INLA men’s murders reconstruction

THE murder of two INLA men in Co Louth more than 30 years ago has featured in an RTÉ reconstruction broadcast.

SHOT: Thomas ‘Ta’ Power (left) FEUD: Hugh Torney (right)

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power (33) and then INLA ‘chief of staff’ John GerardO’Reilly (26) were gunned down as they sat in the Rossnaree Hotel, near Drogheda, in January 1987 by members of the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO). The INLA men had been in the hotel to try and settle an internal dispute about the direction of the group and were due to meet other members. However, the potential peace summit ended up in bloodshed when gunmen wearing false beards burst into the hotel and opened fire as their victims drank tea.

Two other men were injured during the ambush including Peter Stewart and Hugh ‘cueball’ Torney, who was himself killed in another feud in 1996. Leading IPLO man Gerard Steenson has been linked to the double killing, although others claim he was not involved.

He and another man were shot dead weeks later in March 1987 by the INLA faction in west Belfast. It is understood that the renewed appeal for information comes after relatives of Power, who was from the Markets area of south Belfast, met gardaí recently.

Campaign group Relatives for Justice recently wrote to the Republic’s Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda commisioner Nóirín O’Sullivan on behalf of the Power family asking for a review of the case. It is beleived that at that meeting family members learned for the first time that three men were questioned after the ambush but later released. No-one has ever been convicted. Gardaí failed to respond to a series of questions put to them by The Irish News about the case.

A reconstruction of the attack was featured on RTÉ’s Crime Call programme on Monday. The broadcaster declined to release any details of the programme in advance. Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice said: “Families who have lost loved ones below the border face a difficult situation because they were not able to benefit from the Historical Enquires Team information and review,” he said. “It’s important that the Garda reviews these cases themselves.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News.


YOU probably didn’t notice and there’s no reason why you should, but the same day that a certain loyalist blogger and serial self-publicist was giving evidence to Stormont’s Nama inquiry the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) snuck out its policy paper on implementing the Stormont House Agreement.


Needless to say it got it got virtually no coverage in the tidal wave of sensational allegations made about the alleged recipients of money from the Cerberus deal. If you’ve ever wondered why the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) decided to draft the Stormont House Agreement Bill 2015 and bring it through Westminister rather than allow the clowns in the big house on the hill to legislate, once you read the policy paper all becomes clear. Quite simply the British government intends to control the Historical Inquires Unit (HIU), on what information it can have and what it can reveal. Anyone who beleives that the Policing Board will hold the HIU accountable is living in cloud-cuckoo land. “The secretary of state will have oversight of the HIU regarding reserved and excepted matters.” The UK government will prevent disclosure of any material or information ‘likely to prejudice national security (including information from the intelligence services)’. None of this material can be published ‘without the consent of the secretary of state’. Now as we all know from past experience, ‘likely to prejudice national security’ is whatever our proconsul for the time being decides is national security. When you look at the policy paper you see it begins with a questionable statement and continues to ignore all suggestions and recommendations made by interested parties, nationalist political parties, NGOs like the Committee for the Administration of Justice and university academics. In short, it’s a classic NIO document. It begins with the unconvincing claim that ‘the institutions have the needs of the victims and their families are at their heart’. No. The needs of secrecy in the Ministry of Defence, the NIO and the Home Office are at their heart. It has never been any different in the secretive British state.

For example it was only in 2002 after Freedom of Information requests that details of Special Branch investigation into Charles Stewart Parnell and other Irish MPs were released and even then only in restricted fashion. The names of informers (touts) and amounts paid are still secret 125 years after the fact. Academics at QUB, Sinn Féin (Shame Fein) politicians and the CAJ among others recommended that former RUC and RUC Special Branch personnel be not employed in the HIU partly because they may have been complicit in collusion or cover up or both. The great merit of the Historical Enquiries Team was that its personnel were seconded from English forces and we all know why. However, ignoring all that, ‘the bill does not prohibit the HIU from recruiting persons who have previously served in policing or security roles in the North of Ireland.’

So the HIU won’t work and the NIO has made sure it won’t work because it will only investigate and publish what the NIO allows it to invstigate and publish. Then there’s the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). It’s modelled on the Independent Commission on the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) which has worked extremely well. However, the NIO policy paper goes out of its way to make clear that while information given to the ICIR is inadmissible in court, if that information is obtained or can be obtained by other means then prosecution may follow.

That puts the kibosh on the ICIR because given the record of the PSNI over the past four years, starting with the Boston College fiasco (all hearsay) and continuing with their apparent trawling after the killing of Kevin McGuigan with almost a score of people arrested and released, who is going to risk giving information to the ICIR to pass to families? Inevitably individuals in the PSNI/RUC would be working backwards from the material a family recieved. In mitigation it has to be said on the basis of evidence so far, that’s only likely in the case of prominent Sinn Féin figures. Buried in the policy paper is our proconsul’s admission that ‘on some detailed questions covered in the bill, there is not yet a clear consensus between the five main North of Ireland parties. Work will continue to build consensus on remaining points of difference.’ Yeah right.
With many thanks to: Brian Feeny, for the origional story, The Irish News.

Coroner in Sean Brown murder, Bellaghy, threatens court action over report

“Unless the HET report is provided in 14 days I will go to the High Court – Mr John Leckey, Coroner’s Office.

THE North’s most senior coroner has threatened to go to court to force Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Bagott to release the report into the murder of Derry GAA official Sean Brown.

The devolopment came during a preliminary inquest hearing yesterday, the father-of-six’s abduction and brutal killing in May 1997. Mr Brown’s family, their legal team and the Coroner’s Office have been denied access to a Historical Enquiries Team (HET) report which was completed last year. The investigation was launched after the Brown family raised concerns about the police investigation into the sectarian murder, one the most shocking of the Troubles. In an unusual move, Mr John Leckey warned a solicitor acting for the RUC/PSNI yesterday that he would seek a High Court subpoena compelling it to hand over the report. He said he has been “dealing with the inquest for Sean Brown for years and years”. “Unless the HET report is provided in 14 days I will go to the High Court….. to require the chief constable to produce the report to me,” he said. He added that to seek the subpoena was “a procedure of last resort as far as I am concerned”. During the short hearing Mr Leckey also insisted the start date for an inquest into the circumstances of Mr Brown’s death was “set in stone”. It is due to begin in January next year. Mr Brown was abducted while locking the gates of Bellaghy Wolf Tone’s GAA club, of which he was chairman. It is believed the 61-year-old was driven past Toomebridge RUC station to a secluded laneway near Randalstown in Co An trim where he was shot in the head six times. His body was later found beside his burning car.

The LVF is believed to have been responsible for the killing which sent shockwaves through the GAA community. Speaking after yestery’s hearing, the Brown family solicitor Kevin Winters said Mr Leckey’s comments represent “a major breakthrough in the fight for justice for the family of Sean Brown”.992987_534312249950028_1214318567_n Paul O’ Conner from the Pat Finucane Centre, who attended the hearing with Mr Brown’s son, accused the RUC/PSNI of “dragging their heels for years”. “They have not produced the documention required by the coroner to carry out a proper inquest,” he said. “This has caused untold distress for the Brown family.” A spokesman for the RUC/PSNI last night said: “PSNI are aware of the comments made by the coroner, Mr John Leckey, today and are considering these in relation to the report. Meanwhile a preliminary hearing into the death of Catholic teenager Gerard Lawlor has heard that an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has been given a “new impetus” since ombudsman Michael Maguire took up office in July 2012. Mr Lawlor, a father-of-one, was shot dead by the UDA as he walked close to the Antrim Road in July 2002. A represtative of the ombudsman’s office told the coroner John Leckey that the delay in producing the report into the 19-year-old’s murder was down to “some matters inhibiting our ability to move forward”. “I don’t want to go into details to what they are,” he said. The Lawler family solicitor, Niall Murphy, said he had met with representatives of the Police Ombudsman and had “no objections” to their submissions to the ccoroner.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.




NOBODY likes to talk about the elephant in the room – you know, the big issue that none of us can deal with. In our case it’s the past.


The damning report by Her Majesty‘s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the working practice of the Historical Enquires Team should not come as a surprise to anyone. People talk about a hierarchy of victims and comment about how all murders should be treated equally. A fine sentiment. However, the truth is that murders ordered, facilitated, carried out by government agencies ARE different. We have no choice but to trust those who govern us, we have to abide by their laws, so yes it is different when a killing carried out by the State is not properly investigated. It may be argued that the soldiers or individuals who physically carried out the act are not as culpable as those who ordered them.

But the notion that because a killer wore a uniform means he or she should not be subjected to the full rigour of investigation is ridiculous, the fact that they weren’t sets those killings apart. State murder is differnt and it always will be, and the State will forever cling to their dirty secrets – we know that, it is the same the world over. I know victims’ families – on both sides – who have spoken very highly of their experience with the HET which leds me to a very obvious conclusion – this is an organisation operating with one hand tied behind its back. It is inconceivable that any attempt to properly investigate State murder is blocked, or hampered. The past isn’t going to go away, so we can only hope that someday the truth will come out. Sadly that is unlikely to happen until all those with too much to lose are dead and gone. For now the HET is being hung out to dry, the real answers lie further up the food chain.

With many thanks to : Richard Sullivan, Sunday World.

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