Legal change could deny Irish citizens EU rights, campaigners fear

Some Irish citizens could lose EU rights because they are also British, in move rights groups say threatens Good Friday Agreement

A bus crossing between the North and southern Ireland passes a sign campaigning against a so-called hard Brexit, on February 2nd, 2017 in Newry, North of Ireland
Campaigners fear Irish citizens will have different rights




People born in the North of Ireland have expressed outrage at a legal change they say will deny them EU rights they claim as Irish citizens.

Researcher Emma DeSouza drew attention to new rules stating British citizens cannot also be EEA (European Economic Area) citizens – a clause that applies to Northern Irish who claim dual Irish and British nationality.

Despite Home Office insistence that dual citizens’ rights will be unaffected by Brexit, Sinn Fein politicians have said the case “proves” the British government was “in breach of the Good Friday Agreement”.

Under the 1998 deal – which secured peace in the North of Ireland after decades of violence – people born in the North of Ireland have the right to be British, Irish, or both.


Irish border issue: ‘Peace is not guaranteed’, says George Mitchell
Under current law, however, Irish citizenship is an entitlement, while British citizenship is automatically conferred on everyone in the North of Ireland – a system some object to.

“Being able to have Irish citizenship is a core thing about the Good Friday Agreement. One of the reasons nationalists got behind it is because they were told their Irish identity would be protected,” Ms DeSouza said.

“When a government tells you your identity is not what you think it is and they remove rights from you on that basis, it is emotional.”

Like some other Irish citizens in Northern Ireland, Ms DeSouza had hoped to claim settled status as an EU citizen in the UK after Brexit.

She hoped the move would secure her status as an Irish EU citizen, and rights available to EU but not British citizens – in particular the ability to be joined by non-EU family members in the UK.

Leo Varadkar favours allowing the UK government more time to reach a Brexit deal, but not any suggestion of changing the terms around the backstop

Irish PM: ‘Cut the UK government some slack’
The change, she believes, prevents that, creating a “two-tier system” in which Irish citizens in the Republic of Ireland are classed as EU citizens, while those in the North are not.

“Someone who was born in Donegal will have EU citizens’ rights, while someone who was born in Derry won’t,” Ms DeSouza said.

Hundreds responded to Ms DeSouza’s campaign with the hashtag #WeAreIrishToo, with one person describing the move as “emotionally devastating” and another “tantamount to ripping up the Good Friday Agreement”.

Daniel Holder, of Irish human rights group CAJ told Sky News that by treating all of the Northern  Irish citizens as British, the British government was blocking EU citizens from retaining EU rights after Brexit.

“Now if you are Irish and you are told your British that really annoys people in terms of their identity – as it would the other way round,” he told Sky News.

“As Irish citizens remain EU citizens and everyone born in the North of Ireland either is or is entitled to be an EU citizen, you have up to 1.8 million EU citizens here who are being obstructed from retaining even EU citizens rights under the proposed Brexit agreement.”

Sky Data poll: Irish overwhelmingly back government’s pressure on backstop

The benefits of EU citizenship include the right to bring non-EU partners to live in the EU – a process notoriously difficult under UK immigration rules.

Northern Irish citizens including Ms DeSouza have struggled to secure residence for non-EU partners because their British citizenship is seen to override their rights as EU citizens.

Campaigners fear that if they cannot be defined as EEA citizens after Brexit more problems like this will affect the 1.8 million citizens of the North of Ireland.

In a statement, the Home Office confirmed that people in the North of Ireland who are British or dual nationals cannot be granted status under the settlement scheme, but said “their rights and entitlements are not affected by the UK leaving the EU”.

“How the people of the North of Ireland can be joined in the UK by their family members is being reviewed,” a spokesperson said.

However immigration minister Caroline Nokes, responding to an urgent question by SNP politician Stuart McDonald, later said it would not carry out a “formal review” and said there was no timescale for the work.

Mr Holder said it was critical to handle the issue well, but expressed concerns.

“The government’s institutional memory of the Good Friday Agreement and the importance of appears to have been lost,” he said.

“Quite often they appear clueless as to the implications of actions like this are going to have.”

With many thanks to: Sky News and Bethan Staton News Reporter for the original story

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Irish Famine: How Ulster was devasted by its impact

A cenotaph at Friars Bush cemetery in South Belfast commemorates 800 victims of the Famine. Image copyright © EAMON PHOENIX

As the annual National Famine Commemoration ceremony takes place in Northern Ireland for the first time, historian Dr Éamon Phoenix looks at its devastating impact on counties in Ulster.

The Great Famine of 1845-51 has the grim distinction of being the most costly natural disaster of modern times.

Ireland had witnessed a massive surge in population from 2.6 to 8.5 million by 1845 when blight struck the staple food of the masses – the potato.

Some 80% of this teeming population lived on the land, making Ireland one of the most densely populated countries in Europe.

Under a land system where most of the land was owned by the great Plantation landlords, vast numbers of the poorest ‘cottier’ class lived on ‘potato gardens’, often sub-divided among their sons.

By the 1840s, close on two-fifths of the population were totally dependant on the potato and it was the major food-source of the rest.

Between 1845 and 1849, the potato crop failed in three seasons out of four.

The result was starvation and the spread of the “road disease” – dysentery, typhus and cholera.

One million people died of hunger and disease during the crisis and more than one million emigrated, mainly to the United States – often in the notorious ‘coffin ships’, so-called because many people died because of the terrible conditions during the crossing.

In dealing with the crisis, the British government introduced ‘Outdoor Relief’ – the provision of soup kitchens in distressed area and public works, such as the building of roads and harbours.

However, these measures were woefully inadequate.

The country’s workhouses were grossly overcrowded, adding to the vast mortality.

The claim that the Famine did not affect Ulster has been debunked by recent historical research.

Between 1845-51 Ulster’s population fell by 340,000, a drop of 15.7% compared with 19.9% for the whole of lreland.

The greatest losses of population were in the south Ulster counties of Cavan, Fermanagh and Monaghan.

Fermanagh lost almost 30% of its inhabitants.

Tyrone, Antrim and Armagh were close to the national average with rates of around 15%.

Surprisingly, research shows that the events from 1845 to 51 affected normally prosperous parts of the north-east, including Belfast, north Down and particularly the linen triangle of north Armagh.

By December 1846 the first deaths from starvation were reported in the local press.

By early 1847 cholera was spreading in Fermanagh, with the Erne Packet reporting: “In Garvary Wood hundreds of corpses are buried, they were the victims of cholera and their relatives too weak to carry them to the graveyard.”

One of the most surprising aspects of the Famine was its searing impact on traditionally prosperous parts of eastern Ulster.

Particularly hard-hit was the Lurgan-Portadown linen triangle of north Armagh.

Lurgan Workhouse in 1847 recorded the third highest mortality of any workhouse in Ireland.

An inquiry blamed the crisis on overcrowding and the fact that the corpses of fever victims were interred beside the workhouse well. The result was a cycle of death.

In normally prosperous Newtownards, there were queues at the soup kitchen of “emaciated and half-famished souls”, covered with rags.

In 1847 the worst affected areas in Down included the Mournes and the fishing port of Kilkeel.

The reactions of the landlords varied. Lord Londonderry, the largest landowner in north Down, rejected rent reductions due to “personal inconvenience” and was much criticised.

Newry – the site of the all-island Famine Commemoration – became a key centre of emigration from south Ulster, with vessels carrying thousands direct to Canada and the United States.

Among these was the ill-fated ‘coffin ship’, the Hannah, carrying emigrants from South Armagh. Fifty people were drowned when it struck ice near Quebec.

The Famine had a traumatic impact on the growing industrial town of Belfast, which attracted large numbers of famished and disease-ridden people from all parts of Ulster.

In March 1847, typhus fever swept the town following the arrival in the port of the Swatara, an emigrant ship from Connacht.

The Plaguey Hill at Friar’s Bush Graveyard in south Belfast is a grim cenotaph commemorating some 800 victims of ‘Black ’47’.

The commemoration to mark the 170th anniversary has been held at the Albert Basin in Newry, County Down.

Attended by ministers from the Irish government and the Northern Ireland Executive, it was the high point of a week of talks, walks, music and drama about the tragedy.

In her remarks, the Irish Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, recalled how in Newry workhouse all the health professionals died of fever.

“A point that has struck me forcibly is how the legacy and memory of the famine is deeply ingrained in the collective memory of the host community in Newry,” she said.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.


Raymond McCreesh park: Council say it is a ‘surplus asset’

Raymond McCreesh Park

Debates over the name of Raymond McCreesh Park have gone on since it was opened in 2001

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has decided to sell a Newry play park named after an IRA hunger striker.
The council said Raymond McCreesh Park is now “surplus to requirements”.

Other public bodies will now have first refusal on the Patrick Street site. Its name will be a matter for its new owner.
The name of the park had led to a long-running dispute in the area. Unionists demanded the name be changed, while republicans insisted it be retained.

SDLP councillors were caught in the middle.
Originally named Patrick Street Play Park, it was renamed in 2001.
‘Surplus asset’
Following a report into play facilities in the area, an agreement was made on Monday night to dispose of the site.

SDLP Councillor Michael Savage told BBC News NI: “The decision was taken, after a number of months looking at play park provision in this area, that McCreesh Park, based on the low score that it came up with as part of that independent process, would be surplus to requirements for the council.
“It would then be earmarked as a surplus asset.”

Raymond McCreesh

Raymond McCreesh died on hunger strike in the Maze Prison in 1981
The council now plans to build a new play facility on Doran’s Hill, which runs alongside the existing park.

There are also plans to build 200 homes nearby.
Raymond McCreesh Park
Image caption
Local residents say there is ongoing anti-social behaviour in the area
Sinn Féin, which has an office on the same street as the park, is unhappy with the decision.

Newry councillor Liz Kimmins proposed the council reverse the decision to sell and carry out a community consultation, but this was voted down by the other parties.
“The people in the Ballybot and Barcroft areas areas have strongly supported the name to stay,” she said.
“This issue has not been resolved.

“The SDLP, Alliance and unionist parties have voted to refuse the community their say on the future of Raymond McCreesh Park and instead put it up for sale.”

‘Summer from hell’
However, some residents in the area support the decision – not necessarily because of the park’s name, but rather because of the poor condition of its facilities and ongoing anti-social behaviour in the area.
Newry woman Sheila Hughes said she had had “the summer from hell” living near the park.
“They’re spilling up the steps at the back of the park into where the houses are and they won’t move,” she said.
“It’s hard when you don’t have anywhere else to send them or anywhere else for them to go.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.

McCreesh Park decision prompts further spat amongst councillors

The decision by Newry Mourne and down District Council to sell off the controversial Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry has led to more wrangling among councillors, with Sinn Fein accusing the SDLP of misleading people over the park’s future.

Following a report into play facilities which identified “surplus assets” in the area, an agreement was made at Monday night’s full meeting of council to dispose of the site as it is “surplus to requirements.”

Sinn Fein Councillor, Liz Kimmins, proposed to reverse the decision and put the site’s future to a community consultation. Her proposal was defeated in a Chamber vote, with SDLP Councillor, Michael Savage proposing to stick to the original recommendation and seek expressions of interest from Government Departments during a D1 disposal process.The name of the park will now be a matter for its new owner.

Originally named Patrick Street Play Park, it was renamed after IRA Hunger Striker, Raymond McCreesh in 2001. The naming of the park led to a protracted dispute, with Unionists demanding the name be changed, whilst Sinn Fein argued to retain the name.

Following Monday night’s meeting, Ms Kimmins said the decision to dispose of the park “reinforced the belief of most that SDLP have a stated objective of rejecting the democratic decision of the people of the area to name this community asset after Raymond McCreesh.”

She said the ratification of the Council’s Play Strategy review at the full council meeting last month had recommended McCreesh Park alone for the D1 process, out of 10 parks in the district which fell below play value set out by the categorisation developed by Playboard NI.

“There was no rush from the SDLP to dispose of any of the others as disposal was not part of this process, a fact which was confirmed by council officials at the most recent meeting,” said Ms Kimmins. The Sinn Féin elected representative also disputed Councillor Savage’s claims that he carried out an audit in the area which supported the disposal of the park and the site to be used for housing.

“No one that I have spoken to in Ballybot or Barcroft has had any engagement with Cllr Savage on this issue,” she said, calling on the SDLP Councillor to “present evidence of his alleged community audit.”

“The attempt by other parties in the Council to force through the disposal of Raymond McCreesh Park without local consultation is an attempt to eradicate the name of Raymond McCreesh from the area.Cllr Savage and the SDLP should be honest with the people of Ballybot and Barcroft as to what their real intentions are,” demanded the Sinn Fein Councillor before pledging her party’s opposition “to any move in the Council to deprive the people of the area of the right to decide on the future use of this community asset”.

The Barcroft Community Association (BCA) has also challenged Mr Savage about his audit claims. BCA Chairperson, Darren Thompson, accused the SDLP Councillor of making “unsupported claims that he called to every house in Barcroft and Ballybot and surveyed residents about the future of Raymond McCreesh Play park.”

Mr Thompson said committee members have spoken with over 30 residents “and none of them were contacted by Councillor Savage.”

“Michael Savage has shown a total lack of respect for the people of Barcroft and neighbouring areas with regards to the alleged ‘audit’,” he added, accusing Mr Savage of using the local community as “pawns”, in “a cheap election gimmick.”

Meanwhile Mr Savage hit back and accused Sinn Fein of dishonesty over McCreesh Park. The SDLP Councillorsaid the local community will be “fully consulted” on the future of the park when viable options that can be funded and benefit the people of the area are identified.

“Anyone who I have worked for and been in contact with in the Ballybot and Barcroft area know that I have been open and honest with them about the future of the park,” insisted Mr Savage.

“Contrary to what Cllr Kimmins believes, I have knocked the doors in the area and provided residents with an update on the park and had many doorstep discussions with residents on the future of play provision in the area. I was open and honest with them about the process and I have remained true to that.”

He said Cllr Kimmins was fully aware that McCreesh Park had been identified as a surplus asset at a previous Active, Healthy Communities committee meeting,and that “To come along now and cry foul and hide behind a call for community consultation is being disingenuous to the people of the area.”

“We have agreed to seek expressions of interest from Government Departments to see if they can come up with schemes for the park that are a benefit to the local community under the D1 process,” he explained.

“During this process the local community will be asked to give their views on the options available and if the Council and the community believe any of the proposals are a good fit, then we will progress them.

“I am disappointed that Cllr Kimmins and her party have decided to play last minute political party games to try and mask their involvement in and approval of this process at every step.”

With many thanks to: The Examiner for the original posting.


Saturday, 24th June at 15.00 – 16.00 Monaghan Street, Newry. 

With many thanks to: AIGI. 

Remembering Óglach Robert Carr, Newry Brigade – Irish Republican Army (IRA), who died on this day 1st April 1980.

Óglach Robert Carr, Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), died on this day 1st April 1980.

Robert Manus Carr (commonly known as Bob) was born on 7th April 1959 in Quay St, Newry. His parents, Noel and Josie, lived in the ÓNeill Avenue area and they had one other child, Mary.

In the mid 70s Bob Joined a local unit of the IRA determined to fight for his country’s freedom.

In March 1980, Bob was critically injured in a premature explosion at the Customs Post on the Dublin Road. He recieved terrible burns to his body from which he never recovered. He died on the 1st April, six days before his 21st Birthday.

News of his death came as a great shock to his family and friends. His family treasure his memories and his comrades remember him with pride.

With many thanks to: Clan na Gael.

Just a question? Why?

How many people know why Donegall Pass has such a curious name? For whom was St. Anne’s Church named? It was not for Queen Anne. There were five Annes and five Arthurs in the Marquis of Donegall’s family and that explains why these names were so frequently used in Belfast. How many know why there is a King John’s Road in Holywood, and a King William’s Road on the Holywood Hill? Why is there a “Joy” Street in that particularly joyless neighbourhood, or a Fountain Street where no water is now seen?

Why should a road high and dry above the city be called The Falls? We shall find why these things are so in Belfast, and then see what is interesting in the places near us.

The first idea which suggested itself was to take the City Hall as a starting point, and in imagination take a walk along each road leading from it out to the suburbs. This is impossible, for in old times the place where the City Hall stands was surrounded with extensive fields and meadows for grazing, where we now have streets and houses.

We cannot go to the Lisburn Road or the Shore Road when there was no road there, so we must give up that plan and take the places as we can make the best out of them.

Belfast has no very ancient history as we know it in Ireland. Derry, Armagh, Newry, Carrickfergus and Bangor are richer in memories of the olden times, and these neighbouring places are filled with tales of thrilling interest.

Some one has truly said “Happy are the people who have no history,” and we know the best times are the years when nothing particular happens. So our fair city has been spared the bloodshed, the cruelties, and the destructions that were so painfully familiar to some more ancient cities.

It is mentioned in the “Four Masters”—a wonderful old book,—that there was a king’s residence about ten miles from Belfast and a great fort called Rathmore about the year 680. A little while before that time, Bel-Feirste was the scene of a battle which took place on the banks of the Lagan. St. Patrick was very near us when he was in County Down, but we are not told if he ever really came to Belfast.

The next mention of the town comes with the famous John De Courci, who arrived with a small army in the year 1177. He built a great many castles and churches, and lived in regal state in Downpatrick. He is said to have built the first castle in Belfast and a church where the old graveyard of Shankill is now. It was called the “White Church,” and the “Chapel of the Ford ” where St. George’s Church now stands was a minor building.

De Courci was made the first Earl of Ulster, and he built twenty strong fortalices round Strangford Lough, and great castles and churches at Ardglass and Greencastle, Dundrum, Antrim, and Grey Abbey all owe something to his masterful guiding hand. King John next came in 1210. He arrived at Jordan’s Castle in Ardglass on the 12th of July. He visited Dundrum, Downpatrick, and Carrickfergus and crossed the Lough to Holywood on the 29th of July, where the road he passed along is still known by his name. The O’Neills were for one thousand years great warriors in Ulster, and the story of that powerful family would fill volumes. One branch of the clan was intimately connected with Belfast, Clannaboy Clan-Aod-Buide—children of yellow Hugh O’Neill.

The principal stronghold was the Grey Castle, at Castlereagh, which was in existence long before the name of Belfast was on any document, and was once called “The Eagle’s Nest” from its situation and the powerful influence of Conn O’Neill. The coronation stone chair of the O’Neills is now in the Museum in College Square. It was found among the ruins of the Old Castle, and was brought to Belfast in the year 1755, but the chair of state had many adventures. It was built into the wall of the Butter Market. No doubt many a farmer’s wife found it a resting place. Afterwards for some unknown reason it was taken to Sligo. Then it was brought back, and has found a home in the Belfast Museum. King Conn O’Neill has left his name at Connswater and Connsbridge. Many a story is told of him, and his end was very sad. He was imprisoned in Carrickfergus, but he managed to escape to Scotland. In order to save his life he was obliged to transfer his property to Sir James Hamilton and Sir Moses Hill, for he was the owner of 244 townlands. In the year 1606, he gave seven townlands to Sir Hugh Montgomery and seven to Sir Fulke Conway. His vast estates were taken from him, and he died in great poverty in a small house at Ballymenoch near Holywood. All the land as far as the eye could see had once belonged to him, and, at the end of life, he could claim only a grave in the old Church that once stood at Ballymachan.

With many thanks to: Ulster Clans of Ireland.

Repatriate Michael Campbell Campaign


Kevin Kinsy Kinsella > Brendan Hughes

Repatriate Michael Campbell Campaign

**** JULY REVIEW ****

Over the past few weeks the selfless generosity displayed by all of you who support this campaign has been humbling but more importantly it has been effective.

The most constant feature of the campaign, a feature which travels back before this new and sustaining momentum gathered, is the On-Line Petition and as the number of signatures rise so do hopes that when this petition is presented to those in Authority they will be forced to listen and to act this is why it is VITAL for everyone to take the time to sign it. We need more signatures.

There have been successful functions held in Armagh and as far away as Philadelphia.

Newspapers and radio stations in Crossmaglen, Newry, Canada, New York and Philadelphia have carried stories and conducted interviews examining the human rights abuses foisted upon Michael Campbell. The hugely popular “Pensive Quill” has published several articles highlighting this emergency with written contributions forwarded by highly respected veteran activists.

There have been hugely successful Protests, Pickets and information Points in Dublin – Armagh – Monaghan and we are preparing to attend the Anti – Internment Rally in Belfast on the 9th of August. Thousands upon thousands of leaflets have been distributed and professionally crafted and painted “Bring Him Home Boards” are being erected through out Louth and Armagh and will be rolled out shortly to Belfast and Tyrone.

Yesterday the IRSP, in declaring their support for the Campaign announced there will be a protest held in Strabane on the 27th of August Highlighting Michael’s right to repatriation and the prolonged breaching of his Human rights. The experience of the IRSP in campaigning for Human rights, the rights of Prisoners and negotiating with those in positions of influence is unmatched and thus this massive boost to the campaign can not be underplayed.

Parliamentary Questions have been tabled in Leinster house with several senior political figures of the establishment pledging their support to having Michael Repatriated along with a Motions in support of his Repatriation passed by Newry and Mourne Council. This is the product of all your E-Mails, Letters and petitions, YOUR ground work that YOU have done has been invaluable to Michael.

There are many other positive things on going not mentioned here, like the imminent meeting with the Lithuanian Consulate in Ontario, or the constant contributors to this page and messages from campaigners informing and inspiring us on where to go next.

This is truly a peoples campaign for a Humanitarian Issue. Ordinary people have achieved through hard, laboursome thankless work the aforementioned huge results.

We cannot thank You enough for bringing this campaign to where it is today and now it is time to push and to really fight.

On August 30th we have the collective ability to take a huge decision out of bad peoples hands for a good cause and a decent man.

If we keep working the way we have been, and that means you who have written, signed the petition, commented with points on the page, attended a protest, handed out a leaflet, written a sample letter, provided information, written letters to legal representatives, everyone who has done anything, then we will have FORCED the 26 County Administration to Bring Michael Campbell home to serve the remainder of his sentence in Ireland.

We are contemplating the morning we view a picture of Michael being transported from Baldonnel Airport to Port Laoise Prison accompanying an article outlining the process of his Repatriation from Lithuania, That Newspaper article is imminent and will be your victory.

Get to work :: Bring Him Home!!


THE Continuity IRA in Newry has claimed it will wage a campaign of terror against heroin dealers in the city. The dissident group insists it has identified those suspected of plying the deadly drug and is determined to erase them from the community.


It has fingered members of the traveling community as some of those involved in the illegal trade. This claim comes as police begun an investigation into a suspected shooting incident in the city. Damage was caused to an unoccupied house sometime last Friday night. Locals have reported hearing three shots being fired at an address we cannot identify for legal reasons. A statement released by the CIRA stated : “This is a Statement from South Down Command of Continuity Irish Republican Army. “Last night our volunteers carried out a gun attack on a house. “The individual living in this house is a member of a traveling criminal gang who is deeply involved in the drug trade. This person unfortunately was not at home. “We would also like to claim at this time that we carried out a bomb attack in Bessbrook and the other bomb attack in the Demesne, Carnagat. All these individuals are all part and parcel of a growing heroin drug culture within the traveling community. “We will not sit by while these gangs, and other gangs inflict this on our communities. There will be no further warnings issued to these people, instead we will take direct, severe, military action”.


This statement was released in the wake of a message being left on the voicemail of the office of the SDLP in NNearly claiming CIRA responsibility for the gun and bomb attacks. South Down MLA, Karen McKevitt said: “No group has the right to take the law into their own hands and use bombs and bullets, regardless of the seriousness of the alleged crimes. “In this sinister message, this paramilitary group claims that it carried out a gun attack in Newry on Friday last. The group also claimed responsibilty for two pipe bomb attacks, one in Bessbrook and the other in the Carnagat area of Newry. “This type of violence was a frequent part of our past, it was wrong then and it is now. The vast majority of our people rejected violence and continue to reject it. “Violence cannot be legitimised regardless of whether or not a paramilitary group has a ‘strategy’. I would urge anyone who has information about these crimes to pass it on to the police without delay,” added the MLA. “Police would appeal for anyone with information to contact them in Newry on 0845 600 800 or speak to them anonymously on Crimestoppers charity 0800 555 111,” added the spokesperson.

With many thanks to : Paula Mackin, Sunday World.

Related articles


ARTICLES: Police-issued photos of the car in which Thomas Maguire was traveling and the ammunition, gun and coffee-jar-bomb components which were recovered from the vehicle and during related searches.


A 70-year-old former paramilitary prisoner who “just can’t seem to let go of the past” has been jailed for six and a half years after police “fortuitously” found a coffee-jar bomb and guns in his car. Thomas Maguire, from Suffolk Drive in West Belfast – who was jailed for 20 years in 1975 for having explosives with intent to endanger life – was caught with the items when police stopped his Ford Mondeo after a high-speed chase in August 2011.

Kate McKay, prosecuting, told Belfast Crown Court that police uncovered a coffee-jar bomb, component parts of other bombs and a wide variety of guns, 100 rounds of assorted bullets and suspected shotgun propellant. Officers were led to Maguire’s home address after his fingerprint was found on the sliding mechanism of a semi-automatic pistol found during searches in Nearly in September 2010 when police raided a firearms workshop. In March Bryan McManus (56), from Aileen Terrace in Newry, was also jailed for six and a half years after the engineer admitted that he had been involve in reactivating weaponry for dissident republicans. Ms McKay said during two days of questioning, Maguire refused to answer questions but he later pleaded guilty to seven offences of having the firarms and explosives with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances, and having articles for use in terrorism on August 2 2011. He also admitted having a semi-automatic pistol which was found during the Newry searches, also with intent and under suspicious circumstances on dates between September 2007 and September 2010.

“Police would accept that if his print had not been found in the workshop [ of McManus ], effectively they would not have become aware but officers are concerned about the nature of the weapons and the use that they have been put to in recent years,” Ms McKay said, adding that although Maguire’s criminal record is old, “it is significant”. Frank O’Donoghue QC, defending, said it was a “most unusual and striking case” that a man “of his age if not his dotage is involving himself in something that’s really now beyound his capacity”. “He seems to dwell in the past,” Mr O’Donoghue said. He said Maguire had the weaponry more “to protect his ccommunity” rather than any attack on security personnel. The lawyer said Maguire had access to the weaponry through involvement with a west Belfast museum to commemorate the Troubles. Judge McFarland told Maguire he seemed “to be someone who just can’t let go of the past”. “This isn’t just a case of a pike in a thatch, that doesn’t apply to modern Ireland. We have now moved on but sadly, you are not moving on with the times,” she said. Following sentencing, Detective Superintendent Glenn Branch, from the Serious Crime Branch, said police would leave “no stone unturned in our efforts to bring before the courts all those involved in terrorist-linked offences, regardless of age”. Police yesterday released photographs of the items found in Maguire’s car but when asked for a photograph of the pensioner, a PSNI spokesman said they did not believe releasing a image “of the defendant is appropriate or proportionate in this instance”.

With many thanks to : The Irish News.

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