You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2007.
Northern Ireland’s parties have not yet been able to agree the timetable for the transfer of justice powers or how to appoint a policing minister.
There was doubt whether the reports would be published
This was confirmed in a Stormont report on policing and justice.
The report says the DUP and UUP expressed a clear preference for a single justice minister, while Sinn Fein preferred two ministers of equal status.
The Programme for Government Committee has now published five of the six reports which were being prepared for it on key issues.
Earlier this month, the committee decided that the reports would not be published unless a strong case was advanced that they should be made public.
The policing and justice report confirms that Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the UUP believed a minister should be appointed using the proportional D’Hondt system, whereas the DUP backed the election of a minister by a 70% weighted majority.
Last month, the government suggested that a justice minister should be elected by cross-community vote.
The secretary of state said this initial arrangement should be reviewed by 2011.
In the policing and justice report, the DUP describe this government proposal as cumbersome and neither efficient nor effective.
Sinn Fein say it is helpful and it assumed both the justice minister and his or her deputy would be elected.
Sinn Fein suggested that locating policing and justice within the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister might also be a short-term option.
The SDLP objected to the cross-community vote as contrary to the principles of the Good Friday Agreement.
The UUP rejected the government model, arguing there should be a single department led by a single minister. In their report, all four parties did agree that they should back the rule of law.
The Stormont Programme for Government Committee has now published reports on policing and justice, school admissions, and rural planning.
It released a report on public sector job location last week when the matter was debated in the Assembly.
A report on rates and water charges was released when the issue came up for debate on Monday.
The only report so far not published deals with the economy and the shape of a peace dividend to accompany any political deal.
A coroner has praised the bravery of a Derry builder killed in a Real IRA bomb attack on an army base.
David Caldwell died after picking up a box containing explosives
David Caldwell, 51, from the Waterside area, died in hospital after picking up a lunchbox containing explosives at Caw Territorial Army base in August 2002.
An inquest heard how, despite his injuries, he was able to give police information about what happened.
His partner said she did not believe the killers will ever be caught but the inquest had given the family closure.
The hearing in Limavady was told Mr Caldwell’s last words were that he loved his family.
Coroner John Leckey paid tribute to the former soldier’s courage after he managed to leave the site of the bomb and tell rescuers what he had done.
Speaking afterwards, the digger driver’s partner Mavis McFaul said she was glad the inquest had brought them closure.
“It has been an awful five years, but I think me and the young girl (Mr Caldwell’s 18-year-old daughter) can get on.”
Helping the inquiry into the murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney should be a “litmus test” of Sinn Fein’s support for policing, his sister has said.
Robert McCartney was beaten and stabbed to death two years ago
Catherine McCartney was speaking after police issued a new appeal for information on the second anniversary of the killing.
Mr McCartney, 33, was beaten and stabbed to death outside a bar near Belfast city centre.
His sister said Sinn Fein now had no excuse not to assist the police probe.
“If it was purely a policing issue for Sinn Fein that has now been removed,” Ms McCartney said.
“Sinn Fein members (in the bar) refused to speak to police. They had a nonsense of talking to third parties like priests, but that was fruitless. Police are trained to take statements, not priests.
“I want Gerry Adams to say he will encourage everybody to come forward and say they will help with the investigation into Robert’s murder.
“That will prove there was no culture of cover-up going on.”
Mr McCartney, a father-of-two, died the day after he and his friend Brendan Devine were attacked – allegedly by IRA members – inside Magennis’ Bar in May Street and then in Cromac Square.
One man has been charged with his murder, and another with the attempted murder of Mr Devine.
However, the McCartney family – who drew international attention with a justice campaign that went all the way to the White House – believe several other people were involved in the attack and others in allegedly mounted a clean-up operation inside the pub to remove any evidence.
Sinn Fein said it had suspended a number of its members after the killing, and Mr Adams previously said he supported the family’s campaign for justice.
Meanwhile, PSNI Detective Superintendent Dunwoody appealed for witnesses who had not come forward to now do so.
“I would also address my appeal to those who have declined to speak to police in the past for whatever reason,” Ds Dunwoody said.
“I would ask you to reconsider that decision; come talk to me or my team, tell me what you know so that Robert can get justice, his family can get justice and peace of mind and that those who committed this terrible crime can be held to account.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said young republicans had the backing of Sinn Fein to join the PSNI
He was speaking in Dublin after a meeting of the Sinn Fein ard chomairle (executive).
At a weekend meeting his party voted to back the PSNI.
“If young republicans, or indeed any age of republicans, want to join it that’s their right and we would support them doing that,” he said.
“There’s no point us calling upon people to work with the police if we are not also prepared to support those who want to join, but I think there’s a big onus on the PSNI to win that sort of confidence.”
DUP leader Ian Paisley said he welcomed any move in support of law and order but still has serious concerns about the republican attitude to policing.
Referring to the murder of Mr McCartney he asked: “What about McCartney?”
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has accused the SDLP and Sinn Fein of insulting his staff and using the police as a political football.
Sir Hugh Orde criticised nationalist politicians
His criticism is contained in a confidential memo, obtained by the BBC.
It is understood that Sir Hugh was angered by a number of remarks by nationalist politicians.
It follows the report by the Police Ombudsman last week, which said there had been collusion between some members of Special Branch and the UVF.
The chief constable said in his memo, sent to almost 10,000 police officers last week when the report was published, that it had been “a difficult week for policing.”
He again points out that he has accepted the recommendations made in Nuala O’Loan’s report, which he described as “uncomfortable reading”.
Sir Hugh then accuses some political parties of making “unfair and damaging statements about our organisation”.
It is believed that he was angered by remarks by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams last week, when he said republicans would “put manners” on the police.
Sir Hugh is also believed to be annoyed by comments made by Mark Durkan in a newspaper advert last Friday.
In it, the SDLP leader claimed his party had ensured that Sir Hugh was appointed chief constable of the PSNI – to keep out what he called “the old RUC order.”
In the memo, Sir Hugh said it was “unacceptable that some individuals have used policing for political purposes”.
“I would suggest to the police leadership that they are on the wrong side of the argument.”
SDLP policing spokesman
He said they had made “insulting comments about the organisation, its staff and retired colleagues”, who he holds in the highest esteem.
Sir Hugh tells staff that he has spoken directly to the SDLP leadership to express his anger – and taken steps to speak to Sinn Fein, but says their leadership appears to have “gone on-the-run”.
He ends his message by saying he is “proud to lead the PSNI” and says his staff “can hold their heads up high”.
SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster he was surprised by the content of Sir Hugh’s memo.
“I would suggest to the police leadership that they are on the wrong side of the argument,” he said.
“They need to get back on the right side of those people who, over the last five or six years, have done so much to reshape Northern Ireland society in the interests of and to the benefit of everyone.”
Sinn Fein assembly member John O’Dowd rejected Sir Hugh’s claim that the party had “gone to ground” when he tried to contact them.
“Sinn Fein is out there trying to introduce an accountable policing service,” he said.
“And if he comes to Sinn Fein with the same attitude that he has displayed in that memo, he will be getting a short shrift answer.”
Meanwhile, party president Gerry Adams is to meet the prime minister on Thursday to discuss the implications of the Ombudsman’s report on collusion.
By Lisa Smyth
January 29, 2007
Beyond the dark imposing structure of the Crumlin Road jail lies 150 years of history – including some of the most haunting episodes of Northern Ireland’s bloody past
The bleak stone structure opened in 1845 during the Famine and remained in use throughout the Troubles before officially closing in 1996.
When it opened, Crumlin Road jail with its radial wings and underground link to the courthouse was a model of Victorian excellence.
But little changed over the years and when it finally shuts its doors the primitive conditions under which prisoners were housed were widely held to be unacceptable.
Inmates complained bitterly of the squalor, in which the smell of urine and human excrement was overpowering and mice and cockroaches rife in the cells.
Speaking at the time the jail closed, one its most famous inmates, former UVF commander Gusty Spence, told the Belfast Telegraph of his joy at its demise.
He said: “I’ll dance on its grave. I always promised myself I would do that one day – and I will.
“Shutting it is not enough. I want it razed completely to the ground.”
During its lifetime as Northern Ireland’s best-known prison, 17 men were executed within the walls of the building between 1854 and 1961.
The last person to be executed at the jail was 26-year-old Newry man Robert McGladdery who was convicted of murdering Co Down girl Pearl Gamble.
She was killed after a dance at Newry Orange Hall in a case that caused sensation at the time.
By Lisa Smyth
January 29, 2007
This is an artist’s impression of the infamous Crumlin Road jail returned to its original appearance following a planned million pound facelift.
The graphic was released today as Social Development Minister David Hanson announced the massive cash investment as part of a major programme of repair and restoration to the jail.
In ensuring that the facade of the jail is restored to its original 1845 glory, extensive renovations will be carried out and the work is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.
The programme of repairs and restoration at the Grade A listed building will open up the front of the jail with removal of all extraneous security structures, restoration of the existing cast iron railings, repairs to damaged masonry, the use of appropriate lighting and a range of hard and soft landscaping.
The security walls and fencing that have obscured the frontage of the jail for a number of decades will be removed and the railings and main gates repaired and restored.
The use of sandstone and bespoke castings for the railings will help achieve a sympathetic restoration.
Commenting on the start of the works, Mr Hanson said: “This major programme of works at the jail should significantly enhance the physical appearance of the facade and help to transform the overall look of the frontage of what is a magnificent Grade A listed building.
“This investment will play an important role in increasing confidence within the community and business sector in the long term regeneration potential of this area.
“It is an exciting signal of the gathering momentum in the overall redevelopment of the jail and Girdwood site.”
Other repairs to the jail, including the removal of asbestos and a programme of weatherproofing and health and safety improvements to the wings of the jail, are progressing in tandem.
The total cost of the work is expected to be almost £1m and comes after Mr Hanson set up a local advisory panel to make recommendations to him on a masterplan.
By Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry will not publish its report for another year, officials said yesterday.
Lord Saville is likely to take three years longer than originally expected to complete his report into the shootings by British troops in 1972, taking the inquiry into its second decade. He blames the “sheer volume of material”.
The inquiry heard oral evidence from 922 people and must consider written statements from about 1,500 more.
The total cost is officially put at £172 million, of which more than £80 million was paid to lawyers. The longer it takes to complete the report, the more expensive it will be.
There are up to a dozen staff working with Lord Saville at a secure location in London as he types drafts on to his computer.
Jan 30 will be the 35th anniversary of the events in Londonderry that left 13 people dead and 14 injured on the streets of a British city after a civil rights march. Another man later died of his injuries.
The first inquiry, conducted by Lord Widgery, published its report within 11 weeks.
In January 1998, Tony Blair announced an “urgent” new inquiry and Lord Saville, a recently-appointed law lord with what looked like a promising career ahead of him in Britain’s highest court, agreed to take it on.
He finished taking evidence from all but a handful of witnesses in February 2004 and heard closing speeches in November of that year. He made it clear at the time that he planned to submit his report to the Government in the summer of 2005.
But the report is still being written and it is not likely to be ready before 2008.
A statement on his inquiry’s website says that “it is extremely difficult to predict how long the outstanding work will take”, while adding that Lord Saville and the two retired Commonwealth judges sitting with him “consider it most unlikely that they will complete the report before the end of 2007 at the earliest, and they may need a longer time even than that”.
The families of those who were killed on Bloody Sunday are understood to be content with the delay, anxious that Lord Saville should have all the time he needs to compile a definitive report.
Officials denied any suggestion that he was finding it difficult to cope with the volume of material, explaining that he was “very thorough” in sifting the evidence.
Lord Saville has rejected pleas from lawyers for the soldiers involved not to make a finding implying criminal conduct on behalf of an individual unless the allegation could be proved beyond reasonable doubt and to avoid any finding of serious misconduct falling short of criminality without evidence stronger than the mere balance of probabilities,
As the former soldiers continue to wait for a ruling on a chapter of their lives most of them will have closed many years ago, the only comfort for them was that Lord Saville promised not to entertain allegations that “have no sensible foundation at all”.
30 January 1972
Bogsiders say the troops opened fire on unarmed men
British troops have opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators in the Bogside district of Derry, killing 13 civilians.
Seventeen more people, including one woman, were injured by gunfire. Another woman was knocked down by a speeding car.
The army said two soldiers had been hurt and up to 60 people arrested.
“They just came in firing – there was no provocation whatsoever.”
It was by far the worst day of violence in this largely Roman Catholic city since the present crisis began in 1969.
Bogsiders said the troops opened fire on unarmed men – including one who had his arms up in surrender.
The trouble began as a civil rights procession, defying the Stormont ban on parades and marches, approached an Army barbed wire barricade.
The largely peaceful crowd of between 7,000 and 10,000 was marching in protest at the policy of internment without trial. Some of the younger demonstrators began shouting at the soldiers and chanting, “IRA, IRA”.
A few bottles, broken paving stones, chair legs and heavy pieces of iron grating were thrown at the troops manning the barrier.
Stewards appealed for calm – but more missiles were thrown and the area behind the barricade was quickly strewn with broken glass and other debris.
The 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, which had been standing by in case of trouble, sprang into action. Squads leapt over the barricades and chased the demonstrators.
The gates were opened and eight armoured vehicles went into the Bogside and the remaining demonstrators were quickly surrounded.
Army claims provocation
The army says it opened fire after being shot at first by two snipers in flats overlooking the street. It claims acid bombs were also thrown.
The gun battle lasted about 25 minutes.
Father Edward Daly, a Catholic priest, was caught on film helping to carry a teenager who had been fatally wounded, to safety.
He said: “They just came in firing. There was no provocation whatsoever.
“Most people had their backs to them when they opened fire.”
Major General Robert Ford, Commander, Land Forces Northern Ireland, who was in charge of the operation, insisted his troops had been fired on first.
A 14th man later died of injuries received during the demonstration.
An inquiry into what became known as Bloody Sunday headed by Lord Widgery in 1972 exonerated the Army. It said their firing had “bordered on the reckless” but said the troops had been fired upon first and some of their victims had been armed.
The results of the inquiry were rejected by the Catholic community who began a long campaign for a fresh investigation.
In 1998, Tony Blair’s government announced a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday.
The inquiry, headed by Lord Saville, spent two years taking witness statements. It ended in November 2004 and had cost about £150 million.
Lord Saville’s final report and conclusions are not expected to be made public until summer 2005.*
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the tragedy called ‘Bloody Sunday’.
Click to view – photo from CAIN
**Please take some time to visit these sites. They are just a start. You will find many more links and resources listed within their pages:
**I cannot say enough about this site for use as a resource on Bloody Sunday. It has so many links concerning the background history, chronology, information about the victims, maps, posters, murals, audio clips, sources for further research, photographs taken by eyewitnesses and a list of important websites available. Please be sure to visit >>CAIN
Remembering Bloody Sunday
January 30, 1972
‘On January 30, 1972, soldiers from the British Army’s 1st Parachute Regiment opened fire on unarmed and peaceful civilian demonstrators in the Bogside, Derry, Ireland, near the Rossville flats, killing 13 and wounding a number of others. One wounded man later died from illness attributed to that shooting’.
truth – justice – reconciliation – healing
Click to view – Seventeen-year-old Michael Kelly lies on the ground after being shot. After this picture was taken 20-year-old Michael McDaid, partially visible in the top left, was also shot and killed.
Many different links to coverage of different aspects of the tragedy and the subsequent report and Inquiry. Includes archive articles, audio and visual resources.
Image from CAIN
Belfast loyalist Ihab Shoukri has been granted bail in the High Court.
Ihab Shoukri was granted bail in the High Court
He was ordered to live in England after a judge refused to consider intelligence documents supporting claims he is a leading paramilitary.
Mr Shoukri was previously refused bail three times on charges arising from a raid on a Tiger’s Bay bar last March.
In light of the on-going risks to his life, he was released on his own bail of £500 but ordered to live in England at an address approved by the police.
Prosecution counsel told the hearing in Belfast on Monday that he had intelligence documents which, he claimed, would prove Mr Shoukri was “not an ordinary paramilitary but a leading paramilitary”.
But a defence lawyer said the three page-document was not being presented as evidence in the Crown court against him and should, therefore, not be considered in the bail hearing.
Granting bail, Mr Justice Weatherup said that due to “the climate of today”, he would not accept the intelligence documents.
Mr Shoukri was also banned from associating with his co-accused “either directly or indirectly” and was told to obey a curfew and report to police on a daily basis.
The centenary of a famous Belfast labour strike when Catholic and Protestant workers united briefly will be marked in Dublin tomorrow.
More than 5,000 dockers downed tools in the Belfast Lockout from May until September 1907 to win better pay and conditions from their employers.
Royal Irish Constabulary police later mutinied when they were forced to escort “scab” workers to the docks and British troops were called in to end the strike.
The strike was led by trade union crusader “Big Jim” Larkin who is now commemorated with statues in Belfast and Dublin.
Union leaders from Northern Ireland and the Republic will gather tomorrow at Larkin’s grave in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery where they will lay a wreath to mark the Lockout’s centenary.
Larkin’s niece, Stella McConnon Larkin, is due to attend tomorrow’s commemoration.
Catholics and Protestants were just as divided by politics and religion in those days, but Larkin achieved a fragile unity for several months as Falls Road and Shankil Road came together, says political historian Eamon Phoenix.
“Larkin was a giant of a man and he used his charisma and oratorical skills to articulate grievances of the working classes. Sectarianism was sidelined and Home Rule dropped off the agenda for a short period in 1907,” he said.
The time for true and visible Sinn Fein support for policing has arrived, the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists has said.
MONDAY 29/01/2007 09:58:19
Speaking after the historic vote yesterday, the party leader said they (the DUP) had forced republicans to recognise the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Delegates at a special Sinn Fein conference in Dublin voted overwhelmingly to work with the service.
Mr Paisley said: “The DUP has forced Sinn Fein to recognise support for the police and the rule of law as an issue of paramount importance for which there can be no other way. Sinn Fein must now walk this road.
“No post-dated action can take the place of real delivery. The postponements must come to an end.
“The time for true, visible and open support for the police and law enforcement has arrived.”
“This shift means telling police about crime, taking seats on accountability bodies like the Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships.”
Mr Paisley said anything less than full implementation of Sinn Fein`s commitments would render the meeting valueless.
“Only with real delivery can the way be cleared for a full return to democracy and a facing up to the everyday needs and requirements of the people of Northern Ireland,” he said.
“The site must be cleared before proper building can begin. All Ulster people, across both the religious and political divides, know that it is now or never.”
The DUP, the majority unionist party, will be expected to share power with Sinn Fein by the time the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive is restored on March 26.
That was part of the deal agreed last October by the British and Irish Governments at St Andrews in Scotland.
Ian Paisley`s party colleague, Nigel Dodds, has questioned whether Sinn Fein support for policing could be proved in time for the restoration of a devolved government by the end of March.
The North Belfast MP said there was potential for political progress after the Sinn Fein vote but said what was needed was delivery on the ground.
“The question today for Sinn Fein is `Why are you continuing to delay?”`
The DUP policy was that there could be no power-sharing with Sinn Fein in government until republicans had demonstrated their commitment to supporting policing and the rule of law.
Condemning the lack of a clear-cut decision, he said: “If they are going to stick to this policy then there will certainly be no delivery by 26 March and therefore there can`t be the time for the delivery or the testing.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We are prepared to share power in circumstances where all the parties in the Government are upholding the rule of law.
“I think it is a fairly reasonable point to make that in circumstances where Sinn Fein have indicated in words that they are prepared to support the police, that this is simply translated into practical co-operation on the ground.
“After all, with a history going back for many decades of involvement in criminality and violence, I think people want to be sure that what Sinn Fein have said they will do, they do.
“It`s now up to Sinn Fein to deliver in terms of fulfilling the pledges they made yesterday.”
However, republican critic Dr Willie McCrea from the Democratic Unionist Party, said: “Details of the outcome will bring no surprises as the whole exercise has been carefully choreographed for the Dublin pantomime.
“The heavily qualified decision on policing, law and order etc, is a kick in the teeth for all those who portray Sinn Fein as having come out of the dark ages into the light of democracy.
“The reality, however, is far different as Sinn Fein has failed the democratic test and has not moved away from the mindset of the terrorist.”
Monday, January 29, 2007
Former IRA prisoner Gerry McGeough has confirmed his intention to stand against Sinn Fein in the next Assembly election.
Mr McGeough has been a critic of the party’s move to endorse the PSNI, which was backed by an overwhelming majority at yesterday’s ard fheis in Dublin.
The 48-year-old, who was jailed in the United States in the early 1990s for gun-running, has responded to the vote by confirming that he will seek an Assembly seat in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
He says he was not surprised by yesterday’s outcome as the republican movement had been “recruited into the British Crown system” and was “being used to administer and maintain British rule”.
By Alan Murray
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Former RUC Special Branch officers have labelled some recommendations on agent-handling in Nuala O’Loan’s report as “unbelievably naive”.
Retired senior officers say that two instances in particular highlight a lack of understanding and knowledge of the realities of handling agents.
They say that her recommendation in the case of the sabotaged UVF attack on Sinn Fein’s Monaghan office in March 1997 that those involved should have been arrested is “astonishing”.
The former officers say that, if evidence had been processed with the intention of prosecuting the UVF men involved, then ‘Informant 1’ – Mark Haddock – would have been exposed as an RUC agent and killed.
Said one officer: “She (Mrs O’Loan) confirms that Haddock brought the bomb destined for Monaghan to Special Branch so it could be neutered.
“If prosecutions had been mounted, a forensic scientist, either in Belfast or the Republic, would have had to write up a report on the composition of the ‘bomb’ and, unless the scientist was prepared to fabricate a report for the trial, he would have had to confirm that the ‘explosives’ were no more than a mixture of putty and sawdust.
“That report would have had to be given to the defendants and they would have been able to figure out that someone doctored the bomb and easily worked out who it was. What she suggests is unbelievably naive.”
Former officers also say that, similarly, if Haddock had been pulled in about planning a hit on a “republican target” in the Antrim area in July 1994, he would have been made aware that there was at least one other informant within his Mount Vernon UVF unit.
In her report on the incident, Mrs O’Loan says “there is no record of police challenging Informant 1 about it”.
Another former officer added: “Imagine the implications of pulling Haddock about that.
“It would have told him that there was another agent within his unit and he would probably have sussed out who it was, because so few knew about this and then would probably have killed him.
“If you were to do what Mrs O’Loan suggests in these two incidents, agents wouldn’t survive more than a month – they’d be dead and then she’d probably level the charge against their handlers that they were in breach of their duty of care towards an agent.”
In response, the Police Ombudsman’s office said yesterday: “The Antrim incident referred to happened in 1994. Informant 1 was engaged in terrorist activity he hadn’t told his handlers about.
“It was one of a series of incidents which should have rung alarm bells about his activities and value as a source, yet he remained an agent for another nine years, during which intelligence linked him to multiple murders and attempted murders and police effectively protected him from prosecution.
“In relation to Monaghan, police made no attempt to mount a surveillance operation, they did not attempt to disrupt the attack, they failed to tell their counterparts in the Republic, they failed to keep records which could have been analysed and helped gain a fuller picture of UVF activity.
“These things could have been done without compromising an agent.”
By Stephen Gordon and Chris Anderson
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The family of a 12-year-old girl who was shot dead by a machine gun-toting paratrooper have welcomed news that the controversial killing is to be re-investigated.
The PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team has confirmed it is to probe the killing of south Armagh schoolgirl Majella O’Hare.
Majella was walking with friends towards St Malachy’s Church near her home in Whitecross on August 14, 1976 when she was hit by two high velocity rounds fired by a member of a foot patrol operating a vehicle checkpoint nearby.
She died in her father’s arms as she was being taken by military helicopter to hospital in Newry.
At first, the Army claimed the schoolgirl had been caught in crossfire after a gunman opened fire on soldiers. But later it contradicted the crossfire claim.
The soldier involved claimed he had shouted a warning and opened fire on a gunman he said he had spotted for two seconds in a gap in a hedge.
However, locals said there was no gunman and no warning was shouted.
When the soldier was later acquitted of Majella’s manslaughter the verdict resulted in widespread criticism from nationalists and human rights campaigners.
The PSNI cold case team’s re-investigation will get under way on May 2, this year.
Majella’s 84-year-old mother Mary O’Hare and her brother, Michael welcomed the news.
“We had become disheartened that nothing had happened,” Michael told Sunday Life.
“In 30 years the Army never contacted my mother to apologise or express any remorse at Majella’s death.
“Michael Williams, the soldier who fired the fatal shots in August 1976, never responded either. We have had to live with the Army’s unsubstantiated account of what happened that morning.
“We want to know the truth,” he said.
“We know that the Army’s account to be patently untrue and have suffered in silence. That cannot continue any longer.”
He said the Army and the British government should also apologise to his mother for the pain and distress she has endured.
In 1989, the commanding officer of the Parachute Regiment, Brigadier Peter Morton recalled that Majella O’Hare’s killing “cast a cloud which was destined to hang over 3 Para’s reputation for sometime to come”.
He added: “Inside I was really sick that one incident in the space of barely a second had almost totally wiped out the good things we had achieved in south Armagh. We received the normal clutch of formal thank you letters, but from the RUC there was silence. The taste which it all left was rather sour.”
28 January 2007
FORMER RUC officers in the North are threatening to blow the whistle on top-level informers if any more ex-police officers are arrested or accused by Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan of collaborating with loyalists.
Retired detectives were enraged at last week’s report which they say unfairly branded the RUC as being involved in widespread collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.
They pointed out that, statistically, the force arrested and convicted far more loyalist killers than republicans.
They were particularly annoyed at the public fashion in which three retired officers were arrested last September by investigators working for Mrs O’Loan.
While the detectives were not identified in last week’s report, their former colleagues say they may as well have been.
The Police Ombudsman’s file was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North with a view to bringing charges. The DPP declined to do so, citing lack of evidence.
The O’Loan report last week caused a storm drawing intense criticism of the old RUC.
Former Branch men are now saying that if the Ombudsman continues to make public claims about them, then they are prepared to breach the Official Secrets Act and release secrets that could include the identities of high-level informers.
This could include former IRA agents run by the RUC and Garda during the Troubles, and some agents who may have since become prominent in Sinn Fein.
Crusading dad’s challenge to terror boss
By Stephen Breen
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The vindicated father of UVF murder victim Raymond McCord jnr last night offered to meet the terror group’s leaders.
Raymond McCord snr – who will meet with Policing Board chairman Professor Desmond Rea to discuss his son’s case this week – has called on the UVF’s chief-of-staff to admit the loyalist grouping was “wrong” to dismiss his allegations for almost a decade.
Mr McCord issued the defiant plea after the UVF’s leadership on the Shankill remained silent on the explosive findings contained within Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s report.
His challenge comes after it emerged the UVF’s brigadier in south-east Antrim, who is also an informer, has gone into hiding following last week’s report.
The north Belfast man, who is set to meet with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern over the findings of the bombshell document, urged UVF godfathers to hand over the killers of his son to the police.
Said the dad-of-three: “I want to confront the UVF’s chief-of-staff, who is also an informer, face-to-face and ask him to admit I was telling the truth all along.
“I don’t see why, if the UVF claims to represent the Protestant people, they can’t hand over a gang of informers who were killing their own people.
“I have met the UVF before and they told me there would be an inquiry but nothing was ever done about because they were all informers and being controlled by Special Branch.
“I was disgusted that my son was a member of the UVF for a very short time, but there was no way I was going to turn my back on him because he was still my son. I would also like to know why the UVF leadership appears to be walking away from the findings of Mrs O’Loan’s report? Now is the time for them to speak about a killer gang of informers who were working for the police when they were killing their own people.”
The campaigning dad also told how he expected to see arrests over his son’s killing in the weeks and months ahead.
Added Mr McCord: “Every senior police officer I spoke to after my son’s killing told me lies and now is the time for the police to deliver.
“I believe the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has made progress in relation to my son’s case and I would hope to see arrests and other developments over the coming weeks.
“If the police had told the truth from the start then there could have been arrests and these people could have been behind bars.
“People should also know that I am not attacking the RUC in my criticism of the police. I know the vast majority of officers did a great job and there was just a small group of officers who colluded with loyalist killers.
“I hate the fact my son’s murder is being used as a political football and the only thing my family will continue to seek is justice.
“Jeffrey Donaldson has called for the killers to be arrested and he also told me he wants the corrupt police officers arrested, so there should be no political rows over my son’s murder.”
27/01/2007 – 14:04:03
Republicans opposed to the Police Force in Northern Ireland may run ex-prisoners as candidates in this March’s elections to restore government.
Republican Sinn Féin is calling on Sinn Féin members to throw out a motion from the party leadership that they accept the province’s police service.
A special conference, or ard fheis, is being held in Dublin tomorrow to rubber stamp the historic shift which would see republicans joining the Police Service of Northern Ireland and sitting on public scrutiny bodies.
Republican Sinn Féin spokesman Ruairi Og O’Bradaigh said: “It is a British police force as far as we are concerned, it doesn’t matter if Gerry Adams is in uniform, it is who controls it and pays it and motivates it,” he said.
Jerry Adams hopes to secure the landmark vote ahead of anticipated restored government in March and devolved powers over policing and justice by 2008.
Accepting the police was a condition which Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party had demanded before sharing power.
Republican Sinn Féin which represents the dissident Continuity IRA is set against the policing concession which it claimed would endorse British rule in Ireland.
“We have had 100 years of British police forces here and there were plenty of Catholics and it didn’t make them not a British force,” Mr O’Bradaigh added.
“This is all cosmetic to give it a veneer of respectability.”
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The parents of a man savagely murdered by a notorious IRA unit led by a paid British agent have called on Nuala O’Loan to launch a McCord-style collusion inquiry into their son’s murder.
The Ombudsman’s Office is now considering the request that could lift the lid on the role of former Belfast Provo Freddie Scappaticci – aka state agent Stakeknife – inside the IRA’s ruthless internal security unit.
Scappaticci is believed to have carried out dozens of murders while leading a double life as a torturer in the IRA’s so-called ‘nutting squad’ and as an £80,000 agent with the intelligence services.
Portadown couple Pat and Irene Dignam last week wrote to the Police Ombudsman’s office requesting an inquiry into the police handling of the inquiry into the murder of their son, John, 14 years ago.
And they believe Scappaticci was one of the killers.
Dad-of-two John Dignam (32) was himself a British spy inside the IRA, as were his friends Gregory Burns and Aiden Starrs.
All three were abducted, interrogated for a week before being shot through the head in June 1992.
Their bodies were dumped on a border road in south Armagh.
The IRA said the trio had admitted being MI5/Special Branch agents and of involvement in the murder of Portdown woman, Margaret Perry.
But the Dignams believe their son was sacrificed by the intelligence services to protect Stakeknife and want the Police Ombudsman to investigate their claims police failed to properly investigate the killing in 1992.
Pat Dignam said: “Until now there has been a wall of silence about why my son was left to die at the hands of the IRA’s internal security squad. That’s no longer acceptable as far as we are concerned.
“One of the leaders of the murder squad that killed my son was the British agent Stakeknife.
“Over the years he has been well protected and paid thousands of pounds by his intelligence services paymasters.”
He added he had no doubt the itelligence services and the IRA had colluded in his son’s murder.
Irene Dignam said audio tapes existed that outline the events which resulted in her son’s murder.
The family wrote to the Ombudsman’s Office last Thursday to formally complain about the RUC investigation into their son’s murder and have asked to meet Mrs O’Loan to present their case in person.
Sinn Fein conference will give leader 80 per cent backing
Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday January 28, 2007
Decades of republican opposition to the forces of law and order in Northern Ireland will end today when Sinn Fein votes to recognise the province’s police service.
At the party’s highly orchestrated special meeting in Dublin, Gerry Adams, the party leader, will win the day with 80 per cent of the delegates backing the motion to support the police.
The move will pave the way for elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in March and for Sinn Fein and Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party to work together.
Yesterday, Adams voiced what would once have been considered unthinkable when he said that any republican wanting to join the police should be supported and then added that he believed Ian Paisley was genuine in wanting to build a better future for everyone in the North of Ireland.
The Sinn Fein President said that when he heard Paisley speak at St Andrews last year about the ‘future of our children and grandchildren’ he thought the DUP leader was ‘very, very genuine’ and he intended to ‘hold him [Paisley] to that’.
Speaking ahead of the special conference in Dublin, Adams predicted the party leadership would win the debate on policing. The pressure will then be on Paisley’s DUP to enter into power-sharing government with republicans, following the Assembly elections, which are scheduled for 7 March.
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will announce the elections on Tuesday evening, following an Anglo-Irish summit at Downing Street.
However, hostility to the historic compromise is building outside the mainstream republican movement. Gerry McGeough, an ex-IRA gunrunner from Co Tyrone, confirmed yesterday that once Sinn Fein delegates vote to recognise the PSNI, he would definitely run as an alternative republican candidate in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.
Meanwhile, ex-IRA chief of staff and Republican Sinn Fein President Ruairi O’Bradaigh announced yesterday that a number of Continuity IRA prisoners are considering standing in other constituencies across the north. The Observer has learnt that these areas include west Belfast. O’Bradaigh called on young republicans still in Sinn Fein to vote against the policing motion today.
Adams said he understood ‘how hard this will be for some people, especially those who have suffered at the hands of the RUC, but this is an opportunity to become involved and have a say in how our country is policed.
‘I would call on all people to support any republican who wants to join the police force, but I am not going to recruit for the PSNI. They have to win our trust and prove they are an impartial service. It is up to them to persuade the people that the days of bad policing are over.’
Adams denied there was any split in his party. The 20 per cent of those opposed to the move on policing are mainly from areas around the border with the Republic. They are not expected to stage a walkout once the vote is taken.
‘There is no split, our party is united and will remain so. We have held open debates across the 32 counties, where views have both been validated and vindicated, which is very healthy for any party.’
The Sinn Fein President received a late boost yesterday after Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by loyalists who were police agents, urged Sinn Fein to back the PSNI.
A devastating Police Ombudsman report last week found that Special Branch officers colluded with loyalist serial killer Mark Haddock, who gave the order to murder Raymond McCord Jr. McCord Sr said what had happened to his son was part of the past.
In a message to Sinn Fein delegates, McCord said: ‘I believe that the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde is a different Chief Constable, who won’t tolerate the collusion of corrupt police officers.’
Republican Sinn Fein will mount a token protest outside their rivals’ Special ‘Ard Fheis’ at the RDS in Dublin’s Ballsbridge. There will be another demonstration by the unionist victims group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives. The group will be highlighting IRA atrocities during the Troubles and arguing that those behind these attacks are not fit for government.