Adams linked to ANC-IRA claims

UPDATE: After I wrote this article I recorded an interview with Adrian Guelke, the South African Professor of Comparative Politics at Belfast's Queen's University.

Adrian survived a loyalist assassination attempt launched after a South African agent passed false information to the UDA claiming he had links with the IRA. Adams linked to ANC-IRA claims

Professor Guelke expressed amazement at the revelations by Kader Asmal. He made a distinction between the cooperation now revealed in the 1970s and later claims of ANC-IRA links in the 1980s which the Professor still believes were just propaganda.

The attack on the Sasolburg refinery - minus the IRA link - served as the inspiration for 2006 movie Catch A Fire which starrred Tim Robbins.

For those who didn't know Kader Asmal when he was a law lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin and the head of the Irish anti-apartheid movement, this lengthy autobiographical online interview on a Michigan State University website is worth a watch.

Recorded in 2004, it covers Kader Asmal's long career, but from 32 minutes in he starts talking about his time in Dublin and London.

His scholarly, urbane and avuncular character is obvious, and he talks engagingly about what he calls Ireland's "remarkable" contribution to South Africa's "liberation struggle".

He says many anti-apartheid activists came from a pacifist background, but that "armed struggle was forced on us by a school boy bully", and the "Irish anti-colonial background make a connection with oppression".

He talks about the Irish role in the cultural and economic boycott of South Africa, the Dubliners' refusal to accept money to tour there, the impact of the refusal of workers at Dunnes stores to sell South African fruit and his friendships with Seamus Heaney and Bono.

U2, he reveals, donated £20,000 towards the costs of Nelson Mandela's first trip to London in 1990.

Professor Asmal talks about joining the ANC in London, goes on to explain his role in suggesting the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his work as a cabinet minister in the post-apartheid era.

But one story which the professor, who died in June, left for his memoirs was his contacts with Gerry Adams, and what he describes as the IRA's training for the ANC's military wing and support role in a high profile attack on a South African oil refinery.

Mr Adams is on holiday and hasn't commented - no doubt he would be happy to take credit for any role in bringing down the apartheid government, but the anecdote again raises questions about his precise relationship with the IRA.

Sinn Fein sources told me that Irish republicans' backing for the anti-apartheid movement was a matter of public record and contrasted with unionists' long standing links with the old apartheid regime.

That's a clear reference to the South African role in supplying loyalist paramilitaries with weapons and the contacts with the apartheid regime's Armscor agency.

The former Conservative and DUP politician Andrew Hunter compiled a dossier on alleged links between the IRA and the ANC back in 1992.

One of those singled out was Kader Asmal who told the BBC in 2002 that the allegations "had no evidence", were "tendentious" and amounted to a "dangerous strategy" - those assertions referred to claimed links during the 1980s rather than the 1970s. However the implicit denial of any ANC-IRA connection will have to be revisited in the light of the professor's posthumous revelations.

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