The Blanket

A Scam in A Pint Glass

Anthony McIntyre • 1.08.02

A report in today’s Andersonstown News has angered and alarmed Marian Price, the chairperson of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association. According to the West Belfast paper, The Fiddlers Inn on Kennedy Way had to close up shop on Saturday night ‘after a bad tempered run-in with a dissident republican group.’ Eugene Hughes, the owner of the premises said that the origins of the conflict lay in a double booking. Claiming to have been faced with a function organised by the IRPWA on behalf of republican prisoners clashing with a 21st birthday, Mr Hughes stated that management had decided to give preference to the birthday bash. He expressed reservations about the hall being hired out to what he alleged was the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. The Andersonstown News in its report stated that this group has ‘close links to the Real IRA’.

Mr Hughes went on to say that when this was explained to the function organisers they became ‘aggressive and said they would be arriving on the night to use the hall - regardless of what the management said.’ He further alleged that his company had no objection to republican prisoners: ‘we support all republican prisoners, and offered to make a donation of 700 pound towards the prisoners’ fund.’

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Maskey, in expressing support for the management of the Fiddlers asserted that the 32 County Sovereignty Movement ‘must realise that they cannot intimidate people for their own needs.’ Oddly enough when quoting him, the Andersonstown News refrained from using language similar to that used for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. Nowhere was it suggested that his party has ‘close links to the Provisional IRA’.

When asked to respond to the allegations by Eugene Hughes and Paul Maskey, Marian Price was unequivocal in her rejection of the claims. She was emphatic that the hall had been hired out by herself. The owners of the premises knew her identity and areas of West Belfast had been postered advertising the event. On the Thursday prior to the function taking place Ms Price claims to have been informed by the management that the booking was sound and would be honoured.

Marian Price claimed that on Saturday afternoon, only hours before the function was to take place, she was summoned to the Fiddlers as there was a problem with the booking. When she arrived she was confronted by a man who introduced himself as John Trainor. Mr Trainor explained that for the past six weeks he had been employed as a general manager of the Hughes business concern and in that capacity allegedly told Ms Price ‘the bottom line is your function is not going ahead, the 21st birthday party is.’ According to Marian Price, John Trainor stated that he would place bouncers on the premises to ensure that the function would not occur, underlining his point by asking, ‘how many times do I have to go around the garden to get this into your thick head?’ While the IRPWA chairperson took this as a threat, she did state that when she challenged him about her safety if she were to appear Mr Trainor stated that it would be guaranteed.

Marian Price, who found her antagonist ‘aggressive and arrogant’ argues that ‘John Trainor should know better. He was a republican prisoner once himself and why he has taken it upon himself to sabotage fundraising events for other republican prisoners is beyond me. And that he should then scuttle off down to Clonard Monastery telling a priest a whole spoof story about being intimidated by me is laughable.’

Also disputed is Eugene Hughes’ version of events. No stranger to confrontation with republican groups, Mr Hughes a number of years ago made a complaint to Sinn Fein that the Provisional IRA had burned one of his pubs because his was posing competition to one of their social clubs. He also alleged to have been threatened by the group on a number of occasions. Marian Price claims that she spoke on the phone to Eugene Hughes during the afternoon altercation in the Fiddlers. She claims that he was in a highly agitated state, at one point shouting down the line,‘I am answerable to bigger groups on this road than your own. If it’s money you want I’ll give you money.’ She says that she immediately made it clear to Mr Hughes that no money was being sought from him. When asked if his real problem was the fact that it was a prisoners’ function rather than a birthday bash clashing he is said to have answered ‘yes’. Marian Price is adamant that at no time was she aggressive or were threats issued. ‘What purpose would that serve? I have no authority or desire to threaten anyone.’

Despite repeated attempts by The Blanket to contact Mr Hughes, both at one of his premises and through his mobile phone, the journal has been unable to reach him. Marian Price claims that she feels the Andersonstown News has used the issue to pursue a vendetta against the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. She can readily point to evidence of vendettas waged against other parties by one of the paper’s editors, which on one occasion resulted in an out of court settlement and in the other massive public ridicule being poured on the paper. She remains adamant that at no point were the 32 County Sovereignty Movement involved nor were they mentioned until today’s report. She contends that she has left her contact details with one of the editors at the paper who can catch her at any time to verify a story. She is insistent that no effort was made to acquire her side of the story.

Ultimately Marian Price feels that a set up of some sort is taking place. She wants to make her position quite clear as a matter of public record before anything develops.

‘I suspect that there is the possibility of an insurance scam under way here. And Eugene Hughes and John Trainor need to consider that they could become unwittingly implicated in such a sordid business. Anybody could use the adverse publicity generated by this incident for their own ends and destroy the pub, feeling that it is a safe bet as so called ‘dissident republicans’ will have the finger pointed at them. Let me assure the people of West Belfast and beyond that while certain people have over the years been involved in many insurance scams, they do not belong to the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association or the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. Mr Hughes made it quite clear that the problem was the fact that the function was a fundraiser for Republican Prisoners. Once we had established the true reasons for the cancellation, we considered the matter closed. Our only aim was to have fundraiser, not to put any business in a position they did not want to be in. If Mr Hughes felt under threat, it certainly was not from us.'




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A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai Stevenson

Index: Current Articles

2 August 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


A Scam In A Pint Glass

Anthony McIntyre


Meeting the Paramilitaries

Davy Carlin


The GFA's Failure to Deliver An Honest and Genuine Constitutional Settlement Keeps Northern Ireland Divided
Paul A. Fitzsimmons


Hold Firm
Niall Fennessy


Super Stake Knife
Brian Mór


Stake Knife Logo
Brian Mór


The Ethics of Revenge

Sam Bahour and Yitzhak Frankenthal


A Tale Told By An Idiot
John Chuckman


28 July 2002


Strategy of Threat

Anthony McIntyre


E.U. Surveillance of Telecommunications

Aine Fox


Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Davy Carlin


Snap Shot
Sherry Maguire




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