A man who narrowly escaped death in the Loughinisland massacre has asked to meet with a UUP council candidate after a suspect in the loyalist atrocity was pictured helping put up his election posters.
Ulster Unionist Alan Lewis said he did “not wish to comment” on the photograph of Ronnie Hawthorn, who was named by a major documentary in connection with the 1994 attack, erecting his posters close to the south Down village.
A former member of Ukip, Mr Lewis is running as a candidate in the Slieve Croob area of Newry, Mourne and Down council in next month’s local government elections.
Hawthorn was named in No Stone Unturned as a suspected member of the UVF gang said to have been responsible for the attack on the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, when six men were shot dead while watching a World Cup match.
He has described the allegations in the film as “unfounded” and said it represented “a speculative, reckless, and irresponsible attempt at an expose, which now is the subject of a police investigation”.
Hawthorn was pictured erecting posters in support of Mr Lewis in a move described as a “distressing and hurtful” by one of the survivors of the Loughinisland attack.
Aidan O’Toole, who was seriously injured while working behind the bar, said he was “saddened” when he heard the news.
“This is such a small community and when something like this happens news gets around very quickly. I’ve spoken to other victims’ families who are just as devastated as I am by this news,” he said.
“Does Alan Lewis realise how insensitive this is and how retraumatising it is for us as victims?
“I still have my good days and bad days – things like this can be a real set back for us all.
“I wonder has Mr Lewis even bothered to watch No Stone Unturned, and would he maybe like to take the time to meet the families so we can explain to him at first hand the hurt his association with Hawthorn is causing us all.”
When contacted by The Irish News, Mr Lewis – who describes himself as a ‘Victims Advocacy Officer’ – said he had put his own posters up along with his wife, before saying he “didn’t want to comment”.
The Irish News also contacted Ronnie Hawthorn and the UUP for comment but they did not respond.
Two journalists, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, were arrested by police in relation to documents used in the making No Stone Unturned, which named a number of suspects including Hawthorn.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Allison Morris for the original story
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js“>http://<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>RTÉ is the first public broadcaster in the world to commit to showing “No Stone Unturned” feature documentary by <a href=”https://twitter.com/alexgibneyfilm?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@alexgibneyfilm</a> and Belfast journalists <a href=”https://twitter.com/trevorbirney?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@trevorbirney</a> and Barry McCaffrey on the Loughinisland Massacre. Watch <a href=”https://twitter.com/RTEOne?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RTEOne</a> Wednesday 2 October 9.35pm <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TruthMatters?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TruthMatters</a> <a href=”https://t.co/96QqDunF2W”>pic.twitter.com/96QqDunF2W</a></p>— RTÉ Press Office (@RTEPress) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RTEPress/status/1174689592571760640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 19, 2019</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
It has been brought to the attention of Belfast 32csm that the much needed mental health facilities at the Everton Centre in Ardoyne are to be closed due to a lack of funding…….
Facilities like this are s necessity in the Ardoyne area which has a substantially high number of people with mental health issues, as do many working class communities. We totally condemn the closure of such services due to the lack of funding whilst at the same time British security forces including MI5, Special Branch,
SAS and the unreformed RUC are receiving millions of pounds of tax payers money to harass and oppress this small republican community. With the closure of Everton Centre many patients will have to travel to different unfamiliar facilities, in many cases these facilities are based in the heart of loyalist areas which would inevitably cause even more distress and anxiety.
Over the next few weeks we would ask everyone to highlight this issue and hopfully bring an end to the closure of this much needed service and show that we all support mental health treatment right across the board.
With many thanks to: Conchobhar Óbreaslain – 32 County Sovereignty Movement :
YOU probably didn’t notice and there’s no reason why you should, but the same day that a certain loyalist blogger and serial self-publicist was giving evidence to Stormont’s Nama inquiry the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) snuck out its policy paper on implementing the Stormont House Agreement.
Needless to say it got it got virtually no coverage in the tidal wave of sensational allegations made about the alleged recipients of money from the Cerberus deal. If you’ve ever wondered why the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) decided to draft the Stormont House Agreement Bill 2015 and bring it through Westminister rather than allow the clowns in the big house on the hill to legislate, once you read the policy paper all becomes clear. Quite simply the British government intends to control the Historical Inquires Unit (HIU), on what information it can have and what it can reveal. Anyone who beleives that the Policing Board will hold the HIU accountable is living in cloud-cuckoo land. “The secretary of state will have oversight of the HIU regarding reserved and excepted matters.” The UK government will prevent disclosure of any material or information ‘likely to prejudice national security (including information from the intelligence services)’. None of this material can be published ‘without the consent of the secretary of state’. Now as we all know from past experience, ‘likely to prejudice national security’ is whatever our proconsul for the time being decides is national security. When you look at the policy paper you see it begins with a questionable statement and continues to ignore all suggestions and recommendations made by interested parties, nationalist political parties, NGOs like the Committee for the Administration of Justice and university academics. In short, it’s a classic NIO document. It begins with the unconvincing claim that ‘the institutions have the needs of the victims and their families are at their heart’. No. The needs of secrecy in the Ministry of Defence, the NIO and the Home Office are at their heart. It has never been any different in the secretive British state.
For example it was only in 2002 after Freedom of Information requests that details of Special Branch investigation into Charles Stewart Parnell and other Irish MPs were released and even then only in restricted fashion. The names of informers (touts) and amounts paid are still secret 125 years after the fact. Academics at QUB, Sinn Féin (Shame Fein) politicians and the CAJ among others recommended that former RUC and RUC Special Branch personnel be not employed in the HIU partly because they may have been complicit in collusion or cover up or both. The great merit of the Historical Enquiries Team was that its personnel were seconded from English forces and we all know why. However, ignoring all that, ‘the bill does not prohibit the HIU from recruiting persons who have previously served in policing or security roles in the North of Ireland.’
So the HIU won’t work and the NIO has made sure it won’t work because it will only investigate and publish what the NIO allows it to invstigate and publish. Then there’s the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). It’s modelled on the Independent Commission on the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) which has worked extremely well. However, the NIO policy paper goes out of its way to make clear that while information given to the ICIR is inadmissible in court, if that information is obtained or can be obtained by other means then prosecution may follow.
That puts the kibosh on the ICIR because given the record of the PSNI over the past four years, starting with the Boston College fiasco (all hearsay) and continuing with their apparent trawling after the killing of Kevin McGuigan with almost a score of people arrested and released, who is going to risk giving information to the ICIR to pass to families? Inevitably individuals in the PSNI/RUC would be working backwards from the material a family recieved. In mitigation it has to be said on the basis of evidence so far, that’s only likely in the case of prominent Sinn Féin figures. Buried in the policy paper is our proconsul’s admission that ‘on some detailed questions covered in the bill, there is not yet a clear consensus between the five main North of Ireland parties. Work will continue to build consensus on remaining points of difference.’ Yeah right.
With many thanks to: Brian Feeny, for the origional story, The Irish News.
Calls for inquiry into all murders by loyalist’s loyal to the British crown amid collusion claims
‘This wasn’t just a few bad apples, this was collusion and this was policy – Peter Corrigan.
A PUBLIC inquiry must be considered into a notorios loyalist murder gang whose members included members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) the so-called new police service of the North of Ireland (PSNI) and membears of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) a North of Ireland predominantly Protestant unit of the British Army (which was disbanded) as was the RUC (disbanded), soldiers, a coroner’s court has heard.
Lawyers for one of the estimated 120 victims of the infamous Glenanne Gang have insisted only a major state probe, or a thematic inquest covering all the murders (deaths), can get to the truth of the controversial collusion claims. Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire is examining allegations (off corroupt) Glen Anne inst RUC officers, while the police’s Historical Enquries Team (HET) has found “indisputable evidence” of security force collusion in the muderous group. The call for another investigation into the actions of the UVF gang, which operated out of farms in counties Armagh and Tyrone in the mid 1970s, was heard as inquest proceedings into one attack is carried out began in Belfast. Mother-of-three Elizabeth ‘Betty’ McDonald (38), and Gerard McGleenan (22), were murdered when a no-warning loyalist bomb detonated outside the Step Inn pub and nearby houses in the village of Keady, Co Armagh in August 1976. Twenty-five other people were injured in the blast. It has been claimed that RUC Special Branch and British Army Surveillance personnel knew a bombing was being planned by the gang but failed to prevent it. Attorney General John Larkin has ordered a new inquest into the murders. Mrs McDonald’s widower Malachi and Mr McGleenan’s brother Robert, along with relatives of other people allegededly killed by the Glenanne gang, were in Belfast for the opening hearing before senior coroner John Leckey. He has been asked by a lawyer for Mr McDonald to consider an all-encompassing thematic inquest or to recommend a public enquiry. Last year a coroner in England asked the home secretary Theresa May to establish a public inquiry into the 2006 poisioning death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London, saying sensitive issues of national security could not be examined at an inquest.
Mrs May’s subsequent decision to turn down a statutory inquiry was quashed by the High Court, which told her to reconsider the matter. Mr Leckey stressed to Mr McDonald’s solicitor Peter Corrigan that the threshold at which a national security issue was reached was quite high, noting that allegations against a small number of officers might not be applicable. Mr Corrigan said the collusion claims in the Glenanne case were systematic. “This wasn’t just a few bad apples, this was collusion and this was policy,” he said. Mr Leckey asked for full written submissions on the issues involved so he could assess them more fully. The coroner told the court he had forwarded the broad proposals from Mr McDonald’s legal team to Mr Larkin but said the attorney general had said it would not be appropriate for him to comment at this stage as he was currently considering applications to order further inquests linked to the Glenanne gang. Mr Corrigan said it was vital the new inquest went beyond what happened in Keady to an examination of all the gang’s activities. “In order to reach the truth in relation to Betty McDonald’s death we must look at the broad circumstances in relation to the links to the Glenanne series,” he said. “You can’t look at Betty McDonald’s death in isolation from all other deaths linked to this gang.” Fiona Doherty, representing the McGleenan family, said her clients wanted the inquest to proceed without delay. Outside court, a tearful Mr McDonald described the hearing as “one more step” towards justice. “The powers that be should be ashamed of themselves, if they know what shame is – they kept silent, they said nothing, but they knew and could have prevented all this but they didn’t do it,” he said. In a statement, Robert McGleenan and his family said: “The family want to say they were ever informed police could have prevented the bombing, nor were they informed until recently that RUC Special Branch officers knew the identity of all those involved.”
With many thanks to: David Young, The Irish News.
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).