George Hamilton, Chief Constable, announces retirement

Chief Constable George Hamilton was appointed chief constable in June 2014. The North of Ireland’s top police officer is to retire later this year.

George Hamilton, who was appointed chief constable in June 2014, said he informed the Policing Board of his intention to leave the service in June.

A police officer for nearly 34 years, he said the greatest privilege of his career “had been to serve as chief constable”.

He said NI was a “much more peaceful and progressive society” than it was when he began his police career.

The announcement has come as a surprise to the chief constable’s senior colleagues and members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

He had been expected to accept a three-year contract extension that was offered when he met the board last week.

His decision to decline the offer followed discussions with his wife and four children over the Christmas period.

Sources say George Hamilton broke the news to his senior command team this morning and then informed the board chairman, Anne Connolly.

He told them he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

No current member of the PSNI command team can apply to succeed Mr Hamilton as chief constable.

The current eligibility criteria states that an applicant must have completed a national senior command course and served at least two years in a police force outside Northern Ireland.

After joining the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – the predecessor of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – in 1985, he worked in a number of roles including a stint as assistant chief constable of Strathclyde Police.

“I am privileged and humbled to have led the dedicated officers and staff of the PSNI and to have worked in partnership with so many people committed to public service in Northern Ireland and beyond,” said Mr Hamilton.

He said that there were challenges in the months and years ahead “but we have overcome greater challenges in the past and there is nothing that cannot be achieved if the police, our partners and the community continue to work together”.

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Anne Connolly says the board needs to put in place a process for the appointment of a new chief constable

Anne Connolly, chairwoman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said the board respected Mr Hamilton’s decision not to accept a three-year contract extension last week.

She said recruitment for a new chief constable would be considered at a meeting on 6 February.

The Policing Board was established as part of policing reforms after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which helped bring about the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

George Hamilton’s police CV
1985: Joined Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
1994: Promoted to RUC inspector and seconded to England for development programmes
1997: Returned to uniform patrol in NI and subsequently worked on Patten policing reforms
2002: Worked as a senior detective in PSNI’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
2007: Appointed district commander for south and east Belfast
2009: Joined Strathclyde Police as assistant chief constable
2011: Returned to NI as PSNI assistant chief constable
2014: Appointed PSNI’s fourth chief constable

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Policing Board must maintain authority

THE GUARDS have got themselves into a right mess. A controversy a day has resulted in the loss of two chief of police within a short time. The amount of commentary and advice coming from all quarters has ensured that there is probably less public clarity now than there ever was. As one of the advice givers, I need to confess to some niggling guilt.

I get asked to comment on the affairs of An Garda Síochána because I was on the first Policing Board for the PSNI. I have written a few articles and done some media about what should happen to the Guards and I think that my views are straightforward. To bring change and efficiency to as big and as powerful an organization as An Garda Síochána, it needs to be clear in law and in the public understanding as to who is responsible for what. That there should be clear operational responsibility and clear policy responsibility. That a strong oversight body (with political represention) is best placed to oversee the necessary change and bring about as much transparency and accountability as possible.

It was the same argument and recommendation as in the Patten Report that established the PSNI and the Policing Board here. The niggle is that every time I made the argument the question popped up in my head as to how well (or badly) the Policing Board here is doing. I am always slow to comment on something of which I was a part but it was so long ago (ten years) that I am long relegated to another Joe Soap who has no inside information but has a continuing interest in the subject. The niggle was that I was out arguing its role and merits and all the time there is a voice in the back of my head saying that I am far from sure how the Policing Board here is doing. 

When, out of interest, I make the odd inquiry from other Joe Soaps as to who is on the board and what it does, there is an increasing number of vacant stares and shoulders. 

Then I open this newspaper during the week to learn that the board is in limbo and can’t reappoint its human rights lawyer. It is reported as another example of the result of the present political impasse up at Stormont. But the truth is that the board has been in limbo long before the impasse. When, out of interest, I make the odd inquiry from other Joe Soaps as to who is on the board and what it does, there is an increasing number of vacant stares and shrugs of shoulders. It doesn’t appear to have a presence. I seldom hear of it except as an aside to something happening in the polcing world. I know it publishes annual reports. I know it sets targets and reports on the achievements and failures of the police and I presume that if I took the bother to go looking I would find such reports. But being Joe Soap, I am sometimes too lazy and sometimes too busy to be going looking. I would appreciate some of it in my face.

The board has many responsibilities, the primary one to hold the chief constable (the police) to account for their performance. It does that job on behalf of the public and so it is important that it keeps the public informed and interested. I don’t expect it and I don’t want it to be in the news every day but policing is never a completed, done job. There are so many issues that need ongoing analysis, debate, scrutiny; issues such as drugs, paramilitaries, domestic violence, community policing, to name just a few. And then, of course, is the question of the quality of the service that is being delivered, something that needs constant monitoring. I hear the police view on many matters but I can’t remember the last time I heard the board’s view. I there is a public meeting every month or so, but that is the board asking asking questions of the police – it is not the view of the board. I don’t know who the spokesperson is. I know how difficult or impossible it is to get a consensus view on anything and the present political impasse makes it even more difficult. But all the more reason for a strong, authoritative, challenging voice that gives the public some sense of comfort and security. I think the Policing Board had established that authority and had been given a lot of trust from the public. That trust is easily lost and extremely difficult to reestablish.

With many thanks to: Denis Bradley and The Irish News. 

THE CONCLUSIONS ABOUT EACH PARAMILITARY GROUP.

MONITORING REPORT

REPUBLICAN GROUPING’S

Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA).

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Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA)

The structures of PIRA remain in existence in much reduced form. This includes a senior leadership, the ‘Provisional Army Council’ (PAC), and some ‘departments’ with specific responsilities. At lower level, there are some regional command structures. At this lower level, some activity takes place without the knowledge or direction of the leadership. We do not beleive the group is actively recruiting. The group took part in decommissioning between 2001 and 2005 but continues to have access to some weapons. PIRA has not conducted organised procurement of new weaponry in the period since the last IMC report of 2001. PIRA members believe that the PAC oversees both the PIRA and Sinn Féin (Shame Féin) with an overarching strategy. We judge this strategy has a wholly political focus. PIRA members have been directed to actively support Sinn Féin (Shame Féin) within the community including activity like electioneering and leafleting.

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PIRA on training exercise in Ireland

Some PIRA members are involved in gathering information of interest to the group including details of DR (dissident Republican) activities and the attempted identification of covert human intelligence sources (MI5), (undercover British Army) and (SAS). A small number are involved in the storage of remaining weaponry in order to prevent its loss to dissident republicans. Individual PIRA members remain involved in criminal activity, such as large scale smuggling, and there have been isolated incidents of violence, including murders.
The investigation into the murder of Kevin McGuigan is still ongoing;

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Catholic Protestant Dissenter

However, we judge that the assessment put forward by the Chief Constable in his public statement on 22nd August remains accurate. The group is not involved in targeting or conducting terrorist atracks against the state or its representatives. There have only been very limited indications of dissent to date and we judge that this has been addressed effectively by the leadership.

Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

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Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) guard-of-honor at the funeral of Peggy O'Hara - mother of INLA hunger-striker Patsy O'Hara.

THE structures of INLA remain in existence but there is little indication of centralised control from the leadership. As a consequence, groups accross the North of Ireland operate largely independently of each other. There are indications that INLA is attempting to recruit new members. The group decommissioned weapons in 2010 but continues to have access to some weapons. There have been some efforts to redirect INLA towards community initiatives and a small number of members have taken roles in republican politics with the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).

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Members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), prepare to fire a volly of shots over the coffin of the late Peggy O'Hara

However, INLA members have continued to be heavily involved in criminality including extortion, drug dealing, distribution of stolen goods and fraud.
INLA has also been responsible for paramilitart-style assaults and intimidation attacks against alleged drug dealers. These activities have a significant impact on the local community.

LOYALIST GROUPINGS

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)/Red Hand Commando (RHC).

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Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Preparing For Peace - Ready For War

THE structures of the UVF remain in existence and there are some indications of recruitment. A top leadership sets strategy for the group but there are lower levels of leadership who have some independence in decision making. The group took part in decommissioning in 2009 but continues to have access to some weapons.

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Red Hand Commando (RHC) a cover name that was used by the UVF.

The UVF leadership has attempted to steer its membership towards peaceful initiatives and to carve out a new constructive role. A small number have taken up roles in the politics with the PUP.
However, a large number, including some senior figures, are extensively involved in organised crime including drug dealing, extortion and smuggling.

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The UVF are involved in conducting paramilatary style assaults. In some cases UVF members are heavily involved in violence and crime.
The UVF leadership is committed to transforming the purpose of the group to community focused initiatives but have only limited control over the activities of its membership.

Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

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Ulster Defence Association (UDA) with members posing at one of their many wall murals. Remembering their dead.

THE UDA structures remain in existence but have become increasingly fragmented. The organisation is split in a number of geographical areas, each with its own structures which act almost completly autonomously.

The UFF ( Ulster Freedom Fighters), previously used as a front (cover name) for the UDA, no longer exists.

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Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

Organisation decommissioned in 2010 but continues to have access to some weapons. There are some indications of recruitment. There are members who have continued to steer the group into positive community based activism. However, others have been resistant to change and remained active in criminality and violence. Individual members and senior figures within many UDA areas are involved in organised crime including drug dealing, robbery, extortion and the distrubution of conterfeit goods.

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Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

There has been an increase in paramilitary activity in the North Antrim area resulting in a murder (Brian McIlhagga) for which a murder investigation is ongoing.
The UDA leadership are committed to transforming the group but have only limited control over its membership.

South East Antrim UDA

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South East Antrim UDA (SEA UDA)

SEA UDA remains a separate entity from the mainstream UDA. It retains structures similar to those within the mainstream UDA and its membership is engaged in the same types of criminal and violent activity.

During the Union Flag protests in 2012 individual members were believed to have been involved in serious disorder in the Carrickfergus area.

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South East Antrim UDA (SEA UDA)

Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)

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The late Billy Wright founder of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and murdered in the Maze prison by the INLA

THE LVF exists only as a criminal group in Antrim and Mid-Ulster.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

I’M ALREADY LOW ON NEW YEAR OPTIMISM

“Seen this in The Sunday (lies) World and had to repost”.

IN A couple of days we’ll be taking down the decosions, locking up the 12-year-old Scotch malt that’s only brought out at Christmas and contemplating another year!!!

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The New Year is traditionally a time for optimism, sadly down the years ours has been wasted and without wishing to be a seasonal grump I’m not sure how long our optimism can take it. We’re getting used to being let down, but you have to hope don’t you? Things have to change eventually so why not in 2014. First thing that needs to change is the Chief Constable. Matt (maggot) Baggott has an unenviable task as head of the PSNI/RUC but he has shown he is simply not up to the job, whether its because of political pressure, his failure to handle the UVF has been spectacular. He was ill advised to have attended the PUP conference as the keynote speaker last year but he clearly can’t learn from his mistakes. With the UVF orchestrating night after night of street violence as the fleg protests swung into action the PSNI’s/RUC softly softly approach simply handed control of the streets to the terror group. His officers were expected to stand on the front line and take a battering – night after night – and when the PSNI/RUC did a deal allowing the UVF to police their own parades it was confirmation that the lunatics really had taken over the asylum. And if that wasn’t bad enough he insisted the UVF’s ceasefire remains intact, despite more than 30 murders since they claimed they put their guns beyond use and more recently the attemped murder of Jemma McGrath in East Belfast.

Excuse

293290_171098439636605_1085904647_nIn the wider context we need the Orange Order to wise up. The outside world looks in and wonders what these strange wee men in bowler hats and collarettes are all about. Their intolerance and open hatred of all things Catholic is hard for anyone to grasp. And accommodating tolerant Orange Order would, in one fell swoop, disarm all those who want to see it condemned to the history books. The Order gives bigots an excuse, take it away and they fall. On the other side of the house the Shinners must be hoping that Gerry Adams‘ (pedo protector) closet isn’t any bigger. With the number of skeletons already out it resembles the Tardis! The Shame Fein president has been left damaged by his continued denial of IRA membership, allegations of involvement in the abduction and murder of Jean McConville refuse to go away and his handling of sex abuse claims levelled against his brother further wrecked his creditability. He is fast becoming a leader in name only – people simply don’t trust him anymore. Maybe 2014 will be a time the Shinners started looking for a new star. It’s not asking much but if we manage to secure these changes and the North of Ireland manage to win the match 2014 mightn’t be too bad.

With many thanks to: Richard Sullivan, The Sunday World.

Deputy Chief Constable (Gerry Kelly’s bitch) to retire three years after turning down Patten £500k

‘Judith has made an enormous contribution to policing in the North of Ireland– Anne Connolly.

The North of Ireland‘s most senior female officer on Friday announced her intention to take early retirement, less than a year after turning down a £500,000 payout to remain in the service.

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Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie had been widely tipped as the frontrunner to replace Matt Baggott (maggot) as chief constable when his contract ends next year. With 32 years of policing experience she made history as the first female assistant chief constabe in 2004 before being promoted to her present role in 2009. The Policing Board was told of her plans on Friday. Although Ms Gillespie is expected to receive a lucrative redundancy package, she will not be entitled to the £500,000 she would have received under the Patten arrangements. The deadline to avail of the scheme aimed at readdressing the religious imbalance of the police service ended in March 2011. At the time Ms Gillespie said she decided against taking the package because policing “is about far more than the financial rewards”. Her job is to be advertised in the new year. She will vacate the post on March 31. Althouh Ms Gillespie has not made public her post-PSNI plans sources say she has been approached by an international privite-security firm to act as a consultant.

A PSNI/RUC spokesman said: “We can confirm that Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie has notified the Policing Board of her intention to retire from the Police Service of Northern Ireland. “She has served as deputy chief constable for the past four and a half years and has served a total of 32 years as both a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) GC and PSNI. “PSNI will not be making any further comment at this stage.” Board chairwoman Anne Connolly said: “Judith has made an enormous contribution to policing in the North of Ireland. “As a chief officer, deputy chief constable Grillespie has provided strong leadership to the service in driving forward a programme of policing change and reform. “A strong advocate for women in policing, Judith championed the introduction of the first gender action plan and diversity strategy for policing in the North of Ireland. “A positive role model, Deputy Chief Constable Gillespie has used her wide-ranging experience to provide inspiration and encouragement to officers and staff both within the Northern Irish community and within policing nationally and internationally.” The DUP’s Policing Board group leader, Jonathan Craig MLA said Ms Gillespie “can look back with pride on a number of distinguished achievements throughout her 32 years of service”. “Undoubtedly, this accomplishment still acts as an inspiration to others. Whilst we may have taken differing views on a range of matters at the board, I wish Deputy Chief Constable every success for her future wherever that may lead,” he said.

Smithwick’s significance is political ‘NOT’ legal !!!

If the IRA was fighting a war, then this was a war crime – along with all their war crimes from Kingsmill to the Birmingham pub bombs.

WHO WOULD you rather beleive: Gerry Adams or former RUC Chief Constable, the late Sir John Hermon?

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Mr Adams has come under attack from a number of politicians and commentators for his comments on the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal. He said that Chief Superintendent Breen and Superintendent Buchanan had a laissez-faire attitude to their safety. It was an insensitive remark, but what if someone else had made thatt point, would it have been acceptable? As it happens, someone else did make that remark – more or less. Quoted in Toby Harnden‘s book “Bandit Country” Sir John said of the late Bob Buchanan‘s activities on the day he died: “He did not follow basic, elementary security procedures.” Hermon claimed that Mr Buchanan did not beleive in taking precautions because, as a devout Christian, he beleived God was in control. If Sir John was right, so was Mr Adams – although Sir John does not appear to have been vilified. Reaction to the Adams comments tells us three things: any inquiry into the past is interpreted as political ammunition for the present; too many politicians do not want the truth about the past, they just want their prejudices confirmed and, thirdly, personalising our politics tends to suffocate valid political tends to suffocate valid political comment.

With due respect to the two dead RUC officers and their families, Smithwick’s significance is political rather than legal. Using the word “collusion” has major political implications. It is a heavily loaded word, which would probably be worth a million points in Irish political Scrabble. But the possible existence of one or even two Garda informants does not represent collusion. Gerry Adams said that Smithwick’s idea of collusion is very different in form and scale from the collusion that occoured in the North. Mr Adams is right. The IRA presumbly had moles in many organnisations, possibly even the RUC. But Smithwick’s findings allow unionists to use the word collusion (without firm evidence) thereby giving them a higher moral ground than previously. Unionists suggest there was also collusion in 1969 when the Provisional IRA was founded. There was certainly an attempt by some elements in Fianna Fail, the Irish intelligence service and assorted Catholics to take control of the Civil Rights Movement and to direct the then IRA away from socialism. Some of those involved at the time say as early as Sunday August 24 1969 – just over a week after the burning of Bombay Street – older, non-active IRA men meet these elements and agreed to break away from the existing IRA leadership in Belfast in return for money from Dublin.

There were two founds for Northern relief – the official Irish government fund for refugees and a Fianna Fail fund. The two may well have become intermingled, but there is no evidence that the government as a corporate body was intent on anything more of that was a political window dressing. However, the lack of evidence on collusion then and 1989 does not vindicate the Provisional IRA campaign of violence. It was unnecessary, sectarian, brutal and futile. The deaths of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, for example, broke the Geneva Convention by killing unarmed men and, in particular, by killing one who was injured and trying to surrender. If the IRA was fighting a war, then this was a war crime – along with all their other war crimes from Kingsmill to the Birmigham pub bombs. That is where Sinn Fein is open to critcism. What was the Provisional IRA campaign for? Pearse Doherty TD said this week that the campaign was to defend local communities. (Whom does he think the 21 dead in the Birmingham pub bombs were going to attack?) However, also this week, John O’Dowd described it as ” a conflict between nations and communities”. This largely confirms that Sinn Fein has finally abandoned Irish Republicanism and opted instead for Britain’s two nations theory, by suggesting that only Catholics can be Irish. The political impact of Smithwick’s is that it nudges our history towards the erroneous veiw that the violence here was carried out by two sets of paramilitaries, each backed through collusion by different national governments. The two nations theory is slowly becoming official which, oddly, suits Sinn Fein. The above comments represent valid veiws on Sinn Fein policies, past and present. You can agree or disagree with them. In that the context you can agree or disagree with Mr Adams, but no one has the right to disagree with the truth just because they dislike the person speaking it. Personal attacks are no substitute for political analysis.

With many thanks to: Patrick Murphy, The Irish News.

A letter that appeared in The Irish News – Tuesday December 10 2013.

664421_445022892211878_450129189_oAbuse from ‘voices of perfection’ is unwarrantd.

THE CONCLUSION of the Smithwick Tribunal that Garda officers colluded in the murder of superintendent Breen and Buchanan is deeply disturbing and if true that one or more members of An Garda Siochana ( the guardians of the peace) colluded with the IRA in the murders of superintendents Breen and Buchanan then not only are they guilty of murder but they let down an entire police force.

Unfortunatley there are now unionist politicians who remained silent or indeed excused compelling evidence of collusion in the North over the years but delighted to rush to the media to smear the entire Garda Siochana and that is not only unjustified but it must not be allowed to happen. Garda officers, many of them now retired, were stationed in the border areas during the best part of their lives to protect life and limb. Is history now to be rewtitten, as it often is, to misrepresent those officers as villains involved in collusion leading to the murder of police in the north? I should think not. During the period from the 1970s to the 1990s the Republic, with very limited resources, spent more per head of population on security than the British did, much of that in the border areas. Often Garda stations on the southern side of the border had more manpower than their counterparts on the northern side and they worked for a fraction of the salary their RUC conterparts but they did it not for money but to protect the lives of people.

They were noble officers who were not influenced by the IRA or any other illegal organisation. Is this now to be dismissed because there may have been one or perhaps more rotten apples in the barrel? Like police forces all over the world the Garda have had their problems and the need for reform but they do not deserve the kind of abuse which is now emanating from the usual suspects who ignored, dismissed or excused widespread collusion in the north but now want to present themselves as the voice of perfection ignoring the fact that Garda officers made a massive contribution to limiting the number of people who may otherwise have died in those days of total madness.

With thanks to: John Dallat MLA, SDLP, East Derry.

Platform used by gunmen to shoot at police convoy

‘These dissident republicans have absolute contempt for their own community – Will Kerr

GUNMEN built a makeshift platform to launch a carefully planned attack on police in a built-up area of North Belfast. A rifle found a short distance away from the attack in Ardoyne on Thusday night was thought to have been dumped by the gunmen as they fled.

Photograph of platform used to fire on PSNI/RUC

The military issue Kalashnikov-style automatic weapon was taken away for forensic examination. It was found in an alleyway a short distance from Butler Walk where the gunmen had erected a platform from scaffolding at the side of a high wall. Shots were fired at a convoy of police vehicles at around 7.10pm as they traveled along the Crumlin Road en route to the loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in North Belfast. Police said three armoured vehicles came under fire, two of which were towing illuminated warning signs towards the Ardoyne interface. At least 10 bullets hit two of the vehicles. While no-one was hurt, Assistance Chief Constable Will Kerr said the officers were shaken by the attack. “These dissident republicians have absolute contempt for their own community”, he said. “They fired military grade weapons, in a highly built up area. “There is no doubt the principle target was police officers.” The senior officer said he beleived the weapon recovered was linked to the attack. A silver Passat car hijacked on Thursday morning in the Poleglass area of West Belfst was also found burning in Elmfield Street in Ardoyne.

The attack was launched out of range of the Twaddell camp occupied by loyalists protesting against a ban on parading through Ardoyne. 283631_211947858933644_120706324_nAround 40 familes in the area were moved from their homes, with many not permitted to return until yesterday evening while police carried out follow-up searches at several locations. Holy Cross Primary School was also forced to close as a result of the police operation. SDLP councillor Nichola Mallon said the people of Ardoyne want those responsible to “get off their backs”. “This is the latest incident to cause major disruption in the area,” she said. “Between the nightly protest parades and the car that was hijacked in Jamaica Street and used to transport the bomb into the city centre, people are concerned things are spiralling, that every time Ardoyne appears on the news it is for negative reasons and that is not an accurate reflection.” Shame Fein assembly member Gerry (the mouthpeice) Kelly said the attack “endangered the local community in Ardoyne”. “Anyone could have been in the vacinity of Holy Cross Chapel at this time which was the direction in which the shots were fired,” he said. “The PSNI were traveling to Twaddell Avenue where they are in place each night in order to prevent illegal marches past Ardoyne. The people of Ardoyne understand this. “Whoever was behind this attack need to come forward to this community and explain their actions.” DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds said: “This would obviously appear to be the work of dissident republicians and I would hope that the community in Ardoyne will stand against those responsible and with police as they carry out their investigations.”

With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News.

UTV Live – McGurk’s anger

English: Plaque commemorating the victims of t...

Families of victims of the McGurk’s bar bombing say they’ve been left with no option but to take legal action to get access to a report about the atrocity.

McGurk families take HET to court

Relatives want access to atrocity report

RELATIVES of those killed in the McGurk’s Bar bombing are to issue High Court proceedings to gain access to a Historical Enquires Team (HET) report on the atrocity.

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The families were told that the HET investigation into the 1971 bombing of the family-run Belfast pub in which 15 men, women and children died had beencompleted in December last year. The HET began investigating the attack in 2006. The bombing was carried out by the UVF but the RUC brifed media outlets that it had been an IRA ‘own goal’. Despite repeated requests to both the HET and Chief Constable Matt Baggott’s office the report has still not been made available to the ffamilies. They have also lodged a complaint to the Police Ombudsman‘s office. The families claim the report’s release is being deliberately blocked from public scrutiny. Last month HM Inspectorate of Constabulary issued a damning report into the poor performance of the HET which concluded that the body had failed to properly investigate state killings.

There were calls for thecold case murder team to be scrapped in light of the report and because of a lack of public confidence. “We can confirm the families have instructed us to commence legal proceedings in the High Court in Belfast to get access to the report,” solicitor Kevin winters, who represents some of the families, said. “They do so reluctantly but have no choice.” Some of the families also plan to lodge an additional complaint today with the Policing Board. Ciaran Mac Airt, whose grandmother Kathleen Irvine died in the atrocity, said: “The state and its security forces conspired to criminalise our loved ones when they fabricated a story that the bomb was in transit and that customers were being schooled in bomb making. “To clear their good names or families have been forced to campaign against police lies and intransigence for two generations. “By blocking the release of the HET report into the death of our loved ones, the chief constable of the reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland is quite simply retraumatising our family members. “Our families have suffered enough.”

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.

HET COLLAPSE EXPOSES GOVERNMENTS’ FAILINGS

It’s clear that the HET is dead. That means there’s nothing to provide any resolution for families wondering how or why relatives were killed.

IT IS worth reading Patricia Lundy’s first article on the Historical Enquires Team (HET) published in 2009 because it raised a lot of questions above and beyond the fiasco that she revealed the HET to be. She produced her findings under the auspices of the excellent Transitional Justice Institute at University of Ulster so the article examined academically a variety of approaches to dealing with the past in societies that have emerged from conflict.

THE TRUTH COST NOTHING - COVER-UP'S COST MILLIONS

Her work on the HET took the form of a case study. It now appears the HET is a case study in how not to do it. Dr Lundy was in on the ground floor, so to speak. Hugh Order set up the HET in 2005 and she began her work in August 2005, completing her study in December 2007. Orde gave her unprecedented access to the workings of the HET so she saw how the organisation developed almost from the beginning. Orde left the PSNI in 2009 and was succeeded by Matt Baggott. Did Baggott ever read Lundy’s article and if he did, why did he do nothing about it? Stephen Otter of HMIC said in his report : “What is indefensible is that she did make these findings in 2009, so for four years nothing was being done to address those findings and I do find that is very difficult to believe.” That question needs to be addressed to Baggott. The HET reported to the chief constable. The PSNI controlled its finance and its purse strings. What was Baggott doing? If the HET is a unit of the PSNI then surely there should have been some supervision? Yet Otter makes it clear there wasn’t. Otter said : “I do think [Lundy] deserves an apology from the chief constable on behalf of the PSNI.” What she got from Baggot was, to say the least, less than fulsome. He inserted that weasel word ‘if’, regularly employed nowadays to wriggle out of an outright apology. Baggott offered her an apology “if she felt her concerns were not taken seriously enough”. In fact, the HET and Baggott’s PSNI both rejected her conclusions as recently as the beginning of this year.

Baggott tried to claim to the BBC that the preferential treatment of military killings was ‘on a case-by-case basis’. Otter said it was a ‘policy’ and an illegal one at that. The preferential treatment of military killings exposed as illegal completely vindicates Dr Lundy’s findings but has managed to obscure one of the most damning conclusions in her origional article in 2009, namely that in the HET “all aspects of intelligence are managed  by former RUC and Special Branch officers”. They made up the majority of the HET’s intellidence unit. Lundy went on to say “the strategic positioning of former RUC officers and particularly those with a Special Branch background not only undermines actual but perceived independence”. She concluded that for various reasons “the old guard’ kept a grip of the essential areas of HET businness”. That was not any prejudice on Lundy’s part. After a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case – Brecknell v UK – the ECHR required the HET to provide investigative teams who have no previous history with the RUC. Lundy pointed out that they didn’t. Did Baggott, who spent most of this year presnting his own interpretation of Article2 of the Human Rights Act as a reason for PSNI inaction, not know the HET’s practice was not complying with ECHR requirements? Why not? Why did the PSNI ignore her report? Where was Baggott? On the wider front it’s clear the HET is dead. That means there’s nothing tonprovide any resolution for families wondering how or why relatives were killed. The HET was never intended or expected to be the answer but it was all there was. Its ignomijious collapse exposes the failures of the British and Irish governments to produce something along the lines of Eames-Bradley which the previous Labour government ran away from in 2009 using the pathetic pretex of the suggestion of £12,000 per person as a reason for binning the whole report. The two governments have questions to answer but so has Matt Baggott. Sinn Fein are wrong to accept Dave Cox as a scapegoat.

With many thanks to : Brian Feeney, The Irish News.

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