The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Jimmy Sands Breaks His Silence

World Exclusive!
Squealer puts the hard questions to Jimmy Sands O.B.E..


Sir Robert Squintingstone,;
(reproduced with no permission whatsoever) • 12 June 2003

It has been an unprecedented seven days. How has this terrible ordeal affected you and your charming family?

Well, as a person, a very private person, it's been devastating. Things have been dragged out in the press with barely one iota of truth. Never once did anyone come to ask me if there was any truth in it. The Angrytown News were the only ones willing to ask my side of the story and print the truth. Because I had to leave my home for a couple of years for safety's sake and lie low, my dog, Livingstone, has been literally tortured by the British media and gutter press, coming to my house knocking on my door, posting letters through the letterbox, asking politely where I was, wanting to write something. It was like Nazi Germany. Livingstone has started climbing on the furniture and it was all so traumatic that he had to receive counselling. Obviously, like most party members, he especially doesn't know anything about anything. He's a quiet boy, he felt my life was in danger and that made it worse, because whenever he thinks his master is being threatened he just goes absolutely beserk..

Tell us about that Saturday evening. Did you have any inkling whatsoever that you were about to be falsely and maliciously put in the frame as Fishfork?

No inkling whatsoever. I was out on the golf course, finishing the back nine on Saturday. I came home and I had hurt my back. After cocktails I was with Livingstone and the phone rang about half eight at night and the dog went a little crazy. I was lying because my back was sore. The man said "Hello, I'm Greg Harkin." I said to him, "and what?" The name didn't register. He says to me, "Have you seen the article?" I said to him, "What article?" He said "Well, the Sunday Tribune is running an article that says you're a British agent" and I said, "You're joking. You'd better fax it."

All you could read was the headline, which I can't remember except it said something about £80,000 a year. I said, "£80,000 a year?" I said to him, "are you serious? I'm not getting out of bed for £80,000 a year?" I said, "You must be joking." And it said on it James Sands and I said, "I'm not James Sands." He said, "Well, we heard he used to live in Dublin." I said, "I don't know any James Sands lives in Dublin." He says, "Are there any other James Sands living in West Belfast?" I said, "No, not as far as I know. Because any living in West Belfast are related to me. Or possibly Marcella." And he said, "Well that's being printed tomorrow." I said to him, "Is there nothing I can do about this, like?" And he said, "Well . . .", and then he hung up and an hour later he called back. And he said to me, "This is appearing tomorrow morning."

What were your feelings after you were left to reflect on the enormity of what was happening?

You see that was the thing, the enormity of the thing didn't hit me because I thought the story was going to appear in the paper, end of story. You know . . . they were going to make these allegations, the Brits would deny everything and, well, then I would have got in touch with a solicitor and clean up. I went to bed early that night because my back was sore. My dog was going out and I said, "I'm going to bed, I'm going to take a couple of these painkillers. I have prescriptions for them." I got up the next morning as I occasionally do about half seven and as usual I went on the internet. Eventually I decided to look at the news sites as well. Every paper I looked at was this thing. I said to myself, "Jesus!"

So you're looking at these papers. Your picture's there. How is my poor little Jimmy as he reads them?

I was physically sick, just sick. And to tell you the truth the first thing that came into my head was, "Jesus, what is the movement going to think when they see this?" That was the first thing that entered my head. So I went back to the house. I have a wee hold-all. I put my toothbrush and stuff into the hold-all, got into the car and I moved to another country.

Was it in the West Indies?



That's a very old joke. And then I contacted my brother. My brother had by that time read the papers and he asked me what was going on and I told him, "I don't know." He said to me, "Jimmy, we're going to have to do something about this. And by "we" of course, I mean you." I said, "Right."

So he says to me, "Jimmy, I'm going to contact a leading non-member of the IRA", which he then did. That was about one o'clock on Sunday and he contacted a member of Sinn Féin. The member, whose name unfortunately I have now entirely forgotten, then contacted me. I talked about it with my brother who arranged then for me to talk to my solicitor, which I did. It was done in absolute secrecy in case any press or anything would have been following them, and for absolutely no other reason.

By that time the press were starting to hound me. The solicitor issued a statement on my behalf, he then had a talk with me. I left him a means of contacting me and we stayed in contact. He then arranged for the press conference on the Wednesday. It went ahead. He decided what I had to say about the circumstances of it.

I wasn't happy, to be truthful, about not going to that press conference in the first place after the hatchet job that they did on me. I had read some of the papers: "I'm in Bedfordshire"; "I'm in Dorsetshire"; "I'm having involuntary bowel movements as they speak to me"; "I'm meeting John Stevens and he's debriefing me in Scotland Yard. Much of this was untrue."

The media reports homed in on the fact that you had left your home.

My first reaction was to think that if I'm not there the media won't torture Livingstone. That turned out to be wrong.

There was a message the other day that somebody wanted to speak to me. Let me make this clear - I don't want to speak to the media except the Angrytown News. The Angrytown News have decided to give me a fair crack of the whip and not ask any difficult questions. But the reason I left Ireland was to protect my pet and to protect my anonymity. Because as I told you, I am a private person. Apart from the columns.

You said that you were a member of the republican movement up until 1990. What happened, and what were the circumstances of you leaving the republican movement at that time?

Well, to be honest, most of it I just made up to impress tourists in bars or to get money out of the NIO. Then that thing happened, the one in which Danny Morrison was not at all involved nosirree Bob. I then went to live in Dublin. It was the fact that Livingstone wasn't well at the time and because of that and because of the traumatic effect it was having on him I said, "Right, enough's enough. I have to now start devoting some time to me." And that's exactly what I did. I came out here to start the Caribbean Cumann. That was it.

And yet it has been claimed that throughout the 1990s you were actually directing the IRA's peace process strategy.

It's very nice of Gerry and Martin to say that, but I was working away, going on with my life. There was a documentary came on with allegations from Eamon Collins. That devastated my family. I sat them down and said that man's saying that to make a few pounds, to make himself look big. That's the kind of man he was. I also told them that I had a hunch he wouldn't be bothering us for much longer. Call it a sixth sense if you like. But after that I tried to get on with my life again. And everything's been going okay for me. I'm working away, I hardly ever go out unless it's something really fun, I don't mix my drinks, I don't socialise in republican circles, not since everyone else was arrested in Colombia following a mysterious tip off. I have read some of the comments that this Anthony McIntyre and other people have come out with. Obviously they have their own agenda, they are embittered people with poor quality furniture. To suggest that I was at the heart of the peace process, doing this Machiavellian stuff, that I had the ear of Gerry Adams - the Mr. Big, in there for British intelligence, pushing the peace process one way, pushing it another to suit a British agenda. It's so ridiculous that it's just unbelievable. Hopefully.

People that know me know I haven't been involved. We'll talk occasionally, for example about the new Gulf War video game and how realistic the explosions are. Usual stuff. The republican movement knows me, knows that I haven't been that involved in the peace process, know pretty much everything about me except my precise whereabouts. They know that and they know how ridiculous it all is. In fact, let me tell you something, I was going out to work one day and I got an urgent fax and it said a ceasefire's been called today. That was the first that I had heard of it. Of the date at least. That happened in relation to one of them anyway. That's how far out of the loop I am. In fact, they've now decided that because of all the pressure on me, they're not going to send me any more information at all.

During your time with the republican movement were you ever in the employ of any branch of the British intelligence community?

That's a ridiculous question.

Have you ever received payment for passing information to any branch of the British intelligence community?

I'm surprised you even have to ask.

Have you ever left Ireland at any time to meet with any branch of the British intelligence community?

I will not dignify that question with comment.

You said at the press conference that you want to return to a normal life. How likely do you think that is?

It's out of my hands. I want to get my life back, but who's going to give me a job? How do I get back to the way things were? It's not something that I can just make happen. At the end of it all, and this is just me talking from my heart, I don't want to put Livingstone through anything any more. That poodle is too important to me. If I went back to live in Ireland, I know at some stage these gutter journalists are going to come back and ask for my story, which they're not going to get because they hadn't the decency to ask for it before and I just don't want to put myself in the firing line. Metaphorically I mean. Everything's up in the air.

I will be visiting Ireland, I'm telling you that, I'll be visiting in Ireland, but when I don't know yet. It's too early to say.

What has the reaction been to all of this of the ordinary community ­ your friends, your neighbours and so on?

Friends and family have been fantastic. They know that it's been a tough week and they've obviously decided not to add to the burden by calling me. And I have to say this, the republican movement has been fantasic. Without the help of the republican movement I don't think I could have got through this. That's the thing that has been keeping me going. It's certainly the reason I'm doing this interview. They've also very kindly invited me for a few days in Gortahawk. If only I didn't feel so bad about making Livingstone travel in hurricane season, I'd've been there like a shot. So to speak.

What does Jimmy Sands do now?

The press have been stung by me appearing. I think that they wanted me to run, they really wanted me to run. Again, I mean. They have said that I set up the Colombia Three, who by the way are as innocent as I am, that I have done this, that and the other. According to the press I am guilty of forty murders. But I am telling you this now: after this has settled, I want to meet the families of the people that they said I murdered. And when I do I will stand in front of them and say, "I didn't do it. I had no part in it." And I will keep a straight face when I do it.

As soon as I can find the time.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted.
- Eric Idle

Index: Current Articles

12 June 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Crippling Critique
Anthony McIntyre


Joy or Death
Aine Fox


Telling it like it is

Anna Livia FM, Transcript


The Conveyer Belt of Informers



World Exclusive!
Jimmy Sands


Connolly and Republican Socialist Organisational Strategy
Liam O Ruairc


9 June 2003


Money's Worth
Terry O'Neill


Connolly: National Liberation, Socialism and Partition
Liam O Ruairc


Pauperizing the Periphery
M. Shahid Alam


Democracy, eh?

Davy Carlin


Polluting People's Lives

Barbara Muldoon


The Gags of Prejudice
Anthony McIntyre




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