SOLICITOR FOR POLICEMAN’S KILLER: I feared arrest during appeal.

‘This has gone past the issue of [the] appeal. This has become intimidation in my view and I think a number of people in this room will agree with me, it’s now intimidation – Darragh Mackin.

A SOLICITOR for one of the men convicted of Constable Stephen Carroll’s muder has accused the PSNI of “intimidation” of defence lawyers in the case and said he was “terrified” that he would be arrested for representing his client.


Darragh Mackin made the remarks during a public discussion organised by supporters of Co Armagh men Brendan McConville and John Paul Wotton who were convicted of shooting the officer dead in Craigavon in 2009. McConville, from Lurgan, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years while Wotton (21), from Craigavon, was told he will have to serve at least 14 years following their trial in 2011. Both men have continued to protest they had no part in the Continuity IRA sniper attack. Campaigners and the men’s legal teams have raised questions about eyewitness and forensic evidence. Last Friday Mr Mackin claimed that the PSNI had attempted to “undermine” an appeal hearing that was due to be held in April. He confirmed that his office has contacted the UN special rapporteur in connection with the case. Controversy erupted on the day of the appeal was due to begin after a defence barrister claimed police had attempted to “sabotage” the hearing.

It was also revealed that a new defence witness was arrested and questioned by police before being released without charge days before the appeal was due to begin. McConville’s legal team bbelieve they and the new witness had been under security-force surveillance in the lead-up to the appeal hearing, which will now be held in October. The solicitor says he and a colleague, Peter Corrigan, feared that that they too would be arrested.

“I will never forget the day when we went down to Brendan McConville’s appeal, obviously with members of the farmily, and it’s an absolutely terrifying fact to think there’s a chance – and Peter would agree with me on this – that me or him or both of us will be arrested at that point in time,” he said. “This has gone past the issue of [the] appeal. This has become intimidation in my view and I think a number of people in this room will agree with me, it’s now intimidatIon.” A PSNI spokesman said: “Since this matter is currently before the courts, we are unable to comment.” Shame Fein policing board member Pat (the rat) Sheehan told those at the discussion that the case “looks like a clear mmiss carriage of justice”. A PSNI spokesman said: “As a member of the board, Mr Sheehan will have opportunities to raise issues with senior officers in both open and private sessions.”


‘It’s our case  that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process – Barry Macdonald QC.

POLICE decision-making and arresting officers are to give evidence about an alleged attempt to sabotage appeals by two men jailed for murdering  Constable Stephen Carroll, a court has heard. Amid repeated claims that the PSNI/RUC tried to stymie the legal process by detaining a new witness, senior judges were told covert surveillance recordings were also to be examined.


Details emerged as an unprecedented bid to secure independent oversight of the ongoing police investigation was put back until October. Interference  has been alleged by lawyers for John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville, both of whom are seeking to overturn their murder convictions. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon on March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the killing. Wotton (22), of Collindale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Days before their joint appeal was to get under way last month, a man related to a key prosecution witness was arrested and held for two days before being released without charge. This man has made a sworn court statement branding his relative a compulsive liar.

According to defence lawyers police arrested him in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence and told him he would be discredited if he testified.The lawyers want the Court of Appeal to direct independent oversight of this aspect of the investigation. One option would be for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to intervene. A separate request has been made to the police oombudsman to look into allegations of misconduct. In court yesterday Barry Macdonald QC, for McConville, said : “It’s our case that police have manipulated and subverted the appeal process.” Questions to be decided in the defence application include :

  • Was  the surveillance operation properly authorised under laws governing the use of covert techniques?
  • Was the arrest of the new witness lawful and necessary?
  • Was there any attempt to presuade or coerce him to alter his evidence?
  • Has there been any police manipulation of the process?
  • If so, what are the consequences?

Mr Macdonald said he intended to call the new wwitness and at least one solicitor to testify. Ciaran Murphy QC, for the Public Prosecution Service, told the court that all police officers who had either decided to make the arrest or carried it out would be expected to give evidence. All interviews and recordings should be gone through as well, in a process that could take days, he suggested. Mr Murphy said he was satisfied proper authorisation was obtained in relation to the covert material. “If there is action by the police either inappropriate or unlawful, past or future, there is a clear remedy open to the defendants,” he said. However, Mr Macdonald expressed concern that the application would not be heard until October, when the appeal itself is scheduled to begin. “In the absence of any measures to provide independent oversight of this investigation the court itself will have exposed itself to possible liability for breach of article 6 [ right to a fair trial ],” the lawyer said. The case was adjourned for a further review next month.

With many thanks to : Irish News.



Justice for the Craigavon Two

Security Force surveillance of Justice Group

A Co. Antrim councillor who belongs to a group set up to campaign for the release of two men convicted of killing police officer Stephen Carroll believes she may be under security force surveillance.

Anita Cavlan, who is an independent councillor in Ballymoney, says she has been told she may be monitored because of her involvement with the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group.

Her claim comes in the wake of a court hearing earlier this week where the PSNI was accused of trying to “sabotage” the appeals launched by Craigavon men Brendan McConville (41) and John Paul Wootton (21).

Last night Gerry Conlon, who was wrongfully convicted of the IRA Guildford pub bombings, also spoke of his unease amid claims that police named him to a man who was being questioned about the case last week.

The Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group was set up last year to highlight claims of innocence by McConville and Wootton who were convicted of Mr Carroll’s murder last May.The Officer died after being shot in the head by a Continuity IRA sniper as he and his colleagues answered a hoax emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009.

McConville was told he will have to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail while Wootton will serve at least 14 years behind bars.

An appeal hearing into the case was supposed to start on Monday but was adjourned after it emerged that a key defence witness was arrested and held by police for two days last week before being released without charge.

It also emerged that the man is a relative of Witness M who gave evidence against Brendan McConville during last year’s trial.

In a statement given to McConville’s defence team last month he branded Witness M as a “compulsive liar”.

The arrest was made after a surveillance operation, which is understood to have focused on a number of people.

Mr Conlon, who is chairman of the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign Group, attended this week’s court hearing with Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six.

He said his name was mentioned to Witness M’s relative when he was being questioned by police.

“My name was brought up and while it’s not surprising it is disturbing” he said. “They obviously know my background and they know what i stand for”. “There are times when you praise the police for their investigations into miscarriages of justice, I understand the need for them “. “But i also understand the need for transparency in order to have faith in the institutions”. “its not me that calls the institutions into question, its the institutions themselves.”

Last night Anita Cavlan, who is a former Sinn Fein councillor, claimed she has been told she may have been under surveillance because of her work in the Justice for the Craigavon Two Group. “Everything i am doing is above board and perfectly legal and, as we know from previous incidents, people can be fitted up to try to put them off being involved in justice campaigns,” the independent councillor said. “I am an elected representative and part of a legal justice campaign and we are being snooped on.”

Mr McConville’s solicitor Kevin Winters said he will ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI investigation into matters relating to the new witness.

A Spokesman for the PSNI said “While we can not comment on named individuals, anyone with a complaint about the actions of the police is advised to contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”


” Two police officers called at the house of this wwitness on whose fresh evidence we rely…. it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited ” – Barry Macdonald QC.


POLICE have made an apparent attempt to sabotage appeals by two men convicted of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll, a court heard yesterday. A new witness in the case of John Paul Wotton and Brendan McConville was arrested last week and held for two days before being released without charge in a bid to pressure him into withdrawing his evidence, it was claimed.

Senior judges were told officers had forced their way into his home and warned him he would be discredited if he went to court. Yesterday the planned five-day hearing of the appeal by the pair found guilty of the killing was adjourned because of uncertainty over the potential fresh evidence. Defence lawyers said they would lodge a complaint with the police oombudsman’s office. Constable Carroll was ambushed and shot dead as he responded to an emergency call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon in March 2009. McConville (41), of Glenholme Avenue in the town, is serving at least a 25-year sentence for the murder. Wotton (22), of Collingdale, Lurgan, received a minimum 14-year term. Dressed in dark suits and wearing shirts and ties, both men were led handcuffed into a packed Court of Appeal for the planned opening of their cchallenge.

Family, friends and supporters, including Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four (pictured above), gathered in the public gallery a few feet away from the murdered officer’s wife Kate Carroll. They heard prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC seek an adjournment because of the new developments. He said an arrest had been made last week as part of a surveillance operation. “There are a number of lines of inquiry that are not yet complete,” he said. Two lever-arch files of new material have emerged and include the contents of 11 interviews. Mr Murphy indicated that ongoing police inquires could take several weeks. McConville’s barrister Barry Macdonald QC stressed that the prosecution case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, primarily from a man identified only as witness M who claimed to have seen McConville in the area at the time of the killing. Earlier this month a relative of witness M who did not testify at the trial gave an affidavit branding him a compulsive liar, the court heard. Mr Macdonald said the affidavit stated “that he was known to the family as a Walter Mitty, that made up stories, that he had a fertile imagination and you could not believe anything he said “. According to the relative, witness M could not have taken the route he claimed on the night of the murder because his partner was not welcome in his home.


Mr Macdonald told the court : “Then last Monday two police officers called at the house of this witness on whose fresh evidence we rely. “On my instructions it appears they forced their way into the house and proceeded to warn him that if he went to court he would be discredited.” The three appeal judges, Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan and Lords Justices Higgins and Coghlin, were informed that letters of complaint were also to be sent to the Public Prosecution Service and the Law Society amid concerns that covert surveillance might have been used against the witness, his solicitor or both. Mr Macdonald described the application to adjourn the hearing as “suspicious to say the least”. Defence teams would have no faith in police carrying out an investigation into the issues raised because of the apparent conflict of interest, the barrister said. It was alleged that officers had been able to “arrest this witness and to subject him to pressure – we say improper pressure – with a view to securing the withdrawal of his evedence and therefore undermining the appeal”. Mr Macdonald called for a more independent oversight process. “I’m simply registering strong objection to the conduct that appears to have taken place here and flagging up our deep concerns at the prospect that police should be given more time to sabotage this appeal and put their case togeather,” he said. Following discussions Sir Declan confirmed that the hearing would be postponed until October.


Solicitors seek ‘independent’ investigators

SOLICITORS acting for Brendan McConville will ask a court to appoint “independent” investigators after the PSNI/RUC was accused of trying to “sabotage” his appeal. Kevin Winters last night said he would ask the Court of Appeal to allow the Criminal Cases Review Commission to oversee the PSNI/RUC investigation into a new witness in the case just days after that witness signed an affidavit for the defence team. This arrest was made after a surveillance operation that is understood to have focused on several people. It is beleived to be the first time a court in the North of Ireland will be asked to remove control of an investigation from the PSNI/RUC and hand it to the commission. Set up in 1997 the commission reviews possible miscarriages of justice.


Defence solicitors say it can oversee police investigations in certain circumstances. Mr Winters emphasised the need for an independant body to look at the matter. The police ombudsman’s office has also asked to probe the circumstances of the witness’s arrest. “We have concerns and they were highlighted in court about the manner in which the police have approached this and have written to the police ombudsman and in the strongest terms voiced our grave concerns,” Mr Winters said. The lawyer said he had also written to the Law Society and had asked the Public Prosecution Service to confirm it had offered direction or advice to the PSNI/RUC in relation to the arrest of witness M’s relative. A PSNI/RUC spokesman said : “Police inquiries into this matter are continuing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.


THE widow of murdered PSNI officer Stephen Carroll last night agreed to an offer to meet with the mother of one of her husband’s killers.Kate Carroll said that she was prepared to meet Eileen McConville in the wake of her son Brendan’s conviction for the 2009 shooting.

The remarkable development came as 72-year-old Mrs McConville told The Irish News that she wished to express her ” deep condolences ” to Mrs Carroll as she offered to meet with her. Former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville (41), pictured below right, was sentenced to a minimum of 25-years in prison after being found guilty of Constable Carroll’s murder in Craigavon in March 2009. His co-accused John Paul Wootton (21) received a 14-year jail term.

Last week Mrs Carroll revealed in an interveiw that she and the McConville family had acknowledged each other while seated in the public gallery during the recent trail. In appealing for a face to face meeting Mrs McConville, who believes her son is innocent, said: ” I had a brother murdered in 1977, his widow was left with five children and never got over the loss…. so I know how Mrs Carroll and her family feel.” I have thought about this many times and I would like to speak to Mrs Carroll.”

Last night Mrs Carroll said she would be prepared to take up the offer of a meeting. ” I would be happy to meet,” she said. ” I think it would heal a lot of the scars and be a big step in moving forward.” Mrs Carroll said she had also considered approaching Mrs McConville. ” I had talked to one of the officers in the case before about meeting her. ” I just wanted to explain my feelings towards her. ” They have suffered a loss too,” she said. ” I am a very fair person and I will never hold someone responsible for the actions of someone else.”

The mother of a man convicted of the killing of Constable Stephen Carroll has expressed her heartfelt sorrow for the murder and said she would like to meet the policeman’s widow. Eileen McConville also condemned outright the dissident republican murder of the 48-year-old PSNI officer in Craigavon in March 2009. Earlier this month her son, former Sinn Fein councillor Brendan McConville (41), was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in jail after being foung guilty of the shooting. His co-accused John Paul Wooton – who was 17 at the time of the murder – was sentenced to 14 years.His sentence has been referred to the Court of Appeal following complaints that it was too lenient.

Constable Carroll’s widow Kate revealed in an interveiw last week that she and the McConville family had acknowledged each other while seated in the public gallery during the lengthy trail.” They probably are devasted. They didn’t come for the sentencing. I am not gloating at their son and Wootton being sentenced,” Mrs Carroll said. Speaking yesterday from their home in Craigavon McConville’s elderly parents said they nooded to the grieving widow because they wanted to pass on their condolences. ” My heart goes out to her. She lost her husband and we have felt that way from the first day we heard of the shooting, even before Brendan was arrested,” Mrs McConville said.” From day one we have felt really, really sorry for her.

” I had a brother murdered in 1977. His widow was left with five childern and she never got over the loss. ” My own mother never got over it so I know how Mrs Carroll and her family feel. ” We want to express our condolences and say that we totally condemn the murder of Mr Carroll in the strongest possible terms, just like we would condemn any murder. ” As a family we have no time for that sort of thing.” I have thought about this many times and I would like to speak to Mrs Carroll. ” I don’t think anyone has the right to take a life, anyone’s life no matter who or what they are. ” And I really want to get that acros, to tell her that we are really sorry for her loss – but also that Brendan didn’t do it.”

Speaking about the trail Mrs McConville said she was keen to get across to Mr Carroll’s widow that they were there to support their youngest son and did not agree with the murder of her husband. ” We went a few times at the start. We were there the first day and Mrs Carroll sat behind us all of those time,” Mrs McConville said. ” We did nod to her and acknowledge her because we wanted her to realise that we felt for her too, being there in court in those awful circumstances.”

The trial of Brendan McConville for the killing of constable Stephen Carroll – the  first member of the PSNI to be murdered since the organisation changed name – attracted global attention. Eileen McConville and her husband William went to Belfast Crown Court on a number of occasions. However the two pensioners found it too difficult to sit through the entire trial. The Court was originally told that a special British army intelligence unit had attached a tracking system to Wotton’s car prior to the shooting. The prosecution argued that this showed the vehicle was close to the scene at the time of the murder.

However, it later emerged that the tracking device had been ” WIPED” and that data from the hours after the killing was lost. Three soldiers gave evidence anonymously but failed to explain how the data was deleted from the device. Solicitor Peter Corrigan of Kevin Winters & Co confirmed this week that he is preparing an appeal of the judgement. Mrs McConville said she believes that her son is innocent.” People only see a fraction of what is reported if there had of been a jury trail it would have been thrown out it would never have even made it as far as it did”, she said. ” I’m 72-years-old now. If Brendan was to serve 25 years me and my husband will never see him out. ” He has two children aged 17 and 16 and we worry about them as well.” I would like politicians and the justice minister to please just take the time to read through the evidence to see just what Brendan was convicted on. ” They had to get someone for the murder and he was the first person that came to hand.”

The murder trail also heard identification evidence from a witness known only as ” M ” , who has since gone into a witness protection programme. ” We had never heard tell of him before that day,” Mrs McConville said. ” Brendan never knew him, had never met him. ” He said he knew Brendan from he was a nipper but that couldn’t be right because we never even lived in Craigavon when he was young. ” He’s not even his age. He wasn’t in school with him or anything. ” You just have to hope that the appeal court judges will be fair and go on the evidence in front of them. ” I would also call on human rights organisations and international justice groups to take time to read through the evidence that was presented at Brendan’s trail. ” If it was my loved one or family member I would like to thin that the person who did it would be locked up rather than an innocent person be convicted. ” We know Brendan didn’t do it and that’s not justice, not for Mrs Carroll or anyone else.”


Hot Pursuit

I accuse you of murder! And I will not rest until I bring you to justice! But, anyway, you’re free to leave. No big deal.


On Wednesday, federal prosecutors will walk into an appellate court in Boston and tell a panel of judges that they are seeking evidence in an exceptionally serious crime, the murder of a widowed mother of ten who was taken from her home in Belfast and shot in the back of the head by members of the Provisional IRA. Because they are aiding police officials in the United Kingdom with such an important investigation, they will sound a note of urgency: The matter before the courts must be brought to a conclusion, because murderers must be brought to justice.

They will be full of shit.

There was a murder, and it was awful. A widowed mother was killed, and ten children were left with no parents. But is there amurder investigation underway? Is the Police Service of Northern Ireland working to bring killers to justice?

I’ve said before that you should start thinking about this claim from the moment in 1972 when McConville was taken from her home to be killed. What then? Nothing much. The police have acknowledged that they didn’t try to solve her murder until the 1990s, and even then they didn’t try especially hard, and then finally they admitted that they probably weren’t going to make a case in such an old murder that would survive in a courtroom. Now it’s 2012, and there’s somehow a serious criminal investigation underway.

But this time, let’s start the story somewhere else: February 21, 2010. That’s the date a newspaper in Northern Ireland printed a story alleging that former IRA member Dolours Price — as the paper soberly put it, a “TERRORIST IN A MINI-SKIRT” — had admitted that she drove McConville to her death. Not only that, added the Sunday Life, but she was known to have told the story to researchers at “Boston University,” which is a solid fifty percent correct. (The story isn’t online at the newspaper’s website, but you can see page scans here.)

And so the Police Service of Northern Ireland, alerted to the confession of an accomplice to murder, came roaring to life and began their desperate quest to win justice in the case of Jean McConvilleGame on — justice was awake and on the hunt. The first set of interviews Boston College will potentially give up to the government when the legal appeals are over are the interviews conducted with Dolours Price. Her newspaper confession is bringing the day of legal reckoning ever closer. The newly tireless detectives have almost got their target.

Jean McConville was abducted and murdered in 1972Jean McConville

There are just a few problems with that picture, and start with the fact that the Sunday Life story ran more than a year before anyone got around to asking for subpoenas of the Boston College material. Think about this: A newspaper said on February 21, 2010, that a particular person had driven a murder victim to her death, and that there was more information available in a university archive. The first subpoenas arrived at the university archive in May, 2011. You can almost taste the urgency.

Better yet: In August, 2010 — several months after the Sunday Life story named her as an accomplice in Jean McConville’s murder — Dolours Price was in a courtroom in Northern Ireland, facing criminal charges. Here’s the story on the BBC website. Having confessed to her role in the McConville murder in a published interview, causing the police in Northern Ireland to lock onto her with their laser focus and their passion for justice, Price found herself in the hands of the criminal justice system in the very place where she was known for her role in an infamous political killing. They had her, in the flesh, the IRA terrorist who named Gerry Adams as her commander in a murder she had directly facilitated.

So go read the BBC story. What happened when the woman who drove Jean McConville to her death appeared in a courtroom in Northern Ireland? This: “Convicted Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price has been acquitted of a charge of shoplifting at Newry Magistrates Court.” The end. Terrorist in a mini-skirt!

Months after the Sunday Life story identified Price’s role in McConville’s death, nobody in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland cared or tried to do anything about it. She went and stood in a courtroom, and no one mentioned the whole “murder of a widowed mother of ten at Gerry Adams’ command” thing. They yawned at her shoplifting charge and sent her home. Because they were so aggressively pursuing it, you see.

In its amicus brief in the legal appeal, the ACLU of Massachusetts charged that the DOJ was facilitating a political investigation, a course that could lead the United States government into ever-more-horrible involvement in appalling political repression overseas. When a foreign government asks for help gathering evidence against political organizations like the IRA, the U.S. government should think carefully about what they’re being asked to do, and the courts should take a close look at the decisions the Justice Department makes.

Here, again, is the government’s most recent brief in the Belfast Project appeal. Look at pg. 57, and let’s go ahead and add emphasis to make this easy:

Finally, nowhere in ACLUM’s argument is there a recognition that a request by a foreign sovereign under a treaty regarding a sensitive and confidential criminal matter is any different than a civil request by a private party in a mundane business matter. ACLUM’s argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, would subject even the most sensitive and urgent law enforcement requests to litigation and delay by persons with a deeply felt, but tangential interest in such a criminal investigation. Under ACLUM’s reading of §3512, criminal defendants in foreign countries, and others who disagree with the foreign policies of the United States, could tie sensitive and urgent international criminal investigations in legal knots.

There is no “sensitive and urgent” criminal investigation. The police in Northern Ireland have had forty years to investigate Jean McConville’s murder, and they have not. They had several months between the publication of a story saying that Dolours Price had driven McConville to her death and the moment when she stood in a courtroom and was available for an easy arrest. They had a year to get around to asking for subpoenas of the Boston College interviews.

Someone needs to apply some skepticism to the government’s framing of these subpoenas. Let’s hope the First Circuit manages the task.


Convictions of McConville and Wootten Unsafe: ILDC

The Irish Law & Democracy Committee

Shortly after Girvan LJ convicted Brendan McConville and John Paul Wotton of the murder of PSNI Officer Stephen Carroll, ACC Drew Harris, head of Criminal Investigations and Special Branch in the PSNI, made a point of walking over to the Chief Prosecution Lawyer Ciaran Murphy QC and shook his hand and congratulated him. Such an over zealous push for convictions at all costs and cries of Justice which emanated from the PSNI in the aftermath of the judgement appear to be a premature exultation of righteousness that hide a somewhat Kafkaesque style of justice.

The basis of such an assertion lies in the evidence adduced in the course of the trial, which appears deeply suspect and worrying from a human rights standpoint, and that does not appear to meet the required standard of proof necessary for a criminal conviction. Various aspects of the witness testimony, the forensic analysis and the fact that substantive weight was given to the inferences from the defendants failure to testify on their own behalf, whilst the remaining elements were made up of somewhat dubious circumstantial evidence.

While it is not even clear that either McConville or Wootton fired the fatal shot from the AK 47 assault rifle on the night of March 9th, 2009, that killed 48-year-old Constable Carroll Lord Justice Girvan, stated that while the evidence against the two men was circumstantial, the case was nonetheless “compelling” and they “were both intimately involved” in the murder.

This is contracdicted in much of the facts. Witness ‘M’ the main witness identifying one of the defendants only came forward 11 months after the incident. Thereafter he was seen to be evasive and confused about numerous aspects of his testimony. One issue the identification of one of the defendants raised numerous issues, he claimed his eyesight was perfect, however a defence lawyer asserted he was “as blind as a bat” and was on expert evidence seen to be defective. Moreover he staed he was only 50% sure under cross examination if this person he claims he saw in the time before the incident was one of the defendants, a point which varied from a substantially higher ratio. However, most notably his partner did not corroborate his evidence nor did a local man near the scene on the night, whilst CCTV evidence clearly contradicted some of his assertions. Furthermore it was asserted that witness M was alleged to have been prone to heavy drinking and was aleged to have rung the police drunk on a number of occassions whilst it was suggestedthat he was benefiting financially from the witness protection scheme.

This is outside of two substantial aspects that deserve further investigation in relation to this case. Firstly, the British army surveillance equipment that was removed from a vehicle, alleged to have been used on the night in question, by the SSR (Special Recconnassaince Regiment) and tampered with, removing vital data. Secondly, the naming of an Agent involved by a defence lawyer during the trial, as Officer Commanding the Continuity IRA, raises a number of very substantive issues, and begs the question to which agency was he alleged to have been working for and reporting to.

This case, like many in the 1980s and 90s points to security force involvement in the course of events and raises the possibility that an agent provecateur may have been active in this instance, which raises worring substantive legal issues. Moreover, the entire proceedings in this case appear entirely prejudiced against the defendants so much so that considering the recent conviction of Brian Shivers in relation to the deaths at Masserene Barracks and this recent decision calls into serious question whether dissident republican suspects can get a fair trial in the North.

WITH MANY THANKS TO : The Irish Law & Democracy Committee

BC subpoenas are legally dumb and dumber

Slowly, but inexorably, the penny is dropping, both here in the United States as well as back in Ireland.

The Boston College subpoenas seeking access to oral history interviews with former IRA activists on behalf of the police in Northern Ireland are about the dumbest things that have ever happened in the long relationship between the United States, Britain and Ireland.

The difficulty is not how to describe why they are so dumb, but in counting the ways in which they are so dumb.

First of all, this is not the way in which to heal a conflict like that in the North of Ireland.

Over 3,000 people died and tens of thousands were scarred, physically and mentally, by a war that was undoubtedly one of the longest and most violent, if not the most violent in Irish history.

But the war has now ended, peace reigns and there is a desperate need for dealing with the past in a way that solidifies that peace and ensures an untroubled future.

The British have chosen a way that does the opposite. The Boston College subpoenas symbolize an approach to this issue based on revenge and the view that alleged combatants in that war should be dragged before the courts, convicted and jailed.

To do this, they created a special police unit, the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), put it under the control of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and authorized it to dig up evidence to support criminal prosecutions.

The emphasis in this approach is on retribution and punishment. Yet anyone who has had dealings with victims of the violence in Northern Ireland knows full well that most just want to know what happened to their loved ones. Who killed their father, brother, son, mother, sister, wife? Why did they do it, and did their loved one suffer?

There are exceptions of course but most I have had dealings with seek the truth, not revenge, and I strongly suspect they are in the majority.

What they want most of all is a proper truth recovery process. South Africa provided one model, a truth and reconciliation commission in which perpetrators were offered an amnesty in return for full candor about their deeds.

They could have chosen the British version and opted to scratch away at barely closed wounds but did not, knowing that to do so would mean that South Africa could never put the past behind it, that the past would continue to haunt the present and the future with catastrophic consequences for all South Africans.

The second way in which the Boston College subpoenas are dumb is because they are so politically stupid. Ostensibly, the subpoenas are in pursuit of the perpetrators of the murder of Jean McConville, but anyone who is familiar with the case knows that it is really about getting Gerry Adams who is alleged to have given the order to “disappear” Mrs McConville, an accused spy for the British Army.

Whatever one may think of Gerry Adams and his misguided efforts to deny any past association with the IRA, the reality is that Northern Ireland would not now be enjoying peace without his efforts.

He may have been less than straightforward with his IRA comrades; he may even have been duplicitous and furtive in his dealings with them, or

have exaggerated the political benefits of the Good Friday Agreement, but the stark truth is that he did bring this awful war, this endless bloodshed, to an end. I doubt that anyone else could have.

Yet the logic of the Boston College subpoenas is to drag him before the criminal or civil courts and stain him with the McConville murder. So the architect of a peace process centered on compromise ends his political life arraigned or sued for murder courtesy of the same government with whom he compromised. And this is supposed to cement the peace in Northern Ireland?

What message does that send to IRA dissidents who have long accused Adams and his colleagues of naivety in their dealings with the British? What they will say is this: “You trusted the Brits, Gerry. You accepted their deal and their terms and now look what they are doing to you? Once they had you where they wanted you to be, they stuck the knife into you.”

And this is supposed to strengthen the peace in Northern Ireland? If this is the logic behind the Boston College subpoenas then truly the lunatics are now running the asylum.

There will be those, of course, who will say that if Gerry Adams did order Jean McConville’s “disappearance” then he deserves to be prosecuted. In a normal society, one ruled by a normal government, that would be a difficult argument to answer. But Northern Ireland is not, even with the peace process, a normal society and nowhere is this more evident than in the administration of justice.

The plain, undeniable fact is that there are double standards in the way justice is doled out in Northern Ireland.

As myself and researcher Anthony McIntyre were battling in the Boston courts against the PSNI subpoenas last fall, the British prime minister, David Cameron, summoned the family of slain Belfast attorney, Patrick Finucane to Downing Street. Finucane had been shot dead by loyalist gunmen in 1989 but it is now widely accepted that British intelligence and the police in Northern Ireland, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), had foreknowledge of the murder plot and allowed it to happen. Finucane was a legal thorn in their flesh and what better way to remove it than by way of loyalist bullets?

Such was the concern about this level of collusion in an attorney’s murder, not least here in the United States, that Cameron’s predecessor, Tony Blair, was obliged to announce that there would be a public inquiry into Pat Finucane’s slaying and we would all get to know just what part the RUC and British spooks had played in this dirty deed.

But Cameron’s summoning of the Finucane family was not to tell them of a date for the beginning of this inquiry, but to inform them that he was withdrawing Tony Blair’s promise. There would be no inquiry into Finucane’s death.

So those who say that the PSNI has a right to rummage through Boston College’s files for the names of the killers of Jean McConville must also justify the denial of that same right to Pat Finucane’s family to scour the files of MI5 and the RUC Special Branch for the names of those who colluded with his killers?

Pat Finucane was a high profile victim of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but not so Patrick McCullough. Who is Patrick McCullough, I can almost hear the reader ask? Well, he was a 17-year-old Catholic boy, just starting his first job in life, when he was shot dead in a loyalist drive-by shooting near his North Belfast home.

Patrick died in June 1972, six months before Jean McConville was “disappeared” by the IRA. No-one has ever been held accountable for his killing and, unlike Jean McConville, there has been next to no publicity about his killing. He was his parents’ first-born and most loved child, the first of fifteen children when his life was suddenly and brutally ended. His mother and father never recovered from his death, and their loss was every bit as tragic and wrong as that suffered by Jean McConville’s family.

I learned about Patrick McCullough’s death from a poignant letter his younger brother, Fr. James McCullough, a member of the missionary Kiltegan Fathers, wrote recently to the Irish Times newspaper seeking an inquiry into official indifference towards his brother’s killing. I contacted the priest to talk about his experience.

When his brother was killed, the police never once visited the family home to tell them what was happening in the investigation. The only visit the family had from the security forces was shortly after the funeral when their home was raided by the British army. Fr. McCullough suspects that their purpose was to plant weapons in the home so as to justify his brother’s murder.

When the British government set up the Historical Enquiries Team, Fr. McCullough wrote to the then PSNI Chef Constable, Sir Hugh Orde. His letter was forwarded to the HET which wrote to him saying they would be in touch. That was in 2006. Since then, neither Fr. McCullough nor any of his family have heard a word from the HET or the PSNI. He described his treatment at the hands of the PSNI and the HET as “abysmal.”

The killers of Patrick McCullough are well known. An investigation in 2003 by the Belfast newspaper, the Irish News, discovered their identity while noting that no-one had ever been arrested or charged. Recently, the reporter who wrote the story confirmed to me that neither the HET, nor the PSNI, had ever contacted her to discover their names. There have been no subpoenas for Patrick McCullough.

The silence from the police lasted until Fr. McCullough’s letter appeared in the Irish Times. Then, suddenly, he was phoned by an HET investigator who offered a meeting. When Fr. McCullough complained about the indifference shown by the RUC towards his brother, the HET man replied, according to Fr. McCullough: “……that he had never experienced sectarianism in the RUC or PSNI.”

On the HET’s promotional video, the unit’s commander, former Scotland Yard detective Dave Cox, addressed the issue of how the HET dealt with allegations of police collusion in murders in this way: “Most times we are able to actually answer and dispel those worries.”

In other words, it never really happened.

This is the last and most compelling reason why the Boston College subpoenas are not only dumb, but morally wrong. The HET is not a fit and proper body to deal with Northern Ireland’s past because it operates double standards. And Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice should not be helping these people do their dirty work in Boston.

It is up to Irish America to make sure Holder gets that message.

WITH MANY THANKS TO : Editorial | By Ed Moloney | March 14th, 2012

Stephen Carroll trial: Army ‘reluctant to hand over device’

Constable Stephen Carroll (Pacemaker pics)
Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009

The Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has heard a specialist Army unit was reluctant to hand over vital surveillance information to police

Constable Carroll was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

An under cover military unit had placed a tracking device on the car of one of the accused, John Paul Wootton.

On Tuesday, a police inspector revealed that the Army only gave the device to detectives when the threat of a warrant being obtained was put to them.

The officer, Det Ch Insp Harkness, said that he had never before dealt with such a device and that no such tracker had ever been used in evidence in the UK before.

The prosecution contends that the device reveals that Mr Wootton’s car was used to transport Constable Carroll’s killers to and from the murder scene.

Mr Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan and Brendan McConville, 40, of Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon, both deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Mr Wootton’s 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address, denies perverting the course of justice.

Earlier, a witness told the trial Mr Wootton’s car was parked close to where the gunman fired from.

Scene of shooting Constable Carroll was shot dead after responding to a 999 call

Witness K, a navigation specialist engineer who gave evidence from behind a screen, said the tracking device showed the car’s location.

Witness K said he examined data from a GPS tracking device which the Army had hidden on Mr Wootton’s car.

He said he had examined more than 150 location fixes from the device and at the time of the murder the car was stationary on the Drumbeg estate, which is close to the murder scene.

He also said the data revealed that 20 minutes after the shooting the car was near Mr McConville’s home.


Alleged Continuity IRA leader named in Carroll murder trial


A man has been named in Belfast Crown Court as the leader of the Continuity IRA in Craigavon.

It happened during the trial of two men accused of murdering Constable Stephen Carroll.

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

A detective said a decision was taken not to arrest the alleged dissident leader in order to protect a key prosecution witness – Witness M.

He denied claims that the alleged Continuity IRA leader – named by a defence lawyer as Eddie Breen – was an informer.

Brendan McConville, 40, from Aldervale, Tullygally and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Witness M has said he spotted 40-year-old Mr McConville at the scene shortly before the shooting.

He told the police that he was 90% sure he had seen Mr Breen with Mr McConville, but later changed that to being 50% sure.

It emerged that Mr Breen was arrested 11 months after the killing and later released.

Witness M also said he was threatened to “keep his mouth shut”, and Belfast Crown Court heard claims on Thursday that these threats were carried out by Mr Breen.

Mr Breen was not rearrested after Witness M told the police about the threats.

When asked why, the detective leading the investigation said arresting him would have put Witness M’s family in grave danger.

He denied allegations that the police were protecting Mr Breen because he was an informer.

Accused of lying

Earlier, the defence lawyer accused Witness M of deliberately lying to the court.

Giving evidence by videolink, Witness M told the court in Belfast on Wednesday that he saw Mr McConville standing close to where the prosecution claims the gun was fired 30 minutes later.

He said he had been out walking his dog at the time.

He told the court he had no problems with his eyesight and only wears glasses as a fashion accessory.

However, it has since emerged that he is short sighted and on Thursday in court, he admitted needing glasses for reading.

When asked why he lied under oath he replied: “I didn’t.”

The barrister asked: “How many lies do you have to tell as you go along… you say the person I represent was close to the scene of a murder.”

Witness M replied: “Some things like that you don’t forget.”

Under cross examination the man also revealed that he was treated by a psychologist and was about £11,000 in debt before he entered the witness protection programme.

The court heard that the PSNI pays Witness M £1,400 a month via the programme. They also cover his child care costs and his accommodation.

The trial continues.

Stephen Carroll trial: Army intelligence lost tracking data


Members of a specialist army intelligence unit have been unable to explain how vital tracking information relating to the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll was deleted.

Three soldiers were questioned in court on Monday, during the trial of John Paul Wooton, and Brendan McConville, who are accused of Constable Carroll’s murder.

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot in March 2009.

Both defendants deny the murder.

Army intelligence officers had hidden a GPS tracking device in the car of Mr Wooton – who was 19 years old when Constable Carroll was killed.

The prosecution said that the car was used to transport the killers to and from the scene.

One soldier – named only as PIN 8625, and concealed from the court by a screen – described how he had removed the tracker from Mr Wooton’s car the day after the murder, and placed it in a storage facility at an un-named base.

He then went on leave before downloading and saving its contents, which plotted the movements of the car before, during and after the murder.

Despite there being no record of anyone else having touched the device the material on it was deleted.

None of the soldiers were able to explain how, or by whom.

One of the defence barristers then asked whether there had also been a listening device installed in the car, at which point the prosecution intervened.

The disclosure of such information will be dealt with later.

Stephen Carroll trial: Explosives expert critical of evidence

An explosives expert giving evidence at the Constable Stephen Carroll murder trial has strongly criticised the prosecution team. 

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

The forensic scientist said he has been constantly frustrated and found it very difficult to do his job due to the “shifting sands of the prosecution”.

The defence witness said they were inconsistent and incompetent.

He was especially critical of two forensic scientists who were prosecution witnesses and who had examined the murder weapon.

The explosives expert said he was at a loss to understand why the gun had not been cleaned before it was test fired and that the lack of control in the experiments invalidated any results.

The scientist also told Belfast Crown Court that since 2006 the FBI has not used gunshot residue evidence in its cases due to the variability of results.

Brendan McConville, 40, from Glenholme Avenue, Craigavon and John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny murdering Constable Carroll.

Mr Wootton’s 48-year-old mother Sharon, of the same address, denies perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues.


Stephen Carroll murder accused witnessed at murder scene

Constable Stephen Carroll
Constable Stephen Carroll was killed in March 2009

The trial of two men accused of killing Constable Stephen Carroll has heard one of them was at the scene of the shooting shortly before it took place.

Constable Carroll was the first PSNI officer to be murdered when he was shot dead in Craigavon in March 2009.

The man, known as witness M, gave his evidence via videolink and identified 40-year-old Brendan McConville.

He said Mr McConville was standing close to where the prosecution claims the gun was fired 30 minutes later.

Witness M had been out walking his dog with his family.

He told a prosecuting lawyer he had known Mr McConville since the former Sinn Fein councilllor was a child and that he saw him twice that night – once on the way to his destination and again on the way back.

He told the lawyer he first saw him shortly after 7pm standing with four other men and then again on the way back, some time between 9pm and 9.30pm, this time standing with two other men.

The man also said he was later threatened by two men who came to his home warning him to “keep his mouth shut”. This encouraged him to go to the police.

Under cross examination from Mr McConville’s defence QC Brendan Kelly, witness M denied that he had ever been described as a “Walter Mitty” style character who would “tell tales or fibs”.

He also denied having problems with his eyesight and with alcohol.

Both Mr McConville, from Aldervale, Tullygally, and his co-accused John Paul Wootton, 20, of Collindale, Lurgan, deny the murder of Constable Carroll.

Mr Wootton’s 39-year-old mother Sharon denies perverting the course of justice by removing a computer from her home following

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