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IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers

HET findings published as Haass talks break up without agreement -into ‘Shot-to-Kill’ policy’s in the North of Ireland.

TWO IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers in Co Tyrone 30 years ago, a report has found. The families of Colm McGirr (23) and Brian Campbell (19) on Monday 30th December said they planned to sue the British government and wanted fresh inquests into their deaths.

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The news came as US diplomat Richard Haass failed to make the party’s in the North of Ireland come to an agreement on dealing with the past, parades and flags. Among the issues holding up the progress have been mechanisms for giving evidence to Historical inquires by bodies taking over the functions of the PSNI‘s/RUC‘s Historical Enquires Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman. The fresh report into the Co Tyrone killings was carried out by a forensic pathologist for the HET. It appears to contradict accounts given by the undercover soldiers who claimed the pair were shot dead while pointing weapons towards them. Mr McGirr and Mr Campbell, who were members of the Provisional IRA, were murdered by the SAS in a  field on Cloghog Road near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, on December 4 1983. A third man was injured but escaped. Their deaths fuelled claims of a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the British government against IRA members.

Testimony from the soldiers had claimed that the men were removing weapons hidden in the field and on being challenged “Colm McGirr turned and pointed a shotgun towards one of the soldiers who then fired several shots at him”. Forensic pathologist Richard Shepherd reviewed the postmortem examination scene photographs and statements from four of the six soldiers prescent. He said he did “not believe Colm McGirr would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” and “no shots had struck Brian Campbell from the front”. In his report, which the families have received, he concluded that because Mr McGirr was right handed, he did “not believe he would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” if he was holding a weapon. “In my opinion therefore it is more likely that [Mr McGirr] received shots to his right side and back as he was facing into or towards the bush,” he said. The SAS also claimed one of the squad, known as Soldier A, then fired towards Brian Campbell who was holding an armalite rifle and had also turned and was facing them” However, Dr Shepherd concluded that “no shots had struck Brian Campbell form the front”. “I cannot exclude the possibility that the injury to the left upper back was inflicted as he lay on the ground,” he said, without ruling out the soldiers’ version of events in both cases. The IRA men’s families have now called for a fresh inquest into their deaths/murders. Solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, acting on behalf of the relatives said they would also take legal action against the British government.

“This report raises serious concerns in relation to the original soldiers’ statements,” he said. “In light of the disclosure of the Dr Shepherd’s report the families have made an application to the attorney general to direct a fresh inquest into the deaths/murders of Colm McGirr and Brian Campbell. “They will also be issuing civil proceedings against the minister of defence in relation to the unlawful actions of the soldiers.” Colm McGirr’s brother Brian (58), from Coalisland, claimed the British army discovered the arms cache three days earlier on December 1, but the weapons were not removed or disabeled. “We have no doubt that a carefully planned ambush was set by undercover British security forces that evening,” he said. “Through the 30 years that have passed we have sought the truth of what happened. We were led to bbelieve that the PSNI’s/RUC’s Historical Enquiries Team would make every effort to achieve the truth. “As part of this, a second pathologist has confirmed that the shootings could not have happened as described by security forces. Both men, Colm and Brian, were shot in cold blood in the back.” Mr McGirr said the families have been informed that the HSE investigation “is at an end and will proceed no further”. “We lived with a charade of an inquest in early years with no evidence of any sort offered as to what occurred. The McGirr and Campbell families will continue to demand that a new inquest is held to fully investigate all that occourred on that evening.” Reacting to the findings on Monday nnight, Dungannon Independent Republican councillor Barry Monteith said he was “not surprised” by the pathologist’s review and accused the British government of operating a ‘shot-to-kill policy in the North of Ireland. However, Dungannon DUP councillor Samuel Brush said he had no confidence in the HET. “There are dozens and dozens of murders around this area in South Tyrone that have not been looked at,” he said. “It baffles me that these things didn’t ccome to light then and can be turned up. “All we can do is work on reports as they come but is this report any better or any worse than the previous ones?”

With many thanks toto: The Irish News.

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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.

Updated news from the Ballymurphy Massacre Committee

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Campaign For A United Ireland‘s status update.

Campaign For A United Ireland

The Ballymurphy Massacre Committee is in receipt of a letter from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) announcing that it has suspended its “reviews” of cases involving the British Army due to the damning report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). This acknowledgement by the State publicly and officially validates what the Ballymurphy families have been saying to each British Secretary of State as far back as Shaun Woodward–that the HET is not independent. Due to the great work by Dr. Patricia Lundy they are now having to listen and concede.

It is inexcusable in an environment that is claimed to be a democracy, that from August 1971 til the present day, there has never been an investigation into the murder of 11 innocent civilians from our neighborhood. Successive governments have ignored this atrocity and attempted to divert the cause of justice by offering only a desktop review of the 11 cases through the HET. With the HMIC condemning the HET policies and practices which their report refers to as “illegal,” the State has no excuse not to conduct a proper investigation.

As the HET letter to the Ballymurphy families indicates, there is now no mechanism through which the British State is dealing with Army murders in Ballymurphy. In the 40 year absence of any proper investigation, the Ballymurphy families have designed a formula to address this.

The Independent Panel proposal presented to both governments by the Ballymurphy Massacre Committee is based on the Hillsborough Independent Panel which was fully supported by the British government.

We now call for both the Irish and the British governments to respond immediately to the Ballymurphy Independent Panel proposal.

Ballymurphy Massacre Committee

(John Teggart 07512166867)

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.

BRITISH ARMY ADMITS UNJUSTIFIED MURDER OF MANUS DERRY

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BRITISH ARMY ADMITS UNJUSTIFIED KILLING OF MANUS DEERY

Our family has spent 40 years campaigning for the truth of how Manus was killed. We have always known that he was killed without any justification. Now we know that the British Government knew this too.

Manus was shot dead by a British soldier on May 19th 1972 as he stood with friends in Meenan Square in the Bogside. The soldier was stationed at an observation post on the City Walls. He said that he and a colleague had seen a man with a gun near Meenan Square and that he had fired at the man, either hitting him directly or by way of ricochet. This was a lie. There was no gunman, no reason whatsoever for the shot which struck Manus on the back of his head and ended his life.

A document which has now come to light reveals that the British authorities have known for 41 years that their official explanation of the killing was a lie. But they withheld the truth in order to save their own reputations at the expense of libelling a 15-year-old boy who had a whole life in front of him when they gunned him down in his own streets.

The document dated October 25th 1973 contained legal advice to the British Government to “settle” with our family because the killing was “unlawful” and couldn’t be defended in court. Our family accepted no “settlement” from them.

Needless to say, neither the soldier who pulled the trigger, nor any of his associates, nor the officers in charge, have ever been charged with any offence. Even though they had been told by their own legal advisers that the killing was unlawful, and although they knew the identity of the killer, they did nothing about it. This makes Government as well as military officials accessories to the crime.

We want to know what’s going to be done about this now.

An investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team likewise let us down. The report got the soldier’s regiment wrong – and Manus’s mother’s name wrong! This couldn’t have happened if the HET investigators had really been focused on a proper examination of the evidence.

The fact that the guilty parties were soldiers must have played a part in the slip-shod nature of the HET investigation. It might have been a different story if the victim had been a member of the security forces and the killer a paramilitary.

The search for truth and justice in relation to the killing of Manus will continue. We will be discussing with legal advisers and with those who have campaigned alongside us how best to continue our quest for justice for our brother

IGNORING THE DIRTY SECRETS OF STATE MURDER

HET FINDING ITS HANDS ARE TIED

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 TRUTH COST NOTHING COVER UPS COST MILLIONS

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.

REPORT SURELY SPELLS AN END FOR FLAWED MECHANISM !!!

ANALYSIS : Allison Morris – The Irish News

THE damning report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into the Historical Enquires Team (HET) will surely spell the end of what was always a flawed and questionable mechanism for dealing with the past.

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Reinvestigating unsolved murders originally gave hope to families deprived of justice, some for almost four decades. However, the structure of reporting directly to the chief constable of the PSNI and employing former members of the RUC raised questions about the independance of the investigative body. Loyalists claimed the HET was biased against them, putting more resources into investigating murders carried out by paramilitiries from the UVF and UDA than it did into those carried out by republicaians. This claim was denied by the HET who said they were working chronologically with all the evidence and information availabile to them.

But the HMIC probe into working practices did show a bias, albeit one said to be a result of “misinterpretion of the law ” with no real effort by HET detectives into investigating state killings. Since being set up eight years ago not one of the cases recommened for further investigation and possible conviction relates to a killing by the British army. Justice minister David Ford has said that work is now required to “improve the effectiveness of the HET” but public confidence in the organisation is now damaged to a degree that no amount of work restructuring is likely to meet the demands of victims. What is clear is that we are no closer to finding an acceptable mechasim to deal with the past and give the families of all victims – wheither their loved ones died at the hands of republicans, loyalists or state – real closure.

With many thanks to : The Irish News.

VICTIMS’ FAMILIES: ‘SCRAP HET’ !!!

FAMILIES of victims of state killings and campaign groups were united in calling for the scrapping of the Historical Enquires Team (HET) yesterday following the damning inspection report.

British State Sponsered Murder

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) said : “This report is deeply shocking and as of today the PFC will be advising all families that we no longer have confidence in HET investigations of military cases and we cannot in conscience suggest the families should eengage. “Nor do we accept that the PSNI assume any role in the investigation of British army killings.” Margaret Kennedy, whose mother Maura Meehan and aunt Dorothy were killed by the British army in 1971, has called for the HET to be abolished. She said : “I still to this day haven’t found out the truth. “You just feel really hurt and angry.

“Every time you think you’re getting somewhere a report like that comes out you’re just reliving the whole emotional aspect of it again, you’re reliving everything. “Emotionally and physically I can’t go through this. “I’d no confidence in them [HET] at the start and I’ve no confidence in them now so I’m calling for them to be abolished.” Joe Simpson, whose brother Seamus was also shot dead by the army in 1971, said his family were not informed about the investigation and were not kept up to date with the progress. “Nobody came here to say there is an inquiry into your brother’s death, your son’s death,” he said. ” What can they tell us now? It’s too traumatic to go through all that again. My mother is 86. “All we want is the truth how my brother was killed. Nothing more, nothing less.”

With many thanks to : The Irish News.

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HET-BLOODY SUNDAY INQUIRY MOVE ANGERS CAMPAIGNERS !

‘Is the intention to sow seeds of division amount the families, especially those left behind… - Paul O’Connor.

CONCERNS have been raised over a decision to move 12 Historical Enquiries Team (HET) investigators to the Bloody Sunday criminal investigation. The investigators have been ordered to move to the Bloody Sunday investigation on Monday morning.

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The move will result in some HET investigations being put on hold. Following the exoneration of the victims in the Seville Report, a criminal investigation was launched into the soldiers responsible for the murders. Human right’ pressure group, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), said the fact that all 12 transferred officers are ooriginally from the outside of the North of Ireland upsets the HET’s balance in investigating RUC cases. Both the PFC and the Bloody Sunday Trust (BST) said the move implied they were receiving favourable treatment. Final McFeely, chairman of the BST, said : “For the chief constable and his advisors to use the families of Bloody Sunday as an excuse to stop other investigations can only increase the pain and hurt of other families seeking truth and justice in respect of their loved ones killed and injured in the conflict.

“It also sets the families of victims against each other in a competition for resources.” Mr McFeely said it was “morally wrong” to put HET investigations on hold because of the transfer of resources.” “When (the chief cconstable) announced last year that he was putting in place a proper PSNI investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday, it was our understanding that he would provide the additional resources needed and that these resources were to be put in place with immediate effect,” he said. PFC spokesman, Paul O’Connor said the decision was wrong on a number of levels. “Is the intention to sow the seeds of division amount families, especially those left behind and ultimately damage any prospect of historic investigations?” A police spokeswoman said preliminary work has begun into what she said would be a lengthy and complex investigation. “The allocation of the precise resources at the SIO’s ( senior investigating officer ) disposal is still being determined,” she said.

With many thanks to : Seamus McKinney, The Irish News.

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