Prove that Irish Americans are sending weapons and money across the Atlantic to keep the IRA fighting in Northern Ireland.
Prove that an ostensibly charitable organization called the Irish Northern Aid Committee, known as Noraid with 92 chapters across the United States, is the front for an international conspiracy to fund and fuel terrorism in Ulster.
Prove that the Irish Republican Army might not survive without its American pipeline.
The British and Irish intelligence services say this is so. The U.S. Justice Department is trying to prove it in court.
Officers of Noraid have been convicted on charges of gun running. A U.S. district court judge in New York, Charles S. Haight Jr., ruled 'the uncontroverted evidence is that (Noraid) is an agent of the IRA, providing money and services for other than relief services.' Its official spokesman in the United States calls that charge 'absolutely false.'
Whatever the truth, Noraid is raking in money as never before.
It has made full capital out of Irish American sympathy for the IRA hunger strikers at Maze Prison near Belfast. It continues to dispatch pickets and demonstrators to make life unpleasant outside British consulates.
Staunch Irish Americans will turn out in force to attend Noraid's dances, concerts and dinners, paying $3 to $5 a ticket. That, Noraid claims, is the only way it gets its money.
Still, no one, no government, has been able to come up with sufficient proof to move against the Noraid network and shut it down. Noraid spokesmen are almost smug about it.
'I'm sure there are British operatives in the United States,' said Richard Lucy, who speaks for Noraid in Chicago. 'I'm sure that they have infiltrated Irish Northern Aid. Anyone that wishes to can join.
'The FBI, I am sure, has infiltrated Irish Northern Aid. There are many FBI agents, I am sure, who are members.
'If these people cannot show a direct link between Irish Northern Aid and (money) used for the purpose of buying weapons, then I don't know who can. No one has ever produced one shred of evidence.
'... It's laughable. Ludicrous.'
Noraid presents itself as an organization of benevolent volunteer Irish working men. It is too poor, it says, to have a number listed in the Chicago telephone book or any established office there.
National headquarters in New York were moved only recently from a storefront in the Bronx to an office in Manhattan. It describes itself as a 'shoestring operation' run by three old men in their 70s.
Lucy, the only one who will speak for Noraid in Chicago, has no such modest trappings. He holds forth in a well-appointed suite of legal offices high in the Barristers Building on La Salle street, the street where many of Chicago's most expensive and smooth-talking lawyers work.
Similarly, Martin Galvin, national voice of Noraid, is another deft attorney. When he is not occupied with charitable causes, he serves as Bronx County assistant district attorney.
The New York firm of O'Dwyer and Bernstein is representing Noraid in its appeal of Judge Haight's ruling in New York last May that the organization register as an agent of the IRA.
Since its formation in 1970, Noraid has represented itself as nothing more than an alliance of Irish seeking to help the families of 1,500 political prisoners in Ireland.
It says its charity is channeled through an organization called Green Cross and through an Irish clothing fund. Some funds, Lucy concedes, go to Noraid's role as 'the only effective counteractive to British propaganda in this country.'
Galvin said Noraid collected $250,000 in the first six months of 1981, more than twice what it picked up during the same period in 1980. Receipts are reported to be going as briskly now. The increase in generosity is credited to outrage over the deaths of 10 hunger strikers at the Maze Prison.
Before that, Noraid said it channeled $1 million to Irish charity since 1972. In court papers submitted before Haight, the government said it could not figure where the money went.
The Justice Department also noted that Noraid had listed the Northern Aid Committee of Belfast as its 'foreign principal,' but had never bothered to give a street address for it.
'No one in Belfast ever saw or heard of it,' a Justice Department spokesman in Washington said.
The government said a search of Noraid documents failed to come up with any correspondence to or from the Belfast committee. No canceled checks were found indicating money had been sent to the Belfast committee, the Justice Department said, and there was no proof the money had even left the country.
Along the way, Noraid officers Daniel Cahalane and Neil Byrne were convicted of illegal transportation of arms. Michael Flannery, a Noraid director, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to ship arms to the IRA.
A document submitted as coming from Noraid's Rochester, N.Y., chapter said, 'This is an authentic committee chartered by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (and the only one) to collect money for their cause. We guarantee that all monies collected will be used for that purpose.'
Charles J. Haughey, then prime minister of Ireland, said in 1980, 'There is clear and conclusive evidence available to the government here from security and other sources that Noraid has provided support for the campaign of violence and indeed direct assistance in its pursuit.
'On the basis of these activities, it stands condemned and I appeal to all in America who have the interests of Ireland at heart not to give this body any support financial or moral.'
Intelligence and police sources in Belfast, Dublin and London are willing to give their conclusions on how contraband reaches Northern Ireland. None of them, however, would speak for attribution.
'The lion's share of support comes from America,' a Belfast police source said. 'Not only do the dollars fund the IRA but the main source of arms supply is the U.S. weapons market.'
Security sources said IRA sympathizers working aboard trans-Atlantic ships are the key to the American connection.
Generally, the sources said, the gun runner meets with his U.S. contact at a bar in Boston or New York. The goods are delivered to the ship shortly before sailing time.
Once in Ireland, the weapons are taken to a dump near Dundalk just south of the border between the Irish Republic and Ulster. From there, they are sneaked into Northern Ireland over a network of small roads and paths.
This would be a big money business and sources said it could not operate without American money. Irish government sources indicated disbelief in the comparatively small sums which Noraid has acknowedged.
'You cannot buy these weapons in Woolworth's,' one man said.
The IRA's hunger for weapons is voracious, sources said, because the IRA has to restock its arsenal at least once a year.
As a rough indication of the ordnance involved, official statistics list 8,316 weapons seized in the 11 years of Irish fighting. That includes nearly 1,300 expensive high velocity rifles, automatic rifles and rocket launchers.
Sources said many of these were traced back to the United States.
'Last year, the IRA was on its uppers,' an Irish source said.
The American money fountain was running dry, the intelligence sources said, and the IRA turned to a time-tested technique of revolutionary financing -- robbing banks.
The rebels took to robbing banks and payrolls at the rate of four a week in 1980, the sources said. They also went into blackmailing protection rackets and netted about $1 million from slot machines and liquor sales in Republican drinking clubs. The American crime syndicate could hardly have been more enterprising.
(The IRA's Protestant enemies need money and guns, too. Sources said they have also been busy milking foreign sympathizers, robbing banks, and engaging in protection shakedowns. Between the IRA and the Protestant paramilitaries, it is estimated, Irish banks lost $1 million in 1980.)
But it came to pass that crime did not pay as much as it used to. The Irish police were getting smarter and heisting a bank became more difficult.
Then the hunger strikes began. The spectacle of men starving themselves to death for their cause was news around the world. Ancient Irish outrage and loyalties were aroused. The American money spigot began spouting again.
'It was a bonanza,' a Belfast intelligence source said of the hunger strikes.
'Such a disaster,' Liam Canniffe, Irish consul general in Chicago, said.
Canniffe is one of those in Irish government who more than suspects the strikes were a staged IRA production.
'The well was running dry somewhat and the IRA was losing credibility in Northern Ireland,' he said. '(The strikes) were a means of getting some credibility to what they were doing.
'There's no doubt that the IRA was very much behind it. They were the ones who gained out of it. They were the ones who the government believes could have stopped it any time. They (the strikers) were under orders.
'My government is convinced that money and weapons came from the United States. We did, in fact, capture arms coming into the country from America. There were people who were part of Noraid here in America who were actually sending arms to Ireland.'
Canniffe also suspects Noraid is collecting far more money than it lets on. A million or so is hardly enough to finance a guerilla war.
'It's a lot of money,' he conceded of the Noraid figures. 'But at the same time it's not a great deal of money. The Irish population here -- we're talking in terms of 20 and 25 million people. That's a very small amount of money.
'There probably is more money. If it is there, it is hidden.'
If, indeed, Irish Americans have been bankrolling the IRA, there is ample precedent for such in American and Irish history.
Eamon De Valera, justly revered as the father of modern Ireland, was a native New Yorker. Fresh out of a breakout from a British prison in 1919, he headed straight to the city of his birth to raise money for the Irish cause.
Similarly, many Americans of Jewish descent have taken pride in contributing to the Israel terrorists and freedom fighters known as the Irgun Zvai.
Those people knew where their money was going. If it is true (and Noraid stoutly denies it) that there is an organization in the United States stocking the arsenal of the IRA, it is also believed comparatively few Irish Americans who give to it really know what they are doing.
Canniffe said, 'I would think that they don't believe they are handing a bullet or a gun or a bomb into the IRA's hands. I would say some of them (do).
'I can't believe that everyone who goes to a function run by Noraid really believes that. They're helping the cause, whatever the cause may be.
'Unfortunately, here in America it's so far away from the suffering. Giving $10 or whatever it is may... be easing your conscience.'
Richard LeFevour is a member in high standing of the Chicago Irish establishment. He is a judge of the circuit court and past president of the Irish Fellowship Club.
But he, like many Chicago Irish, is six generations removed from the old country. Noraid appears to draw to a great degree from first generation and 'salt water' Irish -- those who have just come over. The judge had to search his memory to recall Noraid.
'Is that the group that marches in the (St. Patrick's Day) parade?' he asked. 'I've heard of them. I've had no contact.
'There are a number of people who would contribute to terrorist outfits. They knowingly contributed to the Weatherman faction and the Black Panthers right here in this country.
'Surely there are people who will knowingly contribute to the IRA, people who have in their minds legitimate reason to do so.
'It can be raised in any way. You and I could get together and form a sort of phony art society and siphon some of the money off. There are thousands of ways they can siphon money into the IRA.
'It wouldn't take much imagination and I imagine it's being done.'r wed dec.