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Their Own Game

association with, and in some cases, parallel membership of, the IRA.
Martin McFosters was not alone in this. The leadership of the
political wings of the Protestant paramilitaries were in the same
boat. Those who supported terrorism were never likely to be taken
seriously by the political parties who existed because of the ballot
box, rather than because of the bullet and the bomb.
Slowly, though, that had changed. Now, with power sharing in Northern
Ireland, McFosters and others had a voice. Their power-base was
reinforced by the ballot box as well. To some extent, they had been
able to quell the violence through a series of cease-fires, which had
been more or less maintained. They had undertaken to use their
influence over the IRA, which they had always claimed was not born of
a direct link, to work towards „decommissioning’ stockpiles of
weapons, through an independent body which was actually powerless to
do anything except talk. Protestants and Catholics alike had dragged
their feet over this, and other issues, and both sides of the
political divide also had to deal with militant members who still
believed that violence, rather than talking, was more likely to bring
progress.
But talking there still was, and plenty of it. And there was violence,
too, in spite of the many concessions that had been made in the
continuing effort to bring peace to the troubled Province. Rather too
much violence, in fact. McFosters had to admit that it was making his
life more difficult than he would have wished.
This visit was about money. He must make sure he kept up the pressure
for the continued flow of funds, and make sure, too, that those whose
political support might be wavering, understood that nothing could be
achieved, in peace or war, without very substantial amounts of cash.
Certainly more than could be raised through the normal methods on the
Irish side of the Atlantic. Protection rackets, drugs, prostitution,
crime and so on had their value, but the US dollar was available in
much greater quantities than they could ever raise, through the huge
and influential Irish American population.
It had certainly always been readily available in seemingly endless
sums in the past, although there had been one incident, very recently,
when urgently needed cash had not been transferred with the usual
speed. At one time, a clerk in the branch of the Manhattan State Bank,
where several million dollars was held anonymously, had even claimed
that the account had been closed. Of course, it hadn’t, but several
attempts had to be made at other US banks before the required sum was
eventually put together and moved to one of their many accounts in
Ireland. A cock-up somewhere that would eventually be sorted out, but
if anything, it had proved that McFosters’ oft proposed and always
rejected idea that some of their huge wealth should be invested, had
been ill advised. Cash in a bank was like notes under the mattress -
quickly and easily available.
The States had always been the main source of cash for the republican
movement, ostensibly to keep Sinn Fein’s political efforts alive,
although only the most naive would pretend that the steady flow of
dollars had not also gone towards buying arms and keeping the IRA
going as well. And they were still there, and still needed cash
support. Weapons that, in theory at least, had been put beyond use by
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