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Belfast Telegraph

**Now if only the reals and the conts knew how to evade capture so well… ;-)

Big Cat

IOL: Ex-paratrooper saw ‘nothing to justify shooting’

Ex-paratrooper saw ‘nothing to justify shooting’

30/09/2003 – 18:33:03

A former British army paratrooper did not see any threat that would have justified the shooting dead of civilians on Bloody Sunday, the Saville Inquiry heard today.

David Longstaff, who was in the vicinity of Glenfada Park North, where four people were killed and five wounded, told the Inquiry: “I did not see anything in my area to justify shooting.”

Other members of the anti tank platoon who were in Glenfada Park North have given statements to the Inquiry saying they were confronted by an angry mob, some of whom threw nail bombs.

But Mr Longstaff said he did not hear any nail bombs being thrown in the area.

The former private, who was covering soldiers F and G and J, said he did not see them firing their weapons.

He told the Inquiry that he heard gunfire but could not say whether it came from soldiers or the IRA.

“I remember being aware that the threat to me had increased. I was more alert because of it. I was extra vigilant. I did not turn round to pinpoint where the shots were coming from as it was my job to cover the rear of my mates ahead of me,” he said.

Seamus Treacy QC representing some of the families questioned this recollection of events.

“Why on earth would it be if you heard shots coming from behind you and you did not know whether it was from soldiers and you did not know if it was from the IRA, why would you not have looked round to see whether or not there was shooting occurring which would have posed a risk to your mates?”

The soldier replied: “I trusted the men I was with sir.”

Mr Treacy pressed him, asking whether he had seen members of his platoon opening fire in Glenfada Park North.

“Is it the case that your reluctance to give any evidence at all about what the soldiers who were with you were doing on Bloody Sunday is because even now you do not want to give any evidence which would implicate them as individuals?” he added.

Mr Longstaff insisted again that he saw or heard nothing.

He told the Inquiry that while in Rossville Street he fired a shot at the roof of Rossville Flats after being fired upon but was not asked to make a statement about it at the time.

Asked why he was not asked to make a statement, he said he believed officers were more concerned about other soldiers who had fired on Bloody Sunday.

Earlier, evidence given by a former soldier to the Inquiry appeared to corroborate a statement of a former IRA man concerning plans to mount a nail bomb attack on Bloody Sunday.

Soldier 165 told the Inquiry how he and colleagues were fired upon when they spotted four men in combat gear loading up a green Ford Cortina.

“The men were loading up the car from the back of a shop in the Brandywell area just along from Rossville Street,” he recalled.

Edwin Glasgow QC compared his evidence to a statement given to the Inquiry by former IRA man Paddy Ward, who claimed Martin McGuinness supplied detonators for nail bombs given to eight members of the Fianna, the youth wing of the IRA on the day of Bloody Sunday.

In his statement to the Inquiry Mr Ward said: “The manufactured nail bombs were put into the back of a hijacked green Cortina which was in the next door garage.”

He added that his plan was to meet McGuinness at the back of the Bogside Inn to pick up the detonators.

“There were four of us in the car and we pulled up near the back of the Bogside Inn… I parked the car out of the line of sight of the city walls as we knew there were always soldiers up there.”

But Arthur Harvey QC, representing some of the families pointed out that Soldier 165 made no mention of IRA activity in the Bogside before the march when he gave a statement to the Royal Military Police after Bloody Sunday.

“There is no mention of the men; there is no mention of suspicious activity and there is not mention of it immediately being followed by a shot from the Brandywell,” he added.

ic NorthernIreland – Northern Ireland News

On the Brink Sep 30 2003

By Richard Sherriff

TENSION turned to confusion, then renewed anger and farce yesterday as police laid on a show of strength to protect schoolchildren in north Belfast – only to find out that the buses carrying them had been rerouted.

After demands for increased security in the wake of last Friday’s attack on students from the Girls’ Model, additional manpower and vehicles were drafted onto the Crumlin Road for the children’s homeward journey yesterday afternoon.

An arson attack on teachers’ cars at the nearby Our Lady of Mercy Primary School had increased tension in the area and a crowd gathered close to the Ardoyne shops as parents waited in Twaddell Avenue on the opposite side of Crumlin Road for the children to arrive.

When they didn’t, the parents became increasingly confused but that turned to anger when the school principal arrived and informed the parents that David Cargo, chief executive of the Belfast Education and Library Board, had made the decision to redirect the buses via the Antrim Road.

The incident clearly angered and embarrassed the police who were also left in the dark over the move.

Later, a statement from the education board said the decision was a “one-off measure taken with the health and safety of pupils in mind”, but it was dismissed by North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds as “a shambles”.

“We had all these police on duty and they weren’t even told. When I first heard this I have to say I was sceptical but I’m now satisfied that they didn’t. The police had made arrangements, those had been communicated to parents and they should have been stuck to.”

Speaking in Twaddell Avenue as they waited for news, one mother, Eileen Morrison, said parents had no idea where their children were. A rumour that one bus had been stoned on the Shore Road increased their anxiety.

“They are rerouting the children from one flashpoint to another flashpoint with, as far as we know, no protection. It’s a farce.”

Nodding towards PSNI Inspector Steven Knowles, who attended Sunday night’s meeting with parents, Mrs Morrison added: “The protection we were promised is on the ground. Now that man is on the phone trying to find out what’s going on.”

Independent unionist councillor Frank McCoubrey said the decision to reroute was a “disgrace”.

“They hadn’t even the courtesy to phone up these parents and tell them what was happening,” he said.

Adding that the police had been embarrassed through no fault of their own, he said: “They put whatever resources they had in the area to try and prevent any more attacks on the kids and then they weren’t needed.”

Apart from upsetting parents and wasting police resources, Mr Dodds said the board’s decision sent a dangerous signal to those whose aim was the disruption of normal daily life.

“I spoke to the chief executive of the board and it transpires that, after what happened at Our Lady of Mercy, the decision was taken to have the girls’ buses go down the Antrim Road.

“I have to say that this is a very dangerous sort of move because what that says to bully boys and people that are out to cause trouble that basically they are winning.”

Referring to the wider issue of the police resources needed to provide adequate protection for the children, Mr Dodds said there should be no debate.

“I don’t think it’s a question of if they can; they have to. There is palpable anger in the community because what people see is an inequality of police reaction and response to these incidents.

“They compare and contrast what was done at Holy Cross, when there were dozens of police Land Rovers every day and the Chief Constable made it clear that whatever resources it would take would be provided.

“If resources can be found in one case, they can be found in the other.”

Indymedia Ireland – Delay in Reinterral of Fear Píce Gan Ainm.

in Reinterral of Fear Píce Gan Ainm.

by Fear Píce Gan Ainm – THE ROBERT EMMET ASSOCIATION Tuesday, Sep 30 2003, 1:47pm



Delay in Reinterral of Fear Píce Gan Ainm.

The Robert Emmet Association regrets that they must postpone the reinterral of Fear Pice Gan Ainm until further notice. Due to take place on Sunday 5 October, almost everything had been put in place for the reinterral but all is now on hold due to delays in finding the remains in the spot pinpointed by tradition. However work in searching the site continues as it is possible to miss the remains by a matter of feet or indeed inches. A new date for the reinterrral will be announced as soon as we are in a position to do so.

Fear Píce Gan Ainm will be taken from an unmarked grave in Co. Meath to rest in a place of honour on Oulart Hill in County Wexford. There he will represent some thirty to fifty thousand who lie in unmarked graves across Ireland from the 1798 period. He may have hailed from any county and may have been of any religion. We will never know. The religious service planned for his reinterral will reflect this and is expected to be a unique moment of reconciliation for many where the history of 1798 is concerned. The reinterral will is the final item on the agenda of Emmet 200 and will bring closure to the official commemorations of the Revolutionary Period 1791-1803 generally.

The Association wishes to thank all the people and bodies involved and to ask their forbearance through this period. Particularly they wish to thank The Department of the Taoiseach, The Department of Environment, The Department of Defence, The Lord Mayor of Dublin, An Garda Síochána, Dúchas, Meath County Council, Wexford County Council, The North Eastern Health Board, the various church authorities and the many pikegroups and other volunteers who have brought the project thus far.The postponement will be for as short a period as possible.

related link:

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Graves attack claim ‘abhorrent’

**You read things like this, where the criminal loyalist scum try to blame the Catholic community for having a graveside memorial service, and you have to wonder how they ever got their heads so far up their asses. This is the same non-mentality that cries for republican disarmament while totally ignoring murderous loyalist violence and weaponry.

Mayor’s death threat

Morgan receives warning over support for McBride family

Belfast Lord Mayor Martin Morgan has received a chilling death threat over his support for the family of a murdered North Belfast teenager.

The short threat that was sent to the first citizen’s office at the City Hall last week has since been passed to the PSNI for analysis.

The Lord Mayor confirmed the threat yesterday and said it was linked to his support for the family of New Lodge man Peter McBride.

Though did not wish to comment further, he stressed he would be continuing with his busy list of official engagements as normal.

The letter is a callous response to Martin Morgan’s continuing support for Jean McBride. Such is the revulsion at the decision to reinstate convicted murderers Andrew Fisher and Mark Wright back into the British army that both the SDLP Mayor and his counterpart in Derry Shaun Gallagher have boycotted NIO minister John Spellar over his support for the killer soldiers.

The letter said that Martin Morgan would be shot if the former Scots Guards were put out of the army.

Peter McBride was searched and shot dead by Fisher and Wright in September 1992 close to his home on the New Lodge. In 1995 the soldiers were convicted of murder after a judge branded their claims that Peter McBride was carrying a coffee jar bomb lies. In 1998 then British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam released the pair on licence. But a storm of outrage followed when it was revealed they were being returned to their regiment and that they had received army pay while locked up.

Last week Peter McBride’s sister took her campaign for justice right to the heart of Whitehall standing in the Brent by-election.

Campaigners including Martin Morgan argue that soldiers have been booted out of the army for offences as minor as smoking cannabis and cheating on a TV gameshow, but the killers of an Irishman continue to be protected by the establishment whilst Fisher was even promoted. John Spellar who sat on the 1998 army board that allowed the soldiers to return to the army has refused to explain why he allowed them back in. The minister who is now in charge of human rights and justice here told the McBride family recently there were still no plans to review the decision.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly condemned the threat adding that campaigners for the McBrides were being targeted because the British government would not sack them.

“The responsibility clearly lies with the British government and its failure to act. People sending these senseless threats should stop straight away. I would like to hear what the British government has to say about this,” said Gerry Kelly.

Meanwhile the North Belfast News can reveal that the promotion of James Fisher was completed a full month before the second army board met to discuss the killers’ future in the army.

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said the board had met in November 1998 despite the promotion of Fisher the previous October.

The North Belfast News asked the MoD if John Spellar knew Fisher was promoted. The MoD said: “The promotion of private ranks in the army is routine army business and not that of the minister.”

Journalist: Staff Reporter

FRIDAY 26/09/2003 15:54:55 UTV

IRA suspect awaits bail fight result

The only person in prison awaiting trial on terrorist offences

allegedly linked to the Provisional IRA has spent the equivalent of

a three-year sentence in custody without bail, a court heard today.

By: Press Association

Lord Justice McCollum reserved judgment in the latest bail

application by John O`Hagan at Belfast Crown Court today.

O`Hagan, 30, from north Belfast has been held in Maghaberry prison for 18 months awaiting trial on a charge of possessing documents containing information that could be useful to terrorists.

He was arrested in March last year by the team of detectives

investigating the break in at Special Branch headquarters at

Castlereagh, in east Belfast, on St Patrick`s Day 2002.

The prosecution case against O`Hagan centres around a computer, discs, documents and other files allegedly seized from his home at Lepper Street in the New Lodge area but which are understood to be unrelated to the Castlereagh break in.

However, O`Hagan denies the charge and his legal team has argued that he did not live in the house where the items were recovered.

O`Hagan has made repeated attempts to get bail and been turned down on the grounds that he may re-offend or not turn up for trial.

Lord Justice McCollum was told in Belfast Crown Court today that a trial date had been set for December 1.

But senior counsel for O`Hagan, Philip Magee, said he was uncertain whether the case would proceed then as there were issues which were still outstanding.

Mr Magee said his client had already served the equivalent of a

three-year sentence in prison while awaiting his trial.

He said that while the maximum sentence for the offence was 10

years, the longest ever imposed in a similar case was five years

“at a time when the conflict was ongoing.”

Mr Magee said there was no question of his client re-offending or

absconding before the trial.

He also said Mr O`Hagan was the only person allegedly linked to the mainstream republican movement who was being held in custody awaiting trial.

Bail, he said, had been granted to others, including Denis Donaldson who was alleged to have been a senior IRA intelligence officer involved in the Stormont spy ring.

Lord Justice McCollum said he would reserve judgment in the case

until he was more acquainted with Mr Justice Girvan`s ruling on the case in Belfast`s High Court last week.

Mr Justice Girvan refused bail on that occasion saying that there

was a risk of O`Hagan re-offending.

But he added that if he had discretion, given the passage of time he had been in custody, he would have granted bail.

Lord Justice McCollum said he would rule on the case on Monday.


Over the Hills and Far Away

When I went to prison I started to see life. When you are part of life you don’t see it. You have to go to the other side – to death, to prison, to exile. – Egyptian writer Nawal el Saadawi

The Blanket

Anthony McIntyre • 25 September 2003

The 25th of September is an important date in the republican calendar. Twenty years ago today the IRA in the H-Blocks achieved the impossible and executed the most daring and audacious escape in what sections of the media were wont to term ‘British penal history.’ The action was easier to liken to the aplomb, zest and panache characteristic of operations mounted by the Tupamaros of Uruguay than to the ‘rope over the wall’ escapades that Europeans have been famed for. And although there have been some great European escapers, such as the French gangster Mesrine whose life and times were captured in a biography by Carey Schofield, no matter what status their exploits have attained in the annals of escapology none have managed to acquit themselves with as much sophistication as Bobby Storey, Bik McFarlane and their entourage did two decades ago. At 7:06pm this evening I travelled by the now defunct jail after having spent the day in the company of a former prisoner who was, like myself, on the wrong side of its walls and in the wrong block when the escape took place. Thrown together by our confinement, its very antithesis, freedom, had not yet managed to dissolve the bonds of friendship forged in the concrete corridors of one her majesty’s darker corners.

Tonight the grassy area external to the jail seemed calm, undisturbed by the rustling of ghosts from twenty years past. Then the terrain must have been awash with armed and uniformed state goondas mounting roadblocks and scrutinising the faces of drivers and passengers alike, vainly attempting to ensure that the numbers at HMP Maze were ‘all present and correct sir’, just as they had been at breakfast time. In republican areas the graffiti wits took to the walls with typical bite: ‘H-Block 7 – open all day Sunday’ was how one wall read. Elsewhere the British radio satirical, Weekending, the following Friday night, mercilessly mocked the prison governor, advising him to leave the key where the prisoners

could find it before he locked up and went home – it would save a lot of bother, fighting and hijacking of the prison food lorry. During the blanket protest the lorry was called the ‘happy wagon’, always greeted by the cheers from the ‘NCPs’ – non conforming

prisoners – when it trundled into the yard with its promise to break the monotony of the day. Now it was leaving with the happiest contents ever to occupy its interior. One prison officer, Jimmy Ferris, died during the escape. Few remembered him until the ‘ourselves alone live here’ unionists seized on his death and made a barricade out of his memory merely to engage in a spot of shroud waving and draw attention from the Letterkenny party to the

poopers. It failed – Jeffrey Donaldson is hardly the type that draws much attention within any party – even his own.

In the immediate wake of the escape the prison staff did what they do best. Chris Ryder in his book, Inside The Maze, described it as `one of the most shameful episodes of Northern Ireland prison history.’ Guards brutally set about those prisoners who did not flee

H7. Many were beaten and some fell victims to the canine appetite of Alsatian dogs. Those escapees who were immediately recaptured were ferociously beaten. And not one screw ever faced court proceedings as a result.

In H1, while there was a lock up we avoided the worst of it. One screw punched an isolated Liam Ferguson, who retaliated with a well-directed fist of his own. The screws at the top of the wing moved to gang up on Liam but were persuaded otherwise by an enraged Martin Meehan violently rattling the canteen grills and warning them of the consequences if they attacked ‘Fergy’. They knew they would not have us locked up forever and wisely desisted. Fergy laughed his way to the boards where three days was unlikely to break him. Meanwhile, 19 of his comrades were over the hills and far away.

Those who failed to make it outside the security cordon returned to face years of being transferred from block to block once every few weeks in an administration bid to disrupt escape plans. But all

prison management achieved was to add cohesion to IRA command and control structures within the jail. Republican prisoner practices and procedures were integrated and compared all the easier to other

blocks due to administration assisted continuous feedback. Accordingly, adjustments could then be made. Our daily existence became more structured and routinised. Life in one block became much the same as life in any other. If we did not always know what to expect we knew how to respond. Resistance culture in the prison became more standardised. Yet everywhere there existed the subcurrent, where dope was smoked and booze was brewed – transgressions in the view of both official and unofficial jail management. On occasion it is hard to take some Sinn Fein spokespersons serious when they appear Armani attired and po-faced in public to tell us of something ‘crucial and unprecedented.’ Our memories of them recall them sitting stoned in a cell with a joint hanging from their lips – and dressed just like the rest of us.

In those days it was our duty to escape and return to the struggle. New middle leadership was required which would add real impetus to attempts to take the war to a higher plane. Flying columns could establish liberated areas. We would control the ground and deny the British access to the skies. Some of those who escaped later died fighting. Three lost their lives in battle against the British SAS. Escape was an imperative – if we didn’t up the ante the British

would be free to secure their objective – an internal solution taking the institutional form of power sharing and cross border bodies – and our struggle would be defeated. Ultimately, in spite of the success and ingenuity of the escapers, nothing came out of the

jail that could stave off that outcome. Instead, twenty years on, many are happy to wave the wooden spoon. And there are, unfortunately, more than a few human Alsatians ready to eat alive

anyone suggesting an escape from Stormont.

Volunteer cleared in IRA probe


A two-year IRA investigation has cleared an executed Lenadoon volunteer of charges that he was a paid informer at the time of his death. And it has also scotched reports that he was responsible for informing on one of the IRA’s biggest-ever operations.


Lenadoon man was not paid informer, family is told after in-depth inquiry

The family of an IRA volunteer killed in 1979 have acknowledged the outcome of a protracted IRA investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Michael Kearney (20) from Lenadoon, West Belfast, was killed by the IRA in July 1979 and his body left at the border near Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh. At the time the IRA stated he was one of their volunteers and was executed for “breach of general army orders”. There has been speculation over the years since his death, with at least one report implying that he was a paid informer, actively working for the British. The IRA investigation has concluded that he was not a paid informer and has dispelled any suggestion that he was.

Michael Kearney was arrested while on active service in June 1979 and was taken to Castlereagh holding centre, where he was subjected to three days of intensive and brutal interrogation. At the end of the second day of that interrogation his resolve finally cracked and he revealed the whereabouts of IRA material – a small quantity of explosives. He also agreed to become an informer while under RUC interrogation.

Upon his release from Castlereagh, Michael immediately informed the IRA as to what had happened to him while under interrogation. He spoke freely and frankly to them about his situation. Unfortunately at the time the IRA took a stance and as a result Michael tragically lost his life.

Initially, the family approached the IRA leadership two years ago and it agreed with the family’s request to launch a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the case.

The family have acknowledged that the IRA achieved that aim. The report was both transparent and conclusive, successfully terminating any suggestion that Volunteer Michael Kearney was working as a paid informer. As far as the family are concerned, his good name has been totally restored.

A brother of the IRA Volunteer said: “There have been many casualties in this war and our brother was one of them. Moreover, despite official statistics, our family have also been casualties, having to bear such immeasurable pain, anguish and sorrow for the past 24 years.

“However, we are not claiming victimhood, but more importantly, are on a journey seeking dignified closure.

“We believe the army investigation has played a role in helping us reach the end of that long journey.

“We are ever mindful of the fact that we are not the only ones to have suffered such a loss in this long struggle, nonetheless, Michael’s death has left us with an open wound which has continued to seep and which has refused to heal properly. Consequently, as a result of the army investigation, we can now speak authoritatively and without fear of contradiction about Michael’s last days on this earth.

Perhaps now the wound will start to heal.

“It is our personal opinion that Volunteer Michael Kearney was a victim of his own honesty and commitment to his army. Upon his release from Castlereagh in June 1979 he could have very easily left the country, but chose instead to report back to his unit. He was extremely patriotic and felt he had let the cause down and, of course, the people around him. So to actually do what he did after coming out of Castlereagh interrogation centre took a powerful amount of courage for such a young man.

“We can only pray for Michael now and hope he is in a better place, watching over us as we struggle on with our lives without him.

“There is not a day goes by when we don’t think about him and heave a sigh. The love we have for him never diminished over the years and the emptiness we feel without him may never be filled. He has always been and always will be a special part of our lives. His precious memory lives on.”

IRA finding ends 24 years of rumour and speculation

Michael Kearney broke just before ten o’clock on the Friday night. Since Wednesday afternoon, June 20, 1979, when he was captured in upper Andersonstown with the keys of a commandeered car in his pocket, he had endured the Castlereagh routine. He had been beaten and abused for over two days when he told his tormentors about five pounds of explosives in a flat in Lenadoon.

He was released on Saturday at 2.30pm. He went straight to the IRA and told them what he had done, what he had said and why. He was picked up by the IRA on Monday afternoon and taken to Dundalk. Nearly three weeks later, he was shot dead by the IRA – executed for “breach of general army orders” in giving away the Lenadoon dump. His body was left on the border, near Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh.

For the Kearneys, a well-respected family with a strong republican tradition (a brother was on the blanket at the time), the death of their son and brother came as a shattering blow. But there was worse to come. For some – among them IRA colleagues of Michael’s – it was hard to believe that the IRA would kill one of its own for having cracked under torture and having immediately and freely admitted what he had done. The rumours began to circulate in Lenadoon, and then further afield, that young Michael was a paid informer, actively working for the British.

The most damaging and recurring rumour was that Michael had earlier that same year compromised one of the IRA’s biggest and most audacious operations. 42 bombs had been assembled and stored in the Short Strand. Michael Kearney was a member of the IRA team which had transported the bombs across Belfast. The bombs were to have been placed at a number of targets across the city in a ‘spectacular’ that would have struck a massive blow against the British. But the operation had been compromised – a bungled SAS stake-out allowed volunteers to escape, but the bombs were captured.

The story was told in Ciarán de Baróid’s hugely influential book Ballymurphy and the Irish War, and later in Lost Lives, the catalogue of Troubles deaths. Perhaps the most crucial piece of evidence that led the IRA to conclude in its investigation that Volunteer Michael Kearney did not betray the Short Strand operation came from beyond the grave in a debriefing statement that Michael made on the day of his release. That the paper came to be in the hands of the Kearney family was a stroke of luck – little did the family know that the statement would reach out across the years to restore the good name of their son and brother.

While he was being interrogated in Dundalk, Michael told the IRA that his 12-page debriefing statement was in a detergent package under the sink at his family’s home in Lenadoon. A volunteer was dispatched to get it, and even though a family member helped him look, it was nowhere to be found. In fact, it was down the back of the small cupboard, and was found by the family a short time later.

In the statement, Michael records in detail his arrest, torture and eventual collapse. It’s clear from the statement that Michael had never worked for the British – indeed, strenuous efforts were made in Castlereagh to recruit him. It’s also crystal clear that he did not betray the Short Strand operation, as it was one of a number of jobs that his interrogators accused him of being involved in. The IRA agreed.

It’s 24 years since Michael Kearney was shot – two years since the family approached the IRA and asked them to launch an investigation. The Kearneys have been remembering Michael with pride for 24 years.

Now the rest of the republican community can too.

Journalist: Staff Reporter


In 1972 Jean McConville, a 37-year-old mother of 10, was abducted from her home in Belfast by the IRA. She was never seen alive again. Three decades later, with the discovery of her probable remains on a beach in Ireland, David McKittrick counts the terrible cost for her family

The Independent

25 September 2003

For decades the IRA refused to admit that it had killed and buried nine people, mostly in the 1970s, or to say where their bodies could be found. In doing so, it created a special category among Troubles killings, inflicting on families a unique form of protracted pain and unremitting grief.

To most, the 1970s are now history, yet for such families those events remain vivid. Although it was in 1972 that an IRA squad burst into a Falls Road flat and bundled his mother away, Archie McConville can still give a detailed description of what she wore that night. Archie, a burly tattooed west Belfast man, now in his late forties, was able to describe to police her shoes, her sleeveless jumper and the fact that she had a large blue safety pin attached to its right-hand side.

The events of December 1972 are burned in his memory. “I’ll never forget it,” he says. “There were about 18 of them, four of them women. My mother was in hysterics – you should have seen the state of her when she left, the condition she was in.”

Most of the McConville family, three sisters and six sons, have examined the clothing found with skeletal remains on an Irish beach last month and believe that their mother’s body has finally been found. The discovery was made by a walker, after earlier police searches had proved fruitless. Confirmation will take some weeks while DNA testing is carried out, but the family believe that Jean McConville can soon be given a decent burial after all the years in an unmarked grave.

A slight woman less than five feet tall, Jean knew little ease in her 37 years of life. Born a Protestant, she married a Catholic man and converted to his religion. But they were intimidated out of a Protestant district and moved to Divis Flats, one of Belfast’s most violent areas. The couple had 14 children, four of whom died young. A fifth was brain-damaged and died later. Then her husband died of cancer, leaving Jean deeply depressed. She attempted suicide three times before the IRA killed her.

That was the biggest trauma suffered by her sons and daughters, but it was not the last. A terrible litany of adversities followed as they tried to cope with the loss of their mother and the break-up of the family. At least one, Helen, attempted suicide after suffering serious bouts of depression and violent mood swings.

Others in the family struggle heroically to keep going. Of the impact of the murder, Archie says: “It was a close family, then we were left without a mother and without a father. It would have been a good family, but it was a family split and ruined.” His brother Michael concurs. “It’s really ruined the family. It has ruined brothers and sisters – some of them just can’t cope at all with the trauma. It was ripping the stomachs out of all of us, it was ripping us apart.”

The IRA put it about that Jean McConville was a British Army informer, but the family does not accept that. They trace her abduction back to an incident in which she helped an injured soldier. Recalling this, Michael says: “Divis Flats was just like a big concrete jungle. That night a gun battle was going on for a long time. You could hear the bullets bouncing off the concrete. I heard somebody crying – it must have been going on for half an hour. I remember my mother saying she was going to help, and we were pleading with her not to. But she says, ‘No, there’s somebody injured out there,’ and she went out. The next day there was writing on the wall – ‘BRIT LOVERS GET OUT’.”

Archie says that when the IRA gang was taking his mother away, he tried to follow. One of them put a gun to his head and ordered him back. “Everybody was hysterical, all crying. We got the younger ones settled and got them to bed. Some of them were just so frightened they wet the bed. They said she’d be back in a couple of hours. A couple of hours turned out to be 31 years.”

A few days after the abduction, a young man appeared at the door and handed over Jean’s purse, which contained her rings. “Once they brought the purse and the rings back, I knew then, although I was only a child, that they had killed my mother,” Michael says.

The IRA had taken Jean McConville away and shot her with a single bullet in the head. The organisation apparently baulked at openly killing a widowed mother of 10 and so buried her on a beach, denying all knowledge of her fate. It went further, with republicans circulating cover stories and rumours. She was an informer; she had run off with a soldier; she had run off with a loyalist. The IRA first took her life and then took her reputation.

At this point, the nine McConville children who lived in the flat slipped through whatever welfare net existed in the Falls area in those violent times. For weeks they were left without adults – desperate, fearful, hungry. Michael recalls: “There wasn’t much food. My brother and I were caught stealing and that was how the welfare got involved. I think we were got in Woolworths, lifting a packet of chocolate biscuits.”

Family members claim the authorities assured them they would be kept together, but then proceeded to split them up. Archie was put in a home on his own. “I let on that I was getting ready for bed and jumped out the window. I just stayed on the streets, and then a good friend let me stay in his flat till I got sorted out. I never ever went back. I had to learn to fend for myself the hard way – I had to grow up and learn quick.”

The brothers and sisters were placed in several homes. Michael says: “The physical abuse the Christian Brothers gave you was unbelievable, they just belted out with anything they had in their hands.” Another brother, Thomas, has similar memories: “If you didn’t do things right you got beatings – and it wasn’t wee slaps, it was golf clubs, bats, hurley sticks, everything; even their fists with a bunch of keys in them.”

Kept in a variety of homes, many of the children became habitual runaways. Thomas remembers, with a tinge of pride, how he and Michael would abscond. “The home was 16 miles away, but every time we managed to run away and get back to Belfast. I was eight and Mickey was 11. They’d take our shoes off us, but we would still run away – we took somebody else’s shoes.” Why run? “Because it got to you. Why are we here? We shouldn’t have been there in the first place. We were missing the rest of the family – you felt you should be with them,” Thomas says.

Archie remembers: “It just was sheer hell without your brothers and sisters. You were growing up not knowing them. We had been close, but then we never had time to be together as a family. Brothers would go and take their sisters away from homes. We always made a break for it, we tried to keep them. The longest we got was a week together, in our grandmother’s one-bedroom bungalow.” Thomas adds: “It was always my granny’s we went to; that’s where the police and welfare went to get us.”

As their grandmother lived in a republican part of west Belfast, the police arrived for the McConvilles with a conspicuous and noisy army escort. Archie says with a smile: “It took maybe two Army jeeps, two police jeeps. You always heard them before you saw them – and then we were away again, out the back.”

Separation meant that they inevitably drifted apart. Michael saw the youngest two no more than five times in 10 years. He says: “I had no hope left. The only comfort would have been my brothers and sisters, and to me the welfare was to blame for wrecking our family.”

He vividly remembers a member of staff letting him out of a home and telling him he would be in and out of jail all his life. “And I said, ‘I’ll never be in jail in my life.’ And I never was. I could quite easily have wound up being a thug, because that’s what you learnt in the homes. The IRA had ruined my life as a child, but I promised myself it wouldn’t ruin my life as an adult.”

Today, he has a 20-year marriage and three children, and he owns his own house, although it has not been easy. “At the start of my married life I went through hell. I just couldn’t cope at all. A year and a half later my son was born, and I couldn’t cope with that either. I was starting to panic, going through panic states.” Some of the McConvilles were less successful. Two are currently behind bars for non-political offences, and others have had great difficulty with relationships. Thomas, for example, has fathered seven children by four women.

Over the years, attempts to find out what happened to their mother were brushed off by the IRA, sometimes with a hint of menace. When Michael asked a senior republican for information, he was told: “You might be safer not knowing.” Archie says: “You were afraid to say anything in case something happened to you or your family. You had to be quiet.”

Only after sustained local and international pressure did the IRA finally admit, in 1999, that it had killed Jean McConville and eight other people, known collectively as “the disappeared”. Jean was buried, the organisation said, at Templetown beach in Co Louth in the Irish Republic. The family gathered at the site as Irish police carried out a large-scale dig, but after 50 days it was called off. A further search was also fruitless. This was a harrowing experience for the family; instead of the beginning of closure, it turned into further cruelty. According to Archie: “The searches were nerve-racking. When they were called off it just wrecked you. I was gutted, really gutted. It was heartbreaking.”

Michael, too, was “unbelievably gutted”. He recalls: “I was always hopeful that the next digger-load would have my mother’s remains. When they told us the second time that they were going to stop, my heart just hit my feet. I couldn’t even think straight for weeks after it.”

Some of the family “really just went off the rails” after the unsuccessful digs, but they had an unexpected effect on Michael. “I was lying in bed one night, couldn’t get to sleep, and something just came over me about forgiving these people. For 25 years it was tearing me apart. It was ruining my life, hating them. Then I forgave them and that has changed me. I think I’m a far stronger person now, a better person for it.”

Archie had similar though more ambivalent feelings. “I have to get on with my life now and forgive them, which is very hard. When I say I forgive them, there’s times I don’t. I think over the last couple of years the family is coming more to each other, they’re getting closer now. They were scared to discuss it, but now we can sit down and have a talk about it.”

Many of the McConvilles have had large families. Jean would now have 30 grandchildren. “She would have loved seeing them,” Thomas says. “She loved children, that’s why she had so many of her own.”

The bullet that killed Jean McConville inflicted a lifetime of pain on her children. The family’s experience illustrates the tragic truth conveyed by another bereaved person, who once said: “The bullet just travels on for years through time.”

The Disappeared

In 1999 the IRA admitted to killing Jean McConville and eight others, giving locations where most of the bodies could be found.


The body of Eamon Molloy, who disappeared in 1975, was left in a border graveyard in 1999. He was said by the IRA to have been one of its members who was shot after being “court-martialled” as an informer.

The bodies of Brian McKinney and John McClory, missing since 1978, were found in a remote Co Monaghan bog in 1999. They were said to have used IRA guns to carry out a robbery.

Still Missing

An unsuccessful search was recently carried out for Columba McVeigh, who went missing in Co Tyrone in 1975, aged 17. One theory is that he was pressurised by the security forces to gather information on the IRA.

Brendan Megraw was abducted from his west Belfast home in 1978. His wife said he was not involved with any group. The IRA said he had been buried in a bog in Co Meath. A search was unsuccessful.

Captain Robert Nairac, a Grenadier Guards officer, was abducted by republicans close to the border in 1977. His body has never been found.

Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee went missing in 1972. Reports suggest the IRA thought they were informers. The IRA said they were buried in Co Meath but they have not been found.

Danny McIlhone from west Belfast disappeared in 1981, apparently accused by the IRA of stealing weapons. His body was said to be buried in Co Wicklow.

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Security alert at school gates

Army bomb experts were called to the scene

The army has defused what has been described as a “pipebomb-type device” at a Catholic school in north Belfast.

The police say the device was made up of firework material.

It was left at the gates of the Dominican College at Fortwilliam on Thursday.

The area was cordoned off as army bomb experts moved in to examine the device.

Last week, the school was disrupted when a hoax device was left at the gates.

The attack is one of a series against schools in Northern Ireland

School Alerts

On Tuesday, the army dealt with a security alert at a school in County Antrim.

A suspicious device was found taped to the front door of Larne High School and Moyle Primary School. A controlled explosion was carried out.

More than 1,000 pupils at the school, as well as Moyle Primary and Nursery schools which share its grounds, were told to stay at home because of the security alert.

The suspicious object was later declared a hoax and police said paramilitary involvement was not suspected.

Also on Tuesday, an Irish language school on the outskirts of west Belfast was damaged in a fire, thought to have been started maliciously.

The alarm was raised at Naiscoil Thaoilinn in Poleglass.

One temporary classroom was destroyed while another was damaged.

This was the second time within a month that the school has been attacked.

The previous attack caused damage worth more than £5,000.

**I received this in my email from the Yahoo group IRA2:

The Robert Emmet Association


The Robert Emmet Association, with the support of the Department of

the Taoiseach, The Department of the Environment and Department of

Defence is now preparing to bring closure to the commemorations of

the revolutionary period 1791-1803. These wide-ranging

commemorations have been proceeding over some six years now, and

have done much to create new perspectives in which to come to

understand the forces then changing and shaping our world.


Robert Emmet’s execution marks the end the United Irish period, It

is thus a suitable moment to close the extended commemorations with the

reinterral of the mortal remains of an unknown rebel to be called

Fear Píce Gan Ainm in Tulach a tSolais on Oulart Hill in Co.Wexford

on 5 October, 2003. There his remains will lie in dignity and

represent the many thousands who gave their lives in that tumultuous

period and who have no known graves. It is seen as a solemn and

commensurate act of closure.

We see Fear Píce Gan Ainm as the ordinary person struggling to

improve the world of his or her time and to establish the right of

ordinary people to play their part in the state.

Fear Píce Gan Ainm will by definition be of unknown and unknowable

identity except that he died in the United Irish cause in 1798. He may have

been of any background and of any religion.

The grave of a pikeman has been located in Co. Meath where a

fugitive rebel lies buried. The owner of the land is agreeable to co-

operate with the project. It is envisaged that his remains be

exhumed and taken to a specially prepared and very appropriate

resting place. A major site was put in place in 1998 in preparation

for this specific reinterral and called Tulach a’ tSolais

[pronounced Tullock eh Tullish] on Oulart Hill in County Wexford,

scene of the famous battle that roused the people of County Wexford

to their epic assertion in arms of Ireland’s right to sovereign

democracy. Fear Píce Gan Ainm may have come from almost any county

however and will represent all those involved in 1798.

Tulach a’ tSolais is owned on behalf of the people by Oulart Hill Co-

Op; a voluntary non-profit cooperative who have done remarkable things to

generate a historical area of national stature from the several

surviving ’98 sites in the village. Mrs. Jean Kennedy Smith turned

the sod for Tulach a’ tSolais in ’98.

Coillte Teo. is currently planting commemorative woods of deciduous

trees of appropriate varieties on all of their 30 acre holding beside the

site of Tulach a’ tSolais as a mark of respect for those who fell in 1798 and to

thank the countries to which the émigrés fled or were transported when ‘the

cause was lost again’ as Florence Wilson put it.

This very unique ceremony, like that for the Mountjoy Ten, provides

an opportunity to reaffirm our awareness of our patriots and our

respect for their sacrifices; that it will encourage our citizens towards that

cognitive patriotism the times demand, and that it will help replenish

people’s commitment to be prepared to work for Ireland, for her

people, and for her constructive influence in the world into the


The grave site chosen for the exhumation is one where imminent road-

widening now threatens it. Many ’98 pikemen were simply covered over

with a few sods in the gripes by the roads where they expired. The

people of Meath remember the graves and in many cases have marked

them with stones and crosses. Fear Píce Gan Ainm may well in fact be

a Meathman. We shall never know. No matter what county he hailed

from he will now represent all – and proud of him we shall all be!

The entire funeral of Fear Píce Gan Ainm will be carried out with

the support of the Department of the Taoiseach, The Department of the

Environment, the Department of Defence. The exhumation will be done

by the same expert under the authority of Meath County Council who

have been very helpful as indeed have Wexford Co. Council. Like The

Mountjoy Ten, Fear Píce Gan Ainm touches on the nation’s honour and

in like manner his exhumation and reinterral will be carried out to

the letter.

The churches have been very innovative in the matter and the local

Catholic and Protestant Bishops together with the local leaders of the

Methodist Congregation and the Presbyterian Church will lead the ceremonies.

The funeral service will make clear that we do not know Fear Píce

Gan Ainm’s religion and that it would be presumptuous if not indeed

insulting to others to attribute a particular religious persuasion

to him. The service will not take place in the church or chapel of

any one religion where it might take on the complexion of being more

the property of that religious denomination than of others. We

heartily commend all the churches for their agreement in this

approach. It is a wonderful example of the type of Ireland the

United Irishmen wanted – an Ireland where people might cherish their

own faith in freedom while in politics they would leave aside all

religious distinctions of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter and act

in the common name of Irishman.

Robert Emmet himself would have agreed that this event provides an

opportunity for a significant moment of reconciliation and renewal

throughout the community as it is contingent on events in history which have

been the subject of much opportunistic sectarian distortion over two

centuries. There has been too much sectarian cornering of the market

where history is concerned and such distortion, which came from

nearly all sides, has deeply injured the sense of community which

millions of Irish men and women of all religions ought to have

enjoyed in their lifetimes over the intervening period. It is time

for change. It is as if the commemorations and the new perspectives

they facilitated over the past six years have gradually prepared us

for this opportunity to draw an overt and respectful line under past

divisions and to initiate a new beginning.



Friday 3 October

10.30 Ceremony at site of exhumation.

11.00 Enter Navan on foot using guncarriage. Wreathlaying

at ’98 /Monument

12.00 Leave Navan .

12.30 Arrive Dunshaughlin. To guncarriage. Wreathlaying at ’98


1.00 Leave Dunshaughlin.

2.30 2.45 Arrive Dublin

3.00 Arrive Mansion House. Received by Royston Brady, Lord Mayor of


Mansion House: Bier with Pike Guard of Honour, open to public to pay

their respects until 9.00 p.m.


Saturday 4 October, 2003.

9.00 Leave Mansion House

10.00 Arrive Newtownmountkennedy. Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument.

10.30 Depart Newtownmountkennedy

11.00 Arrive Arklow – The Fisheries. Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument.

12.00 Depart Arklow.

12.30 Arrive Gorey. Esmonde Street Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument

01.30 Depart Gorey

01.45 Arrive Clogh Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument.

02.00 Depart Clogh on foot.

02.15 Arrive Tubberneering Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument.

02.30 Depart Tubberneering

03.00 Arrive The Harrow Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument.

03.15 Depart The Harrow

03.45 Arrive Enniscorthy – Duffry Gate. Wreathlaying at ’98


05.00 Depart Enniscorthy

05.30 Arrive Wexford – 1798 Street Wreathlaying in Bullring

06.15 Depart Wexford

06.30 Castlerbridge. Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument

07.00 Ballyfarnogue Wreathlaying at 98′ Monument

07.30 Arrive Oulart. Wreathlaying at ’98 Monument.

07.45 Arrival at ’98 Ecumenical Chapel. Multi-Denominational


Pike Guard of Honour through the night.


Sunday 5 October

11.00 Aifreann an Lae as Gaeilge á chraoladh ar Raidio na


3.00 p.m. Funeral departs Chapel for Tulach an tSolais.

3.00 Obsequies led by Bishop Eamon Walshe, Bishop Peter Barret and

Rev. Samuel Ankatel.

4.00 Official closure of commemorations of Revolutionary Period 1798-


Sinn Féin: Truth – A Sinn Féin discussion document

Published: 24 September, 2003


Sinn Féin calls for a focussed debate and political engagement with all relevant parties on the timing and purpose of truth recovery processes. The potential for success would be considerably enhanced in the context of political stability, with the Assembly, the Executive and North/South bodies all in operation.

This document will be distributed to both governments, other political parties, campaigning groups, NGO’s, and the community and voluntary sector. Sinn Féin welcomes the thoughts and suggestions of others

While accepting the genuine doubts and fears around the issue of ‘Truth’, it is clear that many victims and survivors of the conflict believe that some formal collective examination and acknowledgement of the past is necessary for them to find closure.

The idea of truth recovery processes is based on the concept of ‘transition’, from conflict to peace or from one government to another. At its most basic, a truth process is meant to mark the end of one difficult era and the beginning of a new and better one.

Truth processes

There have been at least 21 official truth processes around the world since 1974. Each has been unique. These include:

Truth and Justice Commissions – Haiti and Ecuador

Historical Clarification Commission – Guatemala

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions – South Africa and Chile

Others processes were conducted in post-reunification Germany, El Salvador, Bolivia, Chad, Argentina, Uganda, Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

What is a Truth Commission?

1. Truth Commissions focus on the past.

2. They investigate patterns of abuses over a period of time, rather a specific event.

3. Their official status gives them access to official sources of information and a greater likelihood of uncovering information concealed by the authorities.

4. A Truth Commission is a temporary body, typically in operation for six months to two years, and completing its work with the submission of a report.

Do Truth Commissions work?

The evidence is inconclusive. The experience has been that expectations of truth commissions are almost always greater than what they can eventually achieve. Others have testified to a sense of empowerment, confidence, closure and security.

The best-known examples took place in South Africa and Guatemala. Both have been criticised, not least by Human Rights groups and victims organisations. It should also be recognised that truth recovery processes have a potential, at least in the short term, to inhibit rather than enhance the equally necessary process of reconciliation. Both processes, truth and reconciliation, are, in Sinn Féin’s view, necessary. Closure, arguably, like forgiveness, comes at a personal level.

Other Truth Recovery Processes

A Truth Commission is but one of a number of possible approaches to truth recovery, commemoration and healing. Other methods, including storytelling, monuments, education and training, public commemoration, memorial funds, community and intercommunity interactions should be considered as ways of dealing with the legacy of the past. Judicial processes can also provide some of this.

These include judicial inquiries, independent international inquiries, inquests, tribunals and so on. Effectiveness, however, in serving the objective of truth recovery requires full co-operation and disclosure by all relevant individuals, organisations, institutions and governments.


The parties to the Good Friday Agreement agreed that it ‘is essential to acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims of violence as a necessary element of reconciliation’. This led on to the Bloomfield report, which on the issue of ‘Truth’ went no further than saying that ‘the possibility of benefiting from some form of Truth and Reconciliation Commission should not be overlooked’.

The Bloomfield Report itself is a subject of ongoing adverse criticism by victims groups in the nationalist constituency. Sinn Féin shares many of these concerns.

In 2002, Healing Through Remembering, a joint project of the Community Relations Council and NIACRO published a report on the issue. They had set up a 19-person board comprising victims representatives, ex-prisoners, church people and NGO representatives. They invited submissions and held consultations with a wide variety of groups.

It recommended the following ways of ‘coming to terms with the past’:

Network of Commemoration and Remembering projects;

Day of Reflection;

Collective Storytelling and Archiving Process;

Permanent Living Memorial Museum;

Acknowledgement (by all protagonists in the conflict as a necessary first step before considering a larger truth recovery process);

Healing Through Remembering Initiative (i.e. a body to monitor the implementation of the other recommendations).

This reflects the diversity of views around the whole area of truth, justice, healing, closure and remembering.

Since then, there have been sporadic, if vague, calls for some form of truth process.

Republicans have been consistent in our support of campaigns by relatives for full and open disclosure in their quest for truth and justice. Experience suggests, however, that the search for truth will not be satisfied by any one event no matter how innovative or radical.

Notwithstanding these reservations, it is clear that the issue of ‘truth’ needs to be addressed.

Truth Recovery processes for Ireland

Mindful that truth recovery, however it is approached, will be challenging, controversial and, indeed, traumatic, we feel that there are some important general principles and values, which should underpin any process. These are:

All processes should be victim-centred. Victims have a right both to acknowledgement of their pain and to contribute to a changing society;

Full co-operation and disclosure by all relevant parties is essential to the success of any truth process;

There should be no hierarchy of victims;

All processes should be politically neutral;

It is crucially important that any panel/commission would be international and independent;

An objective of any process should be healing – both for victims and for society in general;

Consideration should be given to the South African formulation that the purpose of a truth process is to examine ‘the causes, nature and extent’ of the conflict;

All processes should be informed by a desire to learn the lessons of the past so that mistakes will not be repeated;

The focus of any truth process should not be restricted to combatant groups. Other institutions require scrutiny so as to recover the truth. This includes the media, judiciary, state institutions, civic society etc;

Humility and generosity should inform the parties seeking to reach agreement on this issue. It should not be about getting one over on one’s opponents;

A common aim should be to enable society to build the peace.

Truth Recovery: A public debate

Sinn Féin is mindful of the difficulties the myriad issues involved in truth recovery hold for all sections of our society and for people on the islands of Ireland and Britain.

We offer these thoughts and our willingness to discuss the issues involved with all interested parties as a contribution to a public debate on this issue.

::: :::

Finucane murder accused in court

A loyalist accused of murdering Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 was alleged in the High court today to have admitted shooting him in a conversation recorded by an undercover police officer.

Ken Barrett (40), who was brought back from England last May, applied for bail before Mr Justice Kerr.

Opposing the application, Crown laweyr Gordon Kerr, QC, referred to lengthy conversations recorded in a covert operation while Barret was living in England after fleeing Belfast because of death threats.

Mr Kerr said an undercover officer – known to him as Steve -asked him about the Finucane murder and he said: “It wasn`t the first occasion I done it. It was just that he got so much publicity because he was a republican solicitor.

“He was an IRA man and all that. He was in the media and to be honest Steve he believed he could not be touched.

“He hadn`t really got shot. He got f——- massacred. He was hit 22 times. I have to be honest I whacked a few people in the past. People say to me how do you sleep. I sleep fine.”

Mr Kerr said Barret had also souhgt to justify the Finucane killing. It was alleged he said: “Finucane was up to his neck in it,” and named persons as being involved in the murder.

Mr Kerr also referred to alleged admissions made by Barret in the BBC Panorama programme “Licence to Murder” for which he received £1,300 for travel and accommodation.

He said Barrett had claimed the go-ahead for the shooting was given after army agent Brian Nelson had passed on a photograph of Mr Finucane.

“We decided he was going down and that`s the end of it,” Barrett was alleged to have said.

Mr Kerr said it was soon after the murder of Billy Stobie in 1999 – he had been cleared a few week earlier of the Finucane murder when the case against him collapsed – that a campaign began against Barret accusing him of being an


It was then that he was moved to a safe house in England as his life was under threat.

Barret is also charged with attempted murder, the theft of British army weapons and membership of the UFF.

His lawyer Peter Irvine described the recordings made by undercover police as “intrusive surveillance” and said the alleged admissions would be challenged at Barret`s trial.

He said it was a “sting-type” operation which Barret had gone along with in order to get money.

“The whole scenario is an extremely murky one where these undercover officers were attempting to trap Barrett,” said Mr Irvine. He said recent developments at Maghaberry Prison meant that Barret`s life was in greater danger there than in a safe house in England where his wife still lived.

After a short adjournment Mr Justice Kerr refused bail.

He said the Crown`s outline disclosed a strong case against Barrett who would have an incentive to flee the jurisdiction if released. There were also substantial grounds for believing he would commit further offences.

**From the Yahoo group IRA2 and posted by Brián Seán Tómas Mac Aodh:


September 25th

On Sept. 25, 1917, republican leader Thomas Ashe died on hunger strike. Trained as a teacher, Ashe was the principal of the Corduff National School, in Lusk, County Dublin, from 1908-16. A member of the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers, Ashe raised funds for the cause in American in 1914. Fifty men under his command captured police barracks north of Dublin, most notably with a victory over superior forces at Ashbourne, County Meath. His was one of the few successful actions by the Volunteers during the ’16 Rising. Sentenced to life in prison for that action, he was released in June 1917 and went to work organizing for Sinn Fein. Ashe was arrested in August and convicted of inciting the civil population. On September 20 he organized a hunger strike among Sinn Fein prisoners. Five days later prison authorities attempted to force-feed him and he sustained injuries that resulted in his death. Ashe’s cruel death created another martyr for Ireland’s freedom and another monument to British misrule. A branch of Ashe’s family would produce a famous cousin here in the United States — actor Gregory Peck.

From the RM news list (my email):

Action Alert: Letter writing campaign for Colombia 3



A letter writing campaign is underway on behalf of the Colombia 3. Here again are the facts of the case, followed by model letters and the addresses of consulates and embassies to which they should be sent. The information below is from Caitriona Ruane of the Bring Them Home campaign.


* The juryless trial, before a single Colombian judge, of

Irishmen Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan began on October 4, 2002 and concluded on August 1, 2003 after 7 adjournments. The men are courageously represented by Colombian human rights lawyers. Judge Acosta has reserved judgment and his

verdict is expected soon, possibly in October.

* Our focus, at this critical stage, is the Colombian government. The Colombian government needs to know that the world is watching how fairly and independently their judicial system operates.

We are asking that Judge Acosta be permitted to make his judgment BASED ON THE EVIDENCE, free from political or military pressure from Colombia or the U.S. or any other outside influence.

If that happens, we are confident of the result.

* The evidence is clearly on the side of Connolly, McCauley and Monaghan. Based on the evidence it provided at trial, the prosecution has NO case with regards the principle charge of training FARC military.

* The men were arrested in August 2001 in the open Peace Zone. Peace advocates from around the world have also traveled there,including elected political leaders and human rights activists from around the world. The three men declare they were in the zone to share their experiences from the Irish peace process and to bring back to Ireland what they learned from the Colombia peace process, which was ongoing.

* The prosecution’s case was filled with inconsistencies and allegations refuted by clear video evidence, countered by testimony from credible defense witnesses and authenticated affidavits placing the defendants elsewhere when they were supposedly training FARC. These include Irish government diplomats and human rights organization workers who testified at trail, former employers, and others.

* The forensics do not support the case against the men either. Dr. Keith Borer, a famous, independent forensic scientist, examined all the materials in regard to the forensic tests carried out at the US Embassy [a very suspect event in itself and an indictment against Colombian independence in the case] and stated in court that there is NO forensic evidence against the men. Colombian forensic tests proved negative after 113 tries to find a positive

result. Dr. Borer also testified that FARC technology is

unchanged during this time and that FARC and IRA technology were and remains very different. In other words, there is no evidence, real or theoretical, that these men were training FARC.

Included are model letters that either you or your organization may find useful plus Embassy & Consulate details.



Please send this or your own words to the appropriate Embassy or Consulate

see addresses below

“Dear Ambassador:

I am writing to express my concerns over the actions of the Colombian government and the juryless trial of Jim Monaghan,Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly on charges of traveling on false passports and of giving military training to FARC.

Despite Colombian president Alvaro Uribe publicly stating “we have in jail some IRA members who came to help the FARC”, the whole world has seen the prosecution case collapse. The case brought against the three men had three strands: the testimony of former FARC members who said they saw the men training guerrillas, a test purporting to show traces of explosives on the men’s clothing and the alleged similarities between FARC and IRA

weaponry. All three strands have been successfully undermined by the men’s defense team. It is now time to accept that the prosecution case has failed to prove that the men were in any way training FARC and to send the three Irishmen home.

The world is watching with interest how the Colombian judicial system will serve justice and whether Judge Acosta will be permitted to make his judgment based on the evidence, free from political or military pressure.

I trust that the right verdict will be reached and that the three Irishmen will be returned home swiftly and safely.

Yours faithfully…


Dear Ambassador/Consulate:

As members of {name of organization} we are writing to express our concerns in relation to the trial of the ‘Colombia Three’.

These three men are Niall Connolly, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley who have been on trial in Bogota.

We understand that the case has concluded and a decision is awaited from Judge Acosta. We are familiar with the facts of the cases.

In particular, we request that Judge Acosta be allowed the space and possibility to come to an independent judgement. He should be allowed to make a decision that comes from the evidence before him and is not affected by outside military or political forces.

We hope that Colombian justice will be impartial and above all fair. We will pay careful regard to reports from international legal observers and civil and human rights groups.

We hope justice will be done.

Yours sincerely…


Contact Colombian embassies and consulates throughout the world.

Write a personalized letter directly to the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at

The President can also be contacted by E-mail through the

Colombian web site:

In Ireland, contact :

Honorary Consul of Colombia

Ms. Ines Elvira de Tynan


Brighton Road


Dublin 18.



In the US, contact:

Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno,

The Embassy of Colombia,

2118 Lero Place NW,

Washington, D.C. 20008;

Phone: 202 387-8338; Fax: 202-232-8643;



In Australia contact:

Mr. J. Alzamora

Colombian Consul General

Level 12, 100 Walker Street,

North Sydney 2000



In England, Scotland & Wales Contact:

Colombian Embassy

3 Hans Crescent


Tel. 0207 589 9177 / 589 5037 (Human Rights Officer’s extension is 112)

Fax 0207 581 1829 / 589 4718




There are Consulates in the following cities: Atlanta, New York, Houston, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. Contact information attached.

These can also be accessed through

Consulate offices


1101 17th Street NW suite 1007

Washington DC 20036

Tel: 202-332-7476

Fax: 202-332-7180 (Fx)

Consul: Maria Clara Faciolince Pineres

Jurisdiction: DC, MD, VA, DE, WV

Hours; Mon-Fri 9:00am-12:30pm


New York City

10 East 46th Street

New York City, NY 10017

Tel: 212-949-9898


Fax: 212-972-1725 (Fx)

Consul: Jaime Buenahora Febres-Cordero

Jurisdiction: NY, NJ, PA

Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-1:45pm



5901 – C Peachtree Dunwoody Road,

Suite 375,

Atlanta, GA, 30328

Tel: 770-6680451/0512/0552.

EXT: 21 -22 – 23- 24

Fax: 770-668-0763(Fx)

Consul: Cesar Felipe Gonzalez

Jurisdiction: GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, MS, AL.

Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-1:00pm



535 Boylston Street,

11th Floor

Boston, MA 02116

Tel: 617-536-6222

Fax: 617-536-9372 (Fx)


Consul: Rosario Castillo de Gonzalez

Jurisdiction: MA, NH, VT, CT, RI Mon-Fri

Hours: 9:00am-1:30pm



500 North Michigan Avenue,

Suite 2040

Chicago, IL 60611 312-923-1196


312-923-1197 (Fx)

Consul: Jose Fernando Gomez Mora

Jurisdiction: IL, KS, IN, IA, MO, MN,


Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-1:00pm



5851 San Felipe, Suite 300

Houston, Texas 77057

Tel: 713-527-8919


Fax: 713-529-3395 (Fx)

Consul: Hernan Arizmendi Posada

Jurisdiction: TX, OK, AR, LA.

Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-2:00pm


Los Angeles

8383 Wilshire Blvd.,

Suite 420

Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Tel: 323-653-9863


Fax: 323-653-2964 (Fx)

Consul: Myriam Beltran de Forero

Jurisdiction: Southern CA, AZ, NM

Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-1:00pm



280 Aragon Ave.

Coral Gables, FL 33134

Tel: 305-448-5558



305-441-9537 (Fx)


Consul: Carmenza Jaramillo

Jurisdiction: FL, Bahamas, Gran Cayman.

Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-1:00pm


San Francisco

595 Market Street,

Suite 2130

San Francisco, CA 94105

Tel: 415-495-7195/96

Fax: 415-777-3731 (Fx)

Consul: Fanny Margarita Moncayo

Jurisdiction: Northern CA, AK, CO, HI, ID,


Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-1:30pm


Puerto Rico

Edificio Mercantil,

Pl 814

Avenida Ponce de Leon

Hato Rey, PR 00918

Tel: 787-7546899


787-754-1675 (Fx)

Consul:Ana Catalina del Llano Restrepo

Jurisdiction; US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, PR,


Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-1:30pm


An Phoblacht: News for 18 September, 2003

**Take a minute to check out AN PHOBLACHT’s new website at

ic NorthernIreland – Northern Ireland News

Battle Call to SF Activists Sep 24 2003

By Ciaran McKeown, Political Correspondent

THE IRA may not be ready to say that the war is over, but Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams all but said yesterday that the Assembly election is on for this year.

Prior to a third meeting with Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble at Stormont yesterday, he declared his party to be on an election footing as of last night.

Sinn Fein activists from all over Northern Ireland and the Republic gathered at Stormont yesterday for a strategy meeting, billed as ”Building for Irish Reunification” and, while pundits were listening intently for any light on the Trimble-Adams dialogue, the focus of the meeting appeared to be genuinely on elections.

Mr Adams said they would be fighting local government elections in the Republic next year, as well as the European elections, and assured the activists that ”Sinn Fein would be the story of the elections”.

“Some have argued what they have referred to as a successful election is only possible if the IRA does certain things,” he said.

“We have argued that an election and the right of people to vote is a matter of political principle and that Mr Blair should not have cancelled the elections when he did.

“With this business about the IRA doing certain things, all of us have been through all of that last spring.

“So I think the two governments, as they seek to work all of this out with us and with other parties, need to have some sense of what is do-able, of what is possible, of what is realisable.

“It isn’t just down to the IRA and just down to republicans. This party is totally wedded, not just to making this Agreement work, but to making the entire peace process work and to bring about an entirely new dispensation on this island.

“But to get other people to do things or to say things, as we have seen in the spring of this year, is sometimes very, very difficult, particularly or especially when those people have not fulfilled their obligations.”

Mr Adams singled out the Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission for criticism, and said the governments had to address the ”whole vexed question” of scaling down military installations.

He described the Good Friday Agreement as a ”site of struggle” aimed at delivering change.

“What I am trying to say is of course there are challenges and the end of this process will end up with the situation where there won’t be armed groups, including the IRA, active on this island, that we will have an entirely demilitarised and peaceful situation.

“But that is a journey that we are all on. “I will meet Mr Trimble after this meeting and we will discuss all of these issues and I think that it is fair to say that there are elements within unionism who clearly, despite hesitancy in the past, want this to work.

“My main message in these remarks in terms of collective responsibility is aimed at Tony Blair and the Taoiseach – let’s be reasonable and rational about what is do-able in the immediate term.”

While the wider political community wondered if the Stormont gathering was an elaborate Sinn Fein exercise to demonstrate the primacy of politics over the physical-force tradition, party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin emphasised specific policies.

Holding forth a vision of an ”Ireland of Equals”, he itemised expansion of existing Implementation Bodies and Areas of Cooperation, an all-Ireland Rights for All Charter, an all-Ireland Consultative Forum, development of the Cross-Border Corridor and an all-Ireland Spatial Strategy that would ensure equitable treatment in infrastructural investment and development for all regions.

Neither Mr Adams and nor Mr Trimble commented later on what was their third face-to-face meeting in the last fortnight.

Former SDLP Minister Sean Farren said both the Ulster Unionist and Sinn Fein leaders knew and ”have known since last spring” what they had to do.

“David Trimble and Gerry Adams both need to make clear that they are going to live up to the Joint Declaration.

“That means the UUP committing never again to play political games with our democratic institutions, never again collapsing them to suit their own party interests.

“It also means the republican movement making clear that it will bring paramilitary activity to an end for once and for all.”

While those most directly involved in negotiations have been at pains to play down hopes of a breakthrough to an election, the feeling seemed to be growing yesterday that every passing day made further postponement of an election more difficult.

Meanwhile, a summer of internal upheaval in the Ulster Unionist Party seemed like ancient history last night as an under-attended meeting of party officers had informal discussions on their approach to the various elements of the Joint Declaration.

Jeffrey Donaldson attended and left early for a constituency meeting. The words split, discipline, whip and resignation were nowhere to be heard.

Belfast Telegraph

Parents warned in chatroom crackdown

Internet closing doors on sex abusers

**There isn’t ANYONE who is more concerned about child abuse or molestation than I am, but I have to say that Microsoft’s decision to close its chatrooms and thinking that this will protect children borders on the absurd. If any of you have ever used the Grapevine rooms, for instance, you will realize that most of the prime time hours are monitored by MSN hosts. Chatters routinely get kicked out for even cussing. This is not to say that you would want your 13 year old hanging around the chatroom, but compared to Yahoo’s rooms, for instance, MSN seems fairly tame. Yahoo becomes one big billboard for sluts and whores in the wee hours. There is no one to monitor it. The answer is not for MSN to shut the doors on everyone because of slime buckets like Mallon, but for parents to monitor their children’s use of the internet.

RTÉ News: Elections by end of year: NI Secretary

The Northern Secretary, Paul Murphy, has said that the British government is aiming to hold Assembly elections in the North before the end of the year.

The Northern Secretary said progress in talks with the North’s parties had been made and holding elections before the end of the year was the aim of the British government.

Mr Murphy said it would not be easy but that everybody wanted devolution to go forward.

He was speaking in Staffordshire at a memorial ceremony for serving members of the British Army, the RUC and the Prison Service of Northern Ireland, who lost their lives over the past 30 years.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


September 2003
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March - Sept 2007

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'So venceremos, beidh bua againn eigin lá eigin. Sealadaigh abú.' --Bobby Sands