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Free DD McLaughlin – End British Internment by Remand

FREE DD McLaughlin who has been held on remand for 19 months charged with murder.

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In several court appearances the RUC/PSNI, MI5 and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), have told the court they have no evidence but are hoping to get some at some stage. The silence of all the politicans on this travesty and mockery of justice is speaking volumes about their attitude to the abuse of human and civil rights.

No evidence= No case= No trial

END POLITICAL POLICING

END SELECTIVE INTERNMENT BY REMAND

With many thanks to: Rebel Craft

PRESS RELEASE – INQUEST INTO THE MURDERS OF ELIZABETH MCDONALD AND GEARD MCGLEENAN

ISSUED BY THE PFC ON BEHALF OF THE MCGLEENAN AND MCDONALD FAMILIES

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).

RUC/PSNI forced into U-turn are now to probe activities of shadowy MRF

 “Any ‘fair-minded’ person can see that these people firing were from a ‘renegade unit’ within the British army” – Patrica McVeigh.

RUC/PSNI is to investigate the activities of a shadowy British army unit operating in the North of Ireland in the 1970s – despite earlier ruling out action against former soldiers.

The RUC/PSNI had ruled out an investigation into the actions of members of the Military Reaction Force (MRF) despite alleged admissions of criminality by soldiers during a television documentary. During the Panorrama programme ex-members claimed they “took the war to the IRA” in the early years of the Troubles. Some soldiers from the controversial unit, which apparently disbanded after 14 months, told journalist John Ware about their involvement in the MRF, including shooting dead several unarmed civilians. Director of Public Prosecutions Barbra McGrory, took the unprecedented step of asking police to investigate the contents of the documentary. However, the families of two unarmed civilians murdered by the undercover unit were told there would be no investigation after Chief Constable Drew Harris said there was no evidence of any crime. Solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, who represents the families of Pat McVeigh (44) and Daniel Rooney (18) said at the time they planned to apply for a judicial review into the decision. Mr O Muirigh, had voiced concerns that no investigative steps had been taken and no effort made to trace or question the former soldiers who had participated in the documentary.

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However, as they were preparing to launch a High Court challenge to force the police to investigate the contents of the programme, the RUC/PSNI confirmed they would now investigate the army unit. The Public Prosecution Service confirmed in writing this week that they had been given assurances by the RUC/PSNI that a full investigation would now commence and steps taken to identify the soldiers. Senior RUC/PSNI officer Detective Chief Inspector Brian Hanna has been appointed to take on the case and draw up an “investigative strategy”. “I am now satisfied with these steps and I will keep the matter under review”, Mr McGrory said in a letter informing the families this week. Patricia McVeigh’s father Pat, who was one of those murdered by an MRF patrol, welcomed the development. “We hope Brian Hanna will do a good and thorough job in investigating these men. We would also request a meeting with Mr Hanna and the new chief constable as soon as possible. “We were fobbed of for six months as indeed was the DPP Barbra McGrory. “Any ‘fair-minded’ person can see these people firing were from a ‘renegade unit’ within the British army”. Mr O Muirigh said the new investigation must look at the entire 40-man unit and not just isolated incidents. “What we don’t want is for this investigation to be placed into the hands of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET). We’ve been told a senior investigating officer has been appointed and that’s to be welcomed,” he said. “It is also important that the families meet with the senior investigating officer and the incoming Chief Constable George Hamilton at the soonest opportunity for reassurance that a thorough investigation will now be carried out. “We will be calling for this investigation to look at the entire unit and not just those who took part in the Panorama programme.

With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News, for the original story.

Ombudsman launches legal action against the Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Baggott and the RUC/PSNI

Watchdog says police ‘have stalled’ investigations into deaths

THE RUC/PSNI is facing legal action from the Police Ombudsman, which accuses it of refusing to provide information about more than 60 deaths. 1975096_265836583595060_1936534027_n The BBC understands that the Ombudsman has been trying to find out if police acted on information it was given prior to a dissident republican bomb attack. Weeks later, Constable Peadar Heffron was seriously injured in a car bombing. Michael Maguire has served notice on the RUC/PSNI over its alleged failure to provide his investigators with material and said his inquiries had been stalled. The ombudsman’s office’s judicial reveiw will seek to compel the RUC/PSNI to provide the ombudsman with information. Dr Maguire said: “We cannot have a situation where a public body, and particularly the police, can decide whether or not it will cooperate with a criminal or misconduct investigation, particularly where legislation requires them to do so.” The ombudsman handles complaints about the conduct of officers and has undertaken a series of hard-hitting investigations that found serious faults, although in many other cases exonerating detectives. Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) chief constable Sir Hugh Orde, who formerly headed the RUC/PSNI, has called for a similar regulatory system to be introduced across the UK. Dr Maguire, pictured below said despite repeated requests over past months, the RUC/PSNI has on more than 100 occasions either refused to provide information to his office or has said it must first explain and jusify why the material is wanted.

 

 

He said: “The police have taken the view that they will decide whether or not to provide us with information and in many cases have now decided not to.” He said the legal action was unusual and unfortunate but necessary, adding: “The many thousands of people who make complaints to us every year do so on the basis that we have access to all the police information we need to independently investigate their complaint. “That principle is enshined in law and accepted across the community. Investigation by negotiation is not acceptable.” An  RUC/PSNI spokesman said the organisation has a legal responsibility for the care and management of all information which must be taken extremely seriously. “At the same time the PSNI also recognises the statutory responsibility to provide information to the Police Ombudsman, enabling exercise of his functions and legal responsibilities. “Police are currently seeking to agree a solution with PONI around these complicated, and sometimes unfortunately competing, legal issues. “We will continue to furfil our legal obligations with the primary consideration being that of protecting life in accordance with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human rights The .” Steps to protect life taken by the police in public fora like inquests have included the ommission of the Northern Ireland Secretary, which might identify some witnesses (informers) deemed to be at risk. The police spokesman said: “Until we can get a resolution, PSNI beleives that it has resonded aporopriately to each request, giving careful consideration on a case by case basis, to ensure that the respective legal requirements are met. “PSNI will continue to work with PONI to seek an agreement over our respective obligations and ensure we both have a shared understanding of the legal framework.” In September the ombudsman signed an agreement with chief constable Matt (the maggot) Baggott covering how requests are made and related procedures. The ombudsman’s office said: “However, investigations into the circumstances surronding more than 60 deaths/murders – both those from the past and more recently – have now been stalled by an RUC/PSNI refusal to provide certain material.” A spokeswomen for the Policing Board said: “Police cooperation and provision of information to the institutions with legislative responsibility for delevering independent oversight and accountability of the PSNI is critical. “The appilcation for leave for a judicial reveiw by the Police Ombudsman is very significant and a matter of great concern. Board members will discuss this with the chief constable at its meeting this week.” Chief Constable Matt (the maggot) Baggott also anounced yesterday that he was stepping down earlily. He was due to retire at the end of August, but his departure has been brought forward. Mr Baggott was due to retire at the end of August but now will be leaving at the end of this month.

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

THE McDEVITT FAMILY SUPPORT THE DAY OF ACTION, DUBLIN, JUNE 14TH

“My brother Eamon was shot dead by the Royal Marine Commandos on 18th August 1971. He was the first person to be murdered in Strabane.”

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“Eamon was 28-years-old. He was deaf and mute, but he was a happy man. Eamon had friends; he could communicate; he enjoyed having a laugh. Eamon was well known and loved in the community. A few days after he was murdered  Eamon’s friends from St Joseph’s school in Dublin held a silent demonstratio against the actions of the British Army. They marched to the British Embassy and delivered a letter in protest of what happened to Eamon. The British Army shot and killed my brother. They branded him a gun man. This is despite the numerous eye witnesses who could testify that this was lies. We have never given up on justice and tried to pursure our case in Europe. For 8 years we engaged with the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and received some draft reports that regurgitated the lies of the Army at the time. We were waiting on a final report when the HET were suspended. Now they want the RUC/PSNI to investigate the past. The British Government is playing a waiting game. It has been 43 years since Eamon was murdered. I have lost two sisters and a brother since then. How long will they keep us waiting? They throw you a few crumbs to try and keep you happy, but never the full truth and justice. The McDevitt family want an apology for what happened to Eamon. We want them to say they are sorry and they were wrong for what they did.”

With many thanks to: Pat Finucane Centre, for the origional story.

UPDATE: ON THE ‘GOOD SAMARITAN’ CASE

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

R.I.P Peter McBride Murdered in cold blood by the British Army on this day 4th September 1992.

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Ireland’s Own

Remember Peter McBride today. On 4 September 1992, the unarmed, 18-year-old father of two young daughters was shot dead by two Scots Guardsmen in the New Lodge area of Belfast. Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher stopped, searched and questioned McBride; and then, as he was walking away, Wright and Fisher shot him dead from a range of 70 yards, hitting him twice in the back.

The two soldiers were taken to Girdwood Army Barracks, where the RUC were denied access to them for at least 10 hours. But the next day, Wright and Fisher were charged with 999457_162285820642051_466863143_nmurder.

In February 1995, Wright and Fisher were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. At their trial, the two claimed that they shot at McBride because they believed he was “carrying a coffee-jar bomb.” However, Lord Chief Justice Kelly concluded that Wright and Fisher had plenty of time to determine what McBride was carrying, if anything, when they searched him. Moreover, in his ruling, Kelly wrote that the two guardsmen had “lied about critical elements of their version of events…and deliberately chose to put forward a version which they both knew to be untrue.”

Still, Wright and Fisher each served only six years of their life-term sentences! In September 1998, just two days before the sixth anniversary of McBride’s murder, the two were released and permitted to resume serving in the british army, where they both received promotions!

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In 2003, Wright was discharged from the army for medical reasons following a shooting injury to his wrist that he sustained in Iraq, but Fisher remains as a soldier serving in the British army

RUC/LOYALIST AND BRITISH PARAMILITARY COLLISION IN SOUTH DERRY IN THE OCCUPIED SIX COUNTIES OF THE NORTH OF IRELAND

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PatroitDead SouthDerry NorthAntrim

RUC / LOYALISTS PARAMILITARY COLLUSION SOUTH DERRY NORTH ANTRIM

The accounts are remarkably similar. Intense crown force’s activity followed by total withdrawal. Hours of helicopters buzzing overhead, days of foot patrols and roadblocks, then silence. “Everyone knew someone was going to be killed, silence was almost always a prelude to terror,” said a relative of an East Derry collusion victim Tommy Donaghy.

Stretching from Derry City, along the North coast through County Derry to North Antrim is a single UDA brigade area. It includes Derry City, Coleraine and villages such as Castlerock and Rasharkin. It also borders County Donegal.

The territory is as wide and diverse – urban and rural, coastal and land bound. One unifying aspect is that local communities were all subject to the attentions of one organised unionist paramilitary group and state forces who colluded in its reign of terror.

Earlier this year one of the North’s most notorious sectarian mass murderers, Torrens Knight was exposed as an RUC Special Branch agent. In October 1993 Knight was one of a number of masked gunmen responsible for the Greysteel massacre.

Now families of other victims in the area believe members of the same gang were responsible for other murders. They believe collusion was organised and sanctioned by Special Branch and others. The UDR also played a key role, providing weapons and intelligence and willing recruits to the death squads. Many unionist paramilitaries were former or serving members of the UDR.

On Halloween night 1993 UDA killers walked into the Rising Sun Bar, a pub known to be frequented by Catholics and shouted “trick or treat” before spraying the lounge with bullets. Nineteen people were wounded and eight died from their injuries.

Knight later admitted standing ‘guard’ at the door of the pub armed with a sawn-off shotgun during the attack and driving the getaway car from the scene. He also admitted being part of a UDA gang that shot dead four Catholic workmen in Castlerock in March 1993.

Significantly, on the day of the Castlerock murders, two of three possible routes usually taken by the workmen travelling together in a van had been closed by the RUC. At Gortree Place gunmen emerged out of another van, killing one of the front passengers before spraying the rest of the vehicle with gunfire.

Four workmen were killed and a fifth seriously wounded. One of those killed, James Kelly,was later claimed as an IRA Volunteer. It is widely believed that the first gunman to open fire is a former member of the UDR.

Despite the fact that the gun attack took place within view of a RUC barracks, the killers appeared unconcerned about surveillance. After making an initial getaway, they returned to the scene, driving slowly past their victims before driving away again.

Knight, jailed for Greysteel and Castlerock, was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in July 2000. Sentenced to life imprisonment for 12 UDA murders, he was subsequently paid £50,000 a year through a bogus Special Branch account.

The payments came to light after bank staff noticed the notorious loyalist withdrawing two large amounts and checked his account. A bank official, imagining that Knight must be accruing a fortune through illegal means, informed the PSNI. The PSNI confirmed the payments were legal before transferring the account.

Knight began his criminal career as a teenage petty thief who preyed upon family members including an elderly relative. It is unknown exactly when Special Branch identified him as a potential agent but his predilection for easy money and ruthless disregard for others made him an attractive proposition.

What we do know is that Knight was working for Special Branch at the time of the Castlerock and Greysteel massacres. Earlier this year it was revealed that Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan was investigating claims he was protected as a Special Branch agent at the time of Castlerock and Greysteel.

At the time Ronnie Flanagan was head of RUC Special Branch. He later became PSNI Chief Constable. There have been calls for Flanagan to go public on whether he knew Knight was a paid, protected agent.

According to Coleraine Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Leonard: “Not only was Torrens Knight protected and paid but many believe at least two other, more senior figures involved in the killings, were working for Special Branch. A number of key figures were former members of the UDR.” One was killed in 1994, the other remains at the heart of the local unionist paramilitary group. It is believed he carried out murders and took part in Greysteel and Castlerock. He is implicated in the murder of Donegal Councillor Eddie Fullerton.

Recently exposed secret British government files show that the British Cabinet was aware of large-scale collusion between the locally recruited British army regiment and loyalist death squads as early as 1973.

According to the documents in the early 1970’s up to 15% of the UDR were linked to paramilitary groups and the regiment provided “the single best source of weapons for Protestant extremist groups”.

By the 1980’s the Thatcher regime had developed established wide-scale informal collusion, through MI5 agents like Brian Nelson and Charles Simpson, into a murder machine more finely tuned to British counter insurgency strategy.

Victims of collusion in County Derry and the South East Antrim area include John Davey, Gerard Casey, Tommy Donaghy, Bernard O’Hagan, Danny Cassidy and Malachy Carey.

Davey, a Sinn Féin councillor, was murdered while returning home from Magherafelt Council in February 1989. He was shot several times at close range through the driver’s window of his car. The headlights were switched off and the handbrake was on, suggesting that he stopped at what he believed to be a crown forces roadblock. He had been repeatedly threatened prior to his murder.

IRA Volunteer Gerard Casey was shot dead in what later emerged as a classic collusion style killing. Two gunmen smashed their way into Casey’s Rasharkin home on April 4 1989. He was killed at close range as he lay in bed beside his wife and baby daughter.

Special Branch in Castlereagh Interrogation Centre had threatened Casey saying they would have him assassinated and the killing would be claimed by unionist paramilitaries. Just prior to the attack the RUC removed his legally held shotgun and drew a sketch map of the interior of his home.

Tommy Donaghy, a Sinn Féin worker and IRA volunteer was shot dead at close range as he arrived for work at Portna Eel Fishery near Kilrea on 16 August 1991. His family had been threatened by the RUC who told them Tommy would be dead before Christmas. Donaghy had been told by the RUC that his personal details had been passed into the hands of loyalists.

Bernard O’Hagan, a Sinn Féin Councillor was shot dead by a lone gunman as he arrived for work at Magherafelt College on 16 September 1991. O’Hagan was one of a number of Sinn Féin councillors attacked and killed during this period. Others include his Magherafelt colleague John Davey and Eddie Fullerton of Donegal. Fullerton was killed on 25 May 1991. One of the guns used in the murder was later used in the Castlerock massacre.

Danny Cassidy Sinn Fein worker IRA volunteer died on 2 April 1992 when his car was sprayed with bullets after he stopped to speak to a neighbour a few yards from his home in Kilrea. Forty eight hours earlier the RUC told Cassidy he would be killed.

A member of the RUC’s notorious DMSU had told Cassidy that there would be “a hole in his head big enough to put a fist into”. Another RUC officer pointed a rifle at the victim’s head. Cassidy’s photograph later surfaced on a crown forces montage in the hands of unionist paramilitaries.

Malachy Carey, a former Sinn Féin election candidate, was shot by a gunman as he walked along a street in Ballymoney on 13 December 1992. He died a short time later in hospital. Carey had been told by the RUC that his personal details were in the hands of unionist paramilitaries.

A number of families, including relatives of Gerard Casey, Tommy Donaghy and Danny Cassidy have cited further aspects of the killings that suggest their family members had been victims of collusion.

When relatives raised the issue of collusion during the inquest into the killing of Tommy Donaghy, the family was subjected to intimidation by the RUC. Later on the same day, an RUC Land Rover pulled up outside their home and an officer fired three shots in the air.

During the inquest into the killing of Danny Cassidy senior RUC officers admitted instructing junior colleagues to harass the victim prior to the killing. Following this revelation the inquest was adjourned and is still pending 14 years later, with no indication when it will be resumed.

The presence of an RUC officer, allegedlyoffduty, from Ballymoney in a vehicle just two cars behind the killers’ vehicle during the murder of Cassidy has also raised concerns about collusion.

On the day of Danny Cassidy’s murder, the actions of crown forces in the area led a local republican to alert the media, predicting that someone in the area was going to be killed. Later that day Danny Cassidy was shot dead.

The families have also cited suspicions regarding two guns found during this period in a lay-by outside Kilrea. Two people were reportedly arrested, the car was seen being taken away for forensic tests and yet no charges were ever made.

A loyalist who was later charged with possession of a gun used in the killing of Sinn Féin Councillor Bernard O’Hagan in 1991 was not charged with his murder. The loyalist was a relative of one of those convicted of the Greysteel massacre.

One of the guns used in the murder of Tommy Donaghy near Kilrea was described during his inquest as having “a particularly tragic history”. However the RUC refused to detail that history and the suspicion remains that it was the same weapon used in the murder of Gerard Casey.

It is believed that in 1993 Torrens Knight’s Special Branch handlers moved two high powered rifles from Agivey River at Hunter’s Mill, near Aghadowey after local anglers alerted the RUC of their discovery. The weapons were later used by Knight’s gang in the Greysteel massacre.

“There are many more questions to be asked, not only about Knight but also his accomplices and their Special Branch handlers,” said Billy Leonard. “There are other key figures that have roamed free while playing key roles in directing loyalist killers’ activities,” he said.

Oglaigh na hEireann Kevin Lynch…. Died August 1st, 1981- Rest in Peace

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A loyal, determined republican with a great love of life

The eighth republican to join the hunger-strike for political status, on May 23rd, following the death of Patsy O’Hara, was twenty-five-year-old fellow INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch from the small, North Derry town of Dungiven who had been imprisoned since his arrest in 1976.

A well-known and well liked young man in the closely-knit community of his home town, Kevin was remembered chiefly for his outstanding ability as a sportsman, and for qualities of loyalty, determination and a will to win which distinguished him on the sports field and which, in heavier times and circumstances, were his hallmarks as an H-Block blanket man on hunger strike to the death.

Kevin Lynch was a happy-go-lucky, principled young Derry man with an enthusiastic love of life, who was, as one friend of his remarked – a former schoolteacher of Kevin’s and an active H-Block campaigner: “the last person, back in 1969, you would have dreamed would be spending a length of time in prison.”

The story of Kevin Lynch is of a light-hearted, hard-working and lively young man, barely out of his teens when the hard knock came early one December morning nearly five years ago, who had been forced by the British occupation of his country to spend those intervening years in heroic refusal to accept the British brand of ‘criminal’ and in the tortured assertion of what he really was – a political prisoner.

PARK

Kevin Lynch was born on May 25th, 1956, the youngest of a family of eight, in the tiny village of Park, eight miles outside Dungiven. His father, Paddy, (aged 66), and his mother, Bridie, (aged 65), whose maiden name is Cassidy, were both born in Park too, Paddy Lynch’s family being established there for at least three generations, but they moved to Dungiven twenty years ago, after the births of their children.

Paddy Lynch is a builder by trade, like his father and grandfather before him – a trade which he handed down to his five sons: Michael (aged 39), Patsy (aged 37), Francis (aged 33), Gerard (aged 27), and Kevin himself, who was an apprenticed bricklayer. There are also three daughters in the family: Jean (aged 35), Mary (aged 30), and Bridie (aged 29).

Though still only a small town of a few thousand, Dungiven has been growing over the past twenty years due to the influx of families like the Lynches from the outlying rural areas. It is an almost exclusively nationalist town, garrisoned by a large and belligerent force of RUC and Brits. In civil rights days, however, nationalists were barred from marching in the town centre.

Nowadays, militant nationalists have enforced their right to march, but the RUC still attempt to break up protests and the flying of the tricolour (not in itself ‘illegal’ in the six counties) is considered taboo by the loyalist bigots of the RUC.

Support in the town is relatively strong, Dungiven having first-hand experience of a hunger strike last year when local man Tom McFeeley went fifty-three days without food before the fast ended on December 18th. Apart from Tom McFeeley and Kevin Lynch other blanket men from the town are Kevin’s boyhood friend and later comrade Liam McCloskey – himself later to embark on hunger strike – and former blanket man Eunan Brolly, who was released from the H-Blocks last December.

SCHOOL

Kevin went to St. Canice’s primary school and then on to St. Patrick’s intermediate, both in Dungiven. Although not academically minded – always looking forward to taking his place in the family building business – he was well-liked by his teachers, respected for his sporting prowess and for his well-meant sense of humour. “Whatever devilment was going on in the school, you could lay your bottom dollar Kevin was behind it,” remembers his former schoolteacher, recalling that he took great delight in getting one of his classmates, his cousin Hugh (‘the biggest boy in the class – six foot one’) “into trouble”. But it was all in fun – Kevin was no troublemaker, and whenever reprimanded at school, like any other lively lad, would never bear a grudge.

Above all, Kevin was an outdoor person who loved to go fishing for sticklebacks in the river near his home, or off with a bunch of friends playing Gaelic (an outdoor disposition which must have made his H-Block confinement even harder to bear).

GAMES

His great passion was Gaelic games playing Gaelic football from very early on, and then taking up hurling when he was at St. Patrick’s.

He was excelled at both.

Playing right half-back for St. Patrick’s hurling club, which was representing County Derry, at the inaugural Feile na nGael held in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 1971, Kevin’s performance – coming only ten days after an appendix operation – was considered a key factor in the team’s victory in the four-match competition played over two days.

The following season Kevin was appointed captain of both St. Patrick’s hurling team and the County Derry under-16 team which went on in that season to beat Armagh in the All Ireland under-16 final at Croke Park in Dublin.

Later on, while working in England, he was a reserve for the Dungiven senior football team in the 1976 County Derry final.

Kevin’s team, St. Canice’s, was beaten 0-9 to 0-3 by Sarsfields of Ballerin, and he is described in the match programme as “a strong player and a useful hurler”. Within a short space of time after this final, Kevin would be in jail, as would two of his team mates on that day, Eunan Brolly and Sean Coyle.

QUALITIES

The qualities Kevin is remembered for as a sportsman were his courage and determination, his will to win, and his loyalty to his team mates. Not surprisingly the local hurling and football clubs were fully behind Kevin and his comrades in their struggle for the five demands, pointing out that Kevin had displayed those same qualities in the H-Blocks and on hunger strike.

He was also a boxer with the St. Canice’s club, once reaching the County Derry final as a schoolboy, but not always managing as easily as he achieved victory in his first fight!

Just before the match was due to start his opponent asked him how many previous fights he’d had. With suppressed humour, Kevin answered “thirty-three” so convincingly that his opponent, overcome with nervous horror, couldn’t be persuaded into the ring.

At the age of fifteen, Kevin left school and began to work alongside his father. Although lively, going to dances, and enjoying good crack, he was basically a quiet, determined young fellow, who stuck to his principles and couldn’t easily be swayed.

Like any other family in Dungiven, the Lynches are nationally minded, and young Kevin would have been just as aware as any other lad of his age of the basic injustices in his country, and would have equally resented the petty stop-and-search harassment which people of his age continually suffered at the hands of Brits and RUC.

The Lynches were also, typically, a close family and in 1973, at the age of sixteen, Kevin went to England to join his three brothers, Michael, Patsy and Gerard, who were already working in Bedford.

Both Bedford and its surrounding towns, stretching from Hertfordshire to Buckinghamshire and down to the north London suburbs, contain large Irish populations, and the Lynches mixed socially within that, Kevin going a couple of times a week to train with St. Dympna’s in Luton or to Catholic clubs in Bedford or Luton for a quiet drink and a game of snooker. He even played an odd game of rugby while over there.

But Kevin never intended settling in England and on one of his occasional visits home (“he just used to turn up”), in August 1976, he decided to stay in Dungiven.

INLA

Shortly after his return home, coming away from a local dance, he and nine other young lads were put up against a wall by British soldiers and given a bad kicking, two of the lads being brought to the barracks.

Kevin joined the INLA around this time, maybe because of this incident in part, but almost certainly because of his national awareness coming from his cultural love of Irish sport, as well as his courage and integrity, made him determined to stand up both for himself and his friends.

“He wouldn’t ever allow himself to be walked on”, recalls his brother, Michael. And he had always been known for his loyalty by his family, his friends, his teammates, and eventually by his H-Block comrades.

However, within the short space of little more than three months, Kevin’s active republican involvement came to an end almost before it had begun. Following an ambush outside Dungiven, in November ’76, in which an RUC man was slightly injured, the RUC moved against those it suspected to be INLA activists in the town.

On December 2nd, 1976, at 5.40 a.m. Brits and RUC came to the Lynch’s home for Kevin. “We said he wasn’t going anywhere before he’d had a cup of tea”, remembers Mr. Lynch, “but they refused to let him have even a glass of water. The RUC said he’d be well looked after by then.”

Also arrested that day in Dungiven were Sean Coyle, Seamus McGrandles, and Kevin’s schoolboy friend Liam McCloskey, with whom he was later to share an H-Block cell.

Kevin was taken straight to Castlereagh, and, after three days’ questioning, on Saturday, December 4th, he was charged and taken to Limavady to be remanded in custody by a special court. The string of charges included conspiracy to disarm members of the enemy forces, taking part in a punishment shooting, and the taking of ‘legally held’ shotguns.

Following a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Belfast, he was tried and sentenced to ten years in December 1977, immediately joining the blanket men in H3, and eventually finding himself sharing a cell with his Dungiven friend and comrade, Liam McCloskey, continuing to do so until he took part in the thirty-man four-day fast which coincided with the end of the original seven-man hunger strike last December.

LONG KESH

Since they were sentenced in 1977, both Dungiven men suffered their share of brutality from Crumlin Road and Long Kesh prison warders, Kevin being ‘put on the boards’ for periods of up to a fortnight, three or four times.

On Wednesday, April 26th, 1978, six warders, one carrying a hammer, came in to search their cell. Kevin’s bare foot, slipping on the urine-drenched cell floor, happened to splash the trouser leg of one of the warders, who first verbally abused him and then kicked urine at him.

When Kevin responded in like manner he was set upon by two warders who punched and kicked him, while another swung a hammer at him, but fortunately missed. The punching and kicking continued till Kevin collapsed on the urine-soaked floor with a bruised and swollen face.

In another assault by prison warders, Kevin’s cellmate, Liam McCloskey, suffered a burst ear-drum during a particularly bad beating, and is now permanently hard of hearing.

DETERMINATION

Even as long ago as April 1978, just after the ‘no wash’ protest had begun, Kevin was reported, in a bulletin issued by the Dungiven Relatives Action Committee, to “have lost a lot of weight, his face is a sickly white and he is underfed”.

His determination, and his sense of loyalty to his blanket comrades, saw him through, however, even the hardest times.

His former H-Block comrade, Eunan Brolly, who was also in H3 before his release, remembers how Kevin once put up with raging toothache for three weeks rather than come off the protest to get dental treatment. It was the sort of thing which forced some blanket men off the protest, at least temporarily, but not Kevin.

Eunan, who recalls how Kevin used to get a terrible slagging from other blanket men because the GAA, of which of course he was a member, did not give enough support to the fight for political status, also says he was not surprised by Kevin’s decision to join the hunger strike. Like other blanket men, Eunan says, Kevin used to discuss a hunger strike as a possibility, a long time ago, “and he was game enough for it”.

Neither were his family, who supported him in his decision, surprised: “Kevin’s the type of man”, said his father, when Kevin was on the hunger strike, “that wouldn’t lie back. He’d want to do his share.”

In the Free State elections, in June, Kevin stood as a candidate in the Waterford constituency, collecting 3,337 first preferences before being eliminated – after Labour Party and Fianna Fail candidates – on the fifth count, with 3,753 votes.

But the obvious popular support which the hunger strikers and their cause enjoyed nationally was not sufficient to elicit support from the Free State government who share the common, futile hope of the British government – the criminalisation of captured freedom fighters.

The direct consequence of that was Kevin’s death – the seventh at that stage – in the Long Kesh hospital at 1.00 a.m. on Saturday, August 1st after seventy-one days on hunger strike.

R.I.P. ~ Kevin Lynch…

IRA Oglaigh Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns RIP

 

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Irish Republican History & Remembrance.

I R A ÓGLAIGH Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns;

On Thursday evening, 11 November 1982, IRA Volunteers Gervais McKerr, Eugene Toman and Sean Burns were ambushed and executed in Lurgan by the RUC. Both Eugene and Sean had recently insisted on returning to active service involvement in Lurgan, despite having gone ‘on the run’ and leaving the town for a short while after Sean was identified during an IRA operation.

Local members of the RUC and UDR had a long involvement in sectarian murders, including those of the Miami Showband, and of dual membership with the illegal paramilitary UVF.

The three Volunteers left McKerr’s house shortly after 9.35pm. Minutes later, less than half a mile away at Tullygally Road east, they met their deaths in a hail of RUC automatic gunfire.

Thousands turned out in Lurgan to mourn the three Volunteers as they were buried with full IRA military honours on Sunday, 14 November.

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