HET findings published as Haass talks break up without agreement -into ‘Shot-to-Kill’ policy’s in the North of Ireland.
TWO IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers in Co Tyrone 30 years ago, a report has found. The families of Colm McGirr (23) and Brian Campbell (19) on Monday 30th December said they planned to sue the British government and wanted fresh inquests into their deaths.
The news came as US diplomat Richard Haass failed to make the party’s in the North of Ireland come to an agreement on dealing with the past, parades and flags. Among the issues holding up the progress have been mechanisms for giving evidence to Historical inquires by bodies taking over the functions of the PSNI‘s/RUC‘s Historical Enquires Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman. The fresh report into the Co Tyrone killings was carried out by a forensic pathologist for the HET. It appears to contradict accounts given by the undercover soldiers who claimed the pair were shot dead while pointing weapons towards them. Mr McGirr and Mr Campbell, who were members of the Provisional IRA, were murdered by the SAS in a field on Cloghog Road near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, on December 4 1983. A third man was injured but escaped. Their deaths fuelled claims of a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the British government against IRA members.
Testimony from the soldiers had claimed that the men were removing weapons hidden in the field and on being challenged “Colm McGirr turned and pointed a shotgun towards one of the soldiers who then fired several shots at him”. Forensic pathologist Richard Shepherd reviewed the postmortem examination scene photographs and statements from four of the six soldiers prescent. He said he did “not believe Colm McGirr would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” and “no shots had struck Brian Campbell from the front”. In his report, which the families have received, he concluded that because Mr McGirr was right handed, he did “not believe he would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” if he was holding a weapon. “In my opinion therefore it is more likely that [Mr McGirr] received shots to his right side and back as he was facing into or towards the bush,” he said. The SAS also claimed one of the squad, known as Soldier A, then fired towards Brian Campbell who was holding an armalite rifle and had also turned and was facing them” However, Dr Shepherd concluded that “no shots had struck Brian Campbell form the front”. “I cannot exclude the possibility that the injury to the left upper back was inflicted as he lay on the ground,” he said, without ruling out the soldiers’ version of events in both cases. The IRA men’s families have now called for a fresh inquest into their deaths/murders. Solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, acting on behalf of the relatives said they would also take legal action against the British government.
“This report raises serious concerns in relation to the original soldiers’ statements,” he said. “In light of the disclosure of the Dr Shepherd’s report the families have made an application to the attorney general to direct a fresh inquest into the deaths/murders of Colm McGirr and Brian Campbell. “They will also be issuing civil proceedings against the minister of defence in relation to the unlawful actions of the soldiers.” Colm McGirr’s brother Brian (58), from Coalisland, claimed the British army discovered the arms cache three days earlier on December 1, but the weapons were not removed or disabeled. “We have no doubt that a carefully planned ambush was set by undercover British security forces that evening,” he said. “Through the 30 years that have passed we have sought the truth of what happened. We were led to bbelieve that the PSNI’s/RUC’s Historical Enquiries Team would make every effort to achieve the truth. “As part of this, a second pathologist has confirmed that the shootings could not have happened as described by security forces. Both men, Colm and Brian, were shot in cold blood in the back.” Mr McGirr said the families have been informed that the HSE investigation “is at an end and will proceed no further”. “We lived with a charade of an inquest in early years with no evidence of any sort offered as to what occurred. The McGirr and Campbell families will continue to demand that a new inquest is held to fully investigate all that occourred on that evening.” Reacting to the findings on Monday nnight, Dungannon Independent Republican councillor Barry Monteith said he was “not surprised” by the pathologist’s review and accused the British government of operating a ‘shot-to-kill policy in the North of Ireland. However, Dungannon DUP councillor Samuel Brush said he had no confidence in the HET. “There are dozens and dozens of murders around this area in South Tyrone that have not been looked at,” he said. “It baffles me that these things didn’t ccome to light then and can be turned up. “All we can do is work on reports as they come but is this report any better or any worse than the previous ones?”
With many thanks toto: The Irish News.
- Link to Loughgall ambush sealed RUC officer’s fate (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- I’m Already Low on New Year Optimism (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Link to Loughgall ambush sealed RUC officer’s fate (irishtimes.com)
- ‘Old’ I.R.A ‘Not in My Name’ Part 2 (politics.ie)
- ‘Old’ I.R.A ‘Not in My Name’ Part 2 (politics.ie)
‘Judith has made an enormous contribution to policing in the North of Ireland- Anne Connolly.
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie had been widely tipped as the frontrunner to replace Matt Baggott (maggot) as chief constable when his contract ends next year. With 32 years of policing experience she made history as the first female assistant chief constabe in 2004 before being promoted to her present role in 2009. The Policing Board was told of her plans on Friday. Although Ms Gillespie is expected to receive a lucrative redundancy package, she will not be entitled to the £500,000 she would have received under the Patten arrangements. The deadline to avail of the scheme aimed at readdressing the religious imbalance of the police service ended in March 2011. At the time Ms Gillespie said she decided against taking the package because policing “is about far more than the financial rewards”. Her job is to be advertised in the new year. She will vacate the post on March 31. Althouh Ms Gillespie has not made public her post-PSNI plans sources say she has been approached by an international privite-security firm to act as a consultant.
A PSNI/RUC spokesman said: “We can confirm that Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie has notified the Policing Board of her intention to retire from the Police Service of Northern Ireland. “She has served as deputy chief constable for the past four and a half years and has served a total of 32 years as both a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) GC and PSNI. “PSNI will not be making any further comment at this stage.” Board chairwoman Anne Connolly said: “Judith has made an enormous contribution to policing in the North of Ireland. “As a chief officer, deputy chief constable Grillespie has provided strong leadership to the service in driving forward a programme of policing change and reform. “A strong advocate for women in policing, Judith championed the introduction of the first gender action plan and diversity strategy for policing in the North of Ireland. “A positive role model, Deputy Chief Constable Gillespie has used her wide-ranging experience to provide inspiration and encouragement to officers and staff both within the Northern Irish community and within policing nationally and internationally.” The DUP’s Policing Board group leader, Jonathan Craig MLA said Ms Gillespie “can look back with pride on a number of distinguished achievements throughout her 32 years of service”. “Undoubtedly, this accomplishment still acts as an inspiration to others. Whilst we may have taken differing views on a range of matters at the board, I wish Deputy Chief Constable every success for her future wherever that may lead,” he said.
- PSNI deputy Judith Gillespie set to retire (newsletter.co.uk)
- Deputy chief constable to retire (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- PSNI launches ‘survival plan’ as it loses 17 staff every month (newsletter.co.uk)
- PSNI ‘have put life of youth worker at risk’ !!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Police numbers ‘are on a downward path’ (newsletter.co.uk)
- Man fails in final bid to sue PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott for £1bn (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
If the IRA was fighting a war, then this was a war crime – along with all their war crimes from Kingsmill to the Birmingham pub bombs.
Mr Adams has come under attack from a number of politicians and commentators for his comments on the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal. He said that Chief Superintendent Breen and Superintendent Buchanan had a laissez-faire attitude to their safety. It was an insensitive remark, but what if someone else had made thatt point, would it have been acceptable? As it happens, someone else did make that remark – more or less. Quoted in Toby Harnden‘s book “Bandit Country” Sir John said of the late Bob Buchanan‘s activities on the day he died: “He did not follow basic, elementary security procedures.” Hermon claimed that Mr Buchanan did not beleive in taking precautions because, as a devout Christian, he beleived God was in control. If Sir John was right, so was Mr Adams – although Sir John does not appear to have been vilified. Reaction to the Adams comments tells us three things: any inquiry into the past is interpreted as political ammunition for the present; too many politicians do not want the truth about the past, they just want their prejudices confirmed and, thirdly, personalising our politics tends to suffocate valid political tends to suffocate valid political comment.
With due respect to the two dead RUC officers and their families, Smithwick’s significance is political rather than legal. Using the word “collusion” has major political implications. It is a heavily loaded word, which would probably be worth a million points in Irish political Scrabble. But the possible existence of one or even two Garda informants does not represent collusion. Gerry Adams said that Smithwick’s idea of collusion is very different in form and scale from the collusion that occoured in the North. Mr Adams is right. The IRA presumbly had moles in many organnisations, possibly even the RUC. But Smithwick’s findings allow unionists to use the word collusion (without firm evidence) thereby giving them a higher moral ground than previously. Unionists suggest there was also collusion in 1969 when the Provisional IRA was founded. There was certainly an attempt by some elements in Fianna Fail, the Irish intelligence service and assorted Catholics to take control of the Civil Rights Movement and to direct the then IRA away from socialism. Some of those involved at the time say as early as Sunday August 24 1969 – just over a week after the burning of Bombay Street – older, non-active IRA men meet these elements and agreed to break away from the existing IRA leadership in Belfast in return for money from Dublin.
There were two founds for Northern relief – the official Irish government fund for refugees and a Fianna Fail fund. The two may well have become intermingled, but there is no evidence that the government as a corporate body was intent on anything more of that was a political window dressing. However, the lack of evidence on collusion then and 1989 does not vindicate the Provisional IRA campaign of violence. It was unnecessary, sectarian, brutal and futile. The deaths of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, for example, broke the Geneva Convention by killing unarmed men and, in particular, by killing one who was injured and trying to surrender. If the IRA was fighting a war, then this was a war crime – along with all their other war crimes from Kingsmill to the Birmigham pub bombs. That is where Sinn Fein is open to critcism. What was the Provisional IRA campaign for? Pearse Doherty TD said this week that the campaign was to defend local communities. (Whom does he think the 21 dead in the Birmingham pub bombs were going to attack?) However, also this week, John O’Dowd described it as ” a conflict between nations and communities”. This largely confirms that Sinn Fein has finally abandoned Irish Republicanism and opted instead for Britain’s two nations theory, by suggesting that only Catholics can be Irish. The political impact of Smithwick’s is that it nudges our history towards the erroneous veiw that the violence here was carried out by two sets of paramilitaries, each backed through collusion by different national governments. The two nations theory is slowly becoming official which, oddly, suits Sinn Fein. The above comments represent valid veiws on Sinn Fein policies, past and present. You can agree or disagree with them. In that the context you can agree or disagree with Mr Adams, but no one has the right to disagree with the truth just because they dislike the person speaking it. Personal attacks are no substitute for political analysis.
With many thanks to: Patrick Murphy, The Irish News.
A letter that appeared in The Irish News – Tuesday December 10 2013.
THE CONCLUSION of the Smithwick Tribunal that Garda officers colluded in the murder of superintendent Breen and Buchanan is deeply disturbing and if true that one or more members of An Garda Siochana ( the guardians of the peace) colluded with the IRA in the murders of superintendents Breen and Buchanan then not only are they guilty of murder but they let down an entire police force.
Unfortunatley there are now unionist politicians who remained silent or indeed excused compelling evidence of collusion in the North over the years but delighted to rush to the media to smear the entire Garda Siochana and that is not only unjustified but it must not be allowed to happen. Garda officers, many of them now retired, were stationed in the border areas during the best part of their lives to protect life and limb. Is history now to be rewtitten, as it often is, to misrepresent those officers as villains involved in collusion leading to the murder of police in the north? I should think not. During the period from the 1970s to the 1990s the Republic, with very limited resources, spent more per head of population on security than the British did, much of that in the border areas. Often Garda stations on the southern side of the border had more manpower than their counterparts on the northern side and they worked for a fraction of the salary their RUC conterparts but they did it not for money but to protect the lives of people.
They were noble officers who were not influenced by the IRA or any other illegal organisation. Is this now to be dismissed because there may have been one or perhaps more rotten apples in the barrel? Like police forces all over the world the Garda have had their problems and the need for reform but they do not deserve the kind of abuse which is now emanating from the usual suspects who ignored, dismissed or excused widespread collusion in the north but now want to present themselves as the voice of perfection ignoring the fact that Garda officers made a massive contribution to limiting the number of people who may otherwise have died in those days of total madness.
With thanks to: John Dallat MLA, SDLP, East Derry.
- Late Garda commissioner criticised over handling of collusion warnings (irishtimes.com)
- Breen family say ‘fears realised’ by Smithwick report findings (irishtimes.com)
- McDonald plays down row over Adams’s Smithwick remarks (irishtimes.com)
- Widow of former police chief defends Hermon (newsletter.co.uk)
- Corrigan rejects findings of Smithwick Tribunal (irishtimes.com)
- Smithwick Tribunal: Fury over Gerry Adams’ ‘vile’ efforts to justify RUC murders (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
The Czech-bought assault rifle, now linked to 11 other murders and two attempted murders, was first examined at the Weapons and Explosives Research Centre (Werc) – a previously unheard of unit located within the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory, the court was told. Mr Justice Weir, who is hearing the long-awaited inquest, said: “This is the first time it has ever come to my attention that there was a forensic system.” Ms Mallon (76) was gunned down as she watched television at a house near Dungannon, Co Tyrone on May 8 1994. The spinster, who had been staying with relatives because she felt vulnerable, was unable to escape when two loyalist gunmen indiscriminately opened fire on the bungalow on Cullenrammer Road.
The UVF said its mid-Ulster brigade had been responsible (although it was widely beleived to be members of Billy Wright‘s LVF gang) and were targeting two of her nephews Christopher Mallon, who was not home at the time and Martin Mallon who lived half a mile away. In the wake of the shooting, British army spying equipment was found in a nearby field sparking claims of security force collusion. Last week it emerged that the Historical Enquries Team (HET) – a specialist unit set up to re-examine Troubles-related cold cases – had linked the murder weapon to the UVF killings of Charles and Theresa Fox at the Moy, Co Armagh, in 1992, as well as the murders of John Quinn, Dwayne O’Donnell, Malcolm Nugent and Tommy Armstrong outside a bar in Cappagh, Co Tyrone in 1991. But, Barry McDonald QC, who is representing the Mallon family, said the rifle was now known to have been involved in at least eight incidents that resulted in 11 murders and two attempted murders.
He said inaccurate information that the gun had no previous previous history was fed into the the system by Special Branch. Mr MacDonald said: “The practice seems to have been when cartrige cases were collected they were forwared to the Forensic Science Laboratory of Northern Ireland but it was the Werc who conducted their investigations and provided a steer. “The upshot is that these incorrect conclusions have been made by a section of Special Branch in circumstances where the object of this entire exercise – that’s this inquest – is to allay suspicion and rumour about the involvement of Special Branch.” Judge Weir told the court he had never heard of Werc despite a lengthy career as a defence barrister and judge. He also expressed concern that they were not ballistics experts and said he would be demanding a full explanation on how they operated and who took the decision to conceal their existence. Martin Mallon said the family had been left bemused by the latest revelations. He said: “We have had Special Branch hiding behind screens, we have heard evidence about burning notebooks and items being destroyed. We have consistently heard about Special Branch being a force within a force and now it appears that Werc was unit within a unit. Notorious killer Billy Wright and two other loyalists were arrested and questioned about Ms Mallon’s murder but no-one has ever been convicted. Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch, who sits on the Stormont justice committee and is a Mallon family friend, said: “It is obvious that the British state is covering up, delaying and prevaricating on vital evidence – particularly around ballistics.” The inquest has now been adjourned until May to allow the HET to complete its investigation into 24 murders in the East Tyone area between 1988 and 1994 – including Ms Mallon’s murder.
With many thanks to: The Irish News.
- Doubts over Mallon ballistics tests (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Roseann Mallon murder: Tests on UVF murder weapon questioned (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Roseann Mallon murder: Judge hits out over hindering of inquest (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Legacy inquest: Devout pensioner gunned down by loyalists (newsletter.co.uk)
- Roseann Mallon inquest: ‘RUC pressured boy, 10, into changing statement’ (newsletter.co.uk)
- Army Surveillance Tapes Wiped After Uvf Murder of Pensioner (belfastdaily.co.uk)
Martin Corey is a former Provisional IRA member. In 1973, he took part in a Provisional IRA ambush on the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Aghalee along with two other Volunteers, Peter McVeigh and William Meehan. One RUC officer; Constable Raymond Wylie, died instantly. Constable Robert McCauley died on 25 March 1973, almost one month after the initial incident.
In December 1973, Martin Corey, along with his two comrades, was found guilty of the shooting and sentenced to life imprisonment inside the H-Blocks. He was released in June 1992.
He was taken back into custody on April 16, 2010, on the basis of “closed material”. On July 9, Justice Treacy ruled that Martin Corey’s human rights had been breached and he should be released immediately on unconditional bail. This was overruled by Secretary of State, Shaun Woodward.
On July 10, the matter was referred back to the court. The matter was to be reviewed by Justice McCloskey who further stayed corey’s release until an appeal court could hear it the next day. An appeal was heard on July 11, with Justice McCloskey and Justice Morgan. That court upheld the Secretary of States’ overruling, and referred it to be heard again on September 28, 2012.
Martin Corey was granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral mass of his brother who died in May, 2012. That decision was brought to the High Court in Belfast who upheld it. Leave was eventually granted on the condition that two members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and his lifelong friend Jim McIlmurray accompany him.
He was born in Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Ireland.
- End the Illegal Internment of Martin Corey Now !!!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Veteran Republican Has Parole Hearing Cancelled (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Smash Internment – Release Martin Corey (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Today, September 2nd 2013, is the 63rd Birthday of Martin Corey – RELEASE HIM NOW !!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- End Internment – Release Martin Corey (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- International Day of Action for Republican POW’s on October 8, 2011 (supportthepows.wordpress.com)
- Forced strip search of Pomeroy woman a ‘Brutal Sex Assault’ ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Human Rights Journalist who recieved death threat from UK military group allowed temporary asylum in Russia (google-law.blogspot.com)
Remember Peter McBride today. On 4 September 1992, the unarmed, 18-year-old father of two young daughters was shot dead by two Scots Guardsmen in the New Lodge area of Belfast. Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher stopped, searched and questioned McBride; and then, as he was walking away, Wright and Fisher shot him dead from a range of 70 yards, hitting him twice in the back.
In February 1995, Wright and Fisher were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. At their trial, the two claimed that they shot at McBride because they believed he was “carrying a coffee-jar bomb.” However, Lord Chief Justice Kelly concluded that Wright and Fisher had plenty of time to determine what McBride was carrying, if anything, when they searched him. Moreover, in his ruling, Kelly wrote that the two guardsmen had “lied about critical elements of their version of events…and deliberately chose to put forward a version which they both knew to be untrue.”
Still, Wright and Fisher each served only six years of their life-term sentences! In September 1998, just two days before the sixth anniversary of McBride’s murder, the two were released and permitted to resume serving in the british army, where they both received promotions!
- Oglaigh na hEireann Kieran Doherty, Died August 2nd 1981 ~ Rest in Peace (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Oglach Jim Bryson and Oglach Patrick Mulvenna who died on Active Service 31 August 1973 R.I.P (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
RUC/LOYALIST AND BRITISH PARAMILITARY COLLISION IN SOUTH DERRY IN THE OCCUPIED SIX COUNTIES OF THE NORTH OF IRELAND
PatroitDead SouthDerry NorthAntrim
RUC / LOYALISTS PARAMILITARY COLLUSION SOUTH DERRY NORTH ANTRIM
The accounts are remarkably similar. Intense crown force’s activity followed by total withdrawal. Hours of helicopters buzzing overhead, days of foot patrols and roadblocks, then silence. “Everyone knew someone was going to be killed, silence was almost always a prelude to terror,” said a relative of an East Derry collusion victim Tommy Donaghy.
Stretching from Derry City, along the North coast through County Derry to North Antrim is a single UDA brigade area. It includes Derry City, Coleraine and villages such as Castlerock and Rasharkin. It also borders County Donegal.
The territory is as wide and diverse – urban and rural, coastal and land bound. One unifying aspect is that local communities were all subject to the attentions of one organised unionist paramilitary group and state forces who colluded in its reign of terror.
Earlier this year one of the North’s most notorious sectarian mass murderers, Torrens Knight was exposed as an RUC Special Branch agent. In October 1993 Knight was one of a number of masked gunmen responsible for the Greysteel massacre.
Now families of other victims in the area believe members of the same gang were responsible for other murders. They believe collusion was organised and sanctioned by Special Branch and others. The UDR also played a key role, providing weapons and intelligence and willing recruits to the death squads. Many unionist paramilitaries were former or serving members of the UDR.
On Halloween night 1993 UDA killers walked into the Rising Sun Bar, a pub known to be frequented by Catholics and shouted “trick or treat” before spraying the lounge with bullets. Nineteen people were wounded and eight died from their injuries.
Knight later admitted standing ‘guard’ at the door of the pub armed with a sawn-off shotgun during the attack and driving the getaway car from the scene. He also admitted being part of a UDA gang that shot dead four Catholic workmen in Castlerock in March 1993.
Significantly, on the day of the Castlerock murders, two of three possible routes usually taken by the workmen travelling together in a van had been closed by the RUC. At Gortree Place gunmen emerged out of another van, killing one of the front passengers before spraying the rest of the vehicle with gunfire.
Four workmen were killed and a fifth seriously wounded. One of those killed, James Kelly,was later claimed as an IRA Volunteer. It is widely believed that the first gunman to open fire is a former member of the UDR.
Despite the fact that the gun attack took place within view of a RUC barracks, the killers appeared unconcerned about surveillance. After making an initial getaway, they returned to the scene, driving slowly past their victims before driving away again.
Knight, jailed for Greysteel and Castlerock, was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in July 2000. Sentenced to life imprisonment for 12 UDA murders, he was subsequently paid £50,000 a year through a bogus Special Branch account.
The payments came to light after bank staff noticed the notorious loyalist withdrawing two large amounts and checked his account. A bank official, imagining that Knight must be accruing a fortune through illegal means, informed the PSNI. The PSNI confirmed the payments were legal before transferring the account.
Knight began his criminal career as a teenage petty thief who preyed upon family members including an elderly relative. It is unknown exactly when Special Branch identified him as a potential agent but his predilection for easy money and ruthless disregard for others made him an attractive proposition.
What we do know is that Knight was working for Special Branch at the time of the Castlerock and Greysteel massacres. Earlier this year it was revealed that Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan was investigating claims he was protected as a Special Branch agent at the time of Castlerock and Greysteel.
At the time Ronnie Flanagan was head of RUC Special Branch. He later became PSNI Chief Constable. There have been calls for Flanagan to go public on whether he knew Knight was a paid, protected agent.
According to Coleraine Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Leonard: “Not only was Torrens Knight protected and paid but many believe at least two other, more senior figures involved in the killings, were working for Special Branch. A number of key figures were former members of the UDR.” One was killed in 1994, the other remains at the heart of the local unionist paramilitary group. It is believed he carried out murders and took part in Greysteel and Castlerock. He is implicated in the murder of Donegal Councillor Eddie Fullerton.
Recently exposed secret British government files show that the British Cabinet was aware of large-scale collusion between the locally recruited British army regiment and loyalist death squads as early as 1973.
According to the documents in the early 1970′s up to 15% of the UDR were linked to paramilitary groups and the regiment provided “the single best source of weapons for Protestant extremist groups”.
By the 1980′s the Thatcher regime had developed established wide-scale informal collusion, through MI5 agents like Brian Nelson and Charles Simpson, into a murder machine more finely tuned to British counter insurgency strategy.
Victims of collusion in County Derry and the South East Antrim area include John Davey, Gerard Casey, Tommy Donaghy, Bernard O’Hagan, Danny Cassidy and Malachy Carey.
Davey, a Sinn Féin councillor, was murdered while returning home from Magherafelt Council in February 1989. He was shot several times at close range through the driver’s window of his car. The headlights were switched off and the handbrake was on, suggesting that he stopped at what he believed to be a crown forces roadblock. He had been repeatedly threatened prior to his murder.
IRA Volunteer Gerard Casey was shot dead in what later emerged as a classic collusion style killing. Two gunmen smashed their way into Casey’s Rasharkin home on April 4 1989. He was killed at close range as he lay in bed beside his wife and baby daughter.
Special Branch in Castlereagh Interrogation Centre had threatened Casey saying they would have him assassinated and the killing would be claimed by unionist paramilitaries. Just prior to the attack the RUC removed his legally held shotgun and drew a sketch map of the interior of his home.
Tommy Donaghy, a Sinn Féin worker and IRA volunteer was shot dead at close range as he arrived for work at Portna Eel Fishery near Kilrea on 16 August 1991. His family had been threatened by the RUC who told them Tommy would be dead before Christmas. Donaghy had been told by the RUC that his personal details had been passed into the hands of loyalists.
Bernard O’Hagan, a Sinn Féin Councillor was shot dead by a lone gunman as he arrived for work at Magherafelt College on 16 September 1991. O’Hagan was one of a number of Sinn Féin councillors attacked and killed during this period. Others include his Magherafelt colleague John Davey and Eddie Fullerton of Donegal. Fullerton was killed on 25 May 1991. One of the guns used in the murder was later used in the Castlerock massacre.
Danny Cassidy Sinn Fein worker IRA volunteer died on 2 April 1992 when his car was sprayed with bullets after he stopped to speak to a neighbour a few yards from his home in Kilrea. Forty eight hours earlier the RUC told Cassidy he would be killed.
A member of the RUC’s notorious DMSU had told Cassidy that there would be “a hole in his head big enough to put a fist into”. Another RUC officer pointed a rifle at the victim’s head. Cassidy’s photograph later surfaced on a crown forces montage in the hands of unionist paramilitaries.
Malachy Carey, a former Sinn Féin election candidate, was shot by a gunman as he walked along a street in Ballymoney on 13 December 1992. He died a short time later in hospital. Carey had been told by the RUC that his personal details were in the hands of unionist paramilitaries.
A number of families, including relatives of Gerard Casey, Tommy Donaghy and Danny Cassidy have cited further aspects of the killings that suggest their family members had been victims of collusion.
When relatives raised the issue of collusion during the inquest into the killing of Tommy Donaghy, the family was subjected to intimidation by the RUC. Later on the same day, an RUC Land Rover pulled up outside their home and an officer fired three shots in the air.
During the inquest into the killing of Danny Cassidy senior RUC officers admitted instructing junior colleagues to harass the victim prior to the killing. Following this revelation the inquest was adjourned and is still pending 14 years later, with no indication when it will be resumed.
The presence of an RUC officer, allegedlyoffduty, from Ballymoney in a vehicle just two cars behind the killers’ vehicle during the murder of Cassidy has also raised concerns about collusion.
On the day of Danny Cassidy’s murder, the actions of crown forces in the area led a local republican to alert the media, predicting that someone in the area was going to be killed. Later that day Danny Cassidy was shot dead.
The families have also cited suspicions regarding two guns found during this period in a lay-by outside Kilrea. Two people were reportedly arrested, the car was seen being taken away for forensic tests and yet no charges were ever made.
A loyalist who was later charged with possession of a gun used in the killing of Sinn Féin Councillor Bernard O’Hagan in 1991 was not charged with his murder. The loyalist was a relative of one of those convicted of the Greysteel massacre.
One of the guns used in the murder of Tommy Donaghy near Kilrea was described during his inquest as having “a particularly tragic history”. However the RUC refused to detail that history and the suspicion remains that it was the same weapon used in the murder of Gerard Casey.
It is believed that in 1993 Torrens Knight’s Special Branch handlers moved two high powered rifles from Agivey River at Hunter’s Mill, near Aghadowey after local anglers alerted the RUC of their discovery. The weapons were later used by Knight’s gang in the Greysteel massacre.
“There are many more questions to be asked, not only about Knight but also his accomplices and their Special Branch handlers,” said Billy Leonard. “There are other key figures that have roamed free while playing key roles in directing loyalist killers’ activities,” he said.
- THE GRIM REAPER – Greysteel psycho is freed from jail….again (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Mortars found on border not the work of PIRA – Sinn Fein (newsletter.co.uk)
- IRA membership accused face trial (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Sinn Féin says Seanad is an ‘affront to democracy’ (irishtimes.com)
- IRA Oglaigh Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns RIP (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Sinn Féin to drop wealth tax from its budget submission (irishtimes.com)
- Prosecutions sought in wake of Kelly speech to Castlederg IRA commemoration rally (irishtimes.com)
Paisley, McKeague and Seawright among famed users of emotive words.
POLITCIANS playing to their constituency with colourful and emotive rhetoric is uusually regarded as an asset. Renowned orators like Michael Collins and Winston Churchill delivered words in a manner that instilled awe and great loyalty among their audience.
Throughout the Troubles – and even before 1969 – the North of Ireland‘s politicians have enjoyed employing aggressive and provocative language when speaking in public. One of the most notorious incidents occoured almost 50 years ago when big Ian Paisley demanded the removal of the Irish tricolour from Division Street in West Belfast. He warned of riots if the RUC did not heed his call, but the violence the relatively young Free Presbyterian preacher predicted was avoided after a police operation to remove the flag. Over subsequent decades the former DUP leader’s language sailed close to the wind on many occasions but never were his words deemed so offensive that they resulted in arrest. However, his East Belfast loyalist associate John McKeague did face prosecution for a hate crime over the written word rather than an inflammatory speech.
The 1971 publication of Loyalist song book and its inclusion of anti-Catholic lyrics saw McKeague brought to court but ultimately acquitted after the proesecution failed to convince the jury of his intent. McKeague was shot dead a decade later by the INLA. In perhaps the best known episode of inciting sectarian hatred Belfast DUP councillor George Seawright was pprosecuted in 1984 when he made provocative remarked during a meeting of Belfast Education and Library Board. The loyalist, who like McKeague was later gunned down by the INLA offshoot, described Catholics who objected to the singing of the British national anthem “fenian scum” and suggested they should be burnt in an incinerator. Although he denied making the comments, Mr Seawright was prosecuted and received a six-month suspended sentence. The era of social media means the opportunities for people to go beyond what is deemed acceptable is much greater. The court restrictions around using Facebook and Twitter placed on loyalist flag protesters Jamie Bryson and Willie Frazer reflect a recognition of the potential by political and community leaders to incite their followers through.
With many thanks to : John Manley, The Irish News.
- MPs to be banned from touching Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill statues for luck (telegraph.co.uk)
- Dialectic vs. Rhetoric (persuasioning.wordpress.com)
- John McKeague-The butcher of Bombay street (politics.ie)
- ‘Attempts to Make Me a Police Informer Lost Me My Job’ (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Patterson Charged Over Facebook Comments (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
Relatives want access to atrocity report
The families were told that the HET investigation into the 1971 bombing of the family-run Belfast pub in which 15 men, women and children died had beencompleted in December last year. The HET began investigating the attack in 2006. The bombing was carried out by the UVF but the RUC brifed media outlets that it had been an IRA ‘own goal’. Despite repeated requests to both the HET and Chief Constable Matt Baggott’s office the report has still not been made available to the ffamilies. They have also lodged a complaint to the Police Ombudsman‘s office. The families claim the report’s release is being deliberately blocked from public scrutiny. Last month HM Inspectorate of Constabulary issued a damning report into the poor performance of the HET which concluded that the body had failed to properly investigate state killings.
There were calls for thecold case murder team to be scrapped in light of the report and because of a lack of public confidence. “We can confirm the families have instructed us to commence legal proceedings in the High Court in Belfast to get access to the report,” solicitor Kevin winters, who represents some of the families, said. “They do so reluctantly but have no choice.” Some of the families also plan to lodge an additional complaint today with the Policing Board. Ciaran Mac Airt, whose grandmother Kathleen Irvine died in the atrocity, said: “The state and its security forces conspired to criminalise our loved ones when they fabricated a story that the bomb was in transit and that customers were being schooled in bomb making. “To clear their good names or families have been forced to campaign against police lies and intransigence for two generations. “By blocking the release of the HET report into the death of our loved ones, the chief constable of the reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland is quite simply retraumatising our family members. “Our families have suffered enough.”
With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.
- Families in bid for McGurk’s report (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Families in a bid for McGurks bar explosion report (newsletter.co.uk)
- Board to Discuss Report on Het (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Appeal for Witnesses to 1975 Pub Bombing ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- McGurk accused the ‘last man standing’ (smh.com.au)
- New pressure over HET leadership (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Het Collapse Exposes Governments’ Failings (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Victims’ Families: ‘Scrap Het’ !!! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Police chief in talks with HET head (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Het-bloody Sunday Inquiry Move Angers Campaigners ! (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
A loyal, determined republican with a great love of life
The eighth republican to join the hunger-strike for political status, on May 23rd, following the death of Patsy O’Hara, was twenty-five-year-old fellow INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch from the small, North Derry town of Dungiven who had been imprisoned since his arrest in 1976.
A well-known and well liked young man in the closely-knit community of his home town, Kevin was remembered chiefly for his outstanding ability as a sportsman, and for qualities of loyalty, determination and a will to win which distinguished him on the sports field and which, in heavier times and circumstances, were his hallmarks as an H-Block blanket man on hunger strike to the death.
Kevin Lynch was a happy-go-lucky, principled young Derry man with an enthusiastic love of life, who was, as one friend of his remarked – a former schoolteacher of Kevin’s and an active H-Block campaigner: “the last person, back in 1969, you would have dreamed would be spending a length of time in prison.”
The story of Kevin Lynch is of a light-hearted, hard-working and lively young man, barely out of his teens when the hard knock came early one December morning nearly five years ago, who had been forced by the British occupation of his country to spend those intervening years in heroic refusal to accept the British brand of ‘criminal’ and in the tortured assertion of what he really was – a political prisoner.
Kevin Lynch was born on May 25th, 1956, the youngest of a family of eight, in the tiny village of Park, eight miles outside Dungiven. His father, Paddy, (aged 66), and his mother, Bridie, (aged 65), whose maiden name is Cassidy, were both born in Park too, Paddy Lynch’s family being established there for at least three generations, but they moved to Dungiven twenty years ago, after the births of their children.
Paddy Lynch is a builder by trade, like his father and grandfather before him – a trade which he handed down to his five sons: Michael (aged 39), Patsy (aged 37), Francis (aged 33), Gerard (aged 27), and Kevin himself, who was an apprenticed bricklayer. There are also three daughters in the family: Jean (aged 35), Mary (aged 30), and Bridie (aged 29).
Though still only a small town of a few thousand, Dungiven has been growing over the past twenty years due to the influx of families like the Lynches from the outlying rural areas. It is an almost exclusively nationalist town, garrisoned by a large and belligerent force of RUC and Brits. In civil rights days, however, nationalists were barred from marching in the town centre.
Nowadays, militant nationalists have enforced their right to march, but the RUC still attempt to break up protests and the flying of the tricolour (not in itself ‘illegal’ in the six counties) is considered taboo by the loyalist bigots of the RUC.
Support in the town is relatively strong, Dungiven having first-hand experience of a hunger strike last year when local man Tom McFeeley went fifty-three days without food before the fast ended on December 18th. Apart from Tom McFeeley and Kevin Lynch other blanket men from the town are Kevin’s boyhood friend and later comrade Liam McCloskey – himself later to embark on hunger strike – and former blanket man Eunan Brolly, who was released from the H-Blocks last December.
Kevin went to St. Canice’s primary school and then on to St. Patrick’s intermediate, both in Dungiven. Although not academically minded – always looking forward to taking his place in the family building business – he was well-liked by his teachers, respected for his sporting prowess and for his well-meant sense of humour. “Whatever devilment was going on in the school, you could lay your bottom dollar Kevin was behind it,” remembers his former schoolteacher, recalling that he took great delight in getting one of his classmates, his cousin Hugh (‘the biggest boy in the class – six foot one’) “into trouble”. But it was all in fun – Kevin was no troublemaker, and whenever reprimanded at school, like any other lively lad, would never bear a grudge.
Above all, Kevin was an outdoor person who loved to go fishing for sticklebacks in the river near his home, or off with a bunch of friends playing Gaelic (an outdoor disposition which must have made his H-Block confinement even harder to bear).
His great passion was Gaelic games playing Gaelic football from very early on, and then taking up hurling when he was at St. Patrick’s.
He was excelled at both.
Playing right half-back for St. Patrick’s hurling club, which was representing County Derry, at the inaugural Feile na nGael held in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 1971, Kevin’s performance – coming only ten days after an appendix operation – was considered a key factor in the team’s victory in the four-match competition played over two days.
The following season Kevin was appointed captain of both St. Patrick’s hurling team and the County Derry under-16 team which went on in that season to beat Armagh in the All Ireland under-16 final at Croke Park in Dublin.
Later on, while working in England, he was a reserve for the Dungiven senior football team in the 1976 County Derry final.
Kevin’s team, St. Canice’s, was beaten 0-9 to 0-3 by Sarsfields of Ballerin, and he is described in the match programme as “a strong player and a useful hurler”. Within a short space of time after this final, Kevin would be in jail, as would two of his team mates on that day, Eunan Brolly and Sean Coyle.
The qualities Kevin is remembered for as a sportsman were his courage and determination, his will to win, and his loyalty to his team mates. Not surprisingly the local hurling and football clubs were fully behind Kevin and his comrades in their struggle for the five demands, pointing out that Kevin had displayed those same qualities in the H-Blocks and on hunger strike.
He was also a boxer with the St. Canice’s club, once reaching the County Derry final as a schoolboy, but not always managing as easily as he achieved victory in his first fight!
Just before the match was due to start his opponent asked him how many previous fights he’d had. With suppressed humour, Kevin answered “thirty-three” so convincingly that his opponent, overcome with nervous horror, couldn’t be persuaded into the ring.
At the age of fifteen, Kevin left school and began to work alongside his father. Although lively, going to dances, and enjoying good crack, he was basically a quiet, determined young fellow, who stuck to his principles and couldn’t easily be swayed.
Like any other family in Dungiven, the Lynches are nationally minded, and young Kevin would have been just as aware as any other lad of his age of the basic injustices in his country, and would have equally resented the petty stop-and-search harassment which people of his age continually suffered at the hands of Brits and RUC.
The Lynches were also, typically, a close family and in 1973, at the age of sixteen, Kevin went to England to join his three brothers, Michael, Patsy and Gerard, who were already working in Bedford.
Both Bedford and its surrounding towns, stretching from Hertfordshire to Buckinghamshire and down to the north London suburbs, contain large Irish populations, and the Lynches mixed socially within that, Kevin going a couple of times a week to train with St. Dympna’s in Luton or to Catholic clubs in Bedford or Luton for a quiet drink and a game of snooker. He even played an odd game of rugby while over there.
But Kevin never intended settling in England and on one of his occasional visits home (“he just used to turn up”), in August 1976, he decided to stay in Dungiven.
Shortly after his return home, coming away from a local dance, he and nine other young lads were put up against a wall by British soldiers and given a bad kicking, two of the lads being brought to the barracks.
Kevin joined the INLA around this time, maybe because of this incident in part, but almost certainly because of his national awareness coming from his cultural love of Irish sport, as well as his courage and integrity, made him determined to stand up both for himself and his friends.
“He wouldn’t ever allow himself to be walked on”, recalls his brother, Michael. And he had always been known for his loyalty by his family, his friends, his teammates, and eventually by his H-Block comrades.
However, within the short space of little more than three months, Kevin’s active republican involvement came to an end almost before it had begun. Following an ambush outside Dungiven, in November ’76, in which an RUC man was slightly injured, the RUC moved against those it suspected to be INLA activists in the town.
On December 2nd, 1976, at 5.40 a.m. Brits and RUC came to the Lynch’s home for Kevin. “We said he wasn’t going anywhere before he’d had a cup of tea”, remembers Mr. Lynch, “but they refused to let him have even a glass of water. The RUC said he’d be well looked after by then.”
Also arrested that day in Dungiven were Sean Coyle, Seamus McGrandles, and Kevin’s schoolboy friend Liam McCloskey, with whom he was later to share an H-Block cell.
Kevin was taken straight to Castlereagh, and, after three days’ questioning, on Saturday, December 4th, he was charged and taken to Limavady to be remanded in custody by a special court. The string of charges included conspiracy to disarm members of the enemy forces, taking part in a punishment shooting, and the taking of ‘legally held’ shotguns.
Following a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Belfast, he was tried and sentenced to ten years in December 1977, immediately joining the blanket men in H3, and eventually finding himself sharing a cell with his Dungiven friend and comrade, Liam McCloskey, continuing to do so until he took part in the thirty-man four-day fast which coincided with the end of the original seven-man hunger strike last December.
Since they were sentenced in 1977, both Dungiven men suffered their share of brutality from Crumlin Road and Long Kesh prison warders, Kevin being ‘put on the boards’ for periods of up to a fortnight, three or four times.
On Wednesday, April 26th, 1978, six warders, one carrying a hammer, came in to search their cell. Kevin’s bare foot, slipping on the urine-drenched cell floor, happened to splash the trouser leg of one of the warders, who first verbally abused him and then kicked urine at him.
When Kevin responded in like manner he was set upon by two warders who punched and kicked him, while another swung a hammer at him, but fortunately missed. The punching and kicking continued till Kevin collapsed on the urine-soaked floor with a bruised and swollen face.
In another assault by prison warders, Kevin’s cellmate, Liam McCloskey, suffered a burst ear-drum during a particularly bad beating, and is now permanently hard of hearing.
Even as long ago as April 1978, just after the ‘no wash’ protest had begun, Kevin was reported, in a bulletin issued by the Dungiven Relatives Action Committee, to “have lost a lot of weight, his face is a sickly white and he is underfed”.
His determination, and his sense of loyalty to his blanket comrades, saw him through, however, even the hardest times.
His former H-Block comrade, Eunan Brolly, who was also in H3 before his release, remembers how Kevin once put up with raging toothache for three weeks rather than come off the protest to get dental treatment. It was the sort of thing which forced some blanket men off the protest, at least temporarily, but not Kevin.
Eunan, who recalls how Kevin used to get a terrible slagging from other blanket men because the GAA, of which of course he was a member, did not give enough support to the fight for political status, also says he was not surprised by Kevin’s decision to join the hunger strike. Like other blanket men, Eunan says, Kevin used to discuss a hunger strike as a possibility, a long time ago, “and he was game enough for it”.
Neither were his family, who supported him in his decision, surprised: “Kevin’s the type of man”, said his father, when Kevin was on the hunger strike, “that wouldn’t lie back. He’d want to do his share.”
In the Free State elections, in June, Kevin stood as a candidate in the Waterford constituency, collecting 3,337 first preferences before being eliminated – after Labour Party and Fianna Fail candidates – on the fifth count, with 3,753 votes.
But the obvious popular support which the hunger strikers and their cause enjoyed nationally was not sufficient to elicit support from the Free State government who share the common, futile hope of the British government – the criminalisation of captured freedom fighters.
The direct consequence of that was Kevin’s death – the seventh at that stage – in the Long Kesh hospital at 1.00 a.m. on Saturday, August 1st after seventy-one days on hunger strike.
R.I.P. ~ Kevin Lynch…
- FAMILIES OF IRA MEN EXECUTED BY THE SAS IN DERRY,TODAY ACCUSE MARTIN McGUINNESS OF BETRAYAL (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Man arrested over 2009 Derry murder (bbc.co.uk)
- The Butcher Of The Bogside: Ulster’s Deputy First Minister And His Bloody Past. (ulsternews.wordpress.com)
- IRA Oglaigh Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns RIP (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Press Statement on Behalf of the Family of Sean Dalton (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Repatriate Michael Campbell (irishredstar.wordpress.com)