A Catholic priest maintained a network of Europe-wide contacts used to generate arms and money for the IRA, a documentary revealed.

Patrick Ryan helped secure munitions from Libya which were intercepted by the Irish navy off the coast of Ireland, according to BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme.

Ryan travelled with former IRA commander Joe Cahill to Tripoli. A five tonne shipment of weapons on board the Claudia was to follow.

He said: “I would have liked to have been much more effective than I was but we did not do too badly.”

The former East Africa missionary from the Republic of Ireland initially worked as a parish priest and contributed money to the republican cause while doing so.

He was approached by IRA leaders who asked him to work for them permanently. He was no longer a parish priest while associated with the Provisionals.

He told Spotlight: “They asked me to travel the world and try to get info.”

In 1973 he was sent to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Tripoli along with IRA chief of staff Cahill.

Ryan spent the next 10 years visiting Libya and Europe, using a camper van to travel all over Europe raising money, the Spotlight programme said.

He deposited cash in a Swiss bank account for use by the IRA.

He said: “We were doing considerable business with the bank… exchanging unusual sums of money.”

He also discovered timers which made it easier for IRA men to arm their bombs without being killed themselves, Spotlight said.

Those became a component in the republican organisation’s bomb-making technology.

One was used to detonate the 1984 bomb at the Tory party conference in Brighton.
Fragments of the timer were recovered from the rubble.

The extent of Ryan’s role was revealed by discussions between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Irish Taoiseach, Spotlight said.

The programme said documents revealed that Thatcher considered Ryan to be the main channel between the IRA and Libya for a decade.

She described him as a “very dangerous man” with an expert knowledge of bombing.

He said he regretted that he was not even more effective.

He told Spotlight: “One way or another I had a hand in most of them.”

Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History airs on Tuesday September 24 on BBC One NI and BBC Four at 9pm.


I cannot take it in that an old man in his 90s, a once active priest and Christian, is proud of having contributed to killing, bombing etc!

And at 90, perhaps only months before meeting his Lord, is not repenting of his very gravely sinful actions.

It seems as if his extreme republicanism has totally hardened his heart.

Did he not use to believe and preach THOU SHALT NOT KILL!

I fully understand that the British and the Unionists and their forces created massive evil in Ireland over 800 years.

And they will all answer for that before God.

I don’t agree very often with Northern Ireland Unionists but they are perfectly within their rights to demand the extradition of this old man from the Republic to that he can be prosecuted and jailed here.

In the picture above his face looks as hard as his heart!


We in the republic should demand the extradition of all those Unionists who denied Catholics housing and as members of the B specials murdered innumerable republicans. Don’t be such a selective bastard Buckley.


So you agree with a priest killer?
I’ve always criticized the B Specials, the UDR, and murdering policemen and soldiers.


Pat, this former priest is not the only one who should be prosecuted for his very sinful, immoral and barbarous behaviour. There are many still alive within Sin(n) Fein/IRA whose actions were responsible for the murder of many, many innocent people, people who are proud of their killing spree. Shame, shame on them all. Some of these people are also professed Christians. They should be brought to justice too along with this ex priest killer.


Gerry Adams was never a member of the IRA. Sure he said so, and we’ve no reason to disbelief that 😉


Poor old Mitchell McLaughin, the SF negotiator turned MLA and later Speaker of Stormont was derided in Republican circles for not being a member of the ‘RA. It was his lack of killing history which allowed unionists to accept him as the first and so far only Taig Speaker.

“Draft dodger” they called him. Yet Gerry Adams, also with clean hands never got called that and it seemed to do him no harm in getting ahead.


Bp Pat, I always remember whenever there was a bombing during John Major’s premiership, he would stand up in the Commons and say, “those responsible will be hunted down to the ends of the earth.”

Obviously, he didn’t try hard enough.


Anon@10:39: might it just be that he now has no belief in this alleged soul thingy?
I see a parallel in Ryan’s vile activities and (indeed his current attitude now that in his 90’s he’s surely coffin dodging), and the behaviour of some clerics whose child abuse has been uncovered as gross and longstanding.
The parallel similarity I see is that they had lost all belief in God’s existence, an ‘afterlife’ heaven, hell: basically any post death consequences.
I can find no other explanation.
Can you?


Why should an athiest be moral or behave in conventional ways? If this life is all we’ve got why not (within the law) let rip?


Thank you Anon@ 10:49 for your question: it’s a good one.
My response picks up on the word “conventional” used by you. It nicely describes the inherent behavioural codes imprinted into the majority of humans by the processes of evolution whereby we, for the most part, tend to cooperate in ways that over countless millennia have proven to be best for our mutual survival. Humanity has developed much of this evolved mutually cooperative practice into legislation, for there have always been “non conformists” whose behaviour steps outside the norms who need restrictive mandates. As individuals we mostly follow the moral imperatives derived from childhood experiences: the ‘hand that rocks the cradle.’ Yes there are some who, in your words, “let rip” and feel no apparent shame. I think initial parenting and subsequent life experiences for some will act as triggers to develop immoral attitudes in certain types of personalities and an ‘anything goes/whatever I can get away with’ stance.
Among the latter will be both atheists and believers. I suspect that much immoral behaviour is more without any thought of God, gods or religious mandates rather than active choice derived from conscious atheism.
I like to think that, in simple terms, there are two kinds of atheists: those who just don’t think about God and have no belief in any gods, and those who consciously weigh up the evidence and find nothing to support a belief in God. Most Humanists are to be found in the latter. Their motto “Good without God” nicely sums up the central tenet of their beliefs.
“Do as you would be done by others” is a very old saying found in Confucius and many other codes predating Christianity where it’s found in Matthew 7:12. Known as the Golden Rule, in ethical terminology it’s referred to simply as the ethic of reciprocity.


Religion and politics is a quare auld topic hi. Sure they have been mixed and matched since the dawn of time. All injustice needs to be addressed. But hi how does people like father Murphy from old kilmichael (song) fit into the frame


It claims he is an ex PP; that he worked in East Africa, then in Ireland. Anyone know if he was a “missionary priest first and what order/organisation and when/why he was laicised?


He was first a member of the Pallotine order. He worked in Tanzania, the USA and as a curate in a London parish.


Here I am in the big chair becoming increasingly fixated with the revelations flowing from the collapse of that great Christian firm Wrightbus.
And now what adds to both my amusement and bewilderment is that God was a shareholder. Not just any old shareholder but one with a 26% holding in the Wrights parent company!
‘We wanted to put Him at the centre of everything the company does’ said majority shareholder Jeff Wright.
Poor old God hasn’t been attending to his corporate responsibilities. Has God taken his eye off the ball here or fallen asleep at the wheel? We really should be told.
‘Now God, why didn’t you exercise you functions earlier to prevent this collapse. Surely one as all seeing and as powerful as you could have read the signs and blown the whistle. After all old boy you were a substantial stockholder. Just think old chum your inactivity will now be a cause of considerable concern to all you redneck followers in the north Antrim Bible Belt. You were obviously a very very silent director or perhaps it’s even more likely you didn’t even exist in the first place.
Hallelujah Brethren !


Now then DD: are you coming round to my way of thinking about this alleged Godswallop fellow ?


Hi MMM, I don’t believe in a religious god, not for a long time and as for my views on ‘organised’ religion, well let’s just say I rumbled that lot years ago.
I believe however in a power greater than myself. A force of positivity in the universe.



I watched the Spotlight programme on Tuesday featuring Patrick Ryan. If it wasn’t so serious it would be very funny. He just sat there, proud as punch, regretting that he hadn’t been more successful in his cause! Whatever about the merits of his campaign, he certainly wins the prize for ‘Brass Neck of the Week’. I don’t agree with his politics or his views, but I have to admire his sheer doggedness and unwavering belief in the cause of the IRA.


And I welcome him back @8:43. You may not know that he was a regular until the blog became much degraded with ad hominem abuse. I welcome him for his customary intelligent wry humorous comments, …..even after his usual Black Bush libations.


Nelson McCausland, don’t make me laugh. Just google his name and quotes and think for yourself. Up to his neck in it. Anti Catholic bigoted fool. Lost his MLA seat and considered a liability by the DUP, a bit like that other clown they disowned, Jim Wells. Piers Morgan highlighted what a dinosaur Jim Wells is recently on TV. Give us a break ffs.


Pat, I’ve not looked in blog for a few weeks now. Was fed up with the aggro. Seems more calm and sensible now with interesting insightful comments. I don’t agree with some, but will keep tuning in if it continues more interesting.


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