Thursday, 30 April 2015

Maurice Bo BO Ward

We are once again urging anyone who has information on the murder of Maurice ‘Bo Bo’ Ward to contact the police. Bo Bo was shot dead just hours after he finished writing ‪#‎RoughJustice‬ in April 2002. His book, which became a bestsellers In Ireland, recounted Bo Bo’s incarceration in Upton Industrial School, Co Cork, the sex abuse and violence he suffered at the hands of the religious there, and what drove him to turn his back on crime to campaign for the victims of childsexual abuse. Bo Bo was murdered by two masked on the night of April 28, 2002. His killers kicked in his front door, forced him to kneel on the ground before they shot him at point blank range in front of his five young children. His murder remains unsolved. Bo Bo never got to see the publication of Rough Justice but we hope he was proud of it. RIP Bo Bo.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Beyond the Call of Duty: Heroism in the Irish Defence Forces

Maverick House is pleased to announce it will be publishing Beyond the Call of Duty: Heroism in the Irish Defence Force. The book will tell the stories of the forgotten heroes of the Irish Defence Forces, the recipients of the Military Medal for Gallantry (MMG).

The MMG is awarded to soldiers in recognition of acts of exceptional bravery involving risk to life and limb. Beyond the Call of Duty recounts the stories of the soldiers who have performed acts of heroism in the most adverse situations. This is an account of stunning force and is an unforgettable reminder of the horrors of war.

Declan Power is a security and defence journalist. He formerly served with three combat arms of the Irish Army before attending military college. His first book, Siege at Jadotville: the Irish Army’s forgotten battle, published in 2005, was critically received. The book is now the subject of a major motion film staring Jamie Dornan.  


Monday, 9 March 2015

Three Years Later

I just received another short message on Facebook this week from someone who had just read my book. He said that he was moved to tears by the end of the book, and that he found it inspiring. I quickly replied, thanking him for reaching out to me. It is still gratifying for a first-time author to receive readers’ letters many years after my book’s initial release.

Maverick House Publishers released my book, OF GOD AND MEN: A LIFE IN THE CLOSET, three years ago, in March 2012. Its previous iteration was as a self-published novel, God Loves Bakla, published two years earlier in Cambodia. It was briefly on the bestseller list of National Book Store in Manila, but sales have slowed down, as might be expected. But there remains a market for the book out there, and the recent Facebook message I received proves this.

The world has changed a lot since I first self-published my memoirs about my life in the closet. We are three months away from a possible United States Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage a fundamental human right in every state of the country. The implications of such decision will be enormous, and the United States will become the biggest country in the world where same-sex marriage is recognized. In my home country, the Philippines, which catches a cold every time Uncle Sam sneezes, I am sure that the US Supreme Court decision will lead to more discussions on LGBT rights, and perhaps my traditional, conservative, devoutly Catholic country will finally begin taking steps to recognize the rights of LGBT Filipinos as a minority group justly deserving state protection.
But then again, the Philippines has never followed the US on the issue of divorce, so perhaps the US Supreme Court decision would not be as consequential as I would like to think.

Beyond the legal arena, much has changed in the Philppines when it comes to LGBT rights. I had been one of the Partylist candidates of Ang Ladlad LGBT Party in the 2013 midterm Congressional Elections. I volunteered to be one because there was almost no one who was both willing and qualified to speak out for our community. In next year’s elections, that would no longer be the case. Between 2013 and now, I have seen so many of my LGBT sisters and brothers step up to the plate to speak out for our community. Some of them, to my mind, would make excellent candidates. 

Moreover, there would no longer be just one LGBT partylist; there would be several, and this is certainly a case where we should let a thousand flowers bloom. We saw how Ang Ladlad failed to unify the LGBT community in 2013. Maybe the solution is to have more sector-specific partylists, which could then mobilize more effectively and campaign more successfully.

I would still like to be able to do LGBT advocacy in the Philippines, in one form or another. But the urgency for my personal participation is no longer there, as we have many young people who are bravely speaking out, and who could communicate our ideas and principles more effectively to their generation. And if my voice is somehow sought after again, OF GOD AND MEN will always be available.

I am currently based in Vientiane, Laos, where I have lived for close to two years with my partner, John. I moved here in July 2013, right after the elections, and began the work of setting up an international law firm to cater to foreign companies investing in Laos. This was the same work I was doing in Cambodia before I came home to the Philippines to campaign for Ang Ladlad. This is my livelihood at the moment. It pays my bills and allows John and me to build a comfortable home and a happy life together. Laos is a wonderful place to live and work in, and I am slowly improving my Lao language skills in order to be more integrated into the local community. How long John and I will stay here we cannot say. But we do not mind staying in Laos for another two to three years.

Later this month, the directors of Out Run are coming to Laos to interview me to check on me two years after the failed Ladlad campaign. Out Run is a feature-length documentary currently in production by American filmmakers Johnny Symons and S. Leo Chiang about the world’s only LGBT political party to run for office. I am one of the film’s subjects, and the filmmakers are preparing the epilogue. When I stand before their cameras again, I will be speaking about LGBT rights once more. I am looking forward to the completed film, which should be released later this year. In the meantime, you can check out a trailer at

The world has indeed changed a lot in the last several years. But in the larger picture, probably not by much. Many parts of the world remain homophobic, and young people in towns and villages all over the world remain cowering in the closet, fearful that their family and friends would find out they were homosexual, which would destroy their lives forever. I hope that my book, as well as other similar works, reach these young people to let them know that there’s nothing wrong with them. I hope that Maverick House continues to sell and market OF GOD AND MEN to be able to help these people in the closet. Like the recent reader who wrote me on Facebook, perhaps they may also be inspired by my book.

I may no longer be as active as I used to be, but I will always be an advocate for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. And I am profoundly thankful that OF GOD AND MEN and, hopefully soon, Out Run allow my advocacy to outrun my meager efforts in order to reach so many, many more.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Lissa Oliver, the author of Gala Day and Chantilly Dawns, is writing another thriller

I’ve heard it said that an author should write the book that’s missing from their bookshelf. While it’s sound advice, I couldn’t imagine doing otherwise. In my day job as a horseracing journalist I only write the features that I would like to read and when it comes to my first love, writing novels, it really is pure self-indulgence.

My passion for writing came as soon as I could hold a pen and form a letter, and my passion for racehorses a few years later, so I’m at my happiest combining the two. Chantilly Dawns really was the book I most wanted to write – it didn’t follow the usual trend of a racing thriller, but instead offered me an opportunity to really explore, and abuse, my protagonist’s psyche. It was written for myself, but thankfully quite a few others share my tastes!

Although I set my books within the horseracing world that I know and love, I try to be aware that they should appeal to non-horse people and I take care not to be technical or use jargon. But the self-contained bubble that is the racing world does present me with an excellent base on which to build a story and really test a character.

Gala Day may be a typical horseracing thriller, but again it was the book I most wanted to read. I’d grown up with the Dick Francis thrillers and their imitators, but I always found them detached from the real, ground roots stable in which most of the industry work. I didn’t like the oh-so-perfect heroes, who described pain and discomfort as ‘boring’! I wanted an ordinary hero who felt pain like any of us and felt fear, too, but was prepared to fight for his reputation, simply because he had to.

Right now I’m working hard on a third horseracing thriller, which could be described as a combination of the two books. I enjoyed the fast-paced whodunit aspect of Gala Day, so that is certainly the main premise of my current novel in progress, but I also enjoyed my sadistic role as an author in prising out and preying upon the hero’s weaknesses in Chantilly Dawns. Currently I have two central characters, the hero and the villain, both with their own set of emotional problems. The plot revolves around their tortured relationship and its repercussions. Once again, the racing world is merely a backdrop.

I find when I’m writing a novel that the first three or four chapters are the most difficult and take far too long to write. But they are the crucial foundations of a story, establishing characters and plot. As soon as I’m comfortable with them, the remainder simply flows, rather like following the characters visually and recording their actions. From that point on, despite only writing in my spare time (it’s surprising where you can conjure it up from!) I tend to write non-stop and so far have completed each of my three published novels in nine months; not counting those first long and laboured months or even years of getting past chapter three. As I’m approaching the halfway point of thriller number three, it’s safe to say: Watch This Space!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Netflix to premier Jadotville

NETFLIX TO PREMIERE JADOTVILLE, A TALE OF WAR, IMPOSSIBLE ODDS AND INCREDIBLE BRAVERY, STARRING JAIME DORNAN AND GUILLAUME CANET Directed by Richie Smyth, Jadotville Will be Exclusively Available on Netflix in All Territories in 2016. Beverly Hills, California, 16 Feb 2015, – Netflix will premiere the new war thriller Jadotville, starring Jaime Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Guillaume Canet(Tell No One), across all its territoriesin 2016. Netflix acquired Jadotville at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. The film will go into production in April. A gripping true story of incredible bravery against impossible odds, the film thrillingly depicts the 1961 siege of a 150-strong Irish UN battalion under Commander Patrick Quinlan (Dornan) by 3000 Congolese troops led by French and Belgian mercenaries working for mining companies. Canet plays a French commander who sought to defeat Quinlan and his men. Directed by Richie Smyth, a well-known commercial and music video director (U2, Bon Jovi, The Verve) and written by Kevin Brodbin (Constantine), Jadotville will be filmed in Ireland and South Africa. Alan Moloney and Ruth Coady will produce for Parallel Films (Haywire, Albert Nobbs, Byzantium). Netflix acquired Jadotville at the 2015 Berlinale. “The story of how Pat Quinlan led his troops against an overwhelming force without losing a single man is one of the great stories of the 20th century, and we are proud to be working with such a talented and committed team to bring it to life,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “This film will be an amazing addition to our global original films initiative.” “As filmmakers, we are constantly looking for new ways to bring a movie to the largest possible audience. Netflix has already reinvented the TV market and is now moving front and centre into the film business. We are proud and excited to be part of their story and innovation.” said Parallel Films’ Alan Moloney. About Netflix Netflix is the world’s leading internet television network with over 57 million members in nearly 50 countries enjoying more than two billion hours of TV programmes and films per month, including original series, documentaries and feature films. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without adverts or commitments.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Gangster: The biography of the international drug trafficker John Gilligan

John Gilligan was never one to mince his words. When I met him many years ago, he couldn't help but brag about how much money he had amassed from drug dealing, hijackings and contraband smuggling. He was organised crime personified.
"I have just moved IR£15m (€19m) out of the country where the gardai will never get their hands on it," Gilligan told me in an interview in London.
It was August 1996, barely six weeks after Veronica Guerin, a 37-year-old crime reporter with the Sunday Independent, was shot dead in her car while stopped at a traffic junction on the Naas Road, near Clondalkin, at lunchtime on June 26.
Her murder had shocked the world.
Even by the vicious Dublin gangland standards of the mid-1990s, Guerin's murder was cold-blooded. Her killers had discreetly followed the young mother from Naas district court in Co Kildare, where she had appeared on a speeding charge.
When Guerin stopped at the intersection, a powerful motorcycle with two men pulled up. The pillion passenger dismounted, strode towards her car, and fired shots at point-blank range with a Magnum revolver, killing the journalist instantly as she left a message on a friend's phone. It was a brutal killing.
Gilligan was the prime suspect for ordering a murder which convulsed Ireland and the world. Yet he seemed more concerned about his appearance as pictures of him began to appear in newspapers. Power and wealth seemed to have gone to his head. The five-foot-nothing criminal was almost enjoying the attention.
"Do you think I looked good?" Gilligan asked me in a strong Dublin accent, as he ate his fast food. "Everyone said I looked cool. Some of the fellas from home even rang. They thought I looked cool. Like a guy from the Mafia — a real gangster."
During that conversation, Gilligan freely admitted to being ruthless, including attacking Guerin when she confronted him outside his home the previous September.
He also admitted to calling her mobile phone and issuing threats to kidnap and rape her six-year-old son, Cathal, in order to deter her inquiries into the source of his wealth.
"I knew she didn't fear for herself. It was only a tactic I used to try to frighten her off," he remarked of the threat to Cathal.
While Gilligan denied ordering the journalist's murder, he made no secret of his wealth, his position in the underworld or his knowledge of organised crime.
"Let me tell you this: anyone can get anyone killed if they have the money," he said. "You don't have to be a criminal. I could have ordered Veronica Guerin's death, but I didn't. I had no hand, act or part in it. That's the truth."
Those words would prove to be his last as a free man. In October 1996, he was arrested by the British police at Heathrow Airport in London as he tried to board a flight to Amsterdam with IR£330,000 in cash, stuffed in a suitcase.
Gilligan fought his extradition to Ireland from Britain but lost and eventually stood trial in Dublin in 2001. He was eventually acquitted of Guerin's murder but found guilty of drug trafficking.
He was released from custody after serving 17 years in jail in October 2013.
So who was John Gilligan. He was born on March 29, 1952. The eldest of nine children, he left school at 14 and got a job as a cabin boy on Irish Ferries. The gangster had his first brush with the law when he was charged with larceny at the age of 15.
He grew up on Lough Conn Road in Ballyfermot, a working-class suburb in west Dublin. He married Geraldine Matilda Dunne, a childhood friend, when he was 20. Their first child, Tracy, was born six months later.
Martin Donnellan, a retired assistant garda commissioner, remembers him as a common thief.
"I was stationed as a young garda in Ballyfermot in the 1970s. Gilligan was just another local hood. I never considered him to be anything extraordinary," he said.
"Many of his contemporaries left crime behind when they settled down and married. You could say children and married life took the wind out of their sails, but Gilligan stuck with crime. He got involved in hijacking trucks and started to develop a reputation."
Gilligan made the transition from petty thief to organised crime figure initially through involvement in hijackings and warehouse robberies. In the 1980s, his gang specialised in breaking into warehouses and stealing freight containers which were intended to bring goods to supermarkets and factories. His outfit became known as the Factory Gang.
"In the 1970s and 1980s, he wasn't any worse than the others," Donnellan said. "He actually got away with a lot of his crimes because the criminal justice system was different back then. There was no use of DNA. If he were starting off now, he wouldn't last long."
Gilligan's career as a robber was brought to an end in 1987 when he was caught stealing from the Rose Confectionery premises on the outskirts of Dublin. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing sweets. In 1990 he was again convicted of robbery, and this time sentenced to four years. He was released in 1993, having served three, and promptly moved into the burgeoning drugs trade.
Within six months of his release from Portlaoise prison, Gilligan's first shipment of drugs arrived. It was 75kg of cannabis resin, packed by a Dutch criminal into two wooden boxes. In the following two years, Gilligan imported 21,000kg of cannabis resin using a freight company in Cork.
The cannabis was sold to Brian Meehan, a Dublin criminal later convicted for Guerin's murder, for €2,530 a kilo, netting Gilligan a gross profit of about €20m. More income was earned via the sale of contraband cigarettes, fraud and arms smuggling — possibly as much as €30m, say gardai.
During this period, Gilligan posed as a respectable businessman and professional gambler. 

He dressed in suits and sports jackets, and bought so many first-class flights to Amsterdam he was given a gold card by Are Lingus, the Irish airline. His family wanted for nothing. He bought four-wheel-drives, Jessbrook equestrian centre, houses and cars for his children.
Austin McNally, a retired detective chief superintendent who led Operation Pineapple, a garda offensive against Gilligan which commenced in early 1996 before Guerin was murdered, remembers being astonished by the sheer volume of money that Gilligan's gang was generating.
"It was mind-blowing — that's the only way of describing it. Gilligan and his men literally had so much money they didn't know what to do with it. They couldn't spend it fast enough," he recalled. 
"They were smuggling cannabis into the state by the container load. It was a cash-rich business with good profits."
Gilligan amassed so much money that at one point he was forced to employ people to count it. Sums of up to IR£100,000 were tallied each week by a family from south Dublin. Despite all his wealth, a tax slip sent at the end of 1994 asking Gilligan to predict his earnings for the year was sent back with a note scrawled in red crayon: "I'm just out of prison, I have no f****** money for you, leave me alone."
McNally said the scale of Gilligan's operation first began to emerge in March 1996, when Dutch police alerted Interpol to attempts by Irish nationals to launder money. Investigations revealed Gilligan and his associates had laundered millions through bureaux de change in Amsterdam.
The British authorities seized tens of thousands in cash from an associate of Gilligan's, prompting an inquiry as to its origins. In Ireland, the banks filed confidential reports which revealed that hundreds of thousands were passing through accounts controlled by Gilligan.
Pat Byrne, the former garda commissioner, said gardai had never encountered anything like this before.
 "One can understand how it happened," he said. "[Gilligan] had been involved in criminality for some time, and emerged from prison when there was a huge demand for drugs. He cornered the market and generated huge profits.
"At the time there was a huge problem in terms of proving where finance came from. The argument made before the advent of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) was that someone could be found with a large amount of cash but, unless one could prove it came from nefarious purposes, it had to be handed back.
"The investigation into Veronica's killing, what had occurred, changed all that. It lead to the legislation to seize such assets.
"Looking back on it, I just think Gilligan and the gang lost the run of themselves and thought they could do anything. When you think of it, what a stupid thing to do. Did they not imagine what the consequences would be?"
Like others, Byrne described Guerin's murder as a seismic event in modern Irish life.
"It wasn't just politicians and the policing world — the public couldn't believe this had happened," he recalled.
"Not just that Veronica was a journalist; she was a woman and a mother. People asked how we had come to this situation. How had this happened and what is going to be done?"
But Gilligan's ill-gotten gains have never been found. He spent €1.94m on the Jessbrook complex, which has since been seized by CAB and sold. It had been developed from a derelict house on five acres in Co Kildare to a world-class equestrian centre.
Some money was spent buying adjoining land. In August 1994, Gilligan bought 30 acres for €63,000, then another 15 acres for €35,000, and another eight acres for €20,000. In all, he spent €214,000 on extra land on which to graze horses.
He laundered some money by gambling, including backing every horse in a particular race. The winnings would be paid by cheque, which could then be deposited in a bank. Between 1994 and October 1996, he placed bets totalling €6.7m and won back €6.09m — effectively laundering the cash at a cost of about €610,000.

The gardai believe funds were smuggled to Amsterdam, where at least €3.42m was changed into Dutch guilders at a bureau de change before being lodged in offshore accounts. It vanished without trace.
A garda investigation into his finances also found other cash amounts being converted into various currencies and deposited in bank accounts in Spain, Tunisia, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Morocco and Switzerland. It has never been located.
Gilligan is also said to have buried money and guns in a bunker on his Kildare estate. He allegedly told his gang that he created a bunker when the Jessbrook equestrian centre was being built. If so, it has never been found.
After Guerin was murdered, bank accounts controlled by Gilligan were emptied, but some of this money was intercepted and seized. Intelligence gathered by the team which investigated Guerin's murder, and later by CAB, concluded that Gilligan had smuggled large amounts of cash to Spain using Liam Judge, a criminal from Kildare who has since died.
Judge, who acted as a garda informant, invested some money on Gilligan's behalf in holiday apartments, properties and a bar, but also lined his own pockets.
Many believe part of the missing fortune was laundered by Terry Wingrove, a British associate of Gilligan's who deposited millions in Hanover Bank Ltd, an offshore depositary registered in Antigua but operated from Dublin.
It was run by Anthony Fitzpatrick, a former Irish government press secretary, who ran it singlehandedly from his south Dublin home. A US Senate report into Hanover in 2001 implicated it in money laundering after part of $100m (€74m) stolen from the Casio electronics company in Japan was deposited in Fitzpatrick's offshore bank. Fitzpatrick believed Wingrove to be a wealthy art dealer.
Michael Finnegan, a retired chief superintendent who had responsibility for the Louth/Meath division, believes only a small amount of Gilligan's fortune has been found.
"It's fair to assume millions were never accounted for. I always believed it was lodged offshore," he said.
"I've no doubt he still has access to it. None of the major money was seized. That money is salted away somewhere. Maybe some of it will be dug up in Jessbrook when it's sold, but I would have my doubts. I just couldn't see Gilligan burying it. Maybe some day it will be found."
When Gilligan was released in October 2013, both Byrne and Finnegan guessed that he would probably emigrate soon after.
"His name wouldn't mean a lot to many of the young criminals who have taken over since he was sent to prison," said Finnegan.
"Ireland is a different country now," said Byrne. "I think Gilligan will find it a changed place. He's no longer riding the crest of a wave in terms of criminality."

The retired police officers were correct., Gilligan did flee after two attempts on his life. He is now living in Birmingham in Britain. The whereabouts of the missing millions is still a mystery.

John Mooney is one of Ireland's leading journalists and an expert on crime and terrorism. He currently reports on crime for the Sunday Times and regularly contributes to BBC, RTE, CBS and Channel 4 news programmes. 
His is the author of several books including Black Operations: The Secret War Against the Real IRA (2003), Rough Justice (2004) and The Torso in the Canal (2007). Gangster, his critically acclaimed biography of John Gilligan, the biggest drugs trafficker to emerge from the Irish underworld, was published in 2001.