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By Alan Murray
29 February 2004
THE families of two teenagers, murdered in a gruesome double killing, say they believe the security services are deliberately hindering the police investigation, in order to protect a UVF double agent.
Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine were bludgeoned to death, in February 2000, at the height of a feud in mid-Ulster between the UVF and LVF.
Despite the availability of what their families claim is “compelling” forensic evidence, none of those involved has been convicted of the murders.
And, more than three months after the Lord Chief Justice directed Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, to disclose all the documents contained in the police file on the murder, no documents have been handed over.
The solicitors acting for the Robb and McIlwaine families have been told that Orde is planning to seek a public interest immunity certificate (PIIC), to prevent the file being handed over.
Said a McIlwaine family spokesman: “We have asked to speak to Hugh Orde, but he won’t meet us.
“He promised openness, and an end to the ‘force within a force’ aspect, whereby Special Branch controlled investigations, and decided who would and who wouldn’t be charged, but it appears not to apply in the murders of two innocent children.”
Under current law, the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, will see all documents relating to the case – including any Special Branch intelligence reports – as will the Coroner, when papers are eventually handed over.
But the relatives won’t see the sensitive material, if Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, grants a PIIC.
In a statement, last night, the Police Service said it was a matter of regret and disappointment that no person had been made amenable through the courts for the murders.
It said the inquiry was continuing, but evidence was needed for successful prosecutions.
But, Andrew Robb’s mother, Ann, told Sunday Life: “We suspect that some major informer is being protected.”
Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, said the Chief Constable should meet both families.
He added: “There are matters which clearly concern the families, and I feel the Chief Constable should meet with them, and explain his position.”
Bombings report is ‘Ireland’s Hutton’
Inquiry into Dublin/Monaghan atrocities branded a ‘whitewash’
By Sunday Life Reporter
29 February 2004
A HIGH-profile ex-British Army intelligence officer believes the Barron Report into the 1974 UVF Dublin and Monaghan bombings is a “whitewash”.
Dirty tricks whistle-blower, Captain Fred Holroyd described the Barron inquiry into the atrocities as “Ireland’s Hutton”.
Thirty three people were killed and scores more injured in the loyalist bomb attacks.
Judge Henry Barron’s recent report on the atrocities named three prime suspects, but was inconclusive on whether members of the British security forces colluded with the terrorists.
Holroyd, who was based at the British Army’s 3 Brigade HQ in mid-Ulster during the 1970s, confirmed he had spoken Judge Barron during his inquiry into the UVF bombings.
However, he claimed the inquiry had missed out on valuable evidence.
Capt Holroyd added that the report had let the Garda and RUC “off the hook”.
Judge Barron said in his report that Mr Holroyd had made “number of factual errors, memory lapses and contradictions”.
But Holroyd also claimed there were inaccuracies in the report.
He said a colour Polaroid picture of murdered IRA Commander, John Francis Green, could not have been taken by Garda officers, as claimed at the hearing.
Holroyd said that, based on his experience, Garda officers had only a black and white camera at that time, which he had supplied to them along with a quantity of black and white film cartridges.
“All colour film cartridges were reserved for 4 Field Survey Troop at Castledillon, where Robert Niarac (an undercover Army intelligence officer) was based.
“The Garda did not have access to colour films at that time,” he said.
Capt Holroyd’s comments are likely to add further to the concerns of victims’ families who have called for a full public inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
The families and supporters of victims have demanded that any new inquiry must be “cross-jurisdictional” after Barron conceded that a lack of co-operation from the British Government had “limited the scope” of his report.
Addressing the collusion issue, the Barron Report stated that the UVF units who carried out the cross-border bombings would have been capable of doing so “without help from any section of the security forces in Northern Ireland”.
Sunday Business Post
29 February 2004
RIC ‘outcasts’ recalled in the light of history
By Pat Butler
The Cumann na mBan statement, issued in April 1919, has more in
common with some of the more bloodcurdling passages in the Book of
Kings than the lofty sentiments enshrined in the 1916 Proclamation.
Founding ideals are all very well, but prosecuting a guerrilla-style
War of Independence demanded a rather more steely frame of mind.
“They [RIC] are the eyes and ears of the enemy, let those eyes and
ears know no friendship, let them be outcasts in their own land. The
blood of the martyrs shall be on them and their children’s children,
and they shall curs e the mothers who brought them forth.”
Chilling stuff; less for what is said, more for the subtext. The RIC
are cast as enemies of the people, accused of having given cul le
cine, of having `betrayed their own’.
The stain of their treachery would live in folk memory. For this
there would be no forgiveness and their guilt would pass on to their
Little wonder that the progeny of those who wore the king’s rifle
green between 1919 and 1922 didn’t exactly make a habit of
declaiming that association in the atmosphere that dominated Irish
life after the first flush of freedom.
Dr Denis Donoghue, Henry James Professor of English at New York
University, whose father served in the both the RIC and the RUC,
makes that point with elegant clarity.
Exploring the ambiguity of his father’s legacy for him in tomorrow’s
Leargas documentary, RIC – The Forgotten Force, he states
unequivocally: “Would I have preferred that he were a teacher rather
than a policeman? Yes.
“Would I have preferred that he had no loyalty whatsoever to the
British authorities? Yes. Insofar as I am an Irish nationalist,
which indeed I am, I became a nationalist by living in the Police
Barracks at Warrenpoint.”
Ruaidhri O Tuairisg is a lifelong republican from An Lochan Beag,
near Spideal, Co Galway. He is a nephew of RIC man Patrick Waters,
whom Kerry Volunteers are said to have thrown, along with a
colleague – both reputedly still alive – into the Gasworks’ furnace
Another account speaks of the men being shot and their bodies
Others still maintain they were shot and then the corpses were
disposed of in the Gasworks furnace.
One way or another, the bodies were never found.
Without rancour, O Tuairisg recalls: “It isn’t that we hid it from
anyone, but I suppose we didn’t broadcast it either.”
When the killing was over and the Tricolour had replaced the Union
Jack on Dublin Castle, the charity of the neighbours’ silence was
the best an ex-RIC man and his family could hope for.
The poisoning of the well of community had run deep. RIC connections
were simply not spoken of, except as a form of provocation.
In the context of the time, that is understandable. There can be few
more uncomfortable servants of an overthrown regime than the
disbanded members of its security police.
While the Black and Tans and the Auxiliary Division got to return to
Blighty, most of the old RIC remained in what had become a delicate
social landscape. Prudence demanded circumspection.
RIC practice was for men to serve outside their native counties.
When the force was disbanded in 1922, it became common for police
families to test the warmth of the welcome awaiting them back home
by sending their clearly marked furniture on before them. If it was
burned by neighbours, the message was clear. If not, it became a
judgment call. More than one RIC man got that call wrong, and paid
for it with his life. There were, of course, other options. All
serving officers of good standing were entitled to join the RUC, the
fledgling Six Counties police force.
Fewer than 1,500 did, over 900 of whom were of the Protestant
persuasion. Professor Gearoid O Tuathaigh makes the point that a
disproportionate number of the 500 or so Catholics who went north
were senior officers – the sectarian nature of that force being a
considerable disincentive to the rank-and-file cohort.
By contrast, fewer than 200 joined the new Free State Civic Guard –
suggesting even greater discomfort at the notion of serving
alongside recent adversaries.
The colonial police services throughout the British Empire welcomed
ex-RIC with open arms. Many served in Palestine, South Africa, Hong
Kong and Canada. Their experience in the face of guerrilla action
stood them in good stead. The vast majority, however, took the
king’s pension, returned home, and got on with the business of
One such was Michael Corduff of Ros Dumhach, Belmullet, Co Mayo. He,
like so many younger sons of the rural poor, saw the RIC as the
natural outlet for career ambitions.
They were, in the main, Catholic country lads who had mastered
literacy and numeracy skills sufficient to perform comfortably the
business of petty administration.
These were “steady” youths with a bit of backbone for whom active
service in the RIC was far more attractive than “priesting” in
Corduff joined the force in 1901, though not with any sense of
ideological or political imperative. Here was, after all, a steady
job, status, a house, a modest income and a pension.
Even an adversary as unrepentant as Dan Breen of Soloheadbeg Ambush
fame (the event that rekindled the War of Independence in 1919)
understood the social and economic comforts that attracted sons of
the upstanding rural poor into the RIC. “They had this bit of
security in the RIC and a pension, and that was a hell of a thing
for an Irishman, and you’d want to be very strong to resist it.”
Corduff’s progress through the ranks was steady: constable, acting
sergeant, sergeant, head constable. He married in 1911, staying on
until disbandment in 1922.
His grandson, also Micheal, tells how his grandfather’s readmission
into the affections of his neighbours was eased by two unrelated
First of all, head constable Corduff had married a local Ros Dumhach
girl. Also, as a young lad of 14 he had worked in the local school
as a teacher’s assistant.
Two diehard republican families whom he had befriended during those
days went guarantor for him.
The word was out – don’t trouble Corduff.
He lived on until 1962, famously contributing a quantity of
invaluable material to the Irish Folklore Commission.
What the RIC men attending the Wexford RIC Farewell Dance at the
Town Hall on February 24 1922 thought of their abandonment and
betrayal by the imperial government is a matter of conjecture.
After all, at least 493 of their comrades had fallen in the line of
duty in the preceding three years.
Many more suffered serious injury. A small number of their
colleagues had defected to the service of the fledgling Irish
Republic. But the loyal officers who attended the farewell dance
had, in their terms, held the line.
They had fought the hard, if bitter fight, and were now facing a
very uncertain future – consigned to the tender mercies of a new and
conceivably hostile regime.
Perhaps, indeed almost inevitably, that night in Wexford Town Hall
they gave a final nostalgic rendition of their signature tune,
Moore’s melody The Young May Moon.
Their mood might more accurately have been captured by lines penned
by one MJB in July 1922 in Farewell RIC:
We’re going away, we’re passing fast
Some lie in graves from Leirs to Loos
Brought out there by an English ruse
The splendid heroes of the past
Some of us fell in England’s cause
In Erin’s Isle maintaining laws
Some lie in graves from Foyle to Lee
Fell fighting in the RIC.
Tomorrow night’s documentary is a television first, an exploration
of a subject with deep resonance for a considerable number of Irish
Some 85,000 officers served in the RIC between 1822 and 1922.
The chances are that quite a percentage of people reading this,
whether aware of it or not, whether they like it or not, must have
had family who wore the king’s or queen’s rifle green.
If that sets you thinking, the Public Record Office in Kew holds all
RIC – the Forgotten Force, Leargas, will air on RTE 1 tomorrow at
FORGED IN THE CRUCIBLE OF HIS HATRED
–Tim Pat Coogan
Sunday February 29th 2004
DESPITE the fact that RTE gave the DUP leader a ludicrously soft-centred interview on Prime Time recently, the fact remains that if Tony Blair really wants to find a weapon of political mass destruction, he need look no further than the benches directly opposite him in the House of Commons, where sits the subject of the interview: the very large destructive force known as Ian Kyle Paisley.
Let us be clear that what is at stake here is not merely the Good Friday Agreement, in its opposition to which the unionist community has reverted to type, and given Paisley a mandate to destroy it, but the possibility of ending the Irish Physical Force tradition once and for all. People sometimes either fail to realise or do not want to advert to the fact that most significant Irish political development originated in that tradition.
The Unionist Party founded the Ulster Volunteer Force in collusion with British conservatives and threatened war in a successful attempt to frustrate the verdict of the ballot box, and so prevented the introduction of Home Rule to this country in the last century. In response, the Irish Volunteers were founded, which led (apart from war, civil war and partition) to the creation of Sinn Fein and from it subsequently Cumann na nGaedheal, Fianna Fail, Clann na Poblachta, Sinn Fein the Workers Party and once again Sinn Fein. With the Good Friday Agreement, we were offered the prospect of finally closing off this deadly seedbed of violence and introducing a new era of fruitful politics and of friendship between Dublin, London, Belfast and the Irish diaspora.
This is now threatened and one of these days Tony Blair is going to have to turn from dealing with Iraq, and the Dail from its preoccupation with e-voting, to grapple with this reality. Perhaps because he appears to have a sense of humour, the full malign impact of the Great Disturber is either not explored in the Republic or else glossed over, as it was on Prime Time. Paisley may be funny peculiar. He is not funny ha ha.
Younger readers of the Sunday Independent are probably not aware of Paisley’s “Third Force”, created in 1981 after he had led a crowd of masked men up an Antrim hillside earlier in the year where 500 firearm certificates were brandished and a willingness to use them trumpeted.
Better-known will be his involvement with the Ulster Resistance Movement in 1986 at which Paisley and Peter Robinson were photographed with leading loyalist paramilitaries such as Alan Wright and Noel Lyttle. Part of the armament supplied to Ulster Resistance came from the notorious British undercover agent Brian Nelson. In 1986, also seeking to make an individual name for himself on the wilder shores of unionism, Peter Robinson and a loyalist gang invaded the Co Monaghan village of Clontibret and attacked the Garda station.This behaviour was part of the essential and continuing balancing act between the forces of extreme Protestant fundamentalism and loyalist paramilitarism which has characterised Paisleyite politics since he first entered public life. As far back as 1972, a British government report into the origins of the North Ireland troubles said:
“Fears and apprehensions of Protestants of a threat to unionist domination and control of government by an increase of Catholic population and powers, inflamed in particular [author’s italics] by the activities of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, provoked strong hostile reaction to Civil Rights Claims as asserted by the Civil Rights Association and later by the People’s Democracy which were readily translated into physical violence against Civil Rights demonstrators.”
Both the UPV and the UCDC were Paisley vehicles. Two years after the foregoing was published, Paisley, the man who denounces links with paramilitarism, including loyalist paramilitarism when it suits him, was photographed marching with loyalist masked paramilitaries as they wrecked the precursor of the Good Friday Agreement, the power-sharing Executive of 1974.
Today Paisley’s targets are the same as they were in the earlier stages of his career: Dublin, Catholicism, nationalism. Paisley and his DUP are smoother, more media-honed than in the earlier stentorian days. Now the emphasis is on sounding reasonable, on protestations of willingness to co-operate with Dublin; the appearance of being a normal democratic party which cannot be expected to co-operate with a party which has links to an illegal army. It’s a position to which, for many people in the Republic, the recent disturbing kidnapping incident in Belfast has added an air of justification. But the substance is something else, a visceral anti-Catholicism, summed up in this verse of Hymn 757 of Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church:
The mystery of Wickedness
Right surely is thy name
The Harlot in the Bride’s attire
As all thy ways proclaim
No peace with Rome shall be our cry . . . This view of Rome in which the Pope is the Antichrist, who on occasion Paisley has publicly insulted, would appear laughable, were it not for the fact that a majority of the unionist electorate has just endorsed it. Our deletion of Articles Two and Three of the Constitution, which Paisley once sought, and their replacement by a quite noble-minded definition of what constitutes an Irishman has meant nothing.
Mistakenly, a wide swathe of Irish political opinion, including opinion in Sinn Fein, has chosen to believe that Paisley is an old man who can be bypassed in favour of pragmatists in his party who will do a deal. Granted Paisley is 77, but he’s a strong 77. How old is the Pope? Has his age and physical condition made him appear willing to consider retirement?
The evangelical or religious component of Paisley’s politico-religious creed is what sets him apart from the so-called pragmatists, presumably Nigel Dodds and Peter Robinson. Without the religious factor, Paisley’s party would just be another slice of unionism, Tweedle Dee Jeffrey Donaldson and Tweedle Dum David Trimble.
I would not argue, as some optimists do, that in the absence of Paisley, moderation would easily be achieved. The split in unionism may heal.
But certain things will continue: dislike of Dublin, a distaste for power-sharing with Catholics, an inability on the part of unionist politicians to promote a vision of politics which, for example, would encourage their constituents to get themselves an education to replace the vanished apprenticeship culture, and perhaps even to co-operate with Dublin so that inward investment and a share in the benefits of the Celtic Tiger might be brought to unemployment-ravaged East Belfast.
Unionist politicians will continue to seek those benefits for themselves, of course, pace John Taylor’s recent multimillion-euro newspaper deal in the Republic or the fact that Paisley’s church draws revenues from this abhorred fiefdom of Rome.
Nevertheless it is true that at every step of the road over the last 40 years, any movement towards breaking out of unionist moulds always came up against the towering figure of Paisley.
I remember sitting in Captain Terence O’Neill’s office in Stormont in October 1965 while public opinion in the Republic was still reverberating with approval for Sean Lemass’s overtures of friendship towards O’Neill.
O’Neill and his secretary, Group Captain Jim Malley, who had done much to arrange the historicalLemass/O’Neill meetings, with TK Whitaker, both warned me of the dangers, unappreciated in the south, which Paisley’s strident campaign against the dismantling of Belfast/Dublin barriers posed for the future. “The trouble is,” said O’Neill, “that he does all this with the Book in his hand. The Book is very important up here.”
It was and is. Petrol bombs might have been – and were – thrown for the first time in Belfast during 1964 after riots which Paisley incited with a threatening speech in the Ulster Hall fulminating against the display of an Irish tricolour in an innocuous back-street premises off the Falls Road, the headquarters of the Sinn Fein candidate in the Westminster elections. But the Bible was the missile which Paisley deliberately chose to throw at the head of a clerical opponent, the ecumenical Methodist preacher Donald Soper.
At an intellectual level, if I may be pardoned the term, Paisley (in a pamphlet) has attacked the Jesuits for, in effect, furthering devil worship. The mark of the cloven hoof is upon Jesuits because, Paisley argues, their sign, IHS, stands for a pagan Egyptian trinity, Isis Horub Seb. I do not know at what level one should place Paisley’s resignation from the Orange Order, because it refused to expel Sir Robert Kinahan for attending a Catholic funeral service, nor his demonstration at City Hall against the lowering of the Union Jack on the death of Pope John XXIII who he described as “the Roman anti-Christ”.
But at street level he is on record during the Fifties of giving the names and addresses of Catholics to supporters on the Shankill Road, and telling his hearers how long Protestants had lived in those houses before they passed into the hands of the Papists. He then went home, leaving inflamed crowds to attack the Catholic homes and businesses.
This had nothing to do with him, of course. No more than the fact that members of the UPV and UCDC were responsible for the series of deaths and explosions which blew Captain Terence O’Neill out of office a few years later. (In one, Thomas McDowell, a member of Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church, died attempting to blow up an ESB station in Donegal.)
Nor could anyone connect him with certain activities of a UPV organiser, a printer on his hate-sheet the Protestant Telegraph, Noel Doherty. Doherty did time for his involvement with paramilitaries with whom he discussed arms procurement at a meeting in Loughgall. Paisley, who was going to Armagh, drove him to the meeting and drove him from it, but claimed that he had no idea what was discussed.
The list is as long and as unlovely as Ian Kyle Paisley’s own political career, but though Prime Time shied away from confronting it, the time is fast approaching when we and the governments of Dublin and London will have to do so.
IT IS DECISION TIME FOR REPUBLICANISM
As Sinn Féin gathers for its annual ard fheis there will undoubtedly
be a large measure of satisfaction among the party faithful albeit
measured with a degree of trepidation.
The long cherished aim of overtaking the SDLP as the largest
nationalist party in Northern Ireland is achieved and few now doubt
that republicans have taken a decisive lead over their nationalist
rivals. Still greater success may be gained in the upcoming European
elections and not only in the north but south of the border as well.
Republican diehards who once scorned Gerry Adam’s predictions that
Sinn Féin could make significant electoral gains have been rebutted.
There is vibrancy about the party that borders on the arrogant. Yet
in spite of its obvious advances, doubts still linger about where the
movement is going and where its journey will end.
There is clear evidence that an influential element still exists
within the wider organisation that has not entirely reconciled itself
to a purely parliamentary strategy. Recent events in Belfast are sub
judice and are best left that way. But the mere fact that P O’Neill has
been unable to issue a statement that his members have decided to
disband proves the point that not everybody in the family subscribes
This divergence of opinion is unlikely to lead to a public split but
its impact will continue to cause difficulties for Sinn Féin. For so
long as the military wing continues to exist it will cause problems
for the parliamentary party. An outlawed, underground organisation
cannot be hidden from view nor can it guarantee that it will not get
itself occasionally caught in flagrante delicto.
As a result, there is now no likelihood of unionist participation in
a power-sharing executive. This problem may be side-stepped in the
short term but eventually a situation, that in itself is bordering on
the abstentionist, will challenge the party’s ability to retain the
support of its new voters in the north. This will translate into a
vote loser in the south as the more middle-class section of the
electorate refuses to endorse a party with an ambivalent attitude to
The dilemma for the Sinn Féin leadership and for its supporters is
that there will come a time when this conflict of interest will have
to be faced up to and in a fashion that will allow for no
prevarication. Faced with an ongoing stalemate in the north and
effective exclusion from influence in the south, the Sinn Féin bubble
must eventually burst.
There is a clear political imperative on the leadership to either
prevail upon the IRA to disband or to put credible daylight between
itself and the party. It needs little imagination to guess the stark
and stern message delivered by Mr Blair and Mr Ahern to Martin
McGuinness and his colleagues over the past few days and the
consequences for republicans if things do not change.
Over the past decade the Sinn Féin party has demonstrated a
remarkable ability to contort itself ideologically. Abstentionism is
gone, participation in Stormont is now eagerly sought and the
blind promotion of militarism is no longer evident. There is no
reason to be-lieve therefore, that the organisation and
its leaders will not be able to make the final move and
disentangle themselves convincingly from the armed wing.
Dealing with this requirement will undoubtedly take time and effort
on the part of the Sinn Féin leadership but doing so (and don’t doubt
that it will be done) will also have another impact. Freed from
the ‘shackles’ imposed by its connection with the military, Sinn Féin
will find itself having new opportunities. They will be able to
resume their position in the northern executive and there will be a
real chance of securing a significant number of seats in the Dail
with the subsequent possibility of a coalition deal in the Republic.
Nor is there is any reason to believe that Sinn Féin will reject this
option since to do so would severely diminish the trust of its
efforts over the past 10 or 15 years.
The exigencies of parliamentary life will then take over. Already we
have seen Sinn Féin ministers in the north preside over the
administration of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) – something that
is clearly at odds with the party’s claims to be socialist. Before
long the ‘needs of the day’ will also require a softer line on other
issues and before long the current flexibility will simply become, at
best, what Michael D Higgins describes as ‘managerialism’ or
opportunism at worst. The party that is rapidly acquiring all the
appearances of a fairly mellow social democratic grouping will become
indistinguishable from a host of other ‘somewhere in the centre’
Sinn Féin is succeeding at the expense of its radical republicanism
and those holding feelings of trepidation are justified.
February 29, 2004
SUNDAY 29/02/2004 12:39:52 UTV
SINN FEIN SAY TRANSFER OF POLICING AND JUSTICE POWERS ESSENTIAL
The transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to
Stormont is essential to securing republican involvement in policing
in Northern Ireland, a senior Sinn Fein figure said today.
Policing spokesman Gerry Kelly told the party`s annual conference in
Dublin there was still much work to be done before republicans could
get involved, with a third act of Parliament required in Westminster
to transfer power.
But he also admitted republicans feared getting policing “horribly
wrong“ once it had been achieved.
The North Belfast Assembly member said: “Critical to the new
beginning of policing and justice is the issue of the transfer of
powers to Ireland through the local Assembly, the executive and
hence into an all-Ireland context through the all-Ireland
“But transfer of powers is also crucial because it is the only way
that control of policing and justice can ultimately be wrested out
of the hands of British securocrats in London and the NIO (Northern
Ireland Office) who have run policing as a paramilitary force for
“The transfer of powers will require the enactment of a third
Parliamentary act by the British Government, surrendering power on
policing and justice matters which are currently controlled by the
NIO and by London.
“Without transfer, policing and justice will remain unaccountable
and a tool of repression.“
Among the issues Mr Kelly said still needed to resolved were:
:: A ban on plastic bullets, with an accountability mechanism set up
in the meantime to make British soldiers who fire them answerable.
:: Additional resources for Northern Ireland`s Police Ombudsman
Nuala O`Loan to carry on her work.
:: Commitments to boost the number of Catholics in the police
:: The publication by the British Government of retired Canadian
judge Peter Cory`s report on four controversial killings during the
Troubles – the murders of solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary
Nelson, Catholic father of three Robert Hamill and Loyalist
Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright.
:: Acknowledgement by the British Government of alleged collusion
between the security forces in Northern Ireland and loyalist terror
Mr Kelly said there was also a resistance to change amongst some in
This could be seen by the regrouping of members of the Royal Ulster
Constabulary in various branches of the Police Service of Northern
Ireland like “the new variations of Special Branch such as REMIT.“
The North Belfast MLA noted unionists, British politicians and
sometimes other nationalists had accused Sinn Fein of being
“insatiable“ in its demands for policing.
“Let me be clear,“ he said.
“Those who have suffered from bad policing want proper policing
more than anyone else.
“That includes me, the parents of Holy Cross, the residents of the
Short Strand or north Belfast or south Armagh or Tyrone, sex crime
victims, drugs victims, car crime victims, victims and survivors of
collusion and all the others who want a better way of life who want
justice on an equal footing.“
Mr Kelly said unionists were afraid of losing “their police
force,“ whether it was the PSNI or RUC.
But he admitted: “If we are honest, republicans too have a fear of
achieving the new beginning to policing.
“We fear getting it horribly wrong. Our whole lives have been in
rebellion against a police force in rebellion against us.
“The whole idea of a police service in the Six Counties (Northern
Ireland), transitional or otherwise is a massive debate.“
Backroom : Other parties mesmerised by SF’s rise
The rise and rise of Sinn Féin has left the political establishment like rabbits staring into the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.
They see the threat but seem incapable of doing anything to stop the oncoming collision. As the Sinn Féin comrades meet at its Ard Fheis in Dublin this weekend, they are buoyed up by recent opinion poll findings which make it the fourth largest party in the state – and rising.
Opinion polls put its charismatic leader Gerry Adams ahead of all others – without even holding elected office in the state. Its coffers are groaning with cash from America. It is the coming force.
As recently as ten years ago, Sinn Féin was little more than a minor irritant in the Republic. In the North, the SDLP,with John Hume at the helm,was able to keep the party in its place – that is, as representative of the minority of the Catholic community which supported `the armed struggle’.
That’s all changed, and we now have a political party that is poised to make a breakthrough in June’s local and European elections.
It’s not as if all this has gone unnoticed here in Leinster House, but the main critics of Sinn Féin appear to be those who don’t have to worry about a resurgence – Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats.
Michael McDowell has certainly taken the gloves off, and is constant and unremitting in his attacks.So is Enda Kenny in some of his better Dáil performances. But let’s face it, the average PD voter is hardly likely to switch to Sinn Féin, nor will the Fine Gael professional or big farmer.
After all, they’re “not quite our class, dear”. It may help to rally the law and order supporters of these parties who still consider the Good Friday Agreement a propaganda victory for Sinn Féin and nothing else.
A bit more perplexing though is the silence of Fianna Fail and Labour on the subject, as these are the parties from which Sinn Féin will make its gains. As prospective and sitting Labour seats crumbled at the last general election, so too will Fianna Fail face peril to its soft working class and republican underbelly.
Sinn Féin may well benefit from the votes of floaters disillusioned with government policies on health, education and social welfare – or indeed those just plain disillusioned and looking for an alternative – who want to give the coalition a bit of a bloody nose.
Neither Fianna Fail or Labour has taken into account the Sinn Féin threat in its candidate selection. It’s as if the Sinn Féin surge will just go away if it is ignored.Well, it doesn’t look like that from the Backroom.
Take the Dublin Euro constituency, for example. Fianna Fail is running Eoin Ryan and Royston Brady, the cheeky northside Lord Mayor. Ryan comes from a Fianna Fail dynasty which includes a founder of the party and a minister in de Valera’s governments.
Squeezed on the southside by the possible candidature of glamorous PD Liz O’Donnell, he will have no vote to fall back on from the northside,where Brady will hoover up the Fianna Fail faithful – all of which he will need for himself to get elected. Sinn Féin will have eaten away any surplus that might allow the Soldiers of Destiny even a smell of two seats.
His own party will not thankTaoiseach Bertie Ahern for presiding over the election of a clone of himself at the expense of the respected and popular Eoin Ryan.
It’s a far cry from the aftermath of the Assembly elections when the eclipse of the SDLP saw some disgruntled Fianna Fail backbenchers welcome the possibility of Sinn Féin providing alternative dancing partners to the dreaded PDs. How a hanging or an election concentrates the mind!
For Labour the problem is similar. Proinnsias De Rossa still maintains working-class credibility, though in decreasing amounts as he is seen as having gone native in Brussels.With his base eroded, he will need whatever transfers his running mate Ivana Bacik and Fine Gael can produce.
The net result will be stagnation for both Fianna Fail and Labour and a gain for Sinn Féin by Mary Lou McDonald. Fine Gael have in effect given up on the capital – having topped the poll last time – and will run two low-profile candidates.
The pattern repeats itself over the country.The shift is to Sinn Féin and that will mirror itself in the local election results.The opinion polls show quite clearly which party is on the upwards move – Sinn Féin.
Only in Leinster,where Pat Rabbitte pulled something of a coup by enticing former ICTU general secretary Peter Cassells to run, does Labour stand any realistic chance of beating Sinn Féin. Although even that is in some doubt if Sinn Féin field fellow Meathman Joe Reilly. In Munster, Labour will come behind Sinn Féin – with ominous forebodings for the next general election.
Meanwhile, back at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Adams addresses a party poised to gain representation in its fourth parliamentary assembly. It already has seats in Stormont,Westminster and Leinster House. Now here comes Brussels,with at least one seat from both the Republic and the North.
Is the Sinn Féin bandwagon unstoppable? The answer, so long as its rivals in Fianna Fail and Labour remain mesmerised and immobilised by its rapid rise, is yes.
**Posted by Kate
**Posters note God keep you safe in His hands Francis …RIP
Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.
THE MASS GRAVES OF
“Read this site and weep.”
“Is Britain’s cover-up of its 1845-1850 holocaust in Ireland the most successful Big Lie in all of history?
The cover-up is accomplished by the same British terrorism and bribery that perpetrated the genocide. Consider: why does Irish President Mary Robinson call it “Ireland’s greatest natural 1 disaster” while she conceals the British army’s role? Potato blight, “phytophthora infestans”, did spread from America to Europe in 1844, to England and then Ireland in 1845 but it didn’t cause famine anywhere. Ireland did not starve for potatoes; it starved for food.
Ireland starved because its food, from 40 to 70 shiploads per day, was removed at gunpoint by 12,000 British constables reinforced by the British militia, battleships, excise vessels, Coast Guard and by 200,000 British soldiers (100,000 at any given moment) The attached map shows the never-before-published names and locations in Ireland of the food removal regiments (Disposition of the Army; Public Record Office, London; et al, of which we possess photocopies). Thus, Britain seized from Ireland’s producers tens of millions of head of livestock; tens of millions of tons of flour, grains, meat, poultry & dairy products; enough to sustain 18 million persons.
The Public Record Office recently informed us that their British regiments’ Daily Activity Reports of 1845-1850 have “gone missing.” Those records include each regiment’s cattle drives and grain-cart convoys it escorted at gun-point from the Irish districts assigned to it. . .”
GO HERE>>> http://irishholocaust.org
Sinn Fein ‘will not be bullied’
Mr Adams said building peace was a “collective endeavour”
Efforts to put Sinn Fein under pressure in the political process are a “waste of time”, the party’s president, Gerry, Adams has said.
Addressing delegates at Sinn Fein’s annual conference in Dublin on Saturday, Mr Adams said his party would not be bullied or denied its rights.
Pressure continues to mount on the party over allegations that republicans are in breach of the joint declaration.
Describing this period in the political process as “our greatest crisis”, Mr Adams said unionists would eventually have to work with Sinn Fein.
Paragraph 13 of the joint declaration, produced last year as an attempt by the British and Irish Governments to move the political process forward, demands an end to paramilitary activity.
However, claims that the IRA was behind an alleged false imprisonment of dissident republican Bobby Tohill last weekend, have led to calls for the party to be excluded from the review of the Agreement.
While we are not naïve, we recognise and respect their [DUP] mandate and they have to recognise and respect ours
Gerry Adams Sinn Fein president
Mr Adams told delegates efforts to put his party under pressure over alleged IRA activities would “fail”.
He added that he stood by commitments he gave last October outlining the way ahead for the republican movement.
“I pointed out a peaceful direction for republicans to follow because I believe in that,” he said.
“I think that is the way to go forward and despite what has happened since, and despite all of the difficulties, there is no other way forward.
He also said Sinn Fein wanted to explore proposals put forward by the DUP to restore the assembly, but added he was against time-wasting.
“While we are not naïve we recognise and respect their mandate and they have to recognise and respect ours.
“The logic of the DUP’s position is that we and they should be in government together.”
Earlier on Saturday, party chairman Mitchell McLaughlin accused the British Government of breaching the Good Friday Agreement and insisted Sinn Fein had delivered on its commitments to the peace process.
Mr McLaughlin accused the governments and unionists of “trite indignation and hypocrisy”.
“Let me make it clear, Sinn Fein has delivered, down to the last comma, on every commitment that we have made,” said Mr McLaughlin.
“Sinn Fein has carried out its obligations at all times in accordance with the terms and the conditions of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Unlike the two goverments, Sinn Fein has never stepped outside of the Agreement.”
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has threatened to walk out of the review unless action was taken against Sinn Fein.
However, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said the government would wait until a report into the incident involving the dissident republican, Bobby Tohill, before deciding whether to take any action.
The Independent Monitoring Commission, which monitors paramilitary activity in the province, has been asked to investigate the incident and is expected to report on 1 May.
Meanwhile, Mr Adams has said his party will not co-operate with the commission’s investigation.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics programme, he questioned the point of the commission examining the incident in parallel with court proceedings.
“The whole thing is an absurdity and that is why,” he said.
“This commission was brought into existence, we are told, because Mr Trimble wanted it.
“This is the same Mr Trimble who is threatening to walk out of the review.”
Woman suffers suspected stroke after raid on home
A Markets woman is recovering in hospital after suffering a suspected stroke during a PSNI raid on her home.
On Wednesday morning up to 20 police officers in riot gear, accompanied by dog handlers, burst into Dinah Henry’s Eliza Street house.
Two hours into the raid the 56-year-old grandmother collapsed following a suspected stroke caused by bleeding on the brain.
It is understood the PSNI were searching for items relating to last summer’s republican protest outside Dundonald House – the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
During the July protest demonstrators forced their way into the building and allegedly smuggled out documents containing prison officers’ names and addressed.
The PSNI believe members of Dinah Henry’s family were involved in the protest – a claim strongly denied by her children who have accused the PSNI of harassment.
“The police just burst in here and started ripping the place apart,” explained Patricia Henry.
“They were under the wrong impression that members of my family were involved in a protest outside the Prison Service headquarters.
“My mum, who suffers from arthritis and heart complaints, just couldn’t deal with the raid. She collapsed to the floor and had to be rushed to hospital.
“Her house is a mess but all I am worried about at the moment is her health.”
A funeral that was passing by Eliza Street had to be re-routed during the raid on the Henry home.
South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey accused the PSNI of acting in a heavy-handed manner.
“The nature of this raid on a home in the Markets was completely unnecessary,” said the former Sinn Féin mayor.
“The actions of the PSNI officers involved caused undue distress to the occupants of the house and resulted in an elderly woman having to be taken to hospital and a large amount of damage being caused to the household.”
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said that the Henry family should direct any complaints to the Police Ombudsman. She also confirmed that Dinah Henry took ill during their search of her home.
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
Five Men in a Van
–by Danny Morrison
One night last week gangs of men went into Cliftonpark Avenue, Cliftondene Gardens and Ciftondene Crescent in North Belfast and attacked seven homes: four with bricks and paint bombs and three with petrol bombs. In Clifton Park Avenue, among the petrol-bombers’ targets were a four-month-old baby and her 18-month-old sister, Caitlin Morgan.
At Number 25 Cliftondene Drive the window shattered and the paint bomb exploded over the occupant, a middle-aged woman. Had it been a pipe bomb or a petrol bomb she almost certainly would have been killed or severely disfigured.
At the same time, other members of the gang threw four bricks through the window of Number 22, across the street, showering with glass one of the oldest women in Ireland, 105-year-old, bed-ridden Jane Crudden who was lying in a downstairs bedroom. Ambulance men were called to the scene and evacuated the terrified old lady who was taken to a residential home to recover.
Nigel Dodds, the DUP MP for the area, issued no statement of condemnation that I could find in the unionist press, on radio or television or on the DUP’s daily-updated website.
In a press statement the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) reported the attacks but made no reference to who the victims were and who was responsible.
In fact, the homes attacked on Wednesday night were the homes of Catholics. The perpetrators were loyalists and the objective was to drive Catholics out. Since the IRA ceasefire Catholics have continued to be killed (the latest, 21-year-old James McMahon, was beaten to death by the UDA in November) and the number of attacks on Catholic homes and properties runs into the thousands. This is an important factor to consider when Justice Minister Michael McDowell attempts to present the North as a society struggling for normality but being continually thwarted by Irish republicans.
In the attacks on Cliftondene Gardens and Crescent the perpetrators were seen to run back into the loyalist Glenbryn area. Glenbryn was in the news two years ago when loyalists connected to the UDA daily besieged and attacked schoolgirls going to Holy Cross Primary School. But the loyalist campaign has matured considerably since then and besides attacking five-year-olds they now attack one-hundred-and-five-year-olds.
On Friday evening, just forty-eight hours after those sectarian attacks, the PSNI rammed a van in downtown Belfast containing five men, one of who, Bobby Tohill, was in an injured condition. There are various accounts of what preceded the van being rammed, the men being arrested, and Tohill being taken to the hospital. The nature of the dispute between Tohill and the van’s occupants rapidly shifted from speculation to ‘fact,’ on the basis of the opinion of PSNI Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde that “it was a Provisional IRA operation.”
The alacrity with which the Chief Constable made his pronouncement – and thus triggered a series of political attacks on Sinn Fein – has tainted the reputation of the PSNI. In October 2002 Orde was responsible for the televised ‘spectacular’ raids on Sinn Fein’s offices in Stormont, where nothing was found but which took place in parallel with the arrests elsewhere and subsequent charging of three people in relation to an alleged ‘IRA spy-ring’ at the heart of government.
Those charges led to the current impasse, with Ulster Unionists collapsing the executive and the Assembly being suspended. The political process never recovered from this ‘crisis,’ and it was successfully exploited by the DUP who subsequently emerged from last November’s elections as the largest unionist party.
However, those same ‘IRA spy-ring’ charges were withdrawn some weeks ago without an equivalent media fanfare.
Whereas the authorities, within hours, can answer unionist demands for clarification, nationalists, it seems, must wait forever. They have been waiting fifteen years for Sir John Stevens to finally wrap-up his investigations into collusion between loyalist paramilitaries, the British army and the RUC Special Branch (which has transferred, unreformed, into the PSNI). And they have been waiting five months for the British government to publish Judge Corey’s report and recommendations of public inquiries into several controversial killings, including those of human rights lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson.
Over the past six years unionists have extrapolated from any alleged subversive incident that might be attributable to republicans a pretext for excluding Sinn Fein from power sharing. Pipe bombs found in a Palestinian refugee camp became ‘proof’ that the IRA was still active. Sinn Fein was to be held accountable for every stone thrown in nationalist areas. Sinn Fein would be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, said David Trimble, if it maintained relations with the Basque independence party, Batasuna, after the Spanish government proscribed it. It is never-ending.
For nationalists what are most frustrating are the double standards that are continually applied to the conflict and peace process, despite all the compromises they have made, despite the IRA decommissioning a large number of weapons on three occasions.
Who is to sanction the British government for repeatedly reneging on reforms it promised at the Weston Park talks? It introduced legislation outside the Agreement to suspend the executive and assembly and recently set up an International Monitoring Commission (which excludes the Irish government nominee from examining the bad faith of the British or unionists).
A High Court judge ruled that David Trimble acted illegally when he barred two Sinn Fein ministers from attending meetings of the all-Ireland bodies, yet there were no sanctions against him.
The British also refused to fully cooperate with Judge Barron’s inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan car bombs, confident that an Taoiseach wouldn’t demand of Tony Blair the details of suspected British collusion with the UVF, in the way, for example, that the British prime minister will be confidently demanding of Colonel Gadaffi the details of his dealings with the IRA.
And, of course, as far as the police and the Special Branch is concerned the alleged new beginning to justice doesn’t apply to them. Last Monday a UTV documentary revealed that the Special Branch and the British army had fabricated evidence against two South Down republicans – who were imprisoned on remand in 2003 – and that the DPP had concealed crucial forensic reports from their defence lawyers.
The PSNI, British Army and the DPP were clearly in breach of the principles of the GFA. Whether they were acting alone or with the sanction of their ‘leadership’ doesn’t appear to concern a lawyer like the Minister of Justice, Michael McDowell, as much as five men in a van.
After Sir Hugh Orde’s statement Ian Paisley demanded to meet the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, to rule on the status of the IRA’s ceasefire. An Taoiseach also met Martin McGuinness on Wednesday night to express his concern at the effect this incident could have on the current review of the Agreement. Given the DUP’s proposals in ‘Devolution Now,’ that review was going nowhere.
The DUP makes no reference to North-South relations, policing, justice and human rights. Its models for government are insular and give the DUP a veto over nationalists. It envisages the largest nationalist party, Sinn Fein, being excluded from office and its ministerial seats redistributed and gerrymandered between the other parties.
It was just such practices within the failed political entity that was the North, and a sense among many nationalists (their homes burning around them) that Dublin had failed them, that they turned to the IRA over thirty years ago.
Sinn Féin members gather for Ard Fheis
27/02/2004 – 06:15:37
Sinn Féin members throughout Ireland were focusing on this summer’s election for the European Parliament today as they gathered in Dublin for their Ard Fheis.
The party was expected to give its European Parliament candidates centre stage on the opening night of its three-day conference.
Republicans believe they can capture seats on either side of the border in June’s poll.
Party strategists have particularly high hopes for their Dublin candidate Mary Lou McDonald, who will open the Conference tonight and also former Stormont Health Minister Bairbre de Brun who is bidding for a seat in Northern Ireland.
The Conference is taking place this weekend amid fears that the review of the Good Friday Agreement at Stormont could stall over concern about IRA activity.
David Trimble’s Ulster Unionists are threatening to walk out of the talks to restore devolution next week if the British and Irish governments fail to take decisive action against Sinn Féin over the attempted abduction of a man in Belfast last week.
Northern Ireland’s police chief Hugh Orde blamed the IRA for the incident, sparking a fresh crisis in the political process.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness were both expected to address the current crisis at Stormont in their speeches to delegates this weekend.
Sinn Féin members were due to debate the party’s plan for strengthening cross border links.
They were also expected to debate education issues in Northern Ireland and the Republic, the Irish presidency of the European Union, hear calls for a stronger United Nations and address the controversial bin tax in Dublin.
Sinn Féin delegates were also due to debate local governments, with crucial council elections also due to take place in June.
PSNI/RUC Occupies POW’s Family Homes
Marian Price and Martin Mulholland,
Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association • 25 February 2004
“This morning at 10:00 am the PSNI/RUC, heavily armed and in riot gear, moved into the Brandywell area of Derry and occupied two homes belonging to family members of republican POW Seamus Doherty. These occupations were carried out under the auspices of house searches. The RUC claimed to be carrying out the raids in connection with an IRPWA protest at the Prison Service headquarters in Dundonald House in Belfast last summer. During the raid the RUC ransacked both houses . . .”
What an interesting and revealing affair this anti-Sinn Féin campaign is turning out to be.
Talk about hearts and minds being revealed! A minister of a government, a Minister for Justice if you please, says his political opponents are engaged in criminal activities to finance their election campaign. And he says he knows what he knows. And he doesn’t have to bring people to court to prove it.
If someone you’d meet in a pub said that you would take it with a pinch of salt, or a sip of stout. But a Minister for Justice. Well, one wonders what you need to be an MoJ these days. May God be with the days when you had to go through all that tiresome business of finding out, inquiring, bringing to court, proving to the public beyond all reasonable doubt.
As one drives from constituency meeting to constituency meeting having nothing new to say but inventing something on the way, something to stir the blood, something to drown out the sound of hard won legal freedoms being fired through the Mercedes window, yes, got it: that crowd is getting money from criminal activities, vote for me.
It is not new of course, nothing much in politics ever is. The British unionists in Ireland’s northeast used to do it regularly. They let their opponents get on with it for a wee while then, pounce, they brought up the IRA. Even when the IRA was so weak that it could hardly move arms or feet.
It was a useful scare. And the people on the same wing of political life but on the RC side would help things along by raising the communist scare. Do you know, thundered the religious newspapers, which at the time did not have much political analysis, do you know that in Communist Russia (pause for silent messages to heaven) that in Communist Russia on the beaches they have people bathing, pardon us for saying it, but bathing with nothing on? Anything for a bit of honest propaganda. And by the way, in this sceptical age one has to repeat, yes, they all did say these things, and, no, I did not make it up, and in very truth that last bit was an Irish version of the world communist scare which ruined the lives and thoughts of millions.
Back now to reality. The unionist trick was to blame republicans and nationalists for many evil practices and for
1) getting money from the Vatican to ruin Ulster or
2) giving money to the Vatican to ruin Ulster.
Yes, yes, yes, I was there, I actually saw it happen and so please do not say it is too fantastic to happen, nothing is too fantastic to happen in London-controlled politics. Yes, they said – and printed – every public house (RC of course) gives a proportion of the takings each week to the Vatican. To destroy Ulster. A variation of this Far Right but Complete Wrong propaganda was that our communist friends in Ireland were getting money from Moscow.
So, money from the Vatican, money from Moscow, money from criminal activities, the theme is always there with variations.
Maybe because money is so important to the people who say these things. That is one reason why one is not surprised at hearing a Minister for Just Us (the Progressive Democrat answer to Sinn Féin, Ourselves, is to have a minister for Just Us and he is good at it). The story is always the same, the variations are minor. Sure, they did the same to us all. There were times when you did not know whether you were supposed to be giving money to the destroyers of Ulster or getting money from them, we were hearing both said by the same people. No, you cannot have money for a creche because you might give it to terrorists. No, you can’t get money for developing jobs because you are probably getting it already from terrorists. Money to and from terrorists, money from the Vatican, money from Moscow, pennies from heaven, by Jove that minister for Just Us has his finger on the pulse of the real world. Unfortunately the propaganda remains the tedious same, year after weary year.
Still, credit where credit is due. Very few propaganda campaigns could have so successfully recruited so many Hoods, so many Respectables, so many newspaper writers, so many broadcasters all into the one camp. So it really is an amazing campaign, this anti-republican thing. Some clever people too. Imagine – a head of police who can tell you within hours of an incident who was responsble, and why. Who can put his finger exactly on who is doing what, and why. One problem with this is, if this can be done, if blame can be distributed so quickly and so surely, what on earth do we need investigations, forensics and courts for? And if a minister can apportion blame so readily and so surely, what does he need such a big department for?
We could save a lot of money – I’m afraid maybe we will too – doing away with all the tiresome apparatus of finding, investigating, proving, inventing reasonable policies. Instead we could just have somebody sitting in the office of the police or Minister for Justice telling it as it is without expensive and needless frills.
True, it would do away with the last 100 years of progress towards a democratic society. True, it would cause a lot of suffering because it would be built on the lie that in such a system “the innocent have nothing to fear.”
But on the other hand, success counts, and look at how successful such a system was in Europe of the 1920s and ’30s, and would have been successful in Ireland too if we had only allowed General O’ Duffy to do his thing.
Tohill back on the Falls
Leave my family alone: Tohill
Bobby Tohill returned to West Belfast last night after Friday’s alleged kidnapping in Belfast city Centre which threw the peace process into crisis. His return came as a source speaking on behalf of the IRA told the Andersonstown News yesterday: “The IRA did not authorise any action against Bobby Tohill.”
And Tohill, who the Chief Constable Hugh Orde claimed was savagely beaten and kidnapped by the IRA, told the Andersonstown News last night that the IRA had not kidnapped him from Kelly’s Cellars.
“The Provos were not involved in my alleged abduction,” he said.
During a further in-depth interview with the Andersonstown News, the 45-year-old backed the IRA’s denial that they played no part in last Friday’s Kelly’s Cellars ‘kidnapping’. However, Tohill did express fears that his life was still in danger. He also asked the IRA not to impose any conditions on his return to West Belfast.
Bobby Tohill signed himself out of the City Hospital on Monday and was immediately secreted to a safe house near the border by fellow dissident republicans. From there he spoke exclusively to the Andersonstown News about how the IRA were “hounding” him and why a “drunken brawl” could wreck the peace process.
“I do not believe the four men arrested by the PSNI are members of the IRA,” said Tohill.
“I have said it before and I will say it again, I have not, and will not, be making any complaint to the cops.”
Bobby Tohill is adamant that Friday’s incident in Kelly’s Cellars was the fall-out from a drunken brawl.
“I was very, very drunk,” he added. “I was chatting a girl up and her boyfriend and his mates took exception to this. They viciously attacked and knocked me unconscious. The men arrested in the van were taking me to hospital. It is wrong for governments to use us as political pawns.”
Although refusing to point the finger of blame at the IRA for the incident, Bobby Tohill still has deep grievances with them.
“I want to know why they [the IRA] have issued me with five death threats in the space of six months? Why are they hounding my family on the lower Falls, and why they are hounding my son, who suffers from a severe disability, and his family?
“My biggest fear now is for my relatives. My son, Michael, is on the verge of a complete breakdown.”
Bobby Tohill called on the IRA to answer his questions and to allow him to return freely to West Belfast.
“I’ve lived there most of my life, I belong there and I want to go back to West Belfast,” he said defiantly.
“I do not want any conditions put on my return. If the IRA tries to impose conditions I will not accept them.
“I will carry on as a republican and continue to speak my republican views. I have been brought up and always lived my life that way. The IRA needs to understand that I will not be silenced.”
Ending the interview Bobby Tohill repeated his call for a halt to all forms of paramilitarism.
“I told the Andersonstown News last week that after the Danny McGurk murder the IRA closed down the Belfast Real IRA in a very cynical fashion,” said the leading dissident. “It is now time the IRA closed themselves down in a very cynical fashion. The nationalist people want peace and the IRA should give it to them. I want to return to the Falls Road and I should be allowed to do so.”
Journalist:: Ciaran Barnes
TRIMBLE ATTACKED OVER REMOVAL COMMENTS
02/25/04 10:48 EST
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has been accused by Sinn Féin of “of spouting off at the mouth in Westminster” and trying to ‘out-Paisley’ the Rev Ian Paisley.
Responding to a warned issued by the leader of the UUP that his party would pull out of talks on the review of the Belfast Agreement next week unless action was taken against Sinn Féin, Mr Martin McGuinness said such comments were unhelpful.
Leading a Sinn Féin delegation into a meeting with the Irish premier, Mr Bertie Ahern this evening, Mr McGuinness said past experience of progress within the peace process showed movement can only be made through dialogue.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Mr Trimble demanded sanctions against Sinn Féin over the alleged involvement of the IRA in the abduction and beating of a dissident republican in Belfast last week.
In a statement, An Phoblacht today said it has been told by republican sources that “the IRA did not authorise any action against Bobby Tohill”. The four man have been charged with abduction and grievous bodily harm, but a charge of IRA membership was not proceeded with.
Mr McGuinness asked “why was that [dropping the membership of the PIRA charge] done?” before suggesting it was because the Police Service of Northern Ireland wanted to “grab the weekend headlines”.
He also accused the Police Service of Northern Ireland of a “very determined campaign to discredit Sinn Féin”.
Mr McGuinness said he intended asking the Taoiseach during their meeting this evening to make the point to the British government that the PSNI campaign against SF must be stopped.
He also said he supported Mr Ahern’s assertion that all paramiliarism must end “but it’s one thing saying that, and another making it happen.”
CATHLEEN NI HOULIHAN
The above is a link to Yeats’ play about Mother Ireland, set in County Mayo in the year of the 1798 Rebellion. Many thanks to THE SHAMROCKSHIRE EAGLE for the text of the play. No one else on the net had it (EAGLE version listed on links page). I just dressed it up a little and added some historical and background links. As one of the articles will tell you, “Constance Markievicz called the play a ‘gospel’ from her cell shortly after the 1916 Irish Easter Rebellion.”
IRA did not authorise any action
A source speaking on behalf of the leadership of the IRA has told An Phoblacht that “the IRA did not authorise any action against Bobby Tohill”. The response came after days of speculation around an incident involving a number of men travelling in a van rammed by the PSNI on the outskirts of Belfast city centre last Friday evening.
According to media reports, the incident followed a fracas in a city centre bar. At the Millfield junction with the Falls Road, the PSNI rammed and brought to a halt a blue van. Four men were arrested and another man was taken to hospital. The injured man was later named as Bobby Tohill.
Within hours, the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde told the media that the “Provisional IRA” was behind the incident.
“The activity was Provisional IRA activity, I’m clear on that,” said Orde.
Bobby Tohill, who discharged himself from hospital after treatment, was reported as saying “it was the Provos” to a Sunday newspaper. Tohill later denied speaking to the tabloid.
Tohill, however, told one local Belfast newspaper that he had made no statement about the alleged incident to the PSNI and that he would not be pressing charges.
A number of people were arrested in what the PSNI described as a follow-up operation but all were released without charge a short time later.
Four men appeared at Laganside Magistrates Court on Monday morning charged with grievous bodily harm and unlawful imprisonment. All four were remanded in custody.
In the political fallout following the PSNI Chief Constable’s allegations, unionists called for the exclusion of Sinn Féin from the current political talks. Responding to the exclusion calls, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that “Hugh Orde’s speedy allegation follows a pattern going back to the old RUC which was also quick to point the finger at republicans while turning a blind eye to others.
“There had been such claims about the IRA before. They have proven to be without foundation,” he said.
Speaking at a weekend commemoration in Dunloy, Adams said that whatever the truth about the Friday night incident, “Sinn Féin will not be made a whipping boy, especially by those who have no interest in making the political process work”.
After meeting British Secretary of State Paul Murphy and Dublin Foreign Minister Brian Cowen in Stormont, Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said that he had raised in the strongest possible terms his concerns about a political agenda being pursued by elements within the PSNI and the British system.
“There is an anti-Sinn Féin and anti-Peace Process agenda at work,” he said.
The Way I See It
The lying game
WHEN I am teaching creative writing I often quote the oxymoron that fiction is ‘a lie that tells a truth’.
Writers imagine and create characters, which, hopefully, rise from the page as flesh and blood. The author will place them in challenging situations – be it a conflict, a dilemma, an issue of love or ambition – and through their experiences, adventures and decisions they emerge at the other end changed, and the reader, in turn, empathises, learns or has confirmed some philosophical truth about the meaning of life.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
ON the other hand, in real life, look at how many versions of the truth there are to this or that event. History, it is said, is written by the victor: which is often the militarily superior, the powerful and the wealthy. Government and establishments are authorities which, often allied to the most influential sections of the media, have a monopoly and a vested interest on how events are depicted. The first news that the world received on January 30 1972 was that 13 gunmen and bombers had been shot dead in clashes with the Paras in Derry.
I know from my days working in publicity the power of British propaganda and the struggle to counter it.
I also know that the nationalist community has nothing to fear from the truth. I believe that we know almost every killing carried out by the IRA. If there are some killings that have gone unclaimed unionist representatives and the media have been quick to attribute them.
In their opposition to the Belfast Agreement and the political process unionists complain that justice requires the perpetrators be imprisoned, not released or given amnesty. While some IRA activists escaped what passes for British justice – torture of prisoners, Diplock Courts – many activists were killed or caught and served time often in cruel conditions until their sacrifices and struggle led to improvements.
One thing is for sure, the RUC and its Special Branch pursued republicans with rigour. Unionists can hardly complain that the state forces were starved of resources or were soft on the IRA.
Nor can they claim that at the end of the conflict there remains a huge, unresolved conspiracy about the actions of the IRA. Why, unionist MPs are so well versed on the IRA that they regularly stand up in the House of Commons and rattle off the names of whom they claim to be on its Army Council. There are no revelations we have yet to learn that could be blacker for the IRA than Bloody Friday or Birmingham or La Mon or Enniskillen or Warrington or the Shankill bombing.
Thus, there is no comparison between the demand from nationalists to learn the truth about collusion and how unionists counter with complaints that there are no public inquiries into La Mon or Enniskillen. The IRA bombed both. That’s clear. But what we want to know is did British forces together with loyalists bomb Dublin and conspire with unionist paramilitaries in a dirty war against nationalists and their representatives. It is not an issue of vengeance (no one expects the perpetrators to be imprisoned), it is an issue of truth and responsibility, but with huge political implications for unionism and the British – which is why they resist public inquiries.
To establish the truth of collusion would upset the narrative of the conflict and implicate the British government in murdering its subjects, indelibly tainting the British, the cause of the union and unionists. It would rob the British and unionists of the pretentious moral high ground from which they have conducted negotiations, using the game of decommissioning and IRA disbandment, tests on republicans and Sinn Féin, in order to limit progress and thwart nationalist demands and aspirations.
BACK in Canada Judge Cory is getting restless. The British government promised, but has resisted, the publication of his report into collusion and his recommendations that there should be public inquiries into, among others, the deaths of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. In time his report will either be published or leaked in full.
But, out of the blue, by pure coincidence, like the cavalry to the rescue of the besieged British, Professor Des Rea, the chair of the Policing Board proposes a Truth Commission! It is my belief that as the trail increasingly leads to 10 Downing Street a Truth Commission might just suit the British government as a means of sidestepping the truth and keeping its secrets buried.
Just four weeks ago I wrote here that the British government would skilfully weave its way through such a process so that, “we would never get past the private or the sergeant, the colonel or the general to establish the fact of state terrorism, sanctioned from the top. The hearings would be dragged out for years upon years. Documents will have been shredded or gone missing, witnesses have died off, memories ‘faded’.”
There is absolutely no support for a Truth Commission. At a conference in Derry last month on this very subject only one person in the audience thought it a good idea. Yet, according to Professor Rea, a Truth Commission could help address “the unsolved cases of 1,800 victims” and could “prove more useful than a series of judicial inquiries”. He also proposed an amnesty for all those who could have faced charges and provoked instant outrage from unionist spokespersons at there being any equivalence between freedom fighters and oppressors (though those weren’t their exact euphemisms).
Professor Rea reassures us that his proposals are not an attempt to thwart public inquiries into the deaths of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. But you can be sure that with those proposals originating from such an ‘august’ source (and which also coincide with the views of Chief Constable Hugh Orde) the British government will find them ‘irresistible’ and ‘worthy of consideration’.
Relatives robbed of their loved ones as a result of collusion between loyalists and British forces have fought long and hard to establish who exactly was responsible for their deaths. This proposed commission would rob them again because its purpose undoubtedly would be to produce a ‘truth’ that tells a lie.