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SOMEONE HAS TO PAY by Joe McCoubrey
As the search for peace in Ireland gathers momentum, British counter-terrorism agent, Mike Devon, is handed a chilling mission – put the IRA out of business at any cost.
He assembles an elite undercover squad determined to neutralise the entire IRA leadership. Kidnap, torture and shoot-to-kill tactics are all on Devon’s agenda as he sets about the task with a ruthlessness the IRA has never before had to face.
But the IRA has its own specialist operative. Cold-hearted assassin Fergal McSweeney is brought out of semi-retirement to launch one final murderous campaign against the British establishment.
Before settling for peace both sides are determined to first win the ultimate victory.
Devon and McSweeney had clashed years before in Chicago in an operation that ended the life of the British agent’s girlfriend. Now it has become personal.
The action races from Chicago to London, and from Belfast to Glasgow, before climaxing in a final bloody showdown in the suburbs of Dublin.
When the dust settles who will walk away?
SOMEONE HAS TO PAY
By Joe McCoubrey
The taxi pulled into the parking lane outside the landmark General Post Office building in Dublin’s O’Connell Street and a man in a long dark overcoat alighted from the passenger compartment. Out of habit he glanced at the imposing edifice, his eyes picking out several bullet holes he knew had been allowed to remain in the plasterwork as a reminder of the failed Easter Rising in 1916 when a fifteen-hundred strong group, calling itself the Irish Republican Brotherhood, stormed the building in a bid to end English dominion over Ireland.
Liam Nolan knew his history. After five days of mortar and cannon fire the rebels surrendered with four hundred and fifty of their number dead, and another hundred facing summary execution in the following days. Four years later Michael Collins led the IRA on a merciless and unrelenting campaign of terror against the occupying forces and by 1921 the British had left Ireland, or at least twenty-six of its counties.
The remaining six counties of Northern Ireland still had to be reclaimed and that, Nolan reminded himself as he crossed the street, was why he was here.
He walked past Clerys department store, turned a corner into Lower Abbey Street, and entered Wynn’s Hotel, famous as the venue for the meeting of volunteers who planned that Easter Rising almost eighty years ago.
He strolled into the foyer, past the small concierge desk, and pushed open the door into the downstairs bar. As he walked to the rear of the room he cut a dashing figure to the small group of residents enjoying an afternoon tipple.
Standing at six foot three, he was heavily muscled and exuded an air of confident authority. He was told often that he reminded people of the actor Liam Neeson. He liked the comparison.
He sat down at a table with a clear view to the lounge door, a precaution that was second nature to him. He removed his overcoat, laid it on a stool beside the table, and patted the shoulder holster beneath his brown leather jacket. He nodded at the barman, who acknowledged his presence with a slight shake of the head, and began fixing a drink without being told the order.
Several minutes later the barman approached the table carrying a tray with a pint of Guinness and a cut glass tumbler of Irish whiskey.
“Nice to see you again Mr Nolan, hope everything’s fine for you.”
“Sure it’s grand Mickey. And what about yourself? The family doing well?”
“Yes sir, thank you for asking.”
Nolan placed a fifty Irish Punt note on the tray. “I’m expecting company Mickey, get them in three pints of Guinness and keep the change for yourself.”
Nolan savoured the first biting taste of Bushmills Black Bush and washed it down with a long gulp of Guinness. Wiping the foam from his lips with the back of his hand, he watched three men enter the bar and make their way to his table.
There were only slight nods of greeting and recognition as they took their seats around the table and waited for the barman to bring their order. Few would have guessed that here were the four leading members of the twelve-strong Provisional IRA Army Council.
Under the title of Commandant, Nolan was the de facto supreme commander of the terror organisation. He glanced at his three lieutenants who were separately in charge of engineering (bomb making), logistics (personnel), and fundraising (racketeering). Nothing happened in Ireland, North or South, unless rubber-stamped by this quartet.
As usual Nolan got straight to the point.
“I’ve had an interesting invitation to a meeting in The Green this afternoon, actually in about an hour’s time.” He was referring to the St. Stephen’s Green city park at the top of Grafton Street.
“What’s it about?” asked Patrick Pearse, a forty year-old Dubliner named after one of the 1916 Easter Rising rebels, but with no family connections.
Like all Irishman, Nolan knew Pearse’s illustrious namesake survived the Post Office blitz but was executed two days after the surrender. He also knew this
Patrick Pearse lived well out of the spotlight. When he wasn’t sourcing the latest bomb-making technologies and materials, he liked nothing better than sailing his father’s thirty-five foot yacht out of Howth harbour, a yacht that Nolan ensured was used on more than one occasion for other than pleasure sailing.
Nolan switched his gaze to the other two at the table. Francis Dooley, easily recognisable by a heavily pock-marked face, and Joe Coyle, a father of seven, who celebrated his sixtieth birthday three months ago on St. Patrick’s Day, and looked more suited to the boardroom of a multi-national corporation than a backstreet pub, drew their seats forward and waited with anticipation.
Nolan continued: “The Brits are looking for a little off-the-record chinwag through an intermediary who’s based at their embassy in Ballsbridge. He’s being passed off as a low level clerk, but he’ll be Intelligence through and through. They’re really stepping up the cold war stuff and it looks to me like they’re gagging for peace.”
“Aye, but what price do they expect?” said Pearse.
“It really doesn’t matter. We stick to our own agenda. We’ve got to strengthen our own position and when we get down to the real bargaining we do so from a position of strength.”
Nolan liked the easy camaraderie he shared with these men. He and Dooley grew up together in a twenty-storey flat complex in Ballymun, went to various inner city schools together, and shared prison time at the country’s notorious Mountjoy Gaol on IRA membership charges.
At that time, still in their late teens, they were on the fringe of things, but inside the foreboding walls of Mountjoy they met Pearse who fired their bellies with republican ideals. On their release Pearse introduced them to Joe Coyle, the Dublin recruiting officer for the organisation. Within two years they rose through the ranks.
Nolan knew Dooley had always looked to him for direction, and was by his side constantly through training and early missions. The pair gained a reputation for ruthlessness and the degree of planning that went into their operations. Despite that, Nolan was surprised by a series of promotions that saw him, at the age of twenty-eight, join the Army Council, the youngest man ever to be admitted into the upper echelons.
It was Nolan who was behind a series of spectacular successes for the IRA, including high profile bombings in a number of key English cities, but it was not until he became supreme Commandant that his vision for forcing a United Ireland really took flight.
His philosophy was a simple one, take the fight to the heart of the British government, including attacks on the British Army, targeting key political figures, and disrupting the machinery of government by destroying public buildings.
His crowning achievement was just over eighteen months previously with a mortar attack on Downing Street. Three rockets fired remotely from a parked van came within an ace of success when one of Nolan’s operatives, perched on a nearby motor cycle, pressed the red firing pin and launched the missiles on a trajectory that took them over the roofs of the Horse Guards buildings on Whitehall.
One exploded in the back garden of No 10 Downing Street where Prime Minister John Major was presiding over a Gulf War cabinet meeting. The bombproof windows shielded all inside from any injuries, but the sheer audacity of the attack enhanced the IRA’s reputation as one of the world’s leading terror organisations.
Although Nolan privately seethed at what he considered the failure of the operation to kill or maim, he knew the commission of the attack had struck a devastating blow to the morale of the security forces and, more importantly, to that of the British people in general.
There was little doubt in his mind that all the recent overtures for peace from London were coming on the back of the Downing Street operation. He was convinced that one more similar attack would tip them over the edge and provide his organisation with some real muscle in any talks about an Irish solution.
Joe McCoubrey is a former Irish newspaper editor who is now a full-time action thriller writer. In the early seventies he was working in the Civil Service based at Stormont, the seat of the Northern Ireland Government, and was watching behind the scenes as some of the country’s most momentous events unfolded. These were the early dark days of the ‘troubles’ – events that reverberated around the world, and somehow served to push him towards his real passion of writing. He became a newspaperman, started his own media business, and took a front row seat as history was played out in Ireland.
He had a short action story (Death By Licence) published earlier in the year and his debut full-length thriller (Someone Has To Pay) was recently launched by Master Koda Select Publishing. A second full-length actioner is at the editing stages, and work has started on an Irish crime thriller.
Joe McCoubrey has lived all his life in the beautiful Irish town of Downpatrick, made famous by its association with the national Patron Saint, St. Patrick.
You can visit him at: http://joemccoubrey.com/
Links to Joe McCoubrey ‘s website, blog, books, etc.
AMAZON USA: http://tinyurl.com/95ye4e6
AMAZON UK: http://tinyurl.com/9ouhxod