The bigots – unionist politicians and loyal order spokesmen say – are the critics, not the bandsmen and never the marchers. It wouldn’t convince a child, particularly not a child whose earliest days at school have to be guarded by police.
AFTER the distress and ugliness of Holy Cross 12 years ago, this was surely a sight few could imagine anyone wanted to recreate. North Belfast had enough woe this summer, before police arrived on Monday morning to guard children on their way to school.
Better not build tension, though, by lending credence to a mangy old fiction. Whoever made those phone threats – let’s remember that the ‘Red Hand Defenders’ emerged in the first place as the flimsiest of fake titles – few if any credited this a new grouping, separate from the UDA. The flag of see-through convenience brandished cynically over Rosemary Nelson‘s blown-up car gave the big-name paramilitaries cover, if only for the benefit of Northern Ireland office record-keepers and in their own minds, when they issued the limp denials while talking up their commitment to peace. Today’s unionists and loyalists have worked up cynicism into a strategy of sorts, limited but stubborn. Some came out and disowned the school threats. But why would anyone take them seriously after a summer’s tap-dancing around and away from rresponsibility? From leadership level down to party activist, unionist politicians who used to routinely and reflexively object, furiously to being accused of sectarianism, now use the word as a weapon. They throw in ‘intolerance’ and the ccomparatively recent discovery of a ‘culture war‘ to attempt to dismiss and belittle Republican and nationalist objections to marches, to swat away criticism of bands blattering their way past St Patrick‘s. What is truely sectarian, unionists insisists, is the critisism, not Orange or Black or Apprentice Boy or band behaviour. The bigots – unionist politicians and loyal order spokesmen say – are the critics, not the bandsmen and never the marchers. It wouldn’t convince a child, particularly not a child whose eariliest days at school have to be guarded by police. It cannont possibly convince many unionists at a greatful distence from North Belfast, and by all accounts it doesn’t even fly with Orangemen elsewhere. But too few have come right out this summer and said this is shocking stuff. Nice new NI21 and senior clergy got round to it eventually but there was no immediate chorus of disgust.
t is just too hard for Protestants to critcise elements in their own community – hard in terms of threats and ostracism, harder on their families. Watch what hapens to the Alliance vote next time out, particularly in East Belfast. Note the swithering of unionist commentators, trying to disown the entire marching season, unable to follow through. Stand the words sectarianism and bigotry on ther heads, turn the evidence of eys and ears inside-out, and if you are a unionist leder in want of ideas there’s a serviceable plan heading into the a run of the elections. Accuse nationalists of dancing to republician tunes, blame republicians for fomenting the trouble where bandsmen and marchers are merely celebrating their ‘culture’, and you have the makings of platforms and statements to ward off cracks from Jim Allister about sharing power with the IRA’s decendents. Not that they can silence Allister, nor set their own people up with any reason to be positive about the furture. Billy Hutchinson, once a heartening voice for the most disheartened loyalist districts, thinks to claim the threats against north Belfast Catholic schools in reality came from republicians. If he simply beleives it himself that’s bad enough. If he simply says it, without the least evidence or care for the implications, there is a small chance of decent politics emerging from the shell of Progressive Unionism. What’s left of the UVF or groupings round local hardmen, various UDAs likewise, plus a range of indivdulas at variious stages of ‘transition’ to peaceful politics. It is grim, unpleasant and dishonest approach from people who think no further than their own next vote and voice nothing counter to the instincts of their own least privileged potential voters. The Flags Protest morphed swiftly into a disorderly mess that many wanted nothing to do with but it didn’t pay to say so. The DUP sniffed the soot on the air and trooped into court to support Ruth Patterson. Peter Robinson tinkered with his text, reversed its messagd, and presumably decided to hid out in the Everglades for as long as possible – eat burgers, ride his bike, maybe play a little guitar of an evening. It will be harder than ever to take him seriously when he re-enters our sphere. Not a goid note to quit on, but surely time to consider those offers from the business world.
With many thanks to : Fionnula O Connor, The Irish News.
- Holy Cross Primary Our Lady of Mercy and Mercy Primary Schools ! All Quiet on the Northern Front . (northbelfastjournal.wordpress.com)
- Gilmore says State willing to confront unionist perceptions of role in Troubles (irishtimes.com)
- Why did HET not probe Sinn Fein, asks Ulster Unionist (newsletter.co.uk)
- Police investigating reports of paramilitary threat made to Catholic school pupils in Belfast (schoolsimprovement.net)
- Loyalist ‘Military’ Threat to Pupils (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
Not Brittle at all nor barred from the call
They serve in the legions of duty
And suffer the same for patriot games
as all ‘woke by a terrible beauty
Is it for their frames or their notable fame
That England abuses them so?
That screams of defiance
Roar out non-compliance
and Under Hydebankwoods doors
Do they wince when they hear,
or cower in fear
the demand to obey Loyalist hate
or do they proudly repel
the oncoming hell
by the visions of life beyond gates
Mairead Farrell stood here
in horror and fear
Another hell hole and a now distant time
but her words are the same and in Hydebank remain
They will never get inside your mind!
Maghaberry a name marked by British Shame
Where by times hopes have shattered with bones
Another pit of no good is the name Hydebankwood
Where are Women are tortured alone…
Seosamh O Bradaigh
PLEASE SHARE ! GRMA
- Maghaberry Prison -THE ONGOING NEGLECT AND TORTURE BEING INFLICTED ON Gary McDaid – Maghaberry Prison !!!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- THE GRIM REAPER – Greysteel psycho is freed from jail….again (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Loyalist Victim’s Family Still Waiting for Justice (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
‘The secretary of state’s priority is the safety of the people of Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Office spokesperson.
Thomas (Ta) McWilliams (47), from North Belfast, is on remand in Maghaberry Prison after being charged with attempting to murder police and possession of an assault rifle with intent o endanger life. The charges arose out of a gun attak on polic during rioting in Ardoyne on July 12 last year when a number of shits were fired. McWilliams had previously served seven years in jail for kiling Norman Truesdale (39) in March 1993. He was released on licence in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Mr Truesdale was shot dead in his shop in the Oldark Road in North Belfast. The IRA later said he was a member of a loyalist paramilitary organisation – a claim denied by his family. A UDA mural in his memory was later painted on a gable wall in the area.
During a court hearing last year it emerged that police beleive McWilliams drove a car contining the gun used in the attack away frm the scene. A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office said Ms Villes suspended McWilliam’s release licence “on the basis of information presented to her indicting that he has breached the conditions attached to his licence, including the condition that he must not becme a danger to the public”. “Mr McWilliam’s case will now be reveiwed by the independant sentence reveiw commissiiners who will determine whether to revoke or reinstate his licence,” she said. “The secretary of state’s priority is the safety of the people of Northern Ireland. The givernment will not hesitate to the use all the powers at its disposal under the law to counter the residual terrorist threat.”
With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.
Greysteel killer walks free for second time as prison staff tell us “He’s a nasty nutter”
RELOADED – SO HE
COULD KILL MORE
TWISTED Grey steel killer Stephen Irwin is back walking the streets of Ulster, we can reveal. The 40-year-old UFF murderer walked out of Maghaberry Prison on Wednesday, in a shock decision which is certain to cause distress for the families of his eight victims.
Irwin was responsible for one of the darkest days of the Troubles when he walked into the Rising Sun Bar on Hallowe’en night in 1993 armed to the teeth. Wearing a boiler suit and a balaclaver he fired around 44 shots, killing eight innocent people, and even stopped at one stage to replace his magazine clip so he could cntinue his bloody rampage. Last night the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) confirmed Irwin had been released. The Sunday World has learned that Irwin – regarded as a hero within some loyalist circles – was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement for a SECOND time. Irwin – who revelled in the nick-name given to him ‘Stevie Greysteel’ – was released after convincing a panel of Sentence Review Commissioners (SRC) that he was fit to be set free.
The move has shocked senior prison officers who say Irwin is “extremely violent”. Irwin had already been given an undeserved second chance when he was originally released under the terms of the 1998 peace agreement. But the blood-thirsty thug was returned to jail to serve out the remainder of his eight life sentences when he was involved in a vicious knife attack during the Irish Cup Final in 2005. He was given another four years on top for slashing the throat of another football van in a frenzied attack in Windsor Park. But he was told at the time of that court case that even after the four years had been served he would have to convince the SRC that it was safe for him to be set free. It means instead of serving the other eight life sentences Irwin is currently living in the Shankill area of Belfast.
After he was released from prison the first time he refused to return to his home in Co Derry and instead moved into the Shankill because he had fallen in with Johnny Adair and his ‘C’ Company crew inside. There had been speculation within Maghaberry Prison that Irwin had been released on the orders of the Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers. However a spokesperson for the NIO said Ms Villiers had no involvement in Irwin’s release. The spokesperson said: “Mr Irwin applied to the Sentence Review Commissioners (SRC) for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. “The SRC is an independent body and it is for them, not the Secretary of State, to determine prisoners ‘ suitability for release.”The Sentence Review Commissioners determined that Mr Irwin’s application for early release should be granted.” Last night prison sources said officerd in Maghaberry said they were shocked Irwin had been deemed fit for release. “He had a very bad reputation inside the jail,” said the source. “In fact the prison officers used to call him Stevie ‘what the f**k are you looking at ‘ Irwin because that’s usually how he spoke to people. “He was a real nutter, an nasty little piece of work when he was in here and was responsible for a number of assaults. “Nobody could believe it when they heard he was being let out. “And nobody will be remotely suprised when he walks back through the gates at Maghaerry!” The UFF targeted The Rising Sun Bar in Graysteel because it was a Catholic area, however two of the eight people murdered were Protestant. Irwin subsequently bragged to his fellow inmates about how he prepared for his deathly bussiness when he opened fire on drinkers in the pub. The incident became known as the ‘Trick or Treat’ murders because Irwin messed up his speech.
He was supposed to read out a prepared UFF speech but got nervous and shouted ‘Trick or Treat’ instead. A woman in the bar, who thought it was a Hallowe’en prank said, “that’s not funny” and Irwin shot her first. It followed an IRA bomb attack on the Shankill Road in West Belfast just days earlier in which 10 people, including one of the bombers, were killed. One of his accomplices, Torrens Knight, was handed 12 life sentences for his part in the massacre and for his role in the separate murders of four workmen. He too was returned to jail in 2009 for attacking two woman who rowed with him and his wife in a bar. He also applied to the SRC and was released a year later. In 2006 the Sunday World published photos of Stephen Irwin inside the Old Maze prison partying with other loyalists and taking drugs. At the time it had been claimed he had penned a sick poem called ‘The Reaper’ which glorified the Greysteel massacre. His mother had contacted the Sunday World to deny her son had had anything to do with the poem. But we recieved photos of him sitting in his cell with the gruesome poem painted on his cell wall aloneside another of a gravestone with the words Trick or Treat – Rest in Pieces on it. Former inmates told us he bragged about his heinous crimes. “He was very proud of what he did at Graysteel and he showed no remorse at all,” said a former inmate. “He told everyone how he practised for a whole week to change the magazine on his AK-47 so he could re-load and kill as many people as possible,” said the former inmate. “He said he needed to be able to do it in five seconds just in case anyone tried to attack him when the first clip ran out. He said he practised it over 200 times.”
With many thanks to : Steven Moore, Sunday World.
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Steak dinners, 4-star hotels and first-class travel.
WALES SUMMIT COSTS:
- Four star hotel accommodation £13,500
- Flights £7,000
- Flights rescheduled £1,149.55
- Steak dinner supplement £247.40
- Buffet £436.00
- Train first class Cardiff to London £171.82
- Coach from Bristol Airport to Cardiff £688.90
- Car hire £234.61
Talks held in Cardiff in a bid to reduce community tensions ahead of the Twelfth tensions cost taxpayers an extra £1,150 because return flight times were rescheduled. Delegates incurred a £1, 249.55 fee after they changed their return flight times at the end of the disscussions in Wales, bringing the total cost of the trip to £22, 427.48.
Attendees also enjoyed four-star accommodation, dined on steak and buffet dinners and used first-class rail travel between London and Cardiff. Senior police officers, politicians and community representatives travelled to the Welsh capital in May for the weekend-long talks. It was hoped the discussions would improve relations between loyalist and republican communities. But despite the talks, ccommunity tensions have flared over the parading season with parts of Belfast hit by ssuccessive nights of rioting following the Twelfth. A total of 36 people traveled to Cardiff for the discussions on May 17, including representatives from all the main political parties. The bill has been shared between the Northern Ireland Office and the PSNI.
Accommodation at the four-star Mercure Hotel cost the taxpayer £13,500. It included bed and breakfast for three nights, the use of a conference room, lunch on the Friday and Saturday night. Those attending were all informed that any individual costs were to be paid by themselves, according to a Freedom of Information request. The guests incurred a service charge of £247.40 after ordering steak on two evenings, while a buffet dinner cost £436. Police on Tuesday night were unable to disclose whether the accommodation and food bills included drinks. First-class train fares from Cardiff to London Paddington cost a total of £171.82, a return coach from Bristol Airport to Cardiff cost £688.90 and car hire cost £234.61. Flights to and from the talks cost more than £7,000 in total. The majority of flights appear to have been to Bristol Airport at a cost of £3,878.44. A further two return flights to the US cost £1,649.39, return flight between Belfast and London Stansted cost £180.68 and a return flight between Heathrow and Belfast City cost £192.50.
Last month it emerged that delegates including Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly were given mobile phone numbers for some of the north’s top-ranking officers during the Cardiff talks. The contact details - including those of two assistant chief constables – were shared so that issues aa raising during the marching season could be dealt with swiftly. The talks were attended by Assistant Chief Constables George Hamilton and Will Kerr, tipped as a possible successor to Chief Constable Matt Baggott. Loyalist community representatives who took part included UDA leader Jackie McDonald and Winston Irvine of the UVF-linked PUP. Senior nationalist Sean ‘Spike’ Murray and former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Rev Norman Hamilton, also took part. The discussions were led by facilitators from the University of Ulster and Stanford University in California.
With many thanks to : Brendan Hughes, The Irish News
Email : b.hHughes@iris news.com
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A DERRY man charged in connection with the discovery of mortars in March R has been approached in prison by MI5 to turn ssupergrass, a court has been told. A solicitor for Gary McDaid, of Glenowen Park, told a remand hearing on Thursday at Derry Magistrates Court that while in Maghaberry Prison his client had been asked on six occasions to plead guilty and become an assisting offender.
The approaches were made in the absence of McDaid’s solicitors, he said.Representations had been made to the Prison Service, the Chief Consable, the Secretary of State and the High Court in regards to the approaches. Deputy district judge John Meehan said one possible remedy could be the granting of bail to McDaid. He adjourned the case for one week for the prosecution to show cause why McDaid should not get bail. The Northern Ireland Office confirmed in a letter that the PSNI had visited McDaid in Maghaberry. McDaid and co-accused, Seamus McLaughlin (35) of Eastway Gardens, Creggan, Derry, are both charged with conspiring to cause expolsions and pocessing improvised mortars on March 3. The charges relate to the discovery of four mortars in a van on the Letterkenny Road in the city.
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- Another Prisoner Takes His Own Life at Maghaberry Prison (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Harry Duffy – Murdered by the Ruc May 22 1981 – During Rioting After the Death of Pats (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Colour party accused refuses to take stand (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Face mapping ‘identifies masked man’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Republican parade man is unmasked (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Dissident Spokesman in Court Over Derry Guns and Bomb Find (belfastdaily.co.uk)
- IRISH TD’s RAISE CRAIGAVON TWO IN IRISH PARLIAMENT, DURING A MOTION DISCUSSING 15 YEARS SINCE THE BELFAST AGREEMENT ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
Attacks not mentioned at secret meeting.
A HIGH-ranking member of MI5/MI6 met a UVF delegation just weeks after the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Secret papers reveal that four men from the loyalist paramilitary group met with senior intelligence officer Michael Oatley aafter it had detonated bombs in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974, killing 33 people.
Senior British government official James Allan also attended the meeting on May 27 at a house in Hollywood, Co Down, known as Laneside. A long-serving MI6 operator, Mr Oatley had strong contacts with both republican and loyalist groups througout the Troubles and is beleived to have been instrumental in the process that ultimatley resulted in the Provisional IRA calling its 1994 ceasefire. The UVF delegation comprised West Belfast man Ken Gibson, beleived to have been the leader of the UVF in 1974, and three other men who are named in the recently uncovered document. Laneside was regulary used by British officils as a discreet location to meet and hold talks with both loyalists and nationalist representatives in the 1970′s. Staffed by various Northern Ireland Office and British government officials, it was also used by officers of MI6, the international arm of the British Secret Services. Documents recentiy uncovered by the Pat Finucance Centre in Derry reveal that MI6 officials meet the four-stong UVF delegation ovef two days. The meetings took place less than two weeks after three UVF bombs exploded in Dublin and one in Monaghan as the Ulster Workers Strike was nearing an end. Despite this, no mention of the atrocities was made during the minutes.
Instead, in a summary of the meeting prepared by James Allan, it has emerged he was keen to protect senior UVF men from arrest. ” The UVF’s relationship with us has become very stange,” he said. ” They are desperately in need of advice as to how to achieve their aims of ensuring working class, and above all UVF participation in politics and they seek this even though they know that there are basic differences between them and HMG on the strike. ” Further, they are clearly worried that their position may be undermined by arrest of UVF leaders. (I beleive we should think very carefully before action is taken vis a vis UVF politicals and I should be greatful to have the opportunity to comment on possible arrest lists).” Two days later, on May 29, Ken Gibson and a second UVF man returned to Laneside for more talks. During these discussions it emerged that the UVF leaders claimed both they and former first minister, then leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley, now Lord Bannside, were supportive of talks with republicans.
The government summary of the meeting said : ” Despite their rough words in public politicians, including Rev Ian Paisley, were in favour of conversations with the IRA.” It would be more than three decades before the DUP leader finally went into goverenment with Sinn Fein at the Stormont assembly. The UVF men also revealed their support for the Price sisters, Dolours and Marian, who at the time were on hungerstrike in an English jail.”ThePrice sisters should be returned to Ireland as should loyalist prisoners like Billy Campbell held in Scotland,” reported James Allan. ” Mr Gibson suggested the loyalist leaders would probably start a ccampaign for the return of all such prisoners. ” Part of their aim in doing so would show solidarity with republicans.” Margaret Irwin from Justice for the Forgotten, a group that represents the families of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, said she was concerned about the files. ” The thing that is very disturbing is that the British government were considering not arresting UVF leaders especially coming in the wake of the bombings,” she said. ” It brings home the importance of the British government being up front in relation to undisclosed files.”
- The full files can be seen at
With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.
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Tough new approach by NIO
” The government will not hesitate to use all the powers at its disposalaccder the law to counter the residual terrorist threat ” - Mike Penning.
A FORMER Republican prisoner accused of supplying a car to the killers of prison officer David Black has had his release licence revoked. Damien McLaughlin (36) from Kilmascally Road, Ardboe, in Co Tyrone was told last week that his governmentrelease from prison, where he had served a sentence for firearms offences, has been overturned.
It is believed to be the first time a former republican prisoner convicted of an offence committed after the Provisional IRA‘s 1994 ceasefire has had their release licence revoked. McLaughlin is on remand in Maghaberry Prison charged in connection with the shooting of Mr Black by dissident republicans last November. He is accused of being involved in transporting a car belived to have been used in the attack into the from Co Litrim. McLaughlin denies the charge of ‘ preparation of a terrorest-act ‘. Mr Black, a father-of-two, died after gunmen opened fire on his Audi car as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison.The attack took place on the M1 near Lurgan, Co Armagh. A group styling itself ‘ the IRA ‘ later admitted responsability for the attack. In 2011 McLaughlin was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for weapons offences dating back to 2009. He pleaded guilty to possessing two rifles, a sawn-off shotgun and ammuntion. He also admitted having two silencers, a magazine and two telescopic sights. The haul was discovered in a rucksack liner in the boot of his car which was parked outside the house where he lived at the time. He was released later in 2011 on conditation he serve the remainder on probatition and after serving some time on remand. In September last year he received a suspended jail sentence after being convicted of damaging his cell at Maghaberry Prison during a republican prison protest.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said the decision to revoke McLaughlin’s release licence was taken after a recommendation from the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland that ” he poses a risk of harm to the public which can no longer be safely managed in the community “. NIO junior minister Mike Penning, who revoked the licence on behalf of Secretary of State Teresa Villiers said : ” The government will not hesitate to use all the powers at its disposal under the law to counter the residual terrorist threat.” Mr McLaughlin’s solicitor Peter Corrigan said his client will ” be challenging the legality of the revocation “. UUP justice spokesman Tom Elliot defended the move. ” At this particular time there is a suspected connection with a serious incident which is murder and obviously they need to take all reasonable precautions in those cases,” he said. Two other republicans, Marian Price-McGlinchey and Martin Corey , are also being held in prison after having their release licences revoked. Price (58) was originally jailed for her part in the 1973 Old Baily bombing and released in 1980. However, her relese licence was revoked in 2011 by then Secretary of State Owen Paterson. Corey (63) from Lurgan in Co Armagh was convicted of killing two RUC men in11973 and released from prison in 1992. His licence was revoked in April 2010, again by Owen Paterson.
With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.
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tiocfaidh Àr Là FREE THEM ALL STOP FUCKINGNG AROUND , FREE ULSTER, CUT THE SLF CONFUSED TRAITORS. PUSSY WILLIS’S NOT TRUE . WRE CLTS , TAKE THM OU.T OUT USED TO SELL EIRIN. ago
(Tiocfaidh Àr Là) ITS HERE,
Conspiracy theories have never been strangers to Republican circles. The most notable since the 1998 Belfast Agreement, is that so-called ‘securocrats’ are involved in a conspiracy to discredit the leadership of the Provisional movement and undermine the peace process. (1) Securocrats can be defined as “disgruntled members of the security forces who want to force Sinn Fein out of government.” (2) The securocrats allegedly pull the secret strings of Northern Ireland. “These men, skulking in corners of the army, MI5, Special Branch and the Northern Ireland Office, form… a ‘shadow government’, bent on forcing its own, reactionary agenda on the province. In this view, their driving purpose is the defeat, discrediting and humiliation of Sinn Féin and the IRA – regardless of the policy pursued by Tony Blair and his ‘official’ government in Downing Street.” (3) For example, last December the late Denis Donaldson was exposed as a British agent. He had been one of three officials charged with spying on other political parties at Stormont; the alleged ‘Stormontgate‘ plot discovered in October 2002. The Provisional leadership insisted that this was proof that the spy ring had never existed and that the whole Stormontgate affair had been set up by the securocrats. “It was a British spy ring controlled by securocrats, by people within the establishment who are hostile to the peace process” declared Martin McGuinness. (4) This is questionable. Far from launching the Stormontgate affair to give the then Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble an excuse to walk away from power-sharing with the Provisional movement, the securocrats took the view that Mr Trimble should ignore the spying scandal and stay in government.
As Ed Moloney puts it, “The Sinn Féin conspiracy theory – that the spooks are out to destroy the peace process – suffers from a fundamental flaw. Not only is it rubbish, but the exact opposite is the truth. The peace process represents the wildest fantasies of the security establishment come true and the last thing the spooks want is to see it destroyed. The peace process has enabled MI5 and the Police Service of Northern Ireland special branch to achieve something that very few if any security forces have ever accomplished: to see their enemy defanged by its own leadership and led out of violent revolutionary ways into constitutional politics and a world where the principle of consent overrides the Armalite. MI5 and the PSNI know they could never have done this themselves, that they needed people like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to do it for them. So why on earth would the spooks want to undermine them, to frustrate them and place obstacles in their way, as the Provo leadership claim they have consistently done – most recently with Stormontgate? To have done so would have been to act fundamentally against their own interests. It just wouldn’t make sense.” (5) Professor Paul Bew noted that “those whom Sinn Féin named as securocrats gave every sign of being inconvenienced by the Stormontgate affair. It was their job, after all, to deliver the institutions of the Good Friday agreement and to keep Mr Adams locked into the peace process. In that sense, there has been, for many years now, a profound commonality of interest between the British security establishment and Mr Adams.” (6)
This is not to say that the securocrats are nothing but “a conspiracy theory that belonged in an airport thriller rather than the real world” as some think. (7) Such elements of the British security forces exist, “but they are not in the driving seat of British security policy. Those running the show know that there is more than one way to skin a cat. They are the type of people whom the Provisional leadership was meeting behind the backs of its membership and whose overriding objective was to ensure that Provisional objectives were never secured.” (8) For example, when Chief Constable Hugh Orde alleged in December 2004 that the Provisional movement carried out the Northern Bank robbery, Martin McGuinness told a press conference that there was a political agenda by the government and “securocrats” to try to “criminalise and marginalise” his party and stop the peace process. (9) But it is not the agenda he would have us believe. “It is an agenda of bringing Sinn Fein more closely into the structure of the state. Had there have been any chance of a deal being stuck, Orde would have been under tremendous pressure to go no further than his under reported statement that a republican group was responsible for the Northern Bank heist, without specifying which.” (10) Similarly, the Provisional movement accused senior NIO official permanent secretary Pilling of running a nest of securocrats. Pilling had in fact ensured during the 1998 Belfast Agreement negotiations that prisoners would not be released in exchange for decommissioning as a means to facilitate the peace process and the Provisional’s transition into British institutions. Far from the British establishment “considering the process to be a threat to its rule in the North” or the securocrats “attempting to engineer political isolation and demonisation” of the Provisional leadership (11), we find British diplomat David Goodall claiming that everything was going almost according to plan and former MI6 director Michael Oatley expressing public admiration for the Provisional leadership. (12)
The Provisional movement also frequently allege that there is a conspiracy between the media and the securocrats, with journalists becoming a willing participant in the so-called ‘dirty war’ by spreading “misinformation” to attack Sinn Fein and the Peace Process. When the so-called ‘Stake Knife’ affair broke out in May 2003, the Provisional leadership denied everything and blamed the collusion of securocrats and ‘journocrats’. “All of these stories are coming from nameless and faceless securocrats in British intelligence” said Martin McGuinness. (13) The peace process has indeed corrupted journalism, but not in the manner alleged by McGuinness. Quite the opposite in fact. The media has been accused by award-winning journalist Ed Moloney of covering up truth to protect the peace process and being reluctant to report events unhelpful to the peace process. (14) For example, when in October 2000 the Provisional shot dead Joe O Connor in Ballymurphy, their involvement in the murder was mostly brushed under the carpet by the media. Reporters and editors sympathetic to Sinn Fein’s strategy branded journalists who asked awkward questions (such as Ed Moloney or Suzanne Breen) “JAPPS – Journalists Against the Peace Process”. It would be more accurate to say that the peace process has in fact produced Journalists Against Journalism.
The securocrat conspiracy theory may be flawed, but it brings two political benefits for the Provisional movement. First it allows to present itself nationally and internationally as a perpetual victim; which is electorally advantageous. Secondly, it allows to shift the blame for deadlocks in the peace process away from itself to ‘securocrats’, ‘malevolent blanketeers’, ‘japps’ and other ‘enemies of the peace process’. But the cost has been that crying securocrat wolf too often has ultimately undermined the credibility of the Provisional movement. Every time the Provisional leadership cries out ‘securocrat’, only the faithful believe.
NOTES(1) Roy Greenslade, The securocrats’ revenge, The Guardian, 9 October 2002. One of the only mainstream articles taking the ‘securocrat’ conspiracy theory seriously. (2) Nicholas Watt and Rosie Cowan, Special branch blamed for leaks that damage Sinn Fein, The Guardian 23 April 2002(3) Jonathan Freedland, The strange collusion between Downing Street and Sinn Fein, The Guardian, 21 December 2005 (4) Henry McDonald, 20 Years of treachery, The Observer, 18 December 2006(5) Ed Moloney, Was there a Stormontgate? The Belfast Telegraph, 21 December 2005(6) Paul Bew, Shadowy alliance haunts Stormontgate, The Yorkshire Post, 22 December 2005(7) Jonathan Freedland, op.cit.(8) Anthony McIntyre, SF – Securocrat Fantasists,/(9) Mathew Tempest, IRA blamed for £22m Belfast bank raid, The Guardian 7 January 2005(10) Anthony McIntyre, op.cit.(11) Adam O’Toole, ‘Stakeknife’ turns out to have blunt British blade, An Phoblacht/Republican News, 22 May 2003(12) David Goodall, Actually it’s all working out almost exactly to plan, Parliamentary Brief, May/June 1998, and Michael Oatley, Forget the weapons and learn to trust Sinn Fein, Sunday Times, 31 October 1999(13) Tom Happold and agencies, Adams: Scappaticci innocent until proven guilty, The Guardian, 16 May 2003(14) Henry McDonald, Reporters ‘covered up truth’ about IRA to help peace, The Obs
- Now is the Time to Take a Stand Against the Anti Good Friday Agreement Unionists (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness offers to meet dissidents (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Jeffrey Donaldson: IRA must say sorry (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- McGuinness in attack on dissidents (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Martin McGuinness accuses dissident republicans of being enemies of Ireland (guardian.co.uk)
There were two significant reminders last week about the creeping use of secret ‘evidence.’ The first was the continued imprisonment of Marian McGlinchey (née Price) despite her three co-accused walking free when a judge threw out charges against all four. Marian Price was technically speaking already ‘out on bail’ in relation to these charges (which the Prosecution Service may now seek to resurrect). Her continued imprisonment relates not to a decision by a Court, but a separate procedure involving a government Minister and a Commission which can rely on secret evidence.
The second reminder was the UK Coalition Government’s inclusion of an ominously titled ‘Justice and Security Bill’ within the list of laws it announced it would introduce in the next Parliamentary session. The Bill would allow government Ministers to instruct ‘CMPs’ – Closed Material Procedures (i.e. secret evidence) be used in civil court processes. Our local circumstances were not for once the impetus for such a dramatic change (although as it could include the likes of ‘Troubles’ Inquests, it would have serious repercussions here). The move is in response to MI5/6 involvement in ‘war on terror’ practices such as ‘extraordinary rendition’ (i.e. the kidnap, torture and unlawful detention of persons) being increasingly challenged in Court, and in particular the compensation settlements being paid to Guantanamo Bay detainees. The Government argues it needs CMPs in order to allow secret trials to protect ‘national security. ’ They also conveniently reduce the potential to hold the Security Services accountable for malpractice or human rights abuses in which they are implicated.
There is general outrage from human rights groups over the proposals. Amidst this, we should not lose sight of the fact that secret evidence procedures already exist– many piloted and specific to this jurisdiction. Persons who have their fair employment discrimination claims blocked by a ‘national security certificate’ issued by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) can only have their claims heard in a ‘special tribunal’ involving secret evidence – which predates its better known counterpart tribunal for persons subject to ‘Control Orders.’ CAJhas asked under the Freedom of Information Act how many certificates have been issued and how often the ‘special tribunal’ has convened – only to be told that the NIO ‘did not record’ such information. Should you be subject to such processes, you can expect that both you, your lawyer, and the public will be excluded from your court hearing. Secret ‘evidence’, usually based on security force intelligence data, is then presented against you, which you cannot challenge. A ‘Special Advocate’ is appointed to represent you but cannot discuss the secret ‘evidence’ with you. At best, you and your representatives are given a ‘gist’ of what is being alleged.
Similar procedures also apply for recalling to prison persons with conflict-related convictions who were released under the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Such releases were ‘under licence,’ conditional on no re-involvement in paramilitary activity. The question which arises is how the conclusion is reached that someone has returned to such activity. The decision is not on the basis of a fresh conviction for a similar serious offence proved beyond reasonable doubt in a competent court, but rather a variation of the above CMPprocess involving the NIO, Secretary of State and a Commission, which can rely on secret ‘evidence’ in a closed ‘Special Advocate’ procedure. Marian Price was released long before the 1998 Agreement, having been convicted of bombing the Old Bailey in 1973, but issued with a royal pardon in 1980. A similar process exists under the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001 whereby the NIO Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, can provide the Parole Commissioners with evidence and invite them to make a recommendation to return an individual to prison. Such decisions can also be based on secret ‘evidence,’ including intelligence data, and do not require a conviction or even a charge. At worst, therefore, the process could be used selectively against ex-prisoners engaged in political activity outside the mainstream, rather than just against those genuinely involved in unlawful activity.
The case of Marian Price is particularly striking, as on the same day a Judge released her on bail in May 2011, a government Minister returned her to prison. There are other due process issues in relation to this case, not least the fact she was given a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. The NIO claims this document only related to Marian Price’s fixed term and not life sentence for which a licence applied. Her family contest that the pardon related to both, and hence believe that the NIO had no licence to revoke. It would seem a relatively simple matter for the NIO to produce the document to settle the matter. However, apparently the pardon and all copies of it have gone ‘missing.’ Given that it could possibly change a decision as to whether a person is deprived of their liberty, one would think an investigation would have taken place as to how and when the information disappeared. CAJ has been told that the NIO have decided not to investigate this on the grounds that the pardon is ‘not relevant’ to this case. Whilst decisions in ‘special tribunals’ are made on the basis of evidence that defendants cannot see, it is difficult to understand how the NIO reached this conclusion without itself viewing the document.
The dangers of secret ‘evidence’ within the justice system were set out succinctly in the case of Al Rawi, and others v the Security Services. Here, the government tried to argue that legal norms over the years (the ‘common law’) meant that it had a right to hold civil trials in secret, despite no law permitting this. The UK Supreme Court threw this out, with Lord Kerr arguing that the “right to be informed of the case made against you is not merely a feature of the adversarial system of trial, it is an elementary and essential prerequisite of fairness.”
It is this case that has led to the present Justice and Security Bill introducing CMPs. In response, Special Advocates themselves have argued CMPs “represent a departure from the foundational principle of natural justice that all parties are entitled to see and challenge all the evidence relied upon before the court and to combat that evidence by calling evidence of their own.” Put simply, evidence cannot be relied upon if you cannot challenge it.
CAJ expressed concerns about the CMP proposals, given our experience that measures which effectively bypass rule of law standards and establish, in essence, a parallel justice system, lead to human rights abuses which can exacerbate conflict as well as contributing to the growing marginalisation of ‘suspect communities.’ A further problem highlighted above is that secret evidence tends to consist of intelligence data which the Police themselves are often keen to (rightly) point out does not necessarily constitute evidence. However, under the present recall arrangements, ‘intelligence’ can effectively be used as ‘evidence’ to put an ex-prisoner behind bars.
This is of course not the first time that intelligence rather than evidence has been used to imprison; previous policies of mass arrest and internment involved lists of suspects based on ‘intelligence’ data. The lesson needs to be learned that illegitimate state practices outside the standard rule of law do not prevent but rather fuel conflict. Further growth in procedures allowing secret ‘evidence’ would have serious consequences, but in Marian Price’s case, such consequences are already apparent.
Daniel Holder is Deputy Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice
CAJ wrote a detailed response in January 2012 to the ‘Justice and Security’ Green Paper setting out the organisations concerns about the proposals – this is availablehere
WITH MANY THANKS TO : THE DETAIL.
- United Nations Medic to Examine Price !!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Statement on Marian Price’s internment and removal to Hydebank (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Keeping Price in Jail Poses Greater Threat !!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Free the Irish Marian Price (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Justice for Marian Price (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Republican Marian Price reveals horror of seven months’ solitary confinement in prison (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)