Adams, however, remains a polarizing figure in Ireland. Though he is a longtime figurehead of the Republican movement, he insists that he was never a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and that he played no role in the violence of the Troubles. Some people in Ireland do not actually believe this story, and, in recent years leading up to this meeting, some of his former compatriots in the Republican movement have said that he authorized a series of wartime atrocities, including the murder and secret burial of Jean McConville, a mother of ten. Adams denies these claims, and generally derides those who ask questions about his past as political foes with an agenda or opponents of the peace process.
“I remember very well when the request came, back in 1993, that my husband approve a visa for Gerry Adams,” Clinton told the crowd at the Essex House. Bill Clinton granted the visa, which was a controversial move at the time, because of Adams’s alleged association with the IRA, but also a crucial moment in the peace process, because it helped cement Adams’s transformation from a revolutionary to a statesman. “Absent that first step, that first risk, we might not have had the momentum to move forward, to get to the Good Friday accords and all that has followed,” Clinton said.
There is no way of knowing whether Clinton, dressed in Kelly green, felt any distaste at the prospect of sharing a table with Adams. There is some thirty-five million Irish Americans, a great many of whom regard Adams as a kind of Nelson Mandela, and no prospective presidential candidate can decline a Saint Patrick’s Day invitation. And to be sure, the IRA is not alone in standing accused of atrocities during the Troubles. Loyalistparamilitary groups and British government forces also perpetrated war crimes for which they have not been brought to account. But Clinton does indicate, obliquely, that the transition in Northern Ireland is not entirely complete. “There is still work to be done,” Clinton acknowledges. “You cannot bring peace and security to people just by signing an agreement.” The question for the people of Northern Ireland, and for Adams’s supporters in the United States, is whether you can bring enduring peace and security without some reckoning—by all parties in the conflict—with the crimes of the past.
(From: “Gerry Adams and Hillary Clinton in New York” by Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, http://www.new yorker.com, March 17, 2015 | Photo: Hillary Clinton at a previous meeting with Gerry Adams at the State Department in 2009. Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty)
Price is born in Belfast on December 16, 1950. She and her sister, Marian, also an IRA member, are the daughters of Albert Price, a prominent Irish republican and former IRA member from Belfast. Their aunt, Bridie Dolan, is blinded and loses both hands in an accident handling IRA explosives.
In 1971 Price and her sister join the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In 1972 she joins an elite group within the IRA called “The Unknowns” commanded by Pat McClure. The Unknowns are tasked with various secretive activities and transport several accused traitors across the border into the Republic of Ireland where they are “disappeared.” She personally states that she had driven Joe Lynskey across the border to face trial. In addition she states that she, Pat McClure and a third Unknown were tasked with killing Jean McConville, with the third Unknown actually shooting her.
Price leads the car bombing attacks in London on March 8, 1973, which injure over 200 people and is believed to have contributed to the death of one person who suffers a fatal heart attack. The two sisters are arrested, along with Gerry Kelly, Hugh Feeney and six others, on the day of the bombing as they are boarding a flight to Ireland. They are tried and convicted at the Great Hall in Winchester Castle on November 14, 1973. Although originally sentenced to life imprisonment, which is to run concurrently for each criminal charge, their sentence is eventually reduced to 20 years. She serves seven years for her part in the bombing. She immediately goes on a hunger strike demanding to be moved to a prison in Northern Ireland. The hunger strike lasts for 208 days because the hunger strikers are force-fed by prison authorities to keep them alive.
After her release in 1980, Price marries Irish actor Stephen Rea, with whom she has two sons, Danny and Oscar. They divorce in 2003.
The Price sisters remain active politically. In the late 1990s, Price and her sister claim that they have been threatened by their former colleagues in the IRA and Sinn Féin for publicly opposing the Good Friday Agreement (i.e. the cessation of the IRA’s military campaign). she is a contributor to The Blanket, an online journal, edited by former Provisional IRA member Anthony McIntyre, until it ceases publication in 2008.
In 2001, Price is arrested in Dublin and charged with possession of stolen prescription pads and forged prescriptions. She pleads guilty and is fined £200 and ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
In February 2010, it is reported by The Irish News that Price had offered help to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains in locating graves of three men, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright, and Kevin McKee. The bodies of Wright and McKee are recovered from a singular grave in County Meath in August 2015. It is unclear if Price played a role in their recovery. The remains of Joe Lynskey have not been recovered as of April 2021.
Price is the subject of the 2018 feature-length documentary I, Dolours in which she gives an extensive filmed interview.
In 2010 Price claims Gerry Adams had been her officer commanding (OC) when she was active in the IRA. Adams, who has always denied being a member of the IRA, denies her allegation. She admits taking part in the murder of Jean McConville, as part of an IRA action in 1972. She claims the murder of McConville, a mother of ten, was ordered by Adams when he was an IRA leader in West Belfast. Adams subsequently publicly further denies Price’s allegations, stating that the reason for them is that she is opposed to the Provisional Irish Republican Army’s abandonment of paramilitary warfare in favour of politics in 1994, in the facilitation of which Adams has been a key figure.
Oral historians at Boston College interview both Price and her fellow IRA paramilitary Brendan Hughes between 2001 and 2006. The two give detailed interviews for the historical record of the activities in the IRA, which are recorded on condition that the content of the interviews is not to be released during their lifetimes. Prior to her death in May 2011, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) subpoena the material, possibly as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a number of people in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. In June 2011, the college files a motion to quash the subpoena. A spokesman for the college states that “our position is that the premature release of the tapes could threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history, and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland.” In June 2011, U.S. federal prosecutors ask a judge to require the college to release the tapes to comply with treaty obligations with the United Kingdom. On July 6, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agrees with the government’s position that the subpoena should stand. On October 17, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocks the college from handing over the interview tapes. In April 2013, after Price’s death, the Supreme Court turns away an appeal that seeks to keep the interviews from being supplied to the PSNI. The order leaves in place a lower court ruling that orders Boston College to give the Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with Price. Federal officials want to forward the recordings to police investigating the murder of Jean McConville.
On January 24, 2013 Price is found dead at her Malahide, County Dublin home, from a toxic effect of mixing prescribed sedative and anti-depressant medication. The inquest returns a verdict of death by misadventure. Her body is buried at Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast.