than the Minister of Defense.”
“Peter Woolworth?”
“In person. He’s being very co-operative. The Prime Minister
insisted that he speak with him in person as soon as he was
arrested. Woolworth started blubbering like a scolded schoolboy at
the sight of his friend.”
“Did you get anything useful from him?”
“Oh, plenty. Too much in fact. The news is not good. O’Shea is
so well equipped that we have to seriously rethink our military
defense strategy in Northern Ireland.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Worse.”
“Mind if I use your phone?”
“Be my guest.”
Ted flicked open his diary and made a long distance call to
Israel. Shortly afterwards, a private Lear jet lifted off from Tel-
Aviv bound for London.
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Cullen was in a foul mood. He had slept late — the phone’s


incessant ringing had awoken him. He absolutely hated being spoken
down to, particularly this early in the morning, though it was after
nine o’clock. O’Shea had just given him an ear full. He had relied
on Cullen, O’Shea had said, to watch Driscoll, and now there was a
security breach. The entire operation could be jeopardized.
O’Shea’s language had left Cullen with no doubt that he was seen as
failing in his task. He could redeem himself somewhat, if he would
remove Driscoll permanently before the end of the day.
The problem was Cullen had no idea where Driscoll was. He had
been forceful in his argument that Driscoll be left at his post, so
that he could keep him under observation, but his words had fallen
on deaf ears.
Cullen got dressed hurriedly, not having time for a shower. His
hands trembled, his heart beat furiously. His breath reeked from
the flurry of beverages he had consumed the night before. To get
rid of his shakes, he had a couple of long slugs of brandy straight
from the bottle. The warmth spread through his stomach and
gradually eased away the anxiety and pain of waking as the alcohol
entered his bloodstream. It also got him fired up, and he diverted
all of his anger and focused it clearly on Driscoll. His only wish
was that he knew where Driscoll was so he could get the job done
quickly and impress O’Shea. An hour on his home phone yielded no
results. In frustration he grabbed his jacket, slipped his pistol
into his holster and left his house.
As he was getting into his car, his cell phone rang. One of his
plainclothes detectives had spotted Driscoll upstairs at the airport
sitting down for breakfast at the self service restaurant there.
Cullen was ecstatic and ordered the detective to keep a close eye on
him and report any movements.
“If Driscoll leaves find a reason to shoot him,” Cullen ordered.
Cullen started his car and headed for the airport with his lights
and siren blaring. Rush hour traffic parted like the Red Sea, not
because of his official standing, but because of the speed with
which he approached, threatening to crash his way through the slow
moving cars.
A special window permit allowed him to get through the military
checkpoints with little delay, and he was at the airport 35 minutes
after he left the house.
Parking was not a problem, he just left his car outside the
arrivals’ terminal and had one of the policemen watch it. Inside,
he had to get his bearings, but was spared having to search for his
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contact, because the man was already there waiting for him. No
greeting was necessary, a nod in the direction of the arrival gate,
signaled him to where Seán Driscoll was standing, watching
passengers emerge from the British Airways flight. Cullen’s
hangover had receded but his nerves were still taut while he keyed
his cell phone and gave O’Shea’s office an update.
At first Cullen didn’t recognize the figure that Driscoll greeted
as a passenger emerged from the dark glass doors of the arrivals’
hall. Closer examination of the figure revealed that today he might
just kill two birds with the one stone. A grin spread across his
gray face at the prospect. O’Shea would be very pleased indeed.
Cullen made a further call to his office informing him of the news.
He was surprised when O’Shea roared at him to keep his hands off
Riordan, and to just bring him to his office with a package he had.
Cullen removed his pistol from his holster and approached
Driscoll from behind, nudging Driscoll’s right kidney with the
barrel as a greeting. Driscoll spun around to meet the threat, but
found himself staring down the barrel of Cullen’s pistol.
“Hello Seán, me ‘oul skin, and if it isn’t Nick Riordan, the
widower from New York!” Cullen growled.
Nick’s eyes lit up and he lurched towards Cullen. Seán’s
outstretched arm stopped him.
“Cullen knows nothing, Nick. O’Shea wouldn’t trust the drunk to
wipe his arse.”
Cullen’s face turned crimson. The pistol shook in his hand as he
drew it up to Seán’s face. Cullen’s plainclothes officer pushed the
pistol down, looking around at the onlookers staring faces. “Not
here Cullen...not here,” he interceded firmly.
Cullen regained his self control. His features were dark.
“O’Shea trusts me enough to kill you!” he hissed close to Seán’s
face.
Riordan returned his gaze, emotionless.
Driscoll didn’t grace him with a response, but looked for a
possible avenue of escape. Instead he saw another man approach with
his gun drawn, he recognized the face, and knew the game was up, for
now. Seán glanced at Nick who appeared resigned.
“It’s OK Nick,” he reassured him.
“Hardly.” Cullen grunted sullenly. “Lets go.”
He pushed Seán forward toward the exit to his waiting car and
waved his gun at Nick indicating that he keep up. What Cullen
didn’t see, was a man not twenty feet away speaking into his own
cell phone awaiting instructions, his hand under his jacket,
gripping a pistol.
Cullen left the airport and drove back towards the city, the
traffic heavy, but manageable. Nick and Seán were seated in the
back seat under the armed watchful scrutiny of one of the
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plainclothes officers who occupied the passenger seat. He had taken


the precaution of removing Driscoll’s gun and handcuffing him.
Cullen was silent, trying to decide if he should get rid of Seán
before he got to O’Shea, or keep him until after he had dropped off
Nick. His hesitance was based in his fear of O’Shea’s reaction if
delayed any further.
“You’re a dead man Cullen,” Seán said, just loud enough to
interrupt Cullen’s thoughts.
“You’re one to talk, Driscoll. Shut the fuck up,” Cullen
sneered, glancing at him angrily through the rear view mirror.
“O’Shea’ll throw you away like a used snot rag when he’s done
with you, and you know it.”
Cullen did have a nagging doubt about his future role within
O’Shea’s administration, but had put the thought away for another
day. O’Shea did pay him well, and, in theory at least, his plan for
uniting Ireland sounded like it just might work. Of course Cullen
and his consorts had heard the fiery rhetoric in its slimmed down
version, but O’Shea’s talks were convincing enough.
“You’re on borrowed time Seán. If you’re not a prayin’ man,
now’s a good time to start.” That was all Seán needed to know.
Seán’s interruption had made up Cullen’s mind for him. Cullen’s
mind played through the sadistic pleasure it would give to kill him.
Now was as good a time as any to do him in. Cullen took a left turn
off Drumcondra Road to bring them down through the dock-lands. He
noticed an army patrol vehicle turn behind them, but thought nothing
of it.
After a few quiet minutes, he turned left again, crossing the
Tolka River on the far side of the railroad track trestle and
stopped the car adjacent to the railway embankment. Cullen opened
the rear door, ordering Seán out. Seán slipped out of the rear of
the car under the gaze of Cullen’s gun. There was nothing he could
do to resist. They began to walk up an incline adjacent toward the
railway tracks. Seán didn’t have any backup weapon. In any case it
would have been found when Cullen’s companion frisked him at the
airport.
Pressing on, Cullen wanted to be out of sight of the main road
before he did what he termed “the dirty deed.” The embankment was
steep. Tufts of uncut grass caught at Seán’s shoes; he had to walk
carefully lest he fall on his face. He strained against the bite of
the handcuffs, his mind whirring trying to think of a way out. Was
this what went through the minds of all murdered people before they
died, he thought? He pictured Imelda’s and his child’s faces as
tears of anguish sprung to his eyes. He could smell the ocean; his
senses heightened. Time seemed to slow down. He wouldn’t beg.
That’s just what Cullen would want. He had to do something!...he
heard Cullen cock his pistol. Driscoll said an act of contrition.
A loud bang shattered the still air.
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He ducked instinctively as a gun discharged behind him, aware


that his back and head were doused with a splash of warm liquid.
Seán touched the back of his head, feeling the oily texture of
blood. But he was all right. Confused, he turned slowly around.
Nick was standing there his arm extended holding a pistol. The air
smelled of cordite, smoke wisped from the gun’s muzzle.
Cullen was lying flat on his face on the gravel, the top of his
head askew, and a large puddle of blood quickly pooled around it. A
commuter train whooshed past on the tracks above them, the riders
oblivious to drama that had just unfolded.
Nick looked ashen, and slowly dropped his arm. Unbelievable
relief flooded through Seán. He was alive! He looked back towards
the road. Cullen’s partner was spread-eagled on the hood of the
car, kept firmly in place by two soldiers. Seán recognized one of
them from the army contingent that had picked up Adams. For once,
Seán was glad to have an IRA guardian angel.
Seán held his hand up indicating that it was all over. He took
the gun from Nick, leading him back down to where the car was
parked. He put his arm around his shoulder, but had to stop when
Nick suddenly vomited.
“Thanks Nick, you saved my life,” he patted him reassuringly on
the back.
Nick stopped gagging and nodded, wiping his mouth with the back
of this hand.
“Welcome,” was all he could manage.
One of the soldiers approached Seán and asked what they should do
with the body.
“Leave him there,” was Seáns bitter response.
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The soldiers trussed Cullens partner up like a chicken, threw him


into the back of their patrol vehicle, and drove away.
Seán removed his soiled jacket, wrapped it in a plastic bag and
put it in his trunk. Then, after dusting off his pants, he and Nick
drove toward the city center in Cullen’s car. The window sticker
got them waved through two army checkpoints.
Seán got them both tea at McDonald’s on O’Connell street, and
then wheeled the car around heading towards Leinster House.
“I think we might just want to lay low, Nick.”
“If I don’t get that tape to O’Shea,” Nick looked out his window
in near despair, his jaw set tight, “he’ll have Jessica and the kids
killed. I don’t have any choice.” Tears of anger welled up at the
thought. He brushed them away.
“You’re sure he has them?”
“He knows where they are, I have to assume the worst.”
“You know he’ll probably kill them anyway.” Seán regretted his
words as soon as he said them.
“Gee, thanks Seán, I’ve being trying to persuade myself
otherwise. I’ve got to hope that there’s a chance, however slim.”
After what had just happened, Nick knew in his heart that Seán was
right. He hoped that it wasn’t too late.
“All right, so what’s the plan?”
“I was to call O’Shea on arriving here to receive instructions.”
“Go ahead, call him and we’ll see what happens.” Seán passed
Nick his cell phone.
A female voice answered.
“Good afternoon, Prime Minister’s office.”
“This is Nick Riordan...”
O’Shea’s assistant interrupted him.
“Ah yes, Mr. Riordan, we are expecting you. Please come to the
Merrion Square entrance, and I will leave word with security to have
you buzzed through.” The delivery was so smooth, Nick could have
been calling any corporate office rather than the lair of a madman.
Seán had trouble finding a parking spot at Merrion Square so he
evoked police privilege and parked in a loading zone. Seán could
see the apprehension in Nick’s face, the twitch of a nerve in his
cheek.
“You want this gun back?” he asked.
Nick looked at him and the proffered weapon.
“They’ll take it from me at the front door.” He would have felt
a lot safer with it in his waistband. Seán nodded his agreement.
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Nick opened his door but Seán grabbed his arm stopping him from
getting out.
“Listen Nick,” Seán bit his lip. “I’d go with you but they
wouldn’t let me in. I will tell you this, however.” He looked hard
into Nick’s eyes. “If you need help call me here on my cell phone
and I’ll come get you no matter what.” He realized that it was an
empty gesture, but he said it to reassure Nick that he was not
alone. Nick nodded.
“Just one final request Seán. Promise me, swear, that you’ll get
O’Shea. I’ve never hated someone as intensely as I do him, and
given the opportunity I’ll rip his fuckin’ eyes out.” Jessica’s
face flashed into his head — carefree and smiling, the children
surrounded her. “And don’t let him die easily,” Nick added.
“There’s nothing I’d enjoy more.” And Nick was gone. Seán said
a silent prayer for his safe keeping.
Nick made his way into the government building, and was quickly
cleared through the various security points. O’Shea’s assistant met
him in the hallway and asked him to follow her upstairs. She didn’t
make any polite conversation, in fact she did not even look at him.
The building was bustling with the business of government, but
Nick didn’t notice. His heart pounded hard in his chest in
anticipation of what was to come. At O’Shea’s office, two soldiers
frisked him none too gently, before the assistant ushered him
through the door. One of the guards followed, his gun level with
Nick’s back.
O’Shea did not greet him as he entered his office, nor did he ask
him to sit down. He merely held out his hand.
“The tape?”
Nick complied and handed it over.
O’Shea noticed the damage and looked at Nick questioningly.
“It got damaged. I got shot at,” was all Nick could manage, his
mouth dry. A sense of calm enveloped him.
O’Shea took his letter opener and pried the round out of the
plastic cassette. It fell into his hand. O’Shea rolled it in his
palm, feeling its weight.
“You wouldn’t be trying to screw around with me would you?” he
asked quietly.
“I would hardly have come the whole way here to do so.” Nick
responded evenly.
“So why did you come?”
“I want my wife and children back unharmed.”
O’Shea laughed quietly. He opened a folder on his desk, removed
a photograph and threw it across the desk in front of Nick.
Grinning he added, “It’s a bit late for that.” The photograph
was a close up showing Jessica and the children exiting the
apartment in Greece. Overlying the image was a circle and cross
hair centered on his eldest son’s head.
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Something snapped inside Nick’s head. With a snarl he threw


himself across the broad desk and grabbed a startled O’Shea by his
shirt collar.
“Where are they? What have you done to them?” he shouted,
squeezing O’Shea’s throat, digging his thumbs into his larynx.
O’Shea was stunned — no one had ever done that before — they
wouldn’t dare! Grasping desperately, he reached into his desk
drawer and removed the chrome pistol and slid it under Nick’s chin.
“Back off!” he gasped struggling for air. The soldier behind
Nick was caught off guard — he didn’t understand a word of the
conversation; his English was rudimentary, so he was slow to
respond, trying to decide how to shoot without hitting his boss.
Instead he raised his rifle and crashed it into Nick’s wriggling
back, forcing the air from his lungs.
But Nick wouldn’t let up. Instead he attempted to grab the
pistol with his left hand and scuffled with O’Shea, who kept a firm
grip on the handle. Nick felt O’Shea’s grip loosen and stepped away
to pull the gun away from him. As he reached for the discarded
letter opener, Nick felt a sharp crack on the back of his head and
then nothing, as he slumped semi-conscious to the floor.
“Well you took long enough!” O’Shea snarled, rubbing his bruised
throat as he attempted to catch his breath. He staggered around his
desk to where Nick lay. Nick’s eyes were glazed as he struggled to
focus. O’Shea slammed his pistol hard against Nick’s cheek. His
eyes shone with the outrage and humiliation of what Nick had done to
him.
“You...you, impudent fuck!” He hit Nick hard with the barrel of
his pistol, cutting his scalp. Pressing the barrel against Nick’s
head, he whispered viciously. “Time to visit your goddamn bitch in
hell...” and he pulled the trigger.
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Seán Driscoll sat in his car thinking deeply after Nick had left
him. He came to a decision and dialed Peter Flanagan’s beeper
number on his cell phone. As he waited for the return call, he lit
a cigarette and stared at the black painted railings of the park. A
weeping willow drooped over the railings, its swaying branches
mesmerizing Seán as they danced in the afternoon breeze. He hadn’t
noticed that the sun was shining when he went out that morning.
But, after being seconds away from death, he was sure he would never
take the sun’s bright light for granted again. His phone chirped.
“Yeah,” he answered.
“Seán, it’s me. Peter.”
“Where are you?”
“I’m at the office waiting for Cullen to come back.” Flanagan
spoke in a hushed tone.
“I need you here, now,” Seán said quietly.
Flanagan hesitated. “I can’t help you, you’re off the force.”
“Like hell. Casey gave me my badge back.”
“That’s not what Cullen told me.” Flanagan shot back defensively.
Seán’s patience ran out. “I’m your partner, not Cullen!” he
shouted, flicking his cigarette out the window.
“All right! What will I say to Cullen?”
“Nothing. Cullen won’t be coming back...ever.” Seán gave
Flanagan his location and told him to hurry up. He thought of
calling other members of the force he knew well, but he was unsure
where their loyalties lay.
He made another call, this time to Gerry Adams. He filled him in
on Nick’s arrival and urged Adams to do something to help Nick now.
“Patience Seán, patience. Everything comes to those who wait.”
Adams responded softly in his Belfast accent.
“For Christ’s sake, Riordan’s up there already, in O’Shea’s
office!”
“I know. What do you expect me to do? Ride in there in a tank,
guns blazing? It doesn’t work like that.”
“Look, Riordan saved my life today. I’m just trying to save his.
I’m waiting for my partner to get here. Maybe we can get into the
building somehow. I’ve got to do something.”
“I wouldn’t go near that building if I were you.”
“Why?”
“Just don’t. Not unless you want to end up like your amigo
Cullen. You’re welcome, by the way. I heard my cavalry saved the
day.”
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Seán was going to contradict him but knew that by giving Nick the
opportunity, Adams’ men had saved his life.
“You’re right, thanks.”
“Think nothing of it. Stay low and keep you’re head down. I’ll
be in touch.” Adams ended the call.
All Seán could do was wait.
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Military orders were beamed across the country, putting the Irish
troops on high alert. The different commands had been kept in a
capsule of a “need to know” basis, and many had been forbidden
access to the media. Their initial orders, after the bombing of the
A 330, were to seal the border, pending an invasion from the North.
This had been in response to the threatening rhetoric that had been
published in the South on behalf of Northern loyalist paramilitary
wings, that the only way to contain the rabid Republicans would be
to take over the Republic itself. Despite denials from Unionist
officials, the threat had been delivered with the appropriate code
words, and were therefore printed verbatim. One editor had asked
O’Shea’s office if he should publish the inflammatory announcement,
only to receive O’Shea’s blessing under the umbrella of freedom of
the press. O’Shea’s own newspaper had a heyday with large headlines
predicting doom. O’Shea embellished the story to produce the
desired effect. No one knew that he was also the original author.
O’Shea had orchestrated the strategy to win over the commanders
of the Irish army. From the very beginning they had been staunchly
loyal to the government and their Chief of Staff, the Irish
President; they were the largest obstacle that O’Shea had thought
he would have to overcome. However, he found a few high level
friends in their midst, men of his way of thinking. He used the
powers of his office, the propaganda that he generated through his
manipulation of the media, and sheer willpower to bully the rest.
The opportunity to mobilize had come more easily than he had
expected. The Irish President had, in the state of emergency
following both the downing of the Irish airliner and the threats of
assassination that had plagued the government ministers, turned over
the reigns of the army to Prime Minister Quinlan. O’Shea had used
this to his advantage immediately, and after Quinlan’s “removal”
from office, he had never offered to relinquish control, given the
unstable political climate.
From the time of mobilization on, it was just a matter of keeping
up the heat, and the troops stayed just where they were. Except,
what they had heard was that they were protecting the border as
defenders rather than as aggressors.
It was a scenario that had been rehearsed over the decades, and
the troops knew their roles well. Their Achilles’ heel was their
lack of air cover. While this deficiency could never fully be
equalized, the army was well equipped with ground to air missiles.
The above-the-rotor mounted seek radar on the latest generation of
the British army’s helicopters, introduced an even greater
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 312

complexity in combating them. But there were relatively few, and


this was a problem that would have to dealt with when the time came.
With the receipt of their orders, the time was now.
In O’Shea’s Mayo assembly facility, the time for pretense was
over. The large hanger doors at the end of the huge facility were
opened at dawn, and the first of almost fifty Vietnam-war era, Huey
helicopters, were wheeled out on platforms, fueled up, and flown in
flights of six to predetermined destinations where O’Shea’s Eastern
European troops waited. The helicopters were armed with rocket pods
and fixed forward facing gattling guns, containing armor piercing
rounds. What they lacked in technology — they had been stripped to
the minimum flight equipment needed to allow for greater range —
they made up for in fire-power. Their job was to deliver the
initial shock and clear the way for the Irish armored divisions,
drop their human cargo, and, if they survived, go back to the
Republic and re-arm for a second attack. One platoon had a separate
mission. That of opening fire on the Irish brigades to draw the
troops into the action. Fueled, manned and ready to go, they all
awaited the final order.
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The logistics of the US intervention plan was all in the timing.


The diverted carrier, en route back from the Mediterranean, was
still a full day away from its optimum position off the Southern
Irish coast. The problem would not have arisen if the main force of
attack was to be fixed wing aircraft. They could have refueled from
their tanker support aircraft. Due to the delicate nature of the
intervention, and the lack of accurate data available as to where
exactly O’Shea’s Eastern European troops were, it was decided that
the main thrust of the attack would be made by helicopter. The USS
Wasp, the largest ship ever built, was part of the flotilla, but was
out of range to use her AH1W Cobra attack helicopters right away;
they would, however, be able to provide a supporting role later in
the evening. Immediate support would be possible from her CH-53E
Super Stallion heavy transports. Once within range, they would be
able to deploy and be ready for action within two hours.
There was no need to employ the full means of destructive power
that was available to the task force. Theirs was a task of
containment, not conquest. Two Navy E-2 Hawkeyes took up station
and patrolled off the West coast, providing surveillance and
monitoring radio traffic as they directed the operation. They were
protected by pairs of F-14 Tomcats, who circled the vulnerable E-
2’s, leaving only to top off from a KC-10 air refueling tanker.
Intelligence gathered prior to the roll out had indicated an absence
of fixed surface to air missile sites, but that did not rule out the
possibility that they existed.
United States Blackhawk and Apache helicopters were to be used,
drawn from their bases in the UK, equipped with air-to-ground
hellfire missiles. Each platoon of 6 choppers carried 12 of these
missiles, and were capable, with their unique seek radar, of
accurately pinpointing targets without endangering their aircraft.
Equipped with a similar above-the-rotor radar as the UK forces, the
lead helicopter could, from a concealed position, view the enemy by
unshielding its attack radar. Through it’s fire control computer,
it could direct, not only its own missiles to the target, but also
designate and direct fire for the other helicopters with minimum
exposure to the enemy .
The US did not want the attack to originate from Britain for
obvious reasons, so it was decided that the attack helicopters would
ferry across the Irish sea to Shannon airport in the Southwest of
the country. It would be up to the Marines flown in from the
carrier group by the powerful Super Stallions, with armored
personnel carriers carried underneath in huge slings, to take over
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 314

the airport, establish a defense perimeter, and allow the


Blackhawks, Apaches and supplies to be ferried in. A command post
would be set up from there to co-ordinate air and ground movements.
Another command post would also be set up closer to the border at
Knock International Airport, very much dependent on the threat, or
lack of, ground to air radar and missile sites.
Pending the agreement of the British Prime Minister and approval
of the official Irish government, all of this had to be ready to go
without rehearsal within a six hour time frame. They had practiced
for similar eventualities many times before on the training grounds
of West Germany prior to the wall coming down. They hoped they
could pull it all together in the time allocated to them.
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Nick awoke, his head throbbing. He groaned and tried to move,


but found that he could not move his limbs. The smell hit him
again, the searing odor of ammonia. He opened his eyes and focused.
Inches away O’Shea’s face was staring at him, a bottle of smelling
salts in his hand. They were situated in an office down the hall
from O’Shea’s own. Drapes covered the window. The only light shone
from a desk lamp.
“You’re going to wish I had cocked the gun when I pulled the
trigger,” O’Shea said, so close to his face that Nick couldn’t
focus on him.
“Your breath smells,” Nick responded groggily. He was rewarded
with a hard crack across his face from one of O’Shea’s guards who
stepped out of the darkness to deliver the blow.
“Shooting you would have been too easy. I have other means of
disposing of you to ensure that you enjoy every second of your
death,” O’Shea gestured to the desk that lay to their side.
Nick looked over. Blood seeped into one of his eyes forcing him
to close it and look with the other. On the table lay a velvet
jeweler’s cloth. Neatly arranged on top sat an array of surgical
instruments and syringes. Next to them lay a pair of kitchen
gloves. Nick shuffled his feet in fear and heard the rustle of
plastic.
“A throw sheet to catch the spills,” O’Shea laughed at him.
“First, some questions.” He sat straddled across a chair, his arms
leaning on the backrest.
“Who did you show that tape to?”
Nick did not respond. O’Shea reached over to the desk and
selected a scalpel, which he stroked against Nick’s cheek like a
razor.
“Well?”
“Nobody. The tape was damaged. I couldn’t play it.”
“I find that hard to believe. You’ll have to do better.” The
blade twinkled in the harsh light.
“For Christ’s sake, I protected that goddamn tape with my
life...” Nick was rewarded with another blow to his head. O’Shea
grabbed him by the throat and shouted.
“WHO did you show it too? The Americans? The British?”
Nick was silent. O’Shea nodded to the unseen guard, who lay his
weapon on the floor and stepped in front of Nick. After applying a
strip of electrical tape across Nick’s mouth, he proceeded to beat
Nick methodically with a rubber billy club across his upper body and
his thighs. Nick tried to scream from the excruciating pain but the
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 316

sounds would not come out of his sealed mouth. He bucked against
his bonds but they were too tight and he couldn’t avoid the blows
from the flailing cudgel. The soldier was obviously experienced.
He knew when and where to hit, to exact the most pain. As suddenly
as he started, he stopped and grabbed Nick’s head by the chin
forcing him to look at O’Shea. Nick’s eyes were wide open in
terror, his breath came hard.
O’Shea stood and selected a syringe from the desk and held it up
to the light. He slowly depressed the plunger, emptying out any air
until a stream of liquid spurted from the needle. Holding it in his
hand he waved it menacingly in front of Nick’s face.
“Let me tell you about others that have pissed me off. They
didn’t live to regret it. But before they go, I make sure that they
die horribly. I had one impertinent little fuck who wrote an
article criticizing me and my ideas for a United Ireland. I warned
him off, but would he listen? NO! He even went as far as
threatening me. HE threatened ME! NO, SIR. That’s not the way it
goes. I dispatched of him in the same chair you’re in now. It took
two hours.” O’Shea shuddered visibly, he bared his teeth at the
pleasure of the memory. “And when I finished with him here, I had
him nailed to a door, still alive.”
“First I start with a shot of this,” he held the syringe in front
of Nick’s battered face. “A potent amphetamine to ensure that
you’re wide awake for all the fun.” He flicked at a vein in Nick’s
bare arm. “Then, I...”
A guard appeared at the door, his body silhouetted from the light
behind him in the bright hallway.
“Sir, there’s a problem. You’ll want to see this.”
O’Shea roared at him. “I told you not to interrupt me!”
“Sir, it’s vitally important.”
O’Shea dismissed him with a curt wave. He replaced the syringe
on the jewelers cloth, rolled it tight and put it in a drawer. He
stood close to Nick and whispered, in a poor Arnold Schwartzenegger
imitation, “I’ll be back.”
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The broadcast was transmitted over all available commercial


television and radio frequencies at precisely 6 P.M. Greenwich time.
This time was decided on because it coincided with the transmission
of the Catholic Angelus — a one minute religious pause in Ireland —
followed by the prime time news. RTE, Ireland national broadcasting
authority had agreed to carry his message live, when they were
contacted by members of the government in hiding. It would never be
known that the request from Gerry Adams had a more convincing tone.
O’Shea’s cronies that staffed the station didn’t even realize what
was happening, until it was too late. News channels in Britain
carried the broadcast as did Sky news and CNN. It would last for
fifteen minutes, but within the first two the damage had been done.
The face of the President of the United States filled the screen.
“Good evening, citizens of Ireland both North and South. My
broadcast to you tonight is a necessary intrusion on your lives.
The news I bring you is not good. In fact, this is the only
opportunity there is to stop widespread and unnecessary bloodshed in
your country.” The president was dry mouthed as he spoke, but he
resisted the temptation to stop and sip his water. Timing, and
composure, was of the essence.
“The man leading the Irish government, Gerard O’Shea, is, to put
it quite bluntly, a criminal. He has deliberately and purposely put
the citizens of the country in harm’s way in an attempt to reunite
the North of Ireland with the South through violent means. From
investigations carried out here in the US, it has been shown that he
was personally involved in the July march massacre, the downing of
the Aer Lingus A330 at Boston’s, Logan Airport, and just yesterday,
mounted an attack on the citizens of New York in response to our
requests that he seek a solution through dialog.”
The President had been presented with circumstantial evidence for
two of these attacks, but he had seen firsthand the evidence
necessary to justify his stepping in, as he was now doing.
“Countless others have been killed over the past few weeks,
politicians, elected members of the government, anyone who would
stand in O’Shea’s way. And tonight he intends, by garnering your
support through deceitful means, to invade the province of Ulster
and massacre all political opponents both Catholic and Protestant
under the false colors of nationalism.”
“But my words are empty without the proof to back it up. For
those with a weak heart, I would warn you to avert your eyes from
the footage that follows.”
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Nick’s video of the carnage at the march began to play. It was


heart breaking to watch the destruction of human life. The tape was
played through until the final segment, which was shown in slow
motion. An image of a khaki clad figure could be seen wading
through the bodies, shooting, seemingly at random, into the fallen.
The figure stopped and pulled off his ski mask, breathing in deeply.
He then continued firing and reloading until he stopped, apparently
out of ammunition. The camera was too far away to see his features
properly. But the image began to magnify, enhanced by the most
modern FBI computers, until there was no mistaking the grimacing,
blood splattered face, of Gerard O’Shea.
The President paused for a few seconds, while the final segment
was repeated again and again. Then he spoke.
“Seeing is believing. A very brave man risked his life to
protect the contents of this tape. O’Shea has hounded Nick Riordan
and his family to retrieve what you have just seen. And I am
saddened to tell you that I don’t know what has happened to them.”
A face familiar to most Irish viewers filled the screen adjacent
to the President. That of Gay Byrne, a long time Irish television
talk show host. Gay had been in the business for over thirty years
with the ever successful “Late, Late Show,” and a well listened to
daily radio talk program. He appeared calm but his voice had a
shake, perhaps from the images he had seen. His screen image
fluttered as the signal from the satellite feed was adjusted.
“Good evening. You all know who I am.” he spoke earnestly to the
camera. Age had been good to him. Apart from his white hair, his
face retained the looks that were so familiar to his audience
throughout the years. “Everything the good President has said and
shown you is the truth. I have seen the evidence for myself. I am
coming to you from the US Ambassador’s residence in England. I just
made it in time for this broadcast.” His hastily applied makeup
testified to that.
“Gerard O’Shea is Irish just like the rest of us, but he has been
poisoned with a profound hatred for all things English. That hatred
has been distorted by his need for power to the point that he know
longer knows the difference between right and wrong. Not only that,
he is a man focused on the complete annihilation of anybody or
anything that steps in his way. I am begging all of you listening
this evening to withdraw your support for this monster before he
destroys the very fragile peace in which we live, or, tomorrow you
will wake up to an Ireland in which there will be no place for you.
I’ll hand you back to the President. Good night.” The camera
stayed on him for a few seconds longer than he expected, and the
last sight that viewers saw was Byrne laying his head in his hands,
sobbing.
“The Irish government, the British government, the Unionist Party
and Sinn Féin, have requested military assistance from the US. I
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 319

have agreed — the American people have agreed. It is imperative


therefore that you heed the following directions.”
“First, to the members of the armed forces, in the Irish and
British armies, you will be given instructions from your commanders.
You are ordered to stand down. I will repeat that instruction. You
are to stand down and maintain defensive positions only. Any
attacks that are made on you will be from a group of mercenaries
that O’Shea has operating on both sides of the border.”
There followed an inset on the live pictures of Tony Blair and
the Irish President repeating the orders.
“Secondly, the citizens of the country are asked to stay indoors
for the next twenty-four hours, or until you hear from me again. Do
not get involved in any conflicts. From eight o’clock tonight a
strict 24 hour curfew is imposed both North and South of the
border.”
“Finally. My aim tonight is to avoid bloodshed of any kind. But
O’Shea has made it amply clear that he will not back down without
conflict. You may see fighting on the street, in the air. Do not
get involved. Tomorrow, US forces will be on the ground in Ireland
to act as a buffer in resolving this terrible problem. They are
your friends and you’ll have no trouble identifying them.” The
President stared into the camera for a long second before
concluding.
“You, the Irish people have fought too long and too hard to have
the peace broken. Too many lives have already been lost. The peace
has been hard won, and I pledge every effort we can make to retain
it. Without your support, O’Shea is the Emperor without his
clothes. And I will make one final promise and this is directed to
one person watching.” The President’s jaw tightened.
“O’Shea, you will, if you survive the night, be brought to swift
justice. You are nothing but a pretender, a terrorist of the worst
kind. To the people of Ireland, I wish you good night. May God
bless you all.”
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 320

The British troops had been briefed by their commanders on a


direct order by the Prime Minister Blair, who confirmed his earlier
televised instructions. With the exception of the area commander,
all of the other higher ranking staff had been replaced and confined
to barracks under guard. This was all that could be done to counter
any free spirited commanders who Woolworth had not fingered by name,
but had alluded to during his debriefing. Their replacements were
given strict instructions as to what was expected from them on
taking over their units. This information was passed down to units
all over the countryside. A similar directive had been issued to
the Irish army.
The effect was startling. All British troops returned to
barracks, save those needed to protect essential facilities. Those
commandos who were hiding out in the countryside were disappointed
by the wasted effort and energy of living out of communication for
close to two weeks, when their cover was blown by their airlift out.
The border was cleared, the roads reopened.
At exactly 8:00 P.M. all aircraft, civil and military, were
grounded. In fact, most military and civil flights had earlier made
a dash for the British coast, a scant twenty minutes flying time.
Most of the military airfields lay empty.
The British Prime Minister hoped that the US President was
correct in his calculations. Any slip-up and the PM would be out of
a job before he had time to instigate any damage control.
In Nationalist and Loyalist ghetto areas, roadblocks remained in
place. The British army was conspicuously absent, but what was
evident was that the opposing paramilitary manned barricades were
greeting each other — not entirely warm and fuzzy to begin with —
and walked to and fro from each others’ areas freely. They had a
new common enemy, and perhaps, for the first time realized, that
they needed each other to survive.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 321

Dublin city was unusually quiet. Road traffic was at a stand


still. Traffic lights blinked their dance of colors to empty
streets. Litter fluttered on the sidewalks; the people who had
earlier filled the streets were now but a memory.
As dusk approached, few ventured outside. All across the
countryside television and radio sets were filled with static. To
counter any broadcast appeal that O’Shea’s faction might make, the
airwaves were electronically jammed by the United States military,
borrowing a British facility on the West coast of England. The
military checkpoints, which until a few hours before were heavily
manned, were now gone, vanishing as quickly as they had arrived.
It was into this silence that Gerard O’Shea emerged — in full
military uniform — he graced himself on dressing as a brigadier
general. As he entered an armored personnel carrier, one of many he
had procured from England from his well paid friend Woolworth, he
paused, flipped up his cell phone and dialed a paging service
number. Taken by surprise by the American President’s broadcast, he
admonished himself for not shutting down mass communications sooner.
He had planned a pre-recorded broadcast for nine o’clock to coincide
with the commencement of military activities, but it was too late
for that. He had to take action right away. He ordered a group of
six of helicopters armed with air to air missiles to patrol a
corridor stretching from Dublin in the East to Galway in the West.
Their orders were to engage and destroy any aircraft that attempted
to fly north of that line.
The pager number rang and when it answered he prepared to type in
a code. By depressing the pound key, a signal would be transmitted
all over the city, detonating a series of explosive devices that he
had dispersed, through his intermediaries, in key places. Some were
placed in areas of national heritage: under the Book of Kells, in
the National Archives, in museums and art galleries. Others were
placed under national monuments — the round tower under which
patriots were buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, the patriotic statues
that dotted the city center and other symbols of national pride. He
had a purpose for wanting to destroy them. Their destruction would
remove all traces of what he regarded as the symbols of false pride
in the failures of Irish history. Once gone, the country would grow
anew, beginning with him, Gerard O’Shea as the leader of a whole
Ireland. The history of failure would end, and a new era begin.
This, he knew, was only part of the reason. His ego would not allow
any past heroes to share in the glory of what he was about to
accomplish.
Evin Daly Celtic Tiger Page 322

The telecast had not deflected his enthusiasm one bit. On the
contrary, it made everything all the more challenging. So, the US
wasn’t on his side — no big deal. The recalling of the Irish Army
meant nothing either. Once his troops opened up on them from the
other side of the border, they would fight back. The standing down
of the British Army would only add to his advantage. The Americans
might just have done him a favor. Much as he regretted it, he would
have to leave finishing off Riordan until later. He looked forward
to it.
He gave an arranged press conference on the steps of Leinster
House to international journalists, of which few remained in the
city. Most had left, fearing being stranded in the midst of
hostilities. They watched him mount a small podium, a cell phone in
his hand. A few, veterans in their journalist trade, smirked
inwardly when they saw his uniform, seeing through his pretensions.
Wisely, they said nothing.
When he began to speak, he saw their jaws drop practically in
unison and shy away from the podium. A bright red dot had appeared
in the center of his forehead, shimmering though unwavering. One of
his soldiers ran to him and pulled him off. Angered, he asked what
was the hell was going on. Around him his troops crouched, their
weapons sweeping. The journalists were gone save for a photographer
who remained, his camera on O’Shea, hoping for a lucky shot. The
soldier told O’Shea what had happened. Confused for a moment, his
blood ran cold as he realized that it could only have been caused by
the laser sight of a sniper rifle.
“Whe