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Dr Michael Maguire to be NI Police Ombudsman

Dr Michael Maguire
Dr Michael Maguire is Northern Ireland‘s third Police Ombudsman
 

Dr Michael Maguire has been confirmed as Northern Ireland’s new Police Ombudsman.

Al Hutchinson stepped down from the role in January after criticism of the performance of his office, which holds the police service to account.

Dr Maguire is currently the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hutchinson became the second police ombudsman for Northern Ireland when he succeeded Nuala O’Loan in 2007.

In 2011, three independent reports were highly critical of the work being carried out by the ombudsman’s office.

Last month, Justice Minister David Ford began a public consultation on reforms to the Police Ombudsman’s Office, covering proposed changes to its structure, role and powers.

Mr Ford said the consultation outlined the potential for “significant changes” to the office’s law and governance.

Dr Maguire has worked at Criminal Justice Inspection since 2008.

Before that, he was a partner in a consulting firm, and he has been involved in strategic and organisational reviews across the public sector.

He was chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland between 2004 and 2006.

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[R . S . F news] Irish Republican Information Service (no. 293)

Rsf GaillimhIn this issue:1. RSF Armagh oppose loyalist band parade2. British state spends thousands of pounds on farcical trial3. McGuinness prepared to meet Queen of England4. Nuala O’Loan slams Ombudsman on investigation of murders5. Garda to open ranks to RUC members6. ‘Free Marian’ letter campaign launched7. Inquest opens into IRA men shot dead by SAS in 19908. Coroner demands answers from RUC/PSNI over files9. British army looking to recruit in Six Counties10. Schoolboy charged with rioting told not to enter the Six Counties11. Students claim victory over British military on campus12. An Bord Pleanala decision on Slane bypass welcomed13. Over 300 Irish a week moving to New York to find work 14. BC subpoenas are legally dumb and dumber15. The People’s Front 3rd International Symposium16. Outrage as Nike issue ‘Black and Tan’ sneaker line for St. Patrick’s Day17. Five murdered Irish emigrants reburied

1. RSF Armagh oppose loyalist band parade

THE decision by organisers of a loyalist parade to march through ArmaghCity on St Patrick’s Day has been condemned by the local Republican SinnFéin Cumann.

The PRO of the Charlie Agnew Cumann said on March 8: “Republican Sinn Féin view the forthcoming loyalist band parade as an attack on the family orientated festival due to take place in the city. The motives behind this band march are highly questionable and could be deemed intimidating to the many families and others who will be celebrating the Festival of St. Patrick.”

She continued: “There is a feeling among the local community that the city and the festivities are being hi-jacked by these loyalist bands. Armagh, being the historic city of St. Patrick and boasting two Cathedrals in his name, has always been host to cross-community events; the intrusion of upwards of 40 loyalist bands will sour the normally good atmosphere of the day.

“Local businesses will be adversely affected in this time of economic woes. This Band Parade will provoke tensions and is causing bad feeling in our City”

Republican Sinn Féin has serious concerns with regards to the logic behind the timing and location of this Loyalist Band parade. In light of the local opposition to this parade Republican Sinn Féin calls on the organisers to re think their position and logic in regards to this parade.

2. British state spends thousands of pounds on farcical trial

FIFTEEN people, including the President and Vice-President of Republican Sinn Féin, were fined between £300 and £700 at Craigavon Court on March 8, 2012.

The savage fines were imposed for the so-called “crime” of marching through part of Lurgan in January last year (2011) demanding the release of political hostage Martin Corey, a local man who is being held in Maghaberry jail for the last two years without charge or trial.

Yesterday’s outcome in Craigavon court was the result of a long and costly trial. Over 20 RUC/PSNI witnesses were called and several months were given over to the case.  A spokesperson for the POW Department of Republican Sinn Féin said the numbers of RUC members called was “indeed excessive, and very expensive”.

“The cuts being imposed on the people of the Occupied Six Counties to fund such a farce as was seen in Craigavon yesterday is the crime, not the march through Lurgan.”

3. McGuinness prepared to meet Queen of England

ON March 15 it was reported that Martin McGuinness has indicated that he may be prepared to meet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, acknowledging for the first time that she impressed him during her visit to Ireland in May 2011.

The British Queen is due to visit the occupied Six Countie this summer as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations.

Martin McGuinness told RTÉ: “Was I pleased that she spoke Irish at Dublin Castle? I was. Was I pleased that she stood very reverently to honour those who had given their lives in the Easter Rising for Ireland’s freedom? I was impressed by that.

”But what was I most impressed with? I was most impressed with her speech in Dublin Castle when she talked about how we could all have wished that things could have been done differently, or not at all.

”I think that when she said that — that was her acknowledgement, this is my interpretation — that Britain could have done an awful lot of things better in the past.””

That’s one way of putting centuries of oppression, murder and land-grabbing.

4. Nuala O’Loan slams Ombudsman on investigation of murders

IT was reported on March 14 that former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan had current ombudsman Al Hutchinson’s handling of a second investigation into murders carried by the UVF — and allegations of police collusion in the crimes. Al Hutchinson is leaving his post at the end of this month. His departure was hastened after questions were raised about working practices within his office.

On the eve of leaving her post in 2007, Nuala O’Loan launched the Ballast report, an investigation into collusion between the RUC and the UVF in the murder of Raymond McCord jnr in 1997.

Several murders committed by informants working for Special Branch were also investigated. However, five years later, an investigation by AL  Hutchinson into collusion appears to have made little headway. It follows a public storm after nine men were acquitted of the murder of UDA commander, Tommy English. They included the alleged former UVF leader in north Belfast, Mark Haddock.

Speaking on the BBC’s Spotlight programme, Nuala O’Loan said it was important that the Ombudsman worked as fast as the PSNI.

She said: “My belief is that the current Ombudsman is under the same statutory obligation as I was and that these matters should be investigated. If you have police officers who are handlers or controllers who may have committed crimes, that needs to be dealt with as a matter of priority.”

5. Garda to open ranks to RUC members

RECRUITMENT to fill senior positions within An Garda Síochána are for the first time to be open to those working in the RUC/PSNI, according to a report in the Irish Times of March 18.

26-County Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he “very much welcomes” the opportunity to put the radical new system in place. “These new regulations mark a truly historical further step in relations between the two forces,” he said.

However, Garda sources were critical of what they saw as a lack of full consultation between the minister and his officials and the main Garda representative bodies.

The new, more open recruitment system was provided for in the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Policing Co-operation that was signed a decade ago. It resulted from recommendations in the Patten report on policing in the Six Counties.

A move to the Republic would be seen as attractive to many senior RUC/PSNI members because the rates of remuneration and expenses are higher in the Garda.

With immediate effect, when vacancies arise in the Garda at the rank of inspector, superintendent, chief superintendent or assistant commissioner, the competitions to fill them will be open to RUC/PSNI members as well as serving gardaí. The two most senior ranks in the Garda – deputy garda commissioner and garda commissioner – will still be filled by Government appointment from within the force.

However, if RUC/PSNI members were successful in securing any one of the vacancies currently at assistant commissioner level, they would be eligible in the next few years to be appointed by the Dublin Administration to the position of deputy garda commissioner or garda commissioner. Until now only those serving as gardaí were eligible to apply for other, more senior, positions in the Garda.

In recent years there have been exchange programmes between the Garda and RUC/PSNI. These have facilitated relatively small numbers working for the other force for a period.

However, the scheme unveiled yesterday represents the first time that members of the RUC/PSNI could resign from their senior positions in the North in favour of a permanent senior post in the Garda.

6. ‘Free Marian’ letter campaign launched

ON March 13 a group of Marian Price supporters launched a letter-writing campaign calling for her to be freed from “ongoing internment and torture.”

Marian Price has been detained in prison for 11 months after her licence was revoked by Sec. of State Owen Paterson. On February 17 she was moved to the health care centre in Hydebank as concerns for her welfare mounted. The lobby group describe themselves as political activists who are ‘non-aligned to any political party.’

“Many of us do not even share the political beliefs held by Marian Price,” said local spokesperson Pauline Mellon. “We are seeking to highlight the case from a human rights, and lack of justice perspective. We want to hold the powers that be to account. While many of us do not support Marian’s views, we do support her right to a fair trial, due process and natural justice. Her incarceration is an affront to those things and harks back to the worst days of the conflict here and none of us wish to return to any aspect of those.

”The group are asking members of the public to down load a copy of the letter, sign it and post it to the British Secretary of State.

The letter states that: “Marian Price, a woman desperately in need of urgent healthcare is serving a prison sentence for offences committed nearly 40 years ago, offences she was pardoned for. The pardon that could secure her release has been conveniently lost or shredded. The idea that an unelected, unaccountable English politician can over-rule the Northern Ireland judiciary and disregard the justice powers devolved to Stormont is of real concern.”

Mrs. Mellon said: “Unlike decades ago we can’t point the finger of blame to Westminster. Secretary of State Owen Paterson has decided that Marian is a threat to society but two judges have granted her bail, therefore they do not agree with his assessment.”

Draft letters can be downloaded from www.freemarian.co.nr

7. Inquest opens into IRA men shot dead by SAS in 1990

ON March 12 the inquest opened in Belfast into the deaths of Dessie Grew and Martin McGaughey died in an SAS ambush in October 1990.

The incident prompted allegations that the British Crown Forces were still operating a “shoot-to-kill” policy in Six Occupied Counties.

The court heard that the 11-strong jury would have to consider how the two men came to be at an isolated farm building and how they met their deaths. In May last year, the supreme court in London ruled that a coroner must examine the “planning and control of the operation” that led to the shootings.

Martin McGaughey, a 23-year-old Provisional councillor, and DessieGrew, a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army, were killed o isolated farm outbuildings at Lislasley outside Loughgall, Co Armagh.

The court will be told that four undercover soldiers fired 72 rounds at the two men. Autopsy reports showed Grew sustained 48 wounds and McCaughey was hit by 10 bullets.

Three AK47 rifles were later found beside the men.The farm was believed to have been under surveillance by an army undercover unit.

Over the next few weeks the inquest will hear from more than 30 witnesses. Twelve soldiers, who have all been granted anonymity, and five former RUC officers, are due to give evidence to the inquest.

The case has become one of the oldest outstanding inquests in the Six Counties. Lawyers for the men’s families have claimed that the failure to hold a prompt inquest breached their right to life under European legislation.

Relatives sought a ruling by the Supreme Court after disagreements about the parameters of the inquest. The coroner must comply with article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, even though the Human Rights Act 1998 was not in force at the time of the shootings.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that states have a duty to investigate suspicious deaths.

The jury was told by Coroner Brian Sherrard that throughout the three-week hearing it would hear evidence from the soldiers that they believed the men were going to fire at them.

In a statement read to the court Dr Brian Cupples, who checked the men’s bodies shortly after they died, said that two guns lay close to the victims’ bodies and that ammunition was inside one of the men’s pockets. He said one of the men was wearing a green boiler suit and gloves.

“There was evidence of multiple gunshot wounds to the body. There was no evidence of any struggle having taken place after the shooting, with death occurring at the immediate time of the shooting,” he said.

The other man was wearing a jersey, jeans and gloves. He was lying face up and a rifle was nearby.

“A rifle magazine was protruding from the trouser pocket,” Dr Cupples said.

On March 13 the commanding officer of the SAS unit that shot dead the two men has denied they were operating under a shoot-to-kill policy.

Soldier K told the inquest in Belfast that all soldiers followed the yellow card policy where they only opened fire if their lives were in danger. He said the army were there to provide reassurance, deterrent and attrition.

However, documents provided by the Ministry of Defence to the inquest outlined that soldiers were aware that part of their role was to kill or capture terrorists.

8. Coroner demands answers from RUC/PSNI over files

THE most senior coroner in the Six Counties, John Leckey, has demanded answers from the RUC chief constable over an apparent last-minute change of British colonial police policy on disclosing files about alleged shoot-to-kill incidents during the Troubles, according to a report on March 9.

He has given representatives of Matt Baggott seven days to tell him why he was now objecting to his plan to process an estimated one million documents relating to nine long-delayed inquests.

Families of the dead have expressed “dismay and shock” at a move which John Leckey’s lawyer warned could jeopardise the scheduled start of the inter-linked inquests in April next year.

The cases involves six people, including IRA men and a Catholic teenager, who were shot dead by the security forces around Lurgan and Armagh in 1982 amid claims there was a deliberate intention to kill them.

The coroner will also examine the deaths of three Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in a bomb blast weeks earlier, an attack allegedly carried out by the IRA men who were subsequently gunned down and therefore seen as a potential motivation for the claimed shoot-to-kill policy.

An investigation into whether police set out to kill was carried out in the years after the incidents by former Greater Manchester Police deputy chief constable John Stalker and Sir Colin Sampson of West Yorkshire Police.

The Stalker and Sampson reports were long classified top secret but the RUC/PSNI finally handed over edited versions to the coroner in 2010 after a long legal battle. The reports were then passed to lawyers for the families.

The latest issue to hit the inquests relates to 85 boxes of material held by the British police, upon which the reports are based.

As they did with the main reports, the RUC intend to apply for Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificates to exempt certain details contained within the 175,000 documents, such as names of police and witnesses, from being passed to the court on security grounds.

With the inquests due to be heard in sequence, John Leckey planned to deal with the issue of PII and subsequent disclosure to the court on a rolling basis, with only material relating to each incident being processed before that specific case.

John Leckey and lawyers for the families believed the RUC/PSNI supported the rolling process which was first set out by the coroner in 2008. However, at the beginning of March, with the coroner at the stage where he could hear the first PII application, he received a letter from the police indicating they now had a “fundamental difficulty” with the PII issue.

The RUC/PSNI said it wanted to examine all the documents relating to the nine deaths and deal with all the PII issues before the first inquest started.

In response, the coroner’s lawyers have now penned a letter putting a series of questions to the PSNI, demanding answers within seven days. One question challenged Mr Baggott: why has there been such a delay on matters so obviously urgent on such a fundamental issue?

The letter also expressed concern whether the PSNI was deploying sufficient resources to the task of reviewing the material.

At this morning’s hearing in the coroners’ court, John Leckey said he needed to know what the police’s issue was.

“Someone must have advised the chief constable: there is a fundamental difficulty, we’ve got to put a stop to this,” he said. “And I presume the chief constable was advised what this fundamental difficulty was.”

John Leckey’s barrister Frank O’Donoghue QC told him the April 2013 start date would be under threat if the matter was not resolved.

“The hearing on 8th April 2013 is now in considerable jeopardy and that has a considerable knock-on effect in regards to booking of courts and calling of witnesses,” he said.

But the coroner told the families’ lawyers that he still hopes the date could be met.“I don’t want your clients to think I am forgetting about 8th April 2013. It’s still my intention to start then,” he said.

Frank O’Donoghue said the RUC would not be the only organisation involved in the PII process. The Crown Solicitors Office is also representing the Ministry of Defence, the Security Services and “other agencies”.

The barrister told the coroner that the court had not been informed who the other agencies are.

“Who are the other agencies?” responded the coroner. “I want them identified by name.”

John Leckey is investigating the deaths of IRA men Eugene Toman, Sean Burns and Gervaise McKerr near Lurgan, Co Armagh in November 1982.

The RUC  fired 109 bullets into the car the three were travelling in, claiming it had crashed through a checkpoint.

The other alleged shoot-to-kill incidents Mr Leckey will examine are the deaths of teenager Michael Tighe, shot dead by the RUC in November 1982 at a hay shed near Craigavon, Co Armagh where rifles were stored, and suspected INLA men Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew, shot dead at a police checkpoint near Armagh in December 1982.

The inquests are due to start next April, running chronologically. The bomb attack on the three RUC officers will be examined first.Bottom of Form

9. British army looking to recruit in Six Counties

THE British Crown Forces are hoping to recruit 750 new recruits in the Six Counties over the next 12 months.

Jobs with the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army will be full and part-time – and cover a wide range of trades and professions including engineers, medics and logistical personnel.

The British army wants to recruit 600 people, half of them part-time with the Territorial Army. Postgraduates can train as officers with a starting salary of more than £24,000.

10. Schoolboy charged with rioting told not to enter the Six Counties

A 13-year-old school-boy from County Donegal has appeared at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court. He was charged with offences connected to disturbances in the Madams Bank Road area of the city on March 12.

The schoolboy, from Newtowncunningham, is charged with committing riotous behaviour and with causing criminal damage to an RUC Land Rover. He was released on bail and was told not to enter the Six Counties except to attend court appearances.

District Judge Barney McElholm said he could not impose a curfew on the juvenile because he lived outside the jurisdiction but added that the juvenile’s parents could impose their own curfew on him.

The court was cleared of members of the public in advance of the remand hearing. Seven members of the juvenile’s family were allowed to remain in court for the hearing.

11. Students claim victory over British military on campus

A GROUP calling for the British Army to keep out of Queen’s University claimed a victory after an event by the head of the campus’ Officer Training Corp (OCT) was “postponed”.

A protest was held on March 10 at the Student Union, by the Campaign to Demilitarise Education group, comprising students and Republicans, calling for an end to the “British Military on campus”.

The protest was held before a planned “leadership course” was due to take place at the university by the Commanding Officer of the OCT, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Maundrell.

Following the protest, Queen’s University confirmed the event was postponed, but a spokesperson refused to comment on the reason behind the move.

However, a spokesperson for the campaign, Éamonn Ó Maolmhuaidh told the South Belfast News during the demonstration that the group believed pressure from the protest was working in their bid to see ‘troops off campus’.

“We want to see our university demilitarised,” he said.

“This is also about forcing the university to live up to its ethos as a place for all students to feel comfortable studying in. The Officer Training Corps makes a mockery of that idea.”

The group claim a previous event in which the OTC were to hold an information stall was axed due to the threat of peaceful protest, and have said their actions are in the spirit of “radical student politics”.

Following the protest, Éamonn Ó Maolmhuaidh said the group later learned the OTC event had been called off.

“This is proof that our protests have the power to get our point across,” he added.

A spokesperson for Queen’s University said the event had been postponed but as yet no date had been decided upon for it to be reheld.

The OTC is an offshoot of the Territorial Army. A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that the leadership course was cancelled, but declined to comment on the reason for the decision.

12. ‘An Bord Pleanala decision on Slane bypass welcomed’

THE campaigning organisation Save Newgrange welcomed the announcement on March 7 that An Bord Pleanala had refused planning permission for the N2 Slane Bypass, in County Meath and called on the Minister for Transport, the NRA and Meath County Council to immediately implement a HGV ban of the village.

The group had launched a Facebook campaign, after the route, which was proposed to pass within 500m of the Newgrange/Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site, was announced by Meath County Council, in December 2009.

Extensive legal submissions were made by members of the group to An Bord Pleanala, and numerous high-profile archaeologists, such as Professor George Eogan, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at UCD, objected to the plan.

The 3.5km bypass was to be part of the larger M2/A5 Dublin to Derry road upgrade, which is still in planning in Northern Ireland (sic), and which is to be the longest road project ever built in Ireland. It had been mooted as part of the St. Andrews Agreement.

Other objections were voiced, regarding the design and funding of the bypass, by Dr. Edgar Morgenroth, Transport Economist with the ESRI., who called it “idiotic.”

Campaign spokesperson, Vincent Salafia, said:

“This is a huge victory for heritage and sustainable development in Ireland.

“The UNESCO World Heritage Site is our most popular tourist attraction, which will play a key role in our economic recovery, and it deserves the highest level of legal protection.

“We urge the authorities to immediately implement a HGV ban in the village, in order to protect drivers, villagers and the heritage value of the village.”

13. Over 300 Irish a week moving to New York to find work says expert

UP to 300 Irish a week are moving to New York to seek work, according to Agnes Delaney, the Chairwoman of the Aisling Irish Community Centre in New York.

Her comments were made in an interview with WCBS News early in March.

“We probably see about 300 people come through these doors every week,” she said. “More and more are coming, especially for the last four years, since 2008, when the economy in Ireland started to go down.”

She says they have the same good work ethic that generations of previous Irish have.

“It’s not that they’re walking in the door and saying ‘Poor me.’ They’re walking in the door and looking for the adventure and looking for work,” she said.

The flood of new Irish is confirmed by Paul Finnegan, executive director of the New York Irish centre in Long Island City.

“I get e-mails all the time from people in Ireland wondering how they can come to live and work legally in the United States,” he said. “We implement the ancient Irish spirit of welcome, which is the Gaelic word Fáilte, so everyone is welcome here,” said Paul Finnegan, speaking of the centre.

He said that efforts to secure the E3 Visa that would allow more Irish to come to work here legally are critical.

“Nobody’s looking for preferences for the Irish. We’re just looking for a level playing field,” he said. “I have a very hard time telling people in Ireland that want to come here that they really shouldn’t consider it unless they have a viable option to become legal here.

The E3, which has been bottled up by Senator Charles Grassley in the senate, would allow 10,500 reciprocal working visas for the Irish in America.  Twenty other counties have reciprocal visa arrangements with the US but Ireland has none.

14. BC subpoenas are legally dumb and dumber

SLOWLY, but inexorably, the penny is dropping, both here in the United States as well as back in Ireland.

The Boston College subpoenas seeking access to oral history interviews with former IRA activists on behalf of the police in Northern Ireland are about the dumbest things that have ever happened in the long relationship between the United States, Britain and Ireland.

The difficulty is not how to describe why they are so dumb, but in counting the ways in which they are so dumb.

First of all, this is not the way in which to heal a conflict like that in the North of Ireland.

Over 3,000 people died and tens of thousands were scarred, physically and mentally, by a war that was undoubtedly one of the longest and most violent, if not the most violent in Irish history.

But the war has now ended, peace reigns and there is a desperate need for dealing with the past in a way that solidifies that peace and ensures an untroubled future.

The British have chosen a way that does the opposite. The Boston College subpoenas symbolise an approach to this issue based on revenge and the view that alleged combatants in that war should be dragged before the courts, convicted and jailed.

To do this, they created a special police unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), put it under the control of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and authorized it to dig up evidence to support criminal prosecutions.

The emphasis in this approach is on retribution and punishment. Yet anyone who has had dealings with victims of the violence in Northern Ireland knows full well that most just want to know what happened to their loved ones. Who killed their father, brother, son, mother, sister, wife? Why did they do it, and did their loved one suffer?

There are exceptions of course but most I have had dealings with seek the truth, not revenge, and I strongly suspect they are in the majority.

What they want most of all is a proper truth recovery process. South Africa provided one model, a truth and reconciliation commission in which perpetrators were offered an amnesty in return for full candour about their deeds.

They could have chosen the British version and opted to scratch away at barely closed wounds but did not, knowing that to do so would mean that South Africa could never put the past behind it, that the past would continue to haunt the present and the future with catastrophic consequences for all South Africans.

The second way in which the Boston College subpoenas are dumb is because they are so politically stupid. Ostensibly, the subpoenas are in pursuit of the perpetrators of the murder of Jean McConville, but anyone who is familiar with the case knows that it is really about getting Gerry Adams who is alleged  to have given the order to “disappear” Mrs McConville, an accused spy for the British Army.

Whatever one may think of Gerry Adams and his misguided efforts to deny any past association with the IRA, the reality is that Northern Ireland would not now be enjoying peace without his efforts.

He may have been less than straightforward with his IRA comrades; he may even have been duplicitous and furtive in his dealings with them, or have exaggerated the political benefits of the Good Friday [Stormont] Agreement, but the stark truth is that he did bring this awful war, this endless bloodshed, to an end. I doubt that anyone else could have.

Yet the logic of the Boston College subpoenas is to drag him before the criminal or civil courts and stain him with the McConville murder. So the architect of a peace process centered on compromise ends his political life arraigned or sued for murder courtesy of the same government with whom he compromised. And this is supposed to cement the peace in Northern Ireland?

What message does that send to IRA dissidents who have long accused Adams and his colleagues of naivety in their dealings with the British? What they will say is this: “You trusted the Brits, Gerry. You accepted their deal and their terms and now look what they are doing to you? Once they had you where they wanted you to be, they stuck the knife into you.”

And this is supposed to strengthen the peace in Northern Ireland? If this is the logic behind the Boston College subpoenas then truly the lunatics are now running the asylum.

There will be those, of course, who will say that if Gerry Adams did order Jean McConville’s “disappearance” then he deserves to be prosecuted. In a normal society, one ruled by a normal government, that would be a difficult argument to answer. But Northern Ireland is not, even with the peace process, a normal society and nowhere is this more evident than in the administration of justice.

The plain, undeniable fact is that there are double standards in the way justice is doled out in Northern Ireland.

As myself and researcher Anthony McIntyre were battling in the Boston courts against the [RUC/]PSNI subpoenas last fall, the British prime minister, David Cameron, summoned the family of slain Belfast attorney, Patrick Finucane to Downing Street. Finucane had been shot dead by loyalist gunmen in 1989 but it is now widely accepted that British intelligence and the police in Northern Ireland, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), had foreknowledge of the murder plot and allowed it to happen. Finucane was a legal thorn in their flesh and what better way to remove it than by way of loyalist bullets?

Such was the concern about this level of collusion in an attorney’s murder, not least here in the United States, that Cameron’s predecessor, Tony Blair, was obliged to announce that there would be a public inquiry into Pat Finucane’s slaying and we would all get to know just what part the RUC and British spooks had played in this dirty deed.

But Cameron’s summoning of the Finucane family was not to tell them of a date for the beginning of this inquiry, but to inform them that he was withdrawing Tony Blair’s promise. There would be no inquiry into Finucane’s death.

So those who say that the [RUC/]PSNI has a right to rummage through Boston College’s files for the names of the killers of Jean McConville must also justify the denial of that same right to Pat Finucane’s family to scour the files of MI5 and the RUC Special Branch for the names of those who colluded with his killers?

Pat Finucane was a high profile victim of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but not so Patrick McCullough. Who is Patrick McCullough, I can almost hear the reader ask? Well, he was a 17-year-old Catholic boy, just starting his first job in life, when he was shot dead in a loyalist drive-by shooting near his North Belfast home.

Patrick died in June 1972, six months before Jean McConville was “disappeared” by the IRA. No-one has ever been held accountable for his killing and, unlike Jean McConville, there has been next to no publicity about his killing. He was his parents’ first-born and most loved child, the first of fifteen children when his life was suddenly and brutally ended. His mother and father never recovered from his death, and their loss was every bit as tragic and wrong as that suffered by Jean McConville’s family.

I learned about Patrick McCullough’s death from a poignant letter his younger brother, Fr. James McCullough, a member of the missionary Kiltegan Fathers, wrote recently to the Irish Times newspaper seeking an inquiry into official indifference towards his brother’s killing. I contacted the priest to talk about his experience.

When his brother was killed, the police never once visited the family home to tell them what was happening in the investigation. The only visit the family had from the security forces was shortly after the funeral when their home was raided by the British army. Fr. McCullough suspects that their purpose was to plant weapons in the home so as to justify his brother’s murder.

When the British government set up the Historical Enquiries Team, Fr. McCullough wrote to the then [RUC/]PSNI Chef Constable, Sir Hugh Orde. His letter was forwarded to the HET which wrote to him saying they would be in touch. That was in 2006. Since then, neither Fr. McCullough nor any of his family have heard a word from the HET or the [RUC/PSNI. He described his treatment at the hands of the [RUC/]PSNI and the HET as “abysmal.”

The killers of Patrick McCullough are well known. An investigation in 2003 by the Belfast newspaper, the Irish News, discovered their identity while noting that no-one had ever been arrested or charged. Recently, the reporter who wrote the story confirmed to me that neither the HET, nor the [RUC/]PSNI, had ever contacted her to discover their names. There have been no subpoenas for Patrick McCullough.

The silence from the police lasted until Fr. McCullough’s letter appeared in the Irish Times. Then, suddenly, he was phoned by an HET investigator who offered a meeting. When Fr. McCullough complained about the indifference shown by the RUC towards his brother, the HET man replied, according to Fr. McCullough: “……that he had never experienced sectarianism in the RUC or [RUC/]PSNI.”

On the HET’s promotional video, the unit’s commander, former Scotland Yard detective Dave Cox, addressed the issue of how the HET dealt with allegations of police collusion in murders in this way: “Most times we are able to actually answer and dispel those worries.”

In other words, it never really happened.

This is the last and most compelling reason why the Boston College subpoenas are not only dumb, but morally wrong. The HET is not a fit and proper body to deal with Northern Ireland’s past because it operates double standards. And Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice should not be helping these people do their dirty work in Boston.

It is up to Irish America to make sure Holder gets that message.

15. The People’s Front 3rd International Symposium

THE PEOPLE’S FRONT 3rd International Symposium on the Unity of the Peoples against Imperialist Aggression held in Istanbul, Turkey from March 2-4 this year, finished up with the Final Declaration [edited] below. This year’s Symposium was dedicated to Eyüp Ba?.

“We were organizing the symposium meetings in Europe for long years and since 2009 we are holding these meetings in Turkey. We have carried out the third symposium this year, despite the difficulties of organizing an international symposium. We have lost our comrade Eyüp Ba?, who was one of the organizers of the first symposium, during the preparations of the first symposium. Our comrade Remzi Uçucu, who undertook responsibilities in the organization of the first symposium is now imprisoned in Ankara Sincan F-Type Prison; Yasemin Karada?, one of our friends who organized the second symposium is now in ?stanbul Bak?rköy Prison; Yasemin Karada? is struggling with the tortures in the prison and with her illnesses. We salute Remzi and Yasemin.

“Last year, the popular movements developing in Egypt and Tunisia and the occupation of Libya were in the agenda, while, this year, the process has evolved into preparations for the interventions against Syria, Iran and, as a future target, against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Imperialists are organizing conspiracies against Iran and trying to legitimize an invasion. Like Iran, the imperialists and primarily the USA, is preparing for an invasion by using NATO and their collaborators and by legitimizing the terror of imperialism. It is our duty to stand side by side with the peoples of Syria and Iran and to support their resistance.

“We salute the struggle of Lebanon and Palestine against Israeli occupation and struggle of Iraq against US occupation.“This year, revolutionaries, friends and comrades from many countries of the world participated to our symposium. Participants explained the problems of their own countries and shared others’ problems. In this symposium we saw again and again the indispensability of taking united actions in the struggle of the oppressed people against imperialism.“This year we came together as the delegates from various organizations in Honduras, Ireland, Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, England, Ghana, Uganda, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Iran, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Philippines.“Symposium, salutes the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed and exploited peoples of Middle East, Far East, South Asia, South America, Africa and Europe.“Important developments occurred last year in our region, especially Libya, Egypt and Syria and the imperialist aggressors and their local collaborators carried out dozens of attacks, massacres, provocations and invasions. Various popular movements emerged in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

With this perspective, our symposium took the following decisions:The participants of the symposium admit the necessity of declaring themselves to be a union. It declares that this decision will be put into force after the approval of the organizations in the relevant countries. The Symposiums considers this to be an important step towards the formation of the broadest unity of the oppressed people against imperialism. It arrives to the decision that next year a call will be issued to organize an extended meeting to form an anti-imperialist union among the representatives of the oppressed people, under the light of the conclusions drawn from the past three symposiums.

The Symposium protests the policies of exploitation and invasion that places the burden of the crisis upon the shoulders of the oppressed people as the crisis deepens. The peoples of the world have to unite, organize and fight in order to liberate themselves from imperialism and its invasions and to realize the social justice.

The Symposium declares that it is a right to resist against imperialism.The Symposium commemorates the martyrs who fell in the struggle against imperialism and its collaborators and salutes the imprisoned militants. The Symposium declares its support to the Cuban 5 and Mumia Abu Jamal who are in the US prisons and to their families; to Ahmad Saadad and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and to their families; to the revolutionary prisoners in the prisons of Turkey and to their families; to Lebanese George Abdallah in French prisons and to his family.

The Symposium demands the immediate and unconditional release of the political and revolutionary prisoners in all corners of the world.

Our Symposium demands an immediate end to the isolation policies implemented against the political prisoners in the prisons of imperialist and collaborator countries and it also demands that the humane conditions for the political prisoners should immediately be set up. The Symposium supports the struggle against isolation.

In line with the decision that we took in the 2nd Symposium about the international day of action against the military presence of imperialism-Zionism, The Symposium affirms that it will declare an international day of action after a conclusion is reached in negotiations among the members of the symposium committee. After this declaration an international united action will be carried out in all the countries of the member organizations, in front of the imperialist embassies or the institutions that represent them, on the same day at the same time. The Symposium asks for the exposition of the institutions that represent the imperialist aggression and urges that these works are carried out as a campaign. With this perspective, all the representatives are responsible from carrying out the interviews in their own countries and from informing the committee about their date proposal for the international action day. (For example, May 15th, being also the anniversary of the Israeli occupation against Palestine.) This day of action and the following days might be organized as a one-month-long festival in which a chain of concerts, demonstrations, meetings or a boycott campaign against the imperialist-Zionist goods might be realized.

The Symposium decides to launch the works about anti-imperialist concerts, events and cultural activities in the international arena.

The exploitation by the imperialists and their monopolies destroys the nature in our countries and the world. It pollutes our environment and makes our planet unliveable. Imperialism is the enemy of nature and the human race. Everything is a mere tool for exploitation for imperialists. The Symposium calls our peoples to stand by with their future and homelands, to expose the exploitation and to struggle against the collaborator regimes and the imperialist monopolies that plunder our lands and water.

The Symposium calls for a united struggle against the imperialist institutions like IMF; WB, ADB, WTO and all others. The Symposium calls for an immediate cancellation of all military, economic and political agreements and pacts.

Against the imperialist exploitation, The Symposium expects the unity of all the peoples and their political representative organizations is ensured. The united struggle shall strengthen the struggle of the peoples. The Symposium suggests that concrete steps are taken in order to form the anti-imperialist unity of the peoples. It declares that this could be achieved only through the internationalist solidarity. Internationalist solidarity develops and strengthens our struggle.

The Symposium is against the aggression and oppression policies of EU, IMF and European capitalism and it states, carried out against the peoples of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland under the cover of debt. We call the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world to reject to pay this unjust debt. We say “No” to this reactionary plan. We declare our solidarity with the peoples of Europe.

Believing that the Palestinian struggle shall be victorious through an anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist struggle, The Symposium salutes the struggle of the Palestinian people. It demands that the conditions for the return of the Palestinian refugees should be prepared. It hopes that the Palestinian people and the Arabic peoples will struggle together and side by side.

The Symposium calls for the unity of all anti-imperialist forces in the South Asia against the US imperialism and its follower, Indian imperialism. It says “Stop” to the open massacres by the Border Security Forces and other military forces of the Indian State against the Bengali people.

The local collaborators of US imperialism, primarily Turkey and then the collaborator Arab regimes directed all the weapons of imperialism against the Syrian people. Syrian people is not alone! Today it is our duty to expose the lies and attacks of imperialism and its collaborators all around the world and to stand side by side with the anti-imperialist attitude of the Syrian people. Anti-imperialist consciousness necessitates such an attitude. This Symposium declares its solidarity for the Syrian people and supports the struggle against imperialism.

16. Outrage as Nike issue ‘Black and Tan’ sneaker line for St. Patrick’s Day

RUC / PSNI Crimestoppers (Belfast)

IT was reported on March 10 that footwear giant Nike had launched a sneaker called ‘The Black and Tan.’

It appears the company was totally unaware of the implications of the name for millions of Irish who connect it to the notorious paramilitary force that terrorised Ireland during the War of Independence.

“It would be the American equivalent of calling a sneaker ‘the al-Qaeda’,” said one leading Irish American.

Ciarán Staunton, President of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, stated that the Nike move left him speechless. “Is there no one at Nike able to google Black and Tan,” he asked.

The Irish Times first revealed the Nike screw up in an article in their Saturday edition.They likened it to the Ben and Jerry fiasco when the ice cream company were forced to apologize and withdraw a ‘Black and Tan’ ice cream some years ago.

Kicksonfire.com, a major online sneaker retailer, lauded the Black and Tan line on their website saying, “Beer drinkers can rejoice soon as their favourite pastime is slated to have an official piece of footwear endorsed by Nike SB.

“The Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Black & Tan’ is set to hit shelves in roughly 10 days and if the last photo set we showed you wasn’t enough these should definitely hit the spot.

“The leather-trimmed sneakers feature a gradient suede portion that goes from black to tan and is highlighted by a creamy swoosh. The insoles also give a shout to the stout by featuring an image of a pint glass. These may ultimately be pretty hard to find as they are a quick strike release but don’t let them pass without a fight.”

Nike has also listed a sneaker called ‘the Guinness.’ Both the ‘Guinness’ and the ‘Black and Tan’ retail at about $90.

Six years ago Ben and Jerry’s issued an abject apology after a similar gaffe.

“Any reference on our part to the British army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended. Ben Jerry’s was built on the philosophies of peace and love,” said a spokesman at the time.

The orders the Black and Tans had in Ireland are best summed up by one of  their  commanders, speaking in June 1920:

“If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there – the more the merrier.

“Should the order (‘Hands Up’) not be immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching (a patrol) carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.”– Lt-Col. Smyth, June 1920.

17. Five murdered Irish emigrants reburied  FIVE murdered Irish immigrants cast into a mass grave in 1832 at Duffy’s Cut near Philadelphia were reburied in a full Catholic ceremony on March 9, 2012. Four labourers and one female, a washerwoman, will be reburied.

They will be buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in a service that will include bagpipers and a grave site marked with a 12 foot high Celtic Cross donated by Immaculata University.

“It’s just the right thing to do, to give these men a Christian burial,” said university spokesperson Marie Moughan. “They’ll get a real burial that they didn’t have in 1832, that’s for sure,” said the historian Bill Watson, who played a major role in  uncovering  the remains.

Railroad officials never informed the relatives of their deaths and burned down the shantytown they lived in likely to cover up the murders.

Four months before their deaths a passenger ship, the John Stamp, arrived from Ireland. The passenger list offers the possible identity of 15 workers from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry.

A sixth body has been identified as John Ruddy of Donegal, the only person to be positively identified. He will be buried in his native Ireland.

Their grave will be marked with a Celtic Cross made of limestone quarried in County Kilkenny, Ireland.

Originally efforts were made to unearth all 57 bodies but Amtrak refused saying the mass grave was too close to active rail tracks to be exhumed.

Kurt Bell, an archivist with the state Historical and Museum Commission says what has been uncovered is vital.

“It really speaks volumes about the social history of railroads. We don’t know a whole lot about the men who built the railroads in Pennsylvania from early in the 19th century,” said Bell, a railroad historian. “The Watson brothers have really shed light on a little-known subject.”

The mystery of Duffy’s Cut, how 57 Irish immigrants died and were anonymously buried in the summer of 1832, is thus coming to a close. Several skulls unearthed show evidence of violence and bullet holes.

What is known is that In the summer of 1832 a group of 57 Irish immigrants came to the area west of Philadelphia to work on the construction of the railway line. Within six weeks the men, mainly from Donegal, Tyrone and Derry, were all dead and anonymously buried in a mass grave outside the town of Malvern.

For some time it was thought that the mass grave was due to an outbreak of a dangerous disease such as cholera and this was simply a way of dealing with infection. However, the evidence soon painted a different picture. The skulls found show signs of violence and bullet holes.

These grizzly finds confirm what the two leading historians on the archaeological dig feared. “This was much more than a cholera epidemic”, said William Watson.Chairman of the history department at Immaculata University, William Watson and his twin brother, Frank, have been working on this archaeological mystery for almost a decade.

Since 2009 the Watson brothers have uncovered seven sets of remains. For seven years before the brothers found nothing at the site and the hypothesizsed had been that the group of men had died of cholera. The disease was rampant at the time and the mortality rate was between 40 and 60 percent.

They theorised that some might have been killed by vigilantes due to the anti-Irish sentiment in the 19th century America, because of tensions between the poor transient workers and the affluent residents or an intense fear of cholera. It could have been a combination of all three.

Now that the Watson brothers have four skulls all with evidence of trauma they show that the men were struck in the head. Janet Monge, an anthropologist working on the site, says that at least one of the men was shot.

Monge said “I don’t think we need to be so hesitant in coming to the conclusion now that violence was the cause of death and not cholera, although these men might have had cholera in addition.”

“They do have indications on their skeletons that life was not a bowl of cherries,” said Monge who is the keeper of collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The Watsons discovered the mass grave through the personal papers of their late grandfather who had worked on the rails long after the 57 men were killed. The projects name comes from the name of the man who hired the group of Irish men, Philip Duffy, and the part of the railroad that the men were hired to build, the cut.

When the immigrants died, or were killed, in 1832, Duffy ordered the shantytown, where they had lived, to be burnt and their bodies buried in the railroad fill. The Watsons say the men’s families were never told of their deaths.

The Watsons believe that they have been able to identify 18-year-old John Ruddy as one of the bodies found. They compared his bone size to the ship’s manifest and also found a section of teeth with a rare genetic anomaly which they believe matched with an anomaly shared by some Ruddy family members in Ireland. The DNA results should be returned in six months.The 47-year-old twins both have doctorates in history but have nothing more that introductory biology.

“It has been indeed a crash course…and it’s been fascinating,” said The Watsons plan to look into Irish camp in Downingtown, 10 miles up the tracks. Research shows cholera also made its way to that camp, Bill Watson wonders if murder did as well.“It happened here,” Watson said. “Why not there?”

Loughinisland victims’ families begin legal challenge to police report

Barney Green, at 87, became the oldest victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles when he was shot dead in Loughinisland in 1994. Photograph: Pacemaker Press

Barney Green, at 87, became the oldest victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles when he was shot dead in Loughinisland in 1994. Photograph: Pacemaker Press

 

Relatives of those who died in atrocity seek to overturn finding that there was no evidence of collusion between police and UVF

Families of victims gunned down in a bar by loyalists while watching Ireland beat Italy in the 1994 World Cup have started legal action to overturn a police ombudsman report into the massacre.

The relatives of those shot dead in the Loughinisland atrocity are challenging the report’s conclusions that there was no evidence of collusion between the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang responsible and the police.

Lawyers and families of the dead believe the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation was compromised because a number of those directly involved in the shooting were police informers. However, before being able to challenge the report, they are contesting a decision to refuse legal aid.

A judge has granted permission to seek a judicial review of the funding denial, after no opposition was raised at this stage. A full hearing on that preliminary issue will take place in June and the challenge to the ombudsman’s report is expected to follow this summer.

Six Catholic men were shot dead when the UVF sprayed the Heights bar in Loughinisland, County Down, with gunfire on 18 June 1994 – the night the Republic of Ireland played Italy in New York.

Among those who died in the attack was Barney Green, who at 87 was the oldest victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Five other men were seriously wounded.

No one has been convicted of the murders, although 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.

In June last year, the outgoing police ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Al Hutchinson, found there was not enough evidence of collusion between police and the loyalist gang, although he did identify failings in the investigation, criticising it for a lack of diligence, focus and leadership.

The legal challenge into his report will focus on a Criminal Justice Inspectorate review of Troubles-related investigations

WITH MANY THANKS TO : View this story on the Guardian

 

Row over call for Troubles amnesty

Presseye.com 5th November 2007 Picture Jonathan Porter. Nuala O'Loan spends her last day in office as the Police Ombudsman and is to be succeeded by Al Hutchinson.

Presseye.com 5th November 2007 Picture Jonathan Porter. Nuala O’Loan spends her last day in office as the Police Ombudsman and is to be succeeded by Al Hutchinson

THOSE who carried out some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles are already being given an “unofficial amnesty”, it has been claimed.

The comments were made by a victim’s relative in response to an interview by the Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson who said it would be impossible to properly investigate all the murders of the past.

Mr Hutchinson said an amnesty should be considered to deal with the past, but stressed that victims should make the decisions on individual cases.

Speaking to the News Letter last night Victims’ Commissioner, Brendan McAllister, said the idea of an amnesty would be “repugnant to the majority of victims”.

Mr Hutchinson said in an earlier radio interview: “I think the key here is that the victim would have a say whether or not they might consider amnesty and that would be a conditional amnesty.

“We’ve had amnesty by many other names, when you look at the two-year release in the peace agreement, you look at the inquiries that are ongoing.

“So it’s not as if it’s a new concept either locally or internationally.

“I take the pragmatic approach; it simply would be impossible probably to investigate to a criminal standard all murders,” he told the Sunday Sequence programme on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday morning.

Mark Eakin whose eight-year-old sister Kathryn was killed in the Claudy bombings in 1972, claimed that an amnesty was already in effect.

No paramilitary group has ever claimed responsibility for the attack in the Co Londonderry village, and no one has been convicted of it.

“I don’t think anyone would be too shocked by talk of an amnesty for those who carried out murders during the Troubles, as far as I can see there is already an amnesty of sorts,” he said.

In 2010, a Police Ombudsman report into Claudy found that a prime suspect – Fr James Chesney – had not been questioned by detectives.

“Personally, we {Claudy victims] are not even close to the stage of an amnesty. The IRA has never admitted the Claudy bombings, so any talk about an amnesty is down the line a bit.

“There are people walking about who have a lot to answer for – on both sides – if they don’t answer for it now, they will have to in the next life.

“It would not suit anyone especially the politicians for all the truth to come out, and that is why I don’t believe we ever get the truth. To be honest I am getting fed up – there is no proper structure in place to sort this all out, and there is a lack of will to sort it out,” he added.

Northern Ireland Victim’s Commissioner Brendan McAllister said the concept of any amnesty would be rejected by the majority of victims and relatives.

“I will have to listen to what Al Hutchinson has said in relation to an amnesty and what he means by conditional amnesty.

“But the Commission has already placed on record its position on amnesty and that is that it would be repugnant to the majority of victims.

“An amnesty would in effect be a denial of justice. We have already rejected the idea of an amnesty.”

Willie Frazer, who heads the FAIR victim’s group in south Armagh expressed his anger with the comments from the Ombudsman.

“Any sort of amnesty would be totally unacceptable,” he said.

“I have spoken to hundreds of victims and families and the last thing they would accept is an amnesty.

“To give an amnesty to those who carried out IRA murders, would be to give them further reason to glorify and justify their campaign of murder and terror.”

Mr Frazer claimed 98 per cent of IRA murders in south Armagh remain unsolved.

“An amnesty would end any hope of justice for the families,” he added.

With Many Thanks To : News Letter

COLLLUSION IS NOT AN ILLUSION”

WE THINK IT’S NOW TIME AL HUTCHINSON FOR YOU TO RESIGN ” COLLLUSION IS NOT AN ILLUSION”

 
 
 
 
 
CIPR Specialist Website of the Year 2011
Investigations & Analysis – Northern Ireland
 
 
The aftermath of the Loughinisland massacre in 1994
 

BY BARRY McCAFFREY

 

THE Detail can today reveal the conclusions of the Police Ombudsman on the Loughinisland massacre: that the failure by police to secure convictions afterwards was down to incompetence and a lack of commitment – but not collusion.

The final report also leaves unanswered a key question of the families of the six men killed at The Heights bar 17 years ago: what the role of Special Branch was either before or after the attack.

More >

 
The six men killed in the Loughinisland massacre
 

Where was Special Branch in Loughinisland massacre?

BY BARRY MCCAFFREY

IF the Police Ombudsman’s report into the McGurk’s Bar atrocity highlighted his reluctance to grapple with collusion, his report into Loughinisland is startling by its absence of another crucial piece of the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the massacre.Mr Hutchinson states that he studied all “available intelligence” connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of the case are not even mentioned in the report, raising questions over just how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing attention to a “civil war” within his own office.More >

Inquests will be “front and centre” in dealing with the past – Attorney General

THE Attorney General John Larkin has confirmed that the inquest system here shall have a role “front and centre” in how Northern Ireland deals with the past.

 

Collusion in Loughinisland

 By Barry McCaffrey (for The Detail)


 If the Police Ombudsman’s report into the McGurk’s Bar attrocity
 highlighted his reluctance to grapple with collusion, his report into
 Loughinisland is startling by its absence of another crucial piece of
 the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the
 massacre.

 Mr Hutchinson states that he studied all “available intelligence”
 connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of
 the case are not even mentioned in the report, raising questions over
 just how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing
 attention to a “civil war” within his own office.

 One example is the sightings of the killers’ car in the south Down area
 in the weeks before the attack – clearly the domain of Special Branch,
 clearly a critical avenue for Mr Hutchinson to explore; but there is not
 a single reference to this: the context of the sighting; whether or how
 the information about it was dissipated within police circles; and
 whether it provided leads for the investigation.

 Also, more than 10 years ago police told the families that they had
 recovered a hair follicle on one of the killers’ balaclavas.

 The families were assured that police would be able to bring the killers
 to justice if just one bead of sweat was recovered from the balaclavas
 and boiler suits recovered.

 But despite the hair follicle appearing to be one of the most important
 forensic lines of inquiry there is no mention of it anywhere in the
 ombudsman’s report.

 The 56 page report – surprisingly only 26 pages of which is devoted to a
 five year-long investigation – provides no clarity on the Police
 Ombudsman’s relationship with Special Branch and the level of access he
 has achieved into Special Branch during this investigation; a pronounced
 contrast to the work of Nuala O’Loan on Omagh and the Mount Vernon UVF,
 which majored on the role of Special Branch in murders in which it was
 alleged that informers were protected from prosecution.

 Omagh and the Mount Vernon cases spanned the period of 1993 – 1998 and
 the Police Ombudsman found Special Branch activities in that era
 protected killers. Loughinisland occurred within the same timescale:
 June 1994 – yet still the role – or not – of Special Branch remains
 unexplored anywhere in this investigation.

 What is public knowledge, although unacknowledged in the Loughinisland
 report is that:

 *      in September 1994 there were 814 officers in RUC Special Branch;

 *      that by 1994 Special Branch had heavily penetrated both loyalist
 and republican groups, including the UVF in East Belfast;

 *      that the Loughinisland attack was mounted by the East Belfast UVF;

 *      in Omagh and Mount Vernon UVF cases and the murders of Pat
 Finucane, and Rosemary Nelson that Special Branch withheld information
 from the CID murder investigations.

 The apparent removal of this dimension from the Hutchinson approach has
 caused a deep split within the Police Ombudsman’s office – referred to
 recently by the ” Committee on the Administration of Justice “(CAJ)
 report.

 The Loughinisland investigation, in particular, has been known to be a
 source of anxiety internally, with some senior staff distancing
 themselves from the ombudsman’s perceived loss of independence.

 It also ties in with broader developments in investigations into the
 past: The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry reported back four weeks ago and the
 word “collusion” was not mentioned, allowing the Secretary of State,
 Owen Paterson to say that it therefore had not happened.

 Nationalists, led by the SDLP, have protested at the transfer of
 Northern Ireland Office personnel into senior positions within key
 agencies within the criminal justice system following the devolution of
 justice last year – and claims that a new agenda is playing out, aimed
 at shutting down sensitive areas of enquiry, particularly in the
 security sphere.

 So where does all this leave the relatives of the six men who died in
 The Heights Bar 17 years ago and who went to the Police Ombudsman’s
 office back in 2006 as their last hope for answers?

 One of the key questions they wanted addressed was: “the suspicion that
 collusion pervaded the circumstances of the attack … and the subsequent
 police investigation”. After an investigation lasting six years, has
 this fundamental question been answered?

 Tomorrow a political row is likely to play out on what turned out to be
 the focus of the report: the actual investigation by CID and Mr
 Hutchinson’s conclusions that it lacked leadership and commitment and
 failed to properly investigate all available lines of inquiry to bring
 the killers to justice. There’s little doubt that the quality of the
 Ombudsman’s investigation will itself become the focus of intention.

 Will anyone be satisfied with Mr Hutchinson’s final verdict on the
 subject of collusion in Loughinisland and his certainty that it didn’t
 happen in this case?

Dublin

Image by Paul Watson via Flickr

 Collusion in the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings

The Following is a Statement by Former RUC Sergent John Weir :

Weir worked in Co Armagh in a Specialist anti-terroiest unit ( SPG ) Special Patrol Group.

He was part of a Paramiltry Group made up of the RUC, UDR and other Loyalists wo carried

out a bomb and gun attack at the Rock Bar near Keady but that the bomb failed to go off.

Weir said he’d learnt that a farmhouse owened by an RUC Reservist  at Glenanne called

James Mitchell had been used for many of the attacks. He also stated that a UDR intelligence

Officer had provided the explosives for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

A gang known as the Glenanne gang had carried out the murders of two men returning from

a GAA match in Dublin. They also carried out a bomb and gun attack on Donnelly’s Bar at

Silverbridge killing two men and a teenage boy and on the same night it carried out a bomb

attack in Dundalk which killed two men.

Also in 1976 it carried out an attack on the Reavey family home killing three brothers

John 24, Brain 22 and left thinking they had also killed Anthony 17 but he survied being

left for dead. On the same night it carried out a gun attack on the O’Dowd family home

were three were shot dead and one was seriously injured this was latter to be claimed

by the ( RHC ) Red Hand Commdandos.

Also another loyalist group known as ( DOW ) Down Orange Welfare was manufacturing

weapons at the farmhouse in Glenanne and that they were sold onto the UVF.

In 1977 Sergent Weir and Constable Billy McCaughey and two other notorious UVF

men carried out an attack known as the ” The Good Samaritan Murder; William Strathearn

ran a grocery store in Ahoghill and lived with his wife and seven childern above the shop.

He was awoken in the early hours with someone knocking on the door downstairs and

called out the window to ask what the person wanted. The man said he needed some aspirin

for a sick child. They shot him dead on his doorstep. The gang seemed to injoy attacking

large catholic familys,

Mc Caughey and Weir both received life sentences after admitting to their part.

Mr Justice Henry Barron in 2003 and 2006 also.

This also was held up by the European Court of Human Rights in 2008.

Ballistics evidence from all the attacks emeraged a complex and sinister web that showed

the same weapons turning up again and again in the killings.

They also found that arms found on RUC Reservists James Mittchells farm belonged to

the UVF and he was convicted of storing arms and sentenced.

Justice Barron also found that the farm owned by James  Mitchell was the hub of a loyalist

gang which consisted of members of both the RUC and the UDR, and that the gang was

involved in multiple murders including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and that the

security forces in Northern Ireland knew all about the Mitchells farm from as far back as

1976.  HE WAS NEVER CONVICTED OF ANY MURDERS !

Pat Finucane murder: a scary admission by the state

Hearing ‘state collusion in murder’ acknowledged from the dispatch box is a sobering experience. The fact that it is rare only serves to make it more so.

Owen Paterson delivers a statement in the House of Commons

The Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, makes a statement in the Commons on the killing of Pat Finucane. Photograph: PA Wire/PA

State collusion in murder is routinely alleged, often on flimsy evidence that doesn’t stand up to daylight. The public admission of “state collusion in murder” by a member of the cabinet is a rare event, to put it mildly.

It happened on Wednesday a few minutes after most MPs filed out of the Commons chamber after prime minister’s questions, leaving the Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, to utter the chilling words.

Yes, we are talking about the killing of Pat Finucane, the republican solicitor who was gunned by down by a hitman in front of his family during Sunday dinner at home in Belfast in February 1989.

A loyalist, Ken Barrett, was later sentenced to 22 years for the crime, but how did it happen? Who knew? Who did/didn’t do what?

As was pointed out during the Commons exchanges, many shocking things were done on both sides in the 30-year Troubles, during which3,500 people were killed. But the killing of Finucane was one of the most bitterly contested, not least because lawyers were regarded as untouchables under the informal rules of the conflict, also because a then minister, Douglas Hogg, of later “moat-cleaning” fame, made highly prejudicial remarks about the victim.

It’s all a long time ago and the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John (now Lord) Stevens, investigated the crime between 1999 and 2003, took 9,256 witness statements and created an archive with 1m pages.

Stevens concluded there was collusion with “rogue elements” of the state – a handy phrase sometimes is “rogue elements” – which placed the trigger man where he was. So did Canadian judge, Peter Cory (appointed by London and Dublin) in 2004, the year Tony Blair’s government promised the Finucane family a public inquiry.

It was never held because terms of reference acceptable to all sides could never be agreed.

Memories are long in Northern Ireland – the Battle of the Boyne (1690) was only yesterday – and what strikes English voters as history, best forgotten as life moves on, still matters to those directly involved.

Loyalists are just as intransigent as the republican side though they feel – said so again yesterday – that the IRA, its leadership (no names please!) and allies have got favoured treatment during the peace process.

What has brought it back into the news – though there’s been little coverage on this side of the Irish Sea – is that David Cameron invited Finucane’s widow and family to Downing Street on Tuesday to apologise in person and offer a way out of the impasse.

The nationalist (non-violent) SDLP’s leader, Margaret Ritchie, asked him about it towards the end of PMQs on Wednesday. He can read the exchange here along with Owen Paterson’s statement.

What Paterson proposed on Cameron’s behalf was a formula which the Finucanes had rejected 24 hours earlier, as the Guardian reported here. Here’s a BBC Northern Ireland backgrounder to the case which, as you’d expect, got plenty of coverage this week in the province.

What the coalition proposes to do is get Sir Desmond de Silva QC, a veteran of UN war crime prosecutions in Sierra Leone and other challenging briefs like the Gaza flotilla controversy, to “carry out an independent review to produce a full public account of any state involvement” by – Paterson’s own words – “the army, the [then] Royal Ulster Constabulary, the security service or other UK government body”.

You can probably see the government’s problem. Truth is the great healer, as Cameron told MPs on Wednesday, and sunshine – open evidence – is a great disinfectant too.

But the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday dragged on for years and cost £200m, a sum many may not feel was good value. Truth also has consequences, sometimes for institutions (see how the British army’s generally honourable record has been damaged by abuse in Iraq), sometimes for people whose own safety is threatened by their willingness to testify about what they know.

Don’t believe me? This is what Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has driven the backbench campaign against excesses by the Murdoch empire, told Paterson: “The former intelligence officer and private investigator Philip Campbell Smith has admitted to hacking the computer of another intelligence officer on behalf of Alex Marunchak of News International.

“Campbell Smith was arrested for witness intimidation of the very same intelligence officer, who was supposedly the only officer from the intelligence community co-operating with the Stevens inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane.

“It is alleged that when he was interviewed by the police he admitted that a special branch officer working on the Stevens investigation gave that personal information.

“I welcome the secretary of state’s commitment to allowing Sir Desmond access, presumably, to the police statement that was given, but if Sir Desmond wants to interview that special branch officer and that officer refuses, what powers will Sir Desmond have to get to the truth?”

Paterson’s answer was polite, if unsatisfactory. Such issues would be for the QC to resolve, but the MP should not imagine that Stevens and similar public inquiries – there have been several — got all the answers: Ian Paisley was once fined £5,000 for not turning up to give evidence he clearly didn’t want to give.

So Whitehall has come up with a rational solution: De Silva is a serious and experienced lawyer, who will spend the next year or so – his deadline is December 2012 – sifting the evidence, interviewing people and balancing the interests of the state, the Finucane family and the rest of us with a report that (with luck) satisfies everyone.

Does that formula satisfy them this week? As you can imagine, Tory and Unionist MPs endorsed the plan, the SDLP – Sinn Féin MPs don’t attend Westminster, they just draw the salaries and any expenses due from the hated British state – and Labour MPs argued that progress in the province is always made by consensus. If the Finucanes – and the Dublin government (which has its own police collusion murder probe under way) – won’t accept it, then it won’t work.

Even the saintly Paul Murphy, ex-secretary of state and a notably decent man, concluded ministers have made a mistake. Don’t forget that Cameron has generally done well over Northern Ireland – the tone of his apology for Bloody Sunday was well received in Catholic Derry.

But don’t forget either that assorted breakaway IRA men are restless – there was a bomb attack overnight on the City of Culture office in Derry – while Stormont’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness (now his career would make an interesting public inquiry!), is on a sabbatical standing for the presidency of Ireland. Just because the situation is currently manageable doesn’t mean it will remain so. Public spending cuts will hit Northern Ireland hard too.

We’ll see what happens next. But hearing “state collusion in murder” acknowledged from the dispatch box is a sobering experience. The fact that it is rare only serves to make it more so.

IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

>>>>> Flash: Families angered by new Loughinisland cover-up
 The families of the men murdered by the unionist paramilitary UVF in a
 1994 massacre in Loughinisland, County Down have vehemently rejected an
 investigation by the PSNI Police Ombudsman into the killings.

 Al Hutchinson’s report refused to blame the attack on collusion, and
 said that the original police investigation had merely failed the
 families of those killed and injured.

 The report admitted the getaway car was destroyed by the RUC police,
 (later the PSNI). But it said only the RUC investigation was “lacking
 effective leadership and diligence”.  It said that records were “lost”
 and “opportunities were missed”.

 Six Catholic men, one of them aged 87, died when loyalist gunmen sprayed
 the Heights Bar in the County Down village with 200 bullets in 1994.

 The shootings at the Heights Bar happened as supporters watched the
 Irish soccer team play Italy during the World Cup.

 The six men who died were Adrian Rogan 34; Malcolm Jenkinson, 53; Barney
 Greene, 87; Daniel McCreanor 59; Patrick O’Hare, 35, and Eamon Byrne,
 39.

 At least one British double agent was linked to the murder gang. An RUC
 Special Branch informer inside the UVF, codenamed ‘Mechanic’, had
 supplied the car used in the shooting, which was subsequently destroyed
 by the RUC.

 Patrick McCreanor, a nephew of Dan McCreanor said: “How long will we
 keep on hearing the same old story. How many times can evidence go
 missing from police custody?”

 Maura Casement, a niece of Barney Greene said that the ombudsman refused
 to investigate a link between admitted British Army agent Brian Nelson
 and the murder weapon.

 The ombudsman’s report also made no mention at all of RUC’s undercover
 Special Branch, who are believed to have worked with at least one member
 of the murder gang.

 Aidan O’Toole who was a barman on the night of the murders said the
 report raised “serious inconsistencies”.

 “In some cases, police did not even bother to take fingerprints or DNA,”
 he said.

 “The RUC and the PSNI could not even identify one of the killers even
 though he left a hair behind.”

 Emma Rogan’s father Adrian was one of those killed.

 “For 11 years after the murder of our loved ones, police did not even
 have the focus and strategy to keep us informed,” she said.

 A solicitor representing the families of those killed also hit out at
 the report’s findings describing them as “unacceptable”.

 “The families consider that Al Hutchinson has performed factual
 gymnastics to avoid a conclusion”, Niall Murphy said

 “The families fear it is a case of see no evil, hear no evil, and report
 no evil by Mr Hutchinson”, he added.

 RESIGNATION DEMANDED

 The SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has called for the Police Ombudsman to
 resign following his report.

 His findings were contrary “to a mountain of evidence of collusion”, she
 said.

 “After a very long wait the ombudsman’s report has come up short on
 Loughinisland. It completely lets down the victims’ families and the
 wider community.

 “Al Hutchinson paints a picture of an incompetent keystone cops type of
 police force when the reality was that the RUC and Special Branch were
 rotten to the core.

 “The ombudsman has done a great disservice to the families of those
 murdered, as he has done to other groups of victims.

 “It is now time for him to go. The office of the Police Ombudsman is
 vitally important to confidence in policing and justice in the north and
 Mr Hutchinson has repeatedly failed to measure up.”

 The South Down MP said the definition of collusion as set out by Judge
 Cory “involves the area of commission or omission, and in this case
 there has been omission by the then RUC”, Ms Richie said.

 “He seems to think that the failure of the RUC investigators to
 co-operate, the systematic destruction of evidence such as the car, the
 systematic failure to follow leads and even the failure to carry out
 forensics was incompetence – to me and to the families that mounts to
 collusion.

 “I think it is time to provide confidence and leadership in the police
 Ombudsman’s office, he should do the right thing and resign”, she added.

 Despite several arrests, no-one has ever been convicted of these
 murders.

 Local Sinn Fein Assembly member Caitriona Ruane said the report marked
 the beginning of a new phase in the relatives’ campaign for truth.

 “If ever there was a case which demonstrated collusion it is the murders
 at Loughinisland,” she said.

 “That is the only conclusion which can be reached, even from the
 information put in the public domain today by the ombudsman.

 “His failure to reach that very obvious conclusion on the basis of the
 evidence in front of him is a matter which he needs to explain.”
—————————————————————-

AN EXCECT COPY AS IT WAS PRINTED :  http://republican-news.org/subs

WE THINK IT’S NOW TIME AL HUTCHINSON FOR YOU TO RESIGN ” COLLLUSION IS NOT AN ILLUSION”

 
 
    
 
 
 
CIPR Specialist Website of the Year 2011
Investigations & Analysis – Northern Ireland
 

Loughinisland: the Ombudsman’s report – but key issues remain unaddressed

The aftermath of the Loughinisland massacre in 1994

BY BARRY McCAFFREY

THE Detail can today reveal the conclusions of the Police Ombudsman on the Loughinisland massacre: that the failure by police to secure convictions afterwards was down to incompetence and a lack of commitment – but not collusion.

The final report also leaves unanswered a key question of the families of the six men killed at The Heights bar 17 years ago: what the role of Special Branch was either before or after the attack.

More >

The six men killed in the Loughinisland massacre

Where was Special Branch in Loughinisland massacre?

BY BARRY MCCAFFREY

IF the Police Ombudsman’s report into the McGurk’s Bar atrocity highlighted his reluctance to grapple with collusion, his report into Loughinisland is startling by its absence of another crucial piece of the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the massacre.

Mr Hutchinson states that he studied all “available intelligence” connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of the case are not even mentioned in the report, raising questions over just how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing attention to a “civil war” within his own office.

More >

THE Attorney General John Larkin has confirmed that the inquest system here shall have a role “front and centre” in how Northern Ireland deals with the past.

 
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