Mar 17, 2024 - Things to Do

New podcast uncovers how a Chicago spy helped the Irish peace process

man with puzzle on his face

Image courtesy of Entropy Media

A new podcast chronicles a Chicago trucker who infiltrated an Irish Republican Army faction for the FBI and MI5 to help save the Irish peace process.

Why it matters: On this St. Patrick's weekend, "The Rebel Kind" illuminates our city's role in Irish politics through a nail-biting spy story told by former and current Sun-Times reporters Abdon Pallasch and Bob Herguth.

Flashback: In the early 2000s, Chicagoan Dave Rupert was the unlikely main witness in a terrorism case against Mickey McKevitt, the leader of The Real IRA, a splinter group.

  • "Vast majorities of Catholics and protestants north and south of the border voted to stop fighting and proceed with the peace process, and these splinter groups were trying to blow it up," Pallasch tells Axios." Rupert's extraordinary effort helped the peace process move forward."

Between the lines: Pallasch faced a long legal battle to keep tapes of interviews with Rupert out of the hands of The Real IRA.

The intrigue: "Rupert had no more spy training than any of us, and he was able to bluff his way up to the highest ranks of the militant IRA splinter groups" — a story that Pallasch says "should inspire all of us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones."

Biggest surprise: "How easily [The Real IRA] was taken in by a 6'7" protestant with no Irish connections who presented himself as a true believer in the cause," Pallasch says.

  • "Perhaps those envelopes full of American cash he showed up with helped lower their guard."

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