Press Statement from McKinney Family and Madden & Finucane | Madden & Finucane Solicitors

Child murder, torture and sexual abuse by British troops covered up by government, report alleges | The Independent

There can be no amnesty for British troops, speaker tells Bloody Sunday event

The annual Bloody Sunday march in Derry

An amnesty for soldiers will not be accepted by the families of those who died in the Ballymurphy Massacre, a Bloody Sunday commemoration has heard.

A special Mass dedicated to the memory of the 14 people who died after Paratroopers opened fire on civilians in Derry’s Bogside on January 31, 1972, was celebrated at St Mary’s Church, Creggan, on Friday.

Wreaths were laid at the Bloody Sunday Memorial in Rossville Street following a prayer service attended by the relatives of those killed.

Several hundred people took part in a March for Justice organised by the Bloody Sunday March Committee.

This culminated at Free Derry Corner where Eileen McKeown whose father, Joseph Corr, was shot dead by paratroopers in the Ballymurphy massacre in August 1971, addressed the crowd.

She said that after 46 years the Ballymurphy families were now preparing for the inquests in September into the deaths of 10 of those killed in Ballymurphy, and warned they would reject any proposal to introduce an amnesty for soldiers.

Ms McKeown said: “In September, at last, the inquests into the deaths of 10 of our loved ones get under way.

“This is another significant achievement that took a long time to come but finally, direct result of many years of hard work from families, we will have our day in court.

“It will provide us with a legal process to uncover the facts about how our loved ones died.

“The attempts by the British Government to introduce an amnesty for British soldiers is totally unacceptable to the Ballymurphy families.

“This Thursday a delegation of Ballymurphy families went to Westminster to make our views known about this and we told the Chairperson of the Defence Select Committee, Julian Lewis, that an amnesty in any guise will never be acceptable to the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre.

“This is yet another attempt by the British state to stand in the way of truth and justice. And for what? To win a few votes.”

A recent defence committee report favoured a controversial statue of limitations for members of the Armed Forces, coupled with a truth-recovery process to help families bereaved during the Troubles.

However, the report, published last month, stopped short of recommending the proposal for all sides during the Troubles as it “would be for the next government to decide”.

The concept of an amnesty has gained traction among a number of Westminster backbenchers, who claim recent prosecutions of former British soldiers were tantamount to a “witch-hunt”. However, prosecutors and police in Northern Ireland insist such allegations simply do not stand up to scrutiny, with a breakdown of figures showing no disproportionate focus on ex-security force members.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Free Derry this week hosts a poignant exhibition of shoes, called In Their Footsteps. John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among those who lost their lives 46 years ago during the Bloody Sunday Civil Rights march, said: “These shoes were gathered during the island-wide In Their Footsteps campaign for truth, with over 200 pairs donated by families bereaved in the conflict and exhibited in Dublin, London and Belfast. This year we relaunch In Their Footsteps with a call for families to contribute to this ever-growing display, highlighting the lack of progress in historic cases.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the origional story


Why ex-IRA bomber is wrong to take a uniform approach to PoW status

Shane Paul O’Doherty

Former Provisional Shane Paul O’Doherty (pictured above) argued in this newspaper last week that republican inmates didn’t qualify as prisoners of war. Here, historian Dieter Reinisch says O’Doherty’s view is at odds with British Government policy throughout the 20th century

Tomboy Loudon, Gerard Rooney, Denis Donaldson and Bobby Sands in Long Kesh

Shane Paul O’Doherty argued that “captured (IRA) combatants could never qualify as prisoners of war” because they “did not conduct military operations according to the laws and customs of war”.

He then goes on and uses an appeal by republicans to the European Court of Human Rights as evidence that the “entire republican movement – political and militant – was effectively recognising the jurisdiction of the international humanitarian laws and associated Geneva Conventions”.

However, one cannot take an isolated episode of the Troubles to explain the policy surrounding as controversial a term as “prisoners of war”.

The status of the prisoners, both republican and loyalist, is arguably one of the most controversial topics of Northern Ireland’s recent past.

The debate is politically loaded, as is O’Doherty’s article.

While he discusses a legal term, he falls into the trap of making a moral argument, hence, making use of a barbaric IRA attack and even the 1916 signatories to strengthen his argument.

Instead, I suggest a more sober look at the term “prisoner of war”.

In the context of the Troubles, the term “prisoners of war” is often used for particular political purposes and is, therefore, mystified.

In order to demystify the term, we need to ask what was meant by Irish republicans using this term and what did they want to achieve by using it.

As we answer these questions, we realise that republicans did not aim for “prisoner of war” status under the Geneva Convention, but for a status that distinguished them from ordinary criminal prisoners.

This status is usually referred to as “special category status”, or “political status”.

By demanding this status, republicans did not seek “prisoners of war” status under the Geneva Convention, but a moral distinction of their struggle from the crimes of criminal convicts.

British governments have granted exactly this status to republicans through various phases of history.

Starting with 1916, republicans suspected of participating in the Easter Rising were held in Frongoch internment camp under the same conditions as German First World War prisoners of war.

Following the outbreak of the Troubles and a hunger strike at Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol, again, special category status was granted (until March 1, 1976).

This status was eventually phased out and all prisoners arriving in the newly-built H-Blocks were treated as ordinary criminals, while those held in the Long Kesh camp retained their special status.

This led to the situation that merely a fence and a few yards separated members of the same paramilitary organisations enjoying special category status, on the one hand, and the Blanket protest and, eventually, hunger strikes in the fight to re-achieve this status on the other – even though both groups of prisoners were imprisoned for the same reasons, namely, paramilitary activities.

About a year after 10 republicans died on hunger strike for special status, the prisoners were gradually granted some of their demands, resulting in the fact that, in 1983, they had again achieved some form of special category status – this lasted until the closure of HMP Maze in 2000 and continues today in Maghaberry Prison.

In his new book, Sunningdale: The Search for Peace in Northern Ireland, Noel Dorr writes that when Philipp Woodfield, then Deputy Secretary of the Northern Ireland Office, met IRA representatives Daithi O Conaill and Gerry Adams on June 20, 1972, his response to their demand for “political status” of IRA prisoners was, “though unwilling to accept the term ‘political status’, (…) the substance of what they sought was already virtually the case” (pp 154-5).

The IRA delegation was happy with that and dropped this demand.

In sum, during various periods of the Troubles, British governments were willing to grant some sort of special status to republican prisoners. All these categories, no matter if it was before 1976, or after 1983, stopped short of the official “prisoner of war” status under the Geneva Convention.

Nonetheless, republicans were happy to accept it as long as it distinguished them from ordinary prisoners and, therefore, gave them moral justification for their struggle. Prisoner of war status is a flexible and fluid concept, on both sides of the Troubles.

Shane Paul O’Doherty tries to make a case that IRA prisoners should not be “entitled to claim the term ‘prisoners of war'”.

Instead, I argue that one can, indeed, make a case that might not entitle them to use the term under the Geneva Convention, but certainly the term “special category prisoners”.

In a recently published article in the Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, Samantha A Caesar writes that the British Government should have continued to grant special category status to republican prisoners after 1975.

She writes: “A deeper look at international law and relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom during the late-1970s and early-1980s reveals that there is a strong case for treating the conflict in Northern Ireland as an international, rather than a non-international, conflict under international law. Therefore, whether the denial of PoW status to IRA prisoners during this time was lawful is questionable at best” (p326).

Moreover, by introducing internment and Diplock prosecutions, the British Government prosecuted republicans differently from ordinary prisoners; consequently, they should have allowed them to be treated differently inside prison, as well.

In the introduction to the volume Prisons, Terrorism and Extremism: Critical Issues in Management, Radicalisation and Reform, Professor Andrew Silke explains that “terrorism is not the same as other types of crime and terrorists are not typical criminals”.

According to Silke, the common characteristic of extremist offenders is firstly, the political dimension, which is not normally seen among criminal offenders; secondly, their offending is primarily a group phenomenon; and thirdly, these offenders rarely radicalise and act in isolation.

Analysing the UN framework, Silke concludes that, under this framework, most extremist prisoners can be “reasonably referred to as political prisoners, though, not surprisingly, most governments prefer to avoid this term out of fear that it might transfer some apparent legitimacy to the terrorists and their cause” (p5).

To conclude, the status of prisoners in Northern Ireland is a politically loaded topic – this applies to both republican and loyalist ex-prisoners. Over the past decades, the use of the term has been fluid and flexible on all sides of the conflict.

War is brutal and terrible things happen that would and should never happen in normal societies. Nonetheless, the debate on former paramilitary prisoners needs to be unchained from moral prejudices.

Only if we achieve a sober analysis of events can we learn from the past and move forward to the future.

Dieter Reinisch is a historian at the European University Institute in Florence and an editorial board member of the journal Studi Irlandesi: A Journal of Irish Studies, published by Florence University Press

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the origional story.

Máire Drumm murdered in her hospital bed.

On 28th October 1976, 28 years ago, Sinn Féin Vice President Máire Drumm was shot dead in her hospital bed.

Máire Drumm (née McAteer), was born in the townland of Killeen, South Armagh, on 22 October 1919 to a staunchly republican family. Máire’s mother had been active in the Tan War and the Civil War.

In 1940, Máire joined Sinn Féin in Dublin. In 1942, she moved to Belfast, which became her adopted city and she continued her republican activities. Every weekend, Máire would carry food parcels to the republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail and it was here that she met Jimmy Drumm, who she married in 1946.

When the IRA renewed the armed struggle in the late 1950s, Jimmy was again interned without trial from ’57 to ’61.

Máire became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s. She worked tirelessly to rehouse the thousands of nationalists forced from their homes by unionist/loyalist pogroms.

During her work as a Civil Rights activist, Máire emerged as one of the Republican Movement’s most gifted leaders and organisers. Máire was the first to warn that the British troops sent in as “peace keepers” were a force of occupation. Máire was a dynamic and inspirational speaker. Once, when addressing a rally in Derry after the shooting of two men from the city, Máire said:

“The people of Derry are up off their bended knees. For Christ sake stay up. People should not shout up the IRA, they should join the IRA.”

In 1972, Máire became Vice President of Sinn Féin. Due to their dedication to the republican struggle, Máire’s family was continuously harassed by the RUC, British Army and by loyalist intimidation. The British Army even constructed an observation post facing their home in Andersonstown. At one point, her husband and son were interned at the same time. Her husband, Jimmy became known as the most jailed republican in the Six Counties. Máire was also jailed twice for ‘seditious’ speeches, once along with her daughter.

In 1976, her eyesight began to fail and she was admitted for a cataract operation to the Mater Hospital, Belfast. On 28 October 1976, as Máire lay in her hospital bed, loyalist killers wearing doctors white coats walked into her room and shot her dead.

Máire Drumm, freedom fighter and voice of the people, was buried in Milltown Cemetery. One of her most famous quotes was:


“We must take no steps backward, our steps must be onward, for if we don’t, the martyrs that died for you, for me, for this country will haunt us forever.” maire drumm


With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.

MARCH FOR JUSTICE 1972-2012 ( Still waiting for Justice To be Served ) from the Archives !

Posted on Behalf of :  Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh


Some surviving former leaders of the civil rights movement will attend a Tea/Coffee evening in solidarity with the MARCH FOR JUSTICE organisers, which is likely to be on Thursday Nov.10th @ Crawford Square, Derry. Further details from usual contact details.

Civil Rights veterans tea/coffee SOLIDARITY EVENING with Bloody Sunday 2011 MARCH FOR JUSTICE – THURSDAY NOVEMBER 10TH commencing at 8pm @ our Crawford Square offices. Non-Nicra Vets wishing to assist the march organisers should make contact ASAP – R.S.V.P. via-Facebook messages, 0r mobile 07783660181. “We shall Overcome-someday!

Please make contact with :  Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh on 07783660181 – ASAP

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