‘No good reason’ not to reveal contentents of files on plastic bullet deaths

A SUGGESTION that the families of two young teenagers murdered by plastic bullets in 1981 (the year the 10 men died on hunger-strike) including Bobby Sands. 

Irish children murdered by British Crown Forces in the occupied six Counties of the North of Ireland

Should use the Freedom of Information (FoI) request to access files on their deaths has been dismissed as “unacceptable”. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood raised the cases of Paul Whitters (15) and Julie Livingstone (14) with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis in the House of Commons yesterday. Paul Whitters was murdered in Derry in April 1981 while Julie Livingstone, was murdered in Belfast the following month. 

Collusion is not an illusion!!!

Government files relating to their killings have been reclassified and closed until 2059 and 2064 respectively despite appeals by their families for access. The family of Julie Livingstone said the decision that no-one who knew the teenager personally would be alive when the file was opened. At Secretary of State’s questions yesterday, Mr Eastwood told Mr Lewis there was “no good reason” to keep the files closed and asked: “Will he now act to allow the parents of those children to see the files?” Mr Lewis said he had “enormous” sympathy for families of those who died during the Troubles, especially children. He said the next step for the families should be to submit a Freedom of Information request to the National Archive. However, Sarah Duddy of the Pat Finucane Centre said Mr Lewis’s suggestion had been dismissed by the families in the past.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney for the original story 


Plastic bullet files ordered closed for up to 84 years

Paul Whitters (15) died ten days after being hit by a plastic bullet.

The mother of a teenager killed by a plastic bullet 37 years ago this week has called for all files on her son’s death to be published.

Helen Whitters was speaking after it was revealed that a file about the death of her son, Paul (15) in 1981 has been closed at the National Archives at Kew until 2059.

The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) has discovered that other files at Kew relating to plastic bullet deaths are to remain closed for 84 years until 2071.

Paul Whitters was struck on the back of his head by a plastic bullet fired by an RUC constable on April 15 1981. He survived for ten days, dying on April 25. In 2007, then Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan found that the use of the plastic bullet round was “wrong and unjustifiable.”

The former Ombudsman found that the police officer fired the plastic bullet gun at under the minimum permissible range; that no attempt was made to arrest the teenager and that the police account was inconsistent with that of seven eyewitnesses. She criticised the police investigation for failing to interview civilian witnesses who said that when the fatal shot was fired earlier rioting had stopped. Almost a year to the day after the teenager’s death, 11-year-old Stephen McConomy, also Derry, died after being hit by a plastic baton round.

Mrs Whitters said: “What right does the government have to withhold information until those who knew and loved Paul are long dead.

“This is about the death of my son at the hands of a RUC constable. This file must be opened and I am appealing to everyone with influence to raise this matter with the Secretary of State.”

PFC spokeswoman, Sara Duddy said: “For years families have campaigned for information relating to the use of plastic and rubber bullets, lethal weapons that killed 17 people during the conflict, mostly children. Many more suffered life-changing injuries. It is unacceptable that information is still being withheld.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.

Irish Government’s statement to the Press Association yesterday re. Statute of Limitations

Irish Government’s statement to the Press Association yesterday re. Statute of Limitations

Paragraph 52

With many thanks to: Pat Finucane Centre.



The families of Elizabeth McDonald and Gerard McGleenan (murdered at their homes in Keady, County Armagh, on 16 August 1976) thank everyone who has supported them by coming to the Coroner’s Court.

Elizabeth was aged 38, a former nurse, the mother of three young boys and and a loving wife to Malachi. She was killed at their home, the “Step Inn” in Keady.

Gerard was aged 22, a keen GAA player, the son of Patrick (RIP) and Maureen and a young man with everything to live for. He died as he left his home directly opposite the “Step Inn”.

Twenty-five people were also injured in the explosion, some seriously, while others were profoundly and permanently psychology scarred.

RUC Special Branch officers knew about the bomb plans ten days before the explosion. The HET report makes it absolutely clear that the RUC could have prevented the bombing.

Special Branch knew a car had been stolen by the UDA on the Shankill Road in Belfast (taken from a police officer).

The local RUC divisional commander ordered surveillance on another police officer’s farm in South Armagh – the home of James Mitchell, an RUC reservist. This was where the bomb was moved into the stolen car.

Another police officer, John Weir, scouted the original bomb route across the border into the Republic.

The gang were aware they were being watched, yet inexplicably they did not flee the scene, but merely changed their target from south of the border to the “Step Inn” in Keady – a cross-community bar with no paramilitary or political links.

After the bombing, Special Branch failed to give any of this information to investigating officers and, as a result, no-one involved was arrested or brought before the courts although their identities were known.

The families were never informed that the police could have prevented the bombings. Nor were they informed until recently that RUC Special Branch officers knew the identity of all those involved.

The HET has called the RUC’s handling of the case “catastrophic”.

The McGleenan and McDonald families trust the Coroner will do his best to assist them in their quest for truth. Both families hope the two governments and the political parties will reach agreement on a truth recovery process which all families deserve and which society needs.

With many thanks to: Pat Finucane Centre (PFC).


NI Retired Police Officers Association (NIRPOA)’S Judicial Review against OPONI in ‘Good Samaritan’ case rejected by court.

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Judge Seamus Treacy has rejected the judicial review being brought by the NIRPOA against the Police Ombudsman in the ‘Good Samaritan’ case.

The NIRPO rejected the findings of the OPONI report, published last July, that found that the RUC failed in their duty to advice the local community or its leaders of possible IRA activities in the area, they failed in their responsibility to uphold Mr Dalton’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and they failed to properly investigate the death of Mr Dalton and Mrs Lewis. 6486269_f260Gerard Curran also died as a result of his injuries a few months later.

This action was brought out of time, with no good reason being provided by the NIRPOA for the delay. Justice Treacy also strongly criticized the NIRPOA for initiation the action without informing the Dalton family, who had to learn about it through the press. This caused unnecessary trauma to the Dalton family.

With many thanks to: Pat Finucane Centre

Army concedes for the first time it did not win the battle against the IRA

Army paper says IRA not defeated.

Friday, 6 July 2007, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK

Army concedes for first time it did not win the battle against the IRA

An internal British army document examining 37 years of deployment in Northern Ireland contains the claim by one expert that it failed to defeat the IRA.

The admission is contained in a discussion document released by the Ministry of Defence after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The 100 page document analyses in detail the army’s role over 37 years.

It focuses on specific operations and gives an overview of its performance.

The six-month study, covering the period 1968-2005, was prepared under the direction of the then chief of general staff, General Sir Mike Jackson.

The document, obtained by the Pat Finucane Centre, points to a number of mistakes, including internment and highlights what lessons have been learnt.

It describes the IRA as “a professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient force”, while loyalist paramilitaries and other republican groups are described as “little more than a collection of gangsters”.

It concedes for the first time that it did not win the battle against the IRA – but claims to have “shown the IRA that it could not achieve its ends through violence”.

In a statement, the Pat Finucane Centre – a human rights group – said the document “betrays a profoundly colonial mindset towards the conflict here and those involved in it”.

“Loyalist violence and the links between loyalist paramilitaries and the state has been airbrushed out of this military history,” it said.

In a statement issued on Friday, an Army spokesman said: “This publication considers the high level general issues that might be applicable to any future counter-terrorist campaign that the British Armed Forces might have to undertake.

“It is critically important to consider what was learned by those who served in Northern Ireland.”


 OPPOSE MI5/RUC Collusion

Pat Finucane Centre



Our daddy, Sean Dalton, died when an IRA booby trapped bomb exploded on 31st August 1988 in Kildrum Gardens in Creggan. Sheila Lewis was also killed instantly, and Gerard Curran died of his injuries 7 months later. Sheila and Gerard were my father’s friends and neighbours.

In 2005 we approached the Pat Finucane Centre and agreed to file a complaint with the Police Ombudsman. We were convinced that the RUC knew about the bomb in advance and had allowed our daddy and his friends to die.

There have been many false dawns since then.


We are clear about the following points:

• The people who are responsible for the deaths of our daddy Sean, Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran, were those who planted the bomb, the IRA. They showed a shocking disregard for our families, and the people of Creggan.

• We believe, however, that the RUC were equally culpable. This report by the Police Ombudsman substantiated our complaint in a number of areas.


The report confirms that

• The RUC failed in their duty to advise the local community or its leaders of possible IRA activities in the area.

• The RUC failed in their responsibility to uphold our daddy’s right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

• The RUC failed in their duty to properly investigate the death of our father and Mrs Lewis.


We believe that the RUC allowed this to happen because they were protecting an informant. The Police Ombudsman says he found no evidence that Police acted to protect an informant.

However, the Ombudsman was hindered in his investigation of this issue by the non co-operation of senior former officers both within the District Command and Special Branch. The report also states that documents and minutes of meetings were missing for reasons that have not been explained to this investigation.

• We intend to take legal advice as a result of the findings of this report.

It will be obvious to any reasonable person reading this report that there was an informer in the IRA in Derry providing on-going, reliable information to Special Branch- intelligence that Special Branch was passing on to the RUC District Command in Derry. We do not know whether this agent was being directed by Special Branch or the Security Service, M15.


It is also obvious to any reasonable person that these three deaths could have been avoided had the RUC contacted a community representative or parish priest. This action would have protected the community and also protected the security forces. The RUC did not do this. They allowed the bomb to remain in situ, in the middle of a high-density block of maisonettes, for five days – putting lives at risk.

Whilst we are focusing on our daddy’s case, our thoughts today are with the families of Sheila Lewis and Gerard Curran. We also acknowledge that that terrible day had another tragic consequence: Gerry Laird, the occupant of the flat, took his own life some years later.

We accept the findings of this report. After 25 years of lies, deception and evasion, we finally feel vindicated. However we have no sense of jubilation. These finding are long overdue. We are sad that our brother Jim, who died two years ago, did not live to see this report.

We would like to thank all the staff of the Pat Finucane Centre, past and present, for their on-going support over the last nine years. We would also like to acknowledge the recent good work of the new Police Ombudsman and his team.




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

British State Sponsered Murder

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

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

With many thanks to : The Irish News.

Related articles


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

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


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

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

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


A FRESH inquest into the death of a young Belfast boy is expected to examine documents showing the British government deployed rubber bullets despite knowing that they could be lethal.

Rubber bullet in 37mm calibre. This is British...
Rubber bullet in 37mm calibre. This is British Army issue, as used during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. 37×122R rubber bullet and casing, as originally issued. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A preliminary inquiry in the case of 11-year-old Francis Rowntree will open today. Francis, from Lower Clonard Street in West Belfast, died (was murdered) in April 1972 when he was struck on the head with a rubber bullet. At his original inquest, British soldiers claimed the projectile ricocheted off a lamppost. However, fresh evidence that he was shot directly and at close range has led to the new hearing. It is also expected to consider new information about rubber bullets published by human rights’ group the Pat Finucane Centre this week. The evidence – in declassified documents – show the British government knew how lethal rubber bullets could be before they allowed them to be used on the streets of the North of Ireland from 1970 to 1975. The files relate to compensation case taken by Derry rubber bullet victim Richard Moore in 1977.

With thanks to : Seamus McKinney, Irish News.

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