Ireland has been at peace for decades: did a Pinellas beach bar play a role?

Omagh Ireland
Omagh, Ireland by Wirestock via iStock for WMNF News.

This episode of Tuesday Cafe is an intriguing story of spying, criminal trials and a peace process and it all has a Tampa Bay connection. Abdon Pallasch, was a staff writer for the Tampa Tribune and other outlets. In this interview, we heard how a chance encounter at a Pinellas County beach bar is connected to the enduring peace in Ireland after decades of violence during The Troubles.

That’s the name for the violence during resistance to the English occupation before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Listen to this show here:

But just months after that peace plan, in August of 1998, a splinter Irish Republican group that wanted to derail the peace process killed 31 people in a car bombing in the town of Omagh in the north of Ireland. The group was called the “Real IRA” — in contrast to the Irish Republican Army, which was part of the peace process.

This is where the Florida connection comes in, because of a chance encounter in Pinellas County between trucker Dave Rupert and lobbyist Linda Vaughn.

Pallasch wrote about the story in the Florida Bulldog. It’s also chronicled in season two of the Underbelly podcast – The Rebel Kind.

Vaughn was close to some Irish Republican leaders and introduced Rupert to them. Later, Rupert was recruited by the FBI to spy on Real IRA leaders, which led to the conviction of Michael McKevitt. Since that conviction, for the most part, there has been a lasting peace in Ireland.

Pallasch recorded interviews with Rupert in Pinellas County, which McKevitt sued to try to obtain.

Also on WMNF’s Tuesday Cafe on June 11, 2024

We heard from a Palestinian man whose family is separated. He and his two sons are in the central Gaza Strip. His wife and two daughters evacuated to Cairo, Egypt. Sleman Ramadan Shnewra hopes the war will end and they can reunite, with help from people around the world.

And we heard from Governor Ron DeSantis and a response from Florida’s largest teachers union, students, a teacher and a parent about the state of education in Florida.

WMNF’s Tuesday Café

Tuesday Café airs live weekly on WMNF beginning at 10:06 a.m. ET.

You can listen live on 88.5 FM in Tampa Bay, on or on the WMNF Community Radio app.

You can watch replays on TBAE Network channels at 8:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m Tuesdays on Spectrum 636, Frontier 34 and Or on demand.

You can listen anytime on demand on or by subscribing to the Tuesday Café podcast on your favorite podcast platform. – WMNF’s Tuesday Café with Seán Kinane.

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