Thursday-Monday, 23-27 June, 2011
1. POLICE OMBUDSMAN MUST GO
2. Talks due on sectarian marches
3. Ireland’s rich grow richer on bailout money
4. Pressure mounts for release of Brendan Lillis
5. Irish ship joins Gaza mission
6. Derry bridge ‘is peace symbol’
7. Feature: Charles Stuart Parnell
8. Analysis: Where was Special Branch in Loughinisland massacre?
>>>>>> POLICE OMBUDSMAN MUST GO
Nationalists have united behind calls for the Police Ombudsman to quit
amid outrage over a report in which he denied that the PSNI (then RUC)
police had not colluded in the Loughinisland massacre.
Six nationalists were shot dead at point blank range by the unionist
paramilitary UVF in the County Down village in 1994. The men died when
two gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons in the packed bar as the
Ireland soccer team played an opening game in the World Cup. The eldest
was 87-year-old Barney Green.
Despite at least one member of the murder gang being in the pay of the
RUC’s Special Branch, and an admission that the RUC destroyed a car
containing forensic evidence which could have led to prosecutions, the
Ombudsman failed to blame the RUC for anything other than “failings” in
their so-called investigation.
Other “failings” included a refusal to gather DNA from key suspects, and
ignoring the provenance of the rifle used to spray the bar with more
than 200 rounds of ammunition. The rifle had previously been purchased
in South Africa by British army agent Brian Nelson.
SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie called on the Ombudsman to resign and said
he has “repeatedly failed to measure up”.
“Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary he has concluded that
there was no collusion,” she said. “He has failed to investigate the
role of informers and Special Branch.”
She said Mr Hutchinson had “done a great disservice to the families of
Sinn Fein assembly member Caitriona Ruane said collusion “is the only
conclusion which can be reached” and Mr Hutchinson “needs to explain”
why he did not find any”.
The families of those murdered accused Hutchinson of performing “factual
gymnastics” to avoid finding collusion in the case.
They were joined by survivors of the 1994 at a press conference in a
Belfast hotel on Friday to respond to the findings of the probe, which
they say “redefined the definition of collusion”.
Among those present yesterday to support the Loughinisland families were
campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, and Paul
McIlwaine whose son David was stabbed to death by loyalists in 2000.
Niall Murphy of Kevin Winters solicitors, who represents the families,
said the omission of any reference to the RUC Special Branch in Mr
Hutchinson’s report was “a case of ‘hear no evil, see no evil, report no
“The fact that Special Branch does not appear in the report is an insult
to the intelligence of the families,” he said. “The Ombudsman had an
opportunity to find the truth and report on it and he didn’t. He has
done factual gymnastics to rewrite the definition of collusion.”
Barman Aidan O’Toole, who was injured but narrowly survived the
atrocity, described the report as a “whitewash” and an “insult”.
“The only thing is we are united and determined to keep going until we
get the truth,” he said.
“Police told us more than 10 years ago that they had found a hair
follicle on one of the killer’s balaclavas they recovered.
“We were told they would catch the killers if there was even one bead of
sweat on the clothes they recovered.
“Well there have been huge forensic developments in the past 17 years
and yet the PSNI can’t even identify one of the killers.
“We would question why there is no mention whatsoever of this fact in
the ombudsman’s report.”
The Ombudsman’s office was also strongly criticised by a human rights
group last week over a report that the office is staffed by former
Direct Rule officials pursuing their own pro-British ‘securocrat’
In the report, Hutchinson dug in behind a narrower definition of
collusion than previous inquiries, defining police collusion only as “an
intentional, conscious or deliberate act.” This departed from a
definition used by former ombudsman Baroness O’Loan, which included not
just those acts committed by police,but also those they omitted. Judge
Peter Cory, who also investigated collusion in the North, warned that
security forces “must not act collusively by ignoring or turning a blind
eye to the wrongful acts of their servants or agents”.
In his carefully worded report, Mr Hutchinson said only that RUC Special
Branch had “no direct involvement” in the Loughinisland case.
He refused to confirm or deny whether anyone linked to the massacre was
an informer but said: “I examined all the intelligence related to any
individuals and I am satisfied that none of the suspects were afforded
Mr Hutchinson’s report also revealed the original senior investigating
officer in the case refused to cooperate with the investigation. He said
the retired officer’s decision was “unfortunate” and hampered his
investigation but he had no power to compel the officer to cooperate.
Asked whether some intelligence was not given to him, Mr Hutchinson said
that he could “never give a 100 per cent guarantee”.
Nationalists in the North fear that if the truth behind Britain’s ‘Dirty
War’ is not uncovered, there is no guarantee that lives will mot
continue to be lost at the hands of sectarianism and collusion by the
>>>>>> Talks due on sectarian marches
The body that rules on contentious marches in the Six Counties is to
meet the North’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister at Stormont
tomorrow [Tuesday] in advance of the climax of the Protestant sectarian
The talks between the Parades Commission and Peter Robinson and Martin
McGuinness are expected to include discussion about last week’s mass
loyalist assault on the nationalist Short Strand, which rocked the area
for two consecutive nights and resulted in the shooting of three people
and left one resident in a coma with a fractured skull.
The attempt to burn down the isolated Catholic enclave was described as
the worst conflict in the area in at least ten years.
Loyalist community representatives said that tensions boiled over
because the British government had not handed out enough money, angering
the powerful local UVF chief known in the media as the ‘Beast of the
The British government has since announced it will review the level of
grants issued to loyalist community groups in the area.
Saturday’s annual Whiterock parade by the Orange Order in northwest
Belfast, which sparked serious trouble in previous years, passed off
quietly in the presence of a small, peaceful protest by nationalists.
Further sensitive parades are looming, including this Friday’s ‘mini
Twelfth’ in east Belfast, and the Drumcree parade in Portadown, County
Armagh, as well as ‘the Twelfth’ itself, the anniversary of a famous
17th century battle victory in County Meath by the Protestant William of
There had been fears that a loyalist march that passed close to the Short
Strand on Friday night might spark fresh violence.
However, the march appeared to have passed off relatively peacefully as
community “stewards” in high-visibility jackets attempted to keep the
>>>>>> Ireland’s rich grow richer on bailout money
Cash from the EU/IMF bailout loans are being used to fund the
extravagant lifestyles of the 26-County state’s wealthy elite,
according to reports from a number of quarters.
News that the chief executive of the ailing Dublin Airport Authority
(DAA) Declan Collier had appropriated, with the approval of the DAA
board, a six-figure sum as a “bonus” captured headlines this week and
forced a public showdown with the Minister for Transport, Leo
Although Collier backed down, the rising salaries and perks being
funnelled to the top of the public service and semi-state bodies has
created headaches for the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government and its
‘hands off’ management of the economic crisis.
News that a group of 1,000 academics is costing the 26-County state over
a hundred million euro a year (142 million dollars) in basic salary
payments baffled the Minister of Education Ruairi Quinn today [Monday],
who openly admitted he was unaware of the pay rates. Students are being
asked to pay increased tuition fees to subsidise the professorial pay
Other reports this week have recounted how property speculators and
‘bankrupt’ developers can receive a massive state-sponsored windfall if
they repurchase their own former properties from the state’s first ‘bad
bank’, the National Assets Management Authority.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s multi-millionaire judges are resisting a planned
referendum to cut their half-million euro salaries, which requires an
amendment to the state’s 1937 constitution. Top government broadcasters
are also challenging a cut to their salaries, which reached up to a
staggering 850,000 euro (1.2 million dollars) in recent years.
The government has so far only requested that staff in the public
service earning more than 200,000 euro (285,000 dollars) make a
voluntary ‘waiver’ of 15 per cent of pay.
Senior staff in commercial State companies earning more than 250,000
euro (360,000 dollars) will also be asked by the government to make a
similar voluntary ‘waiver’.
It is understood that no-one has yet volunteered for a wage cut, but a
number have requested fresh ‘bonus’ payments.
The continuing boom times for the golden circles of Irish society comes
amid a declining domestic economy. The 26-County state’s GNP (‘Gross
National Product’) plunged by 4.3% in the first three months of the year
alone, while the value of the state’s government-issued bonds has
continued to fall on international markets to historic lows, matched
only by Greece in the eurozone.
In the first quarter, the state shed 67,000 full-time jobs, while the
ranks of the unemployed grew by 23,500, pointing to an emigration rate
of about 3,000 per week.
The government is still tying its fortunes to a reinflation of the
domestic economy and property prices, despite major imbalances with
similar economies around Europe.
Although his Thatcherite ‘trickle-down’ economic policy is clearly
failing the vast majority of the people of the 26 Counties, Minister for
Finance Michael Noonan repeated his ‘shut up and shop’ mantra to
consumers this week.
“What we really need is for people to go into the shops and start buying
again,” said Mr Noonan. He insisted that recovery could come on the
back of Ireland’s wealthy spending their money as before.
“If that starts, with tourists visiting our shores stimulating the
retail side, and is followed by our own ordinary citizens going about
their shopping and beginning to spend again, then we begin to lift out
of the crisis,” he said.
Sinn Fein Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty warned that the austerity
being imposed on the state’s unemployed and working poor was instead
strangling growth in the economy.
“Regressive taxes such as the Universal Social Charge, cuts to public
spending and failure to invest in job creation are squeezing the
domestic economy,” he said.
“Rather than acknowledge this basic fact of economics the government is
set to increase the pressure on domestic demand. Proposals for a
household charge, water tax and site valuation charge, combined with
threatened cuts to social welfare and public spending as well as changes
to tax bands and credits will further contract the economy, resulting in
more job losses and financial hardship for thousands of already hard
“The government needs to wake up to the fact that pursuing the failed
economic policies of Fianna Fail and the EU/IMF will do nothing to
assist economic recovery. We need a major economic and family stimulus,
to create jobs, boost economic demand and return the domestic economy to
>>>>>> Pressure mounts for release of Brendan Lillis
A meeting next month of the Parole Commission (formerly the Life
Sentence Review Commission) has raised hopes for the family and
supporters of former political prisoner Brendan Lillis, who is gravely
ill at Maghaberry Prison.
The Commission (and the then British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward) were
responsible for returning Mr Lillis to jail. The Commission ruled that
his release licence should be revoked as he had become “a danger to the
Mr Lillis suffers from a progressive disease called Ankylosing
Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has left him unable
to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a
perilous 6 stones (84 pounds/38 kilograms).
Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has
compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep
or hold down even liquids and is constant agony. His condition
continues to decline.
His partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world,
fears that he will die in his prison bed.
Brendan Lillis’s family and supporters have organised a petition,
letter-writing and online campaign to secure his immediate release.
The Facebook campaign group is located at:
The petition is located at:
PRISONER FOUND DEAD
Meanwhile, a 49-year-old Derry remand prisoner has been found dead amid
a continuing deterioration in conditions at Maghaberry, the North’s most
Patrick Duffy from Nassau Street in Derry was facing criminal damage and
assault charges when he was found dead in his cell, an apparent suicide
News of the the death, the most recent of its kind, emerged as the
North’s prisoner ombudsman Pauline McCabe published a report which said
the prison system in the Six Counties is “not fit for purpose”.
She pointed to the long periods of time prisoners were held in their
cells in Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood prisons.
“The single biggest issue, and the issue which has caused me most
concern, is the significant number of lockdowns and periods of
restricted regime that prisoners have experienced,” she said.
“The way Northern Ireland’s prisons are run continues to be affected by
its historical legacy and decades of conflict,” Ms McCabe said.
“There are fundamental issues to be faced, addressed and overcome before
we have a service which is fit for purpose.”
Also this week, the family of a republican prisoner at Maghaberry,
Gerard McManus, have complained that a scheduled visit began late and
was terminated after half an hour by a warder who was drunk and abusive.
The guard, referring to the prisoner and their family, said that “he
wished there were still soldiers like [sectarian serial killers] the
Shankill Butchers to take care of people like them”, according to the
The riot squad was then called to remove the family from the visiting
area and return Mr McManus to his cell. A prison official later declined
to register a complaint by the prisoner’s elderly father.
>>>>>> Irish ship joins Gaza mission
The Dublin government has been urged to ask the Israeli authorities to
allow an Irish ship joining an international flotilla to be allowed
access to the port of Gaza.
National co-ordinator of the ‘Irish Ship to Gaza’ campaign Fintan Lane
said yesterday that Israel had no legal or moral right to stop the
flotilla, which is carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza strip.
“Threats of violence, we believe, should be condemned by all
right-thinking people and certainly by governments believing in the rule
of law,” Mr Lane said.
Twenty-five passengers and crew sailed on the Irish-owned MV Saoirse
from its point of departure in the Mediterranean on Saturday and is join
the flotilla today [Monday].
Gaza has been described as “a densely packed open-air prison camp” with
over 40% unemployment and massive poverty. The flotilla aims to bring
necessary humanitarian aid, such as medicine, to the people of Gaza.
A similar convoy of ships was attempting to reach Gaza last year when
Israeli forces massacred 9 activists aboard one of the ships, the Mavi
Israeli leaders have said they will block the latest aid bid “while
exercising restraint to avoid injuries”.
Ten ships, including Ireland’s MV Saoirse, plan to set sail for Gaza
Tuesday. Mr Lane said he hoped the Israelis would stand back and reflect
on what happened last year.
Mr Lane, who is also a member the flotilla’s international steering
committee, said they would not allow the Israelis board any ships.
“We have taken a very definite decision that Israeli troops are not
welcome on our ships, largely because they killed our colleagues last
year, but also because they have no legal right to search the ships in
international waters under those conditions,” he added.
“We will have the ships searched at the ports of departure by the local
The passengers and crew of the MV Saoirse will include former Fianna
Fail TD Chris Andrews, Dublin Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy, Derry
Sinn Fein councillor Gerry Mac Lochlainn, former international rugby
player Trevor Hogan, trade union official Mags O’Brien and skipper Shane
Sinn Fein Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn has sent his
best wishes to the crew of the ship, which he said should be allowed
bring aid to the besieged Palestinian people of Gaza.
“I want to congratulate the organisers of this trip and wish them the
best of luck. It is an extremely brave thing to do given the murderous
actions of Israeli forces when they boarded the Mavi Marmara last year
when the first flotilla attempted to enter Gaza,” he said.
“This second flotilla should be allowed safe travel and the Government
here should be speaking to the Israeli authorities to ensure that they
“Furthermore, the Government should be doing all in its power to end
the siege of Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian people there
including calling for an end to the preferential trade agreement
between the EU and Israel until such time as the siege is lifted.”
>>>>>> Derry bridge ‘is peace symbol’
A new bridge in Derry is being described as a symbol of the city’s
journey out of conflict to a brighter future.
The 26-County Taoiseach Enda Kenny was joined on Saturday by First
Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and
a host of government officials for the open ing of the 15 million pound
footbridge, which the Dublin government helped to fund.
Hundreds of people lined both sides of the River Foyle for the
celebrations, which were marked by schoolchildren singing an anthem
composed to mark the occasion.
European Union commissioner for regional policy Johannes Hahn carried
out the official opening. He said the bridge would help establish
lasting prosperity. “It will encourage greater levels of peace and
reconciliation tor the city,” he said.
The bridge which links Derry’s Guildhall with the former Ebrington
British army barracks was built in an S-shape to signify a handshake
across the river.
Among the guests at the official opening was former Nobel peace laureate
John Hume. He said the crowds turning out showed what a great thing the
bridge was for the city.
Mr McGuinness said the new bridge was an “iconic” structure and a
declaration of intent by all the people of Derry.
“We are seeing the beginning of what is a whole new opportunity for this
city,” he said.
Mr Robinson said the bridge and surrounding developments were hugely
exciting and enabled people to see Derry from a new perspective.
“This is a bright brand new day for the city and hopefully there will be
many more of them in the future,” he said.
Derry mayor Maurice Devenney said the bridge would help bring the city’s
“The peace bridge reflects the positive way in which our city is moving
forward as we prepare to celebrate our unique history, culture and
heritage in preparation for the UK City of Culture 2013,” he said.
>>>>>> Feature: Charles Stuart Parnell
The man known as the ‘Uncrowned King of Ireland’ was born on June 27th,
1846, 165 years ago today.
The Great Famine of 1845 to 1849 left over 1 million dead with a further
1 million emigrating over the following 10 years. One of the effects of
the disaster was to demonstrate to ordinary Irish people that the
English Government had failed them in their time of need and that they
must seize control of their own destiny.
Out of the Famine grew several revolutionary movements which culminated
in the 1916 Easter Rising. In the second half of the nineteenth century
the main concern of the Irish people was their land and the fact that
they had no control whatsoever over it ownership.
Charles Stewart Parnell was the son of a Protestant landowner who
organised the rural masses into agitation against the ruling Landlord
class to seek the 3 Fs: Fixity of Tenure, Freedom to Sell and Fair Rent.
Violence flared in the countryside but Parnell preferred to use
parliamentary means to achieve his objectives and the result was a
series of Land Acts which greatly improved the conditions under which
the Irish agricultural class toiled.
Parnell’s main ambition was Home Rule for Ireland (local Government) and
he led the Irish Party, deposing Isaac Butt in the process to achieve
this aim. He and colleagues such as Joseph Biggar made a science out of
‘fillibustering’ and delayed the English parliament by introducing
amendments to every clause of every Bill and then discussing each aspect
at length. His popularity in Ireland soared to great heights.
Speaking at Ennis on 19 September 1880, Parnell declared : “When a man
takes a farm from which another had been evicted you must shun him on
the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the
town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen
and in the marketplace, and even in the place of worship, by leaving him
alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the
rest of his country as if he were the leper of old, you must show your
detestation of the crime he has committed”.
This type of “moral Coventry” was used in the cast of Captain Boycott, a
County Mayo land agent, who was isolated by the local people until his
nerve broke. This led to a new word entering in to the English language,
Trouble loomed for Parnell however, in his private life. He had secretly
courted a married woman, Kathleen O’Shea, the husband of whom filed for
divorce, naming Parnell as the co-repsondent. He tried to ignore the
scandal and continued his public life. Public pressure in Ireland and
from Gladstone in England eventually brought his downfall and he died
shortly afterwards, in 1891. The Home Rule Bill that he had forced
Gladstone into introducing was passed in the House of Commons, but
defeated in the House of Lords.
In his last speech in Kilkenny in 1891 he said: ‘I don’t pretend that I
had not moments of trial and of temptation, but I do claim that never in
thought, word, or deed, have I been false to the trust which Irishmen
have confided in me’.
But perhaps he will be most remembered for the quotation that can be
found on his statue at the junction of O’Connell Street and Parnell
Street in Dublin City Centre:
‘No man shall have the right to fix the boundary to the march of a
>>>>>> Analysis: Where was Special Branch in Loughinisland massacre?
By Barry McCaffrey (for The Detail)
If the Police Ombudsman’s report into the McGurk’s Bar attrocity
highlighted his reluctance to grapple with collusion, his report into
Loughinisland is startling by its absence of another crucial piece of
the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the
Mr Hutchinson states that he studied all “available intelligence”
connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of
the case are not even mentioned in the report, raising questions over
just how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing
attention to a “civil war” within his own office.
One example is the sightings of the killers’ car in the south Down area
in the weeks before the attack – clearly the domain of Special Branch,
clearly a critical avenue for Mr Hutchinson to explore; but there is not
a single reference to this: the context of the sighting; whether or how
the information about it was dissipated within police circles; and
whether it provided leads for the investigation.
Also, more than 10 years ago police told the families that they had
recovered a hair follicle on one of the killers’ balaclavas.
The families were assured that police would be able to bring the killers
to justice if just one bead of sweat was recovered from the balaclavas
and boiler suits recovered.
But despite the hair follicle appearing to be one of the most important
forensic lines of inquiry there is no mention of it anywhere in the
The 56 page report – surprisingly only 26 pages of which is devoted to a
five year-long investigation – provides no clarity on the Police
Ombudsman’s relationship with Special Branch and the level of access he
has achieved into Special Branch during this investigation; a pronounced
contrast to the work of Nuala O’Loan on Omagh and the Mount Vernon UVF,
which majored on the role of Special Branch in murders in which it was
alleged that informers were protected from prosecution.
Omagh and the Mount Vernon cases spanned the period of 1993 – 1998 and
the Police Ombudsman found Special Branch activities in that era
protected killers. Loughinisland occurred within the same timescale:
June 1994 – yet still the role – or not – of Special Branch remains
unexplored anywhere in this investigation.
What is public knowledge, although unacknowledged in the Loughinisland
report is that:
* in September 1994 there were 814 officers in RUC Special Branch;
* that by 1994 Special Branch had heavily penetrated both loyalist
and republican groups, including the UVF in East Belfast;
* that the Loughinisland attack was mounted by the East Belfast UVF;
* in Omagh and Mount Vernon UVF cases and the murders of Pat
Finucane, and Rosemary Nelson that Special Branch withheld information
from the CID murder investigations.
The apparent removal of this dimension from the Hutchinson approach has
caused a deep split within the Police Ombudsman’s office – referred to
recently by the ” Committee on the Administration of Justice “(CAJ)
The Loughinisland investigation, in particular, has been known to be a
source of anxiety internally, with some senior staff distancing
themselves from the ombudsman’s perceived loss of independence.
It also ties in with broader developments in investigations into the
past: The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry reported back four weeks ago and the
word “collusion” was not mentioned, allowing the Secretary of State,
Owen Paterson to say that it therefore had not happened.
Nationalists, led by the SDLP, have protested at the transfer of
Northern Ireland Office personnel into senior positions within key
agencies within the criminal justice system following the devolution of
justice last year – and claims that a new agenda is playing out, aimed
at shutting down sensitive areas of enquiry, particularly in the
So where does all this leave the relatives of the six men who died in
The Heights Bar 17 years ago and who went to the Police Ombudsman’s
office back in 2006 as their last hope for answers?
One of the key questions they wanted addressed was: “the suspicion that
collusion pervaded the circumstances of the attack … and the subsequent
police investigation”. After an investigation lasting six years, has
this fundamental question been answered?
Tomorrow a political row is likely to play out on what turned out to be
the focus of the report: the actual investigation by CID and Mr
Hutchinson’s conclusions that it lacked leadership and commitment and
failed to properly investigate all available lines of inquiry to bring
the killers to justice. There’s little doubt that the quality of the
Ombudsman’s investigation will itself become the focus of intention.
Will anyone be satisfied with Mr Hutchinson’s final verdict on the
subject of collusion in Loughinisland and his certainty that it didn’t
happen in this case?
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