Northern Ireland police accused of weakness over Real IRA rally

A masked member of the Real IRA reads a statement to supporters at Creggan cemetery, Derry, during a commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising. Photograph: Peter Morrison/APreal ira

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has defended itself against unionist charges that it demonstrated weakness over a Real IRA rally inDerry.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell demanded a “more serious approach” to commemorations in which masked Real IRA members issued statements promising more violence.

The Democratic Unionist party’s security spokesman said: “I think that unless we see some sort of response now in terms of further arrests, unless we see that leading to a non-repeat of this, then we have got to have a different approach.”

The PSNI waited until after an Easter Monday commemoration marking the 1916 Easter Rising finished at Derry’s Creggan cemetery before moving to detain six men. Although the police did monitor the pro-Real IRA rally from a police helicopter there were no officers on the ground inside the cemetery.

The Derry PSNI area commander, Chief Inspector Gary Eaton, defended his officers’ approach to the republican demonstration. He said: “Any alleged breaches of criminal law reported to police or coming to our attention will be rigorously and thoroughly investigated.

“The PSNI work to ensure that all their actions are appropriate, proportionate and lawful. Our priorities are to protect the public, preserve public order, uphold the human rights of all and gather evidence of any wrongdoing.”

Several hundred dissident republican supporters attended a march to the cemetery, where wreaths were laid.

A Real IRA spokesman dressed in a balaclava and black combat gear said “Óglaigh na hÉireann” would continue to attack “crown forces” and “British interests and infrastructure”.

The six men remained in custody in the PSNI’s serious crime suite in Antrim town police station on Tuesday. WITH MANY THANKS TO: THE GAURDIAN.



TODAY MARKS THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MURDER OF LEGENDARY FREEDOM FIGHTER JOE MCCANN….Joe McCann was appointed commander of the OIRA’s Third Belfast Battalion. By 1970, violence in the North of Ireland had escalated to the point, where British soldiers were deployed there in large numbers. From 3–5 July 1970, McCann was involved in gun battles during the Falls Curfew between the Official IRA and up to 3,000 British soldiers in the Lower Falls area that left four civilians dead from gunshot wounds, murdered by the British Army, another killed after being hit by an armoured car and 60 injured. On 22 May 1971, McCann’s unit ambushed a British patrol, killing one soldier.
In another incident McCann led a unit which captured 3 UVF members in Sandy Row. The UVF had raided an OIRA arms dump earlier that day and the OIRA announced they would execute the three prisoners if the weapons were not returned. McCann eventually released the three UVF members because they were “working class men like yourself”.
His most famous act came on 9 August 1971 when his unit took over the Inglis bakery in the Markets area and fortified it after the introduction of internment without trial by the Northern Ireland authorities. They defended it throughout the night from an incursion by 600 British soldiers, looking to arrest suspects. The action allowed other IRA members to slip out of the area and avoid arrest. He was photographed during the incident, holding an M1 carbine, against the background of a burning building and the Starry Plough flag; one of the most striking early images of The Troubles.


A mural in Belfast on collusion between the Br...

An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members in order to cover up the use of excessive force, a court has heard.

Dessie Grew (37), and Martin McCaughey (23), died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

At the ongoing inquest into their deaths last Friday, the military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.

A barrister representing the men’s families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims that he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged that the republicans did not shoot.

She said: “That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the extreme force that you used on the night in question.”

Soldier C confirmed that the troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims that he had fabricated his account and said that he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.

The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk.

The inquest, which is in its fifth day, is one of several into so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.

Soldier C said he saw flashes through his night vision gun sight and moved forward with another soldier, firing as they closed in on the barn: “It’s a lot safer for us to do that than sit there and do nothing,” he said.

He said that firing stopped when they believed the shots being fired at troops had ended, but the barrister questioned this account because the troops were responding to flashes caused by their own bullets.

She said: “I am suggesting to you, Soldier C, that what you are saying makes absolutely no sense.”

The soldier answered: “That is your opinion and you are welcome to it.”

He added: “I believed my life and the lives of my team members were in danger.”

The inquest continues.


Read more:


Shoot to Kill (1990 TV drama)

A SENIOR Coroner has granted Police a week to present a new plan to end a standoff on disclosing files on alleged shoot-to-kill incidents during the Troubles. The PSNI had been criticised for a late objection to how documents containing one million pages relating to nine long-delayed inquests were to be processed.

Lawyers for the families objected and after Coroner John Leckey gave Chief Constable Matt Baggott one week to give an explanation , the police responded by seeking time to present a timetabled plan to resolve the issue. The preliminary hearing in Belfast heard police believed they could present a proposal which would see the documentation issue dealt with by the end of the year, allowing the long-awaited probes to begin in 2013.

The cases involve six people, including IRA members and a Catholic teenager, shot by 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 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.

A mural in Belfast on collusion between the Br...

Fiona Doherty, representing two of the police shooting victims, said she had little choice but to accept the proposal. ” It seems that the PSNI are prepared to come up with a more detailed proposal,” she said. ” We are where we are but we have been coming to these preliminary hearings since 2007 and I am not really at all clear what the police have been doing for the past five years.” ” We really have no choice but to say that we accept the proposal for adjournment. All the cards are in police hands.” A lawyer representing the police said of the task to prepare the major collection of documentation : ” Work has continued apace throughout and will continue.” The court heard that the issues were about the management of the process. Mr Leckey said : ” I look forward to receiving the written submission next Friday, or by next Friday.”

The coroner is investigating the deaths of IRA volenteers, Eugene Toman, Sean Burns and Gervaise McKerr near Lurgan, Co Armagh, in November 1982. Police fired 109 bullets into the car the three were travelling in, claiming it had crashed through a checkpoint. It later emerged they were suspected of involvement in the killings of the three RUC officers in the bomb attack a fortnight earlier and had been under observation. Sergeant John Quinn and constables Alan McCloy and Paul Hamilton died when an IRA device exploded beneath their armoured police car in Kinnego, near Lurgan.

Mural, Falls Road, Belfast [6] Another mural o...

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 were due to start next April, running chronologically. The bomb attack on the three RUC officers will be examined first. 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 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.


McGuinness call over Derry schoolboy bomb victim Gordon Gallagher

Gordon Gallagher
Gordon Gallagher was killed when he accidentally triggered an IRA bomb left in his garden
The parents of a schoolboy killed when he triggered an IRA bomb in Londonderry in 1973 believe the deputy first minister knows who was involved.

Nine-year-old Gordon Gallagher died when the device exploded in his garden in Creggan.

Martin McGuinness was in jail at the time, but Billy and Pat Gallagher said he could help them get to the truth about what happened.

The IRA admitted to the family that a device had been left in the garden.

However, it claimed the detonator was added by soldiers.

The schoolboy was playing ‘Cowboys and Indians‘ in the garden with his younger brother when he tripped on the bomb which had been left there.

His mother ran to help him.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Gallagher said he was not at home at the time of the explosion, but was nearby and heard the bomb go off.

He went to the hospital to be with Gordon, while his wife stayed at her mother’s house with their other children.

“I went to phone Pat to say he was conscious,” said Mr Gallagher.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

She said: ‘We’re sorry about your son but these things happen in war.’ I said: ‘Sure my son wasn’t at war, he was only nine years of age.’”

End Quote Billy Gallagher

“He was wheeled past me into theatre when I was on the phone.

“He died at half past five. I was talking to him, I thought he was going to be alright but they said it was the loss of blood.”

Mr Gallagher said IRA members came to his home to admit leaving the bomb in his garden.

“Two boys came and lied about it at the start.

“They told me their unit put the bomb there, but no detonator, that the Army must have come back and put a detonator – it’s ridiculous.

“Shock or no shock, I never believed that for a second.

“One of the men who came to tell me the lies, about two or three weeks after it, his wife arrived at my door and she apologised.

“She said: ‘We’re sorry about your son but these things happen in war.’

“I said: ‘Sure my son wasn’t at war, he was only nine years of age.’

“I chased them from my door.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman said Mr McGuinness was in jail at the time and had no information about the killing.

A recent report from the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) found that the IRA was solely responsible for what happened.

Billy and Pat Gallagher with a picture of their nine-year-old son Gordon
Billy and Pat Gallagher with a picture of their son Gordon

The HET said it had failed to find any new leads in the case.

Now the family believes their only hope of getting to the truth is through the IRA.

Martin McGuiness was, by his own admission, second in command in the IRA at the time of Gordon’s death. The family said he would know who was involved and they are appealing to him for help.

The Gallagher family said they did not want to see anyone jailed for what happened to their son.

Mr Gallagher said he forgave the man who left the bomb. What they want is the truth from the IRA not the lies they were told at the time. They want an explanation and an apology from those who were involved.

The family is also considering asking the attorney general for a new inquest which would examine what happened in more detail and could prompt new witnesses to come forward.


Suspicions that Kingsmill killer was informer

A top secret British Army document shows an IRA killer who slaughtered 10 Protestants at Kingsmill could have been arrested months later when he was injured in a gun battle.

The report given to the Sunday World reveals how the RUC and British Army knew the IRA murderer was being treated in Louth county hospital in Dundalk but made no attempt to have him arrested and extradited.

The failure to bring the Provo to justice has led to suspicions that the man – who has never been prosecuted despite extensive paramilitary involvement – was a British agent.

The killer can’t be named for legal reasons. ‘P’ is from the south Armagh village of Belleek but now lives in the Republic.

The Kingsmill families want the Irish government to allow the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) to question him. The HET currently have no authority to arrest or interview suspects living across the border.

The south Armagh man escaped after a gun battle with British paratroopers in which three other IRA members, including legendary republican Raymond McCreesh who would later die on hunger-strike, were captured.

‘P’ was shot and wounded when the paras opened fire on an IRA unit near the Mountain House inn on the Newry-Newtownhamilton Road on June 25 1976. He was struck by three bullets in the leg, arm and chest but managed to crawl away.

He was then ferried across the border and treated at Louth hospital hours later.

A Royal Military Police document dated August 19 1976 reveals that both the RUC and British Army knew he was there but failed to contact gardai to have him arrested.

Four guns were recaptured by the security forces after the gun battle with the IRA, including two which had been used in the infamous Kingsmill massacre five months earlier.

Ten Protestant workers were taken from their minibus in January 1976 and brutally slain by the side of the road.

They were lined up beside their van and shot from two feet. Some fell on top of each other. Then ‘P’, one of the 12 gunmen, walked round the dying men and shot each of them again in the head as they lay on the ground.

Willie Frazer, director of IRA victims group FAIR – who is organising a controversial march through south Armagh to commemorate Kingsmill next weekend, said the security forces were guilty of grave negligence.

“This man did one of the coldest, cruellest things imaginable. He walked over and coolly finished off dying men who were lying in pools of their own blood.” Frazer said.

“Five months later, there was the perfect opportunity to have him arrested when he lay in a hospital bed a few miles across the Border. But neither the police nor the army bothered.

“It must be asked why this IRA man is a protected species. He carried out one of the most heinous acts during the conflict but has never even been interviewed about it.

“Today he walks the streets a free man while the families of the dead are still grieving and are tortured with horrible thoughts of the last moments of their loved ones lives.”

Colin Worton, whose 24-year-old brother Kenneth was killed in the atrocity, said he was appalled by the failure to pursue his brother’s murderer.

“The RUC should have asked gardai to arrest and extradite him to Northern Ireland. At the very least, he should have been questioned about Kingsmill. It makes no sense.

“It’s only now we’re realising it was a very dirty war. But the Irish government still has the power to rectify the situation. They must let the HET interview ‘P’ immediately.”

The four IRA men fled after the gun battle with the paras near the Mountain House inn but three were captured hours later. Daniel McGuinness (18) from the south Armagh village of Camlough was found sleeping in a quarry.

Paddy Quinn (24) from Belleek and Raymond McCreesh (19) from Camlough were discovered in a nearby house. According to the secret army document both Quinn and McCreesh allegedly broke the IRA code of secrecy and named ‘P’ to soldiers as the fourth gunman.

All three captured men were later sentenced to 14 years in jail for attempted murder of the paras. McCreesh became the third hunger-striker to die in the 1981 H-Block death fast.

Paddy Quinn also went on hunger-strike but his mother took him off the protest after 47 days when he was close to death.

February 20, 2012

This article appeared in the February 19, 2012 edition of the Sunday World.

%d bloggers like this: