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Derry Journal
13 March 2009

Hardline republicans in Derry say they expect to be “taken out” by a branch of the British security forces following the recent murders of two soldiers and a policeman.

One dissident republican source told the ‘Journal’ that active republicans in the city are concerned that a new campaign of assassinating dissidents will begin.

“It is only a matter of time before one of us is taken out by the Brits or some branch of their so-called security agencies. It is always a possibility but it seems more likely now. We would expect an attempt to be made to take someone out soon.”

Meanwhile, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM) in Derry says its members are being harassed by the PSNI on a daily basis.
A spokesperson for the 32CSM claimed the PSNI attempted to recruit two members of the group as informers and threatened their families when they refused.

One of the men, who did not wish to be named, said: “I have been stopped several times by the same plain clothes PSNI man over the last two months. He has called at my home and stopped my car, offering me money to work for them. I keep refusing and on Tuesday he stopped me again. I have recently split up with my ex-girlfriend, whose brother is in the police, and we have a child together. This policeman who keeps stopping me told me he would fix it so I wouldn’t see my child again,” he alleged.

Another man produced an audio recording, which the ‘Journal’ has heard, which, he claims, is evidence of PSNI officers attempting to recruit him.

“I have been getting harassed regularly and it is getting worse,” he said. “I had several members of my family killed by the RUC in Belfast and when I was stopped last month they said they wouldn’t want me to lose any more members of my family. I took that to be a veiled threat that my family would be targeted if I didn’t become an informer,” he claimed.

A spokesperson for the PSNI declined to comment on the allegations. “We do not comment on specific intelligence matters and no inference should be taken from this.”

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Belfast Media
North Belfast News 13th of March 2009

A North Belfast bar owner said his staff are “lucky to be alive” after loyalists threw a pipe bomb into the Greencastle pub’s beer garden this week.

The device was thrown over a fence into the grounds of the Fountain Bar as staff cleared up after closing time on Tuesday night. The pipe bomb, which did not explode, was thrown into the outside smoking area, adjacent to the bar.

The bar is primarily used by Catholics from the Whitewell Road and Bawnmore areas.

The Fountain Bar owner Paul Gillen said his staff were traumatised after the incident and believes it was intended to cause serious harm.

“They are very uneasy, they are simply working and providing a good service to the public and this is what happens,” said Paul.

“We are all very anxious after this. I believe the bomb was left to do serious harm, it was only that they did not make it up properly. It was thrown right into the spot where customers have a smoke and was meant to do serious damage.”

The bomb was found by the PSNI after the bar staff first discovered a suspicious package outside their doors as they locked up. After ringing the PSNI – who took almost an hour to arrive at the scene for fear it was an ambush – the first device was declared an elaborate hoax.

However after searching the scene they discovered the second bomb in the beer garden which was not a hoax but simply made incorrectly.

It is understood a phone warning was made to the PSNI just minutes before the bomb was discovered from a phone box in the Rathcoole Estate. CCTV images of a hooded male planting the devices was recovered on the bar’s security cameras. He had travelled in a car with two other males and they are believed to have been tracked by CCTV to the same area. Mr Gillen said he is now stepping up security measures in the bar.

“I will be looking at other ways to make the place more secure and make sure the my staff are safe.”

Sinn Fein councillor Tierna Cunningham condemned the incident and made an appeal for the community not to retaliate to the loyalist threat.

“First of all I want to offer my sympathies to the staff and owners of the bar who are understandably shaken up after this. The Fountain is an excellent bar with very responsible owners who do their best for the community,” she said.

“I would appeal to our own community to keep calm and not react to this. We have to show leadership and not respond to it in anyway or the situation can only get worse.”

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them at Antrim Road station on 0845 600 8000.

BBC

The possibility of dialogue with dissident republicans must be explored former north belfast priest Father Aidan Troy has said.

Father Aidan Troy the possibility of dialogue should be explored

“What I was saying was, could an extra step be taken to prevent future loss of life?” he said.

Fr Troy was speaking on BBC Northern Ireland’s Talk Back programme.

“If a channel can be opened, then it has to be opened, not to say to them maybe you have a point. No, to say this is absolutely, unconditionally wrong.”

“I was asking from a point of view of a church response, was there any possibility of us saying to these people, there is absolutely no future in this and nobody wants it.”

Fr Troy, who is now working in a parish in Paris, said it had crossed his mind that the killings in recent days were “almost like what had gone on so often in the past”.

“There isn’t going to be any appeasement in this approach but if it saves one other grieving family, and even if people were to pour scorn on me today, I don’t mind that,” he said.

“But supposing we prevented one more policeman or policewoman being shot, one more soldier not being shot or one civilian being shot, then I think it is worth exploring it.”

Ananova

A man in his 20s has been arrested in connection with the murder of Northern Ireland policeman Stephen Carroll, police have said.

The arrest came just hours after Northern Ireland’s police chief paid a moving personal tribute to the PC shot dead by dissident republicans – and promised his widow that he would never be forgotten.

In an emotional and unscheduled address to mourners near the end of PC Carroll’s funeral service, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde pledged: “He will not be forgotten, Kate, I promise you that.”

He said messages had come in from the global police family, and they too would not forget the first officer from the Police Service of Northern Ireland to be murdered in 12 years.

PC Carroll, 48, was shot dead by the Continuity IRA on Monday night while answering a call to a distressed mother of two who had a brick thrown through the window of her house in Craigavon, Co Armagh.

Sir Hugh told mourners at St Therese’s Catholic church in PC Carroll’s home town of Banbridge, Co Down, that he and his colleagues had ignored danger to themselves to get to the aid of the young mother.

He said he had seen the message calling for assistance on the operations screen at police headquarters in Belfast.

“It was so incredibly important. It was a message calling for help from a member of the public and her children and the first people she looked to was the police service,” he said.

“The bottom line is he knew in his heart of hearts, and his colleagues knew in their hearts, that they were going to a place where sometimes people try to hurt us.

“Did he step back? No. Did any of his colleagues step back? No. They went and they dealt with the call. Stephen tragically lost his life.”

Stephen Carroll, killed by Continuity IRA, is carried from family home to church where police guard of honour and ministers join mourners

Steven Morris and Esther Addley
Guardian
Friday 13 March 2009


The coffin arrives at St Therese’s Church in Banbridge for the funeral of Stephen Carroll. (Photograph: Paul Faith/PA)

Mourners at the funeral of the Northern Ireland police constable shot dead by dissident republicans were urged not to be distracted from the peace process.

The Very Rev Liam Stevenson, who led the service for Stephen Carroll, said his murder and the killings of two soldiers 48 hours previously had been designed to destabilise the peace process.

But Stevenson said: “Today is the day for peace. Let us concentrate our minds fully on building peace among people. Let us not be distracted. Let us not waiver. Let us not turn back. Let us not lose our focus. Let us redouble our efforts. A united people cannot be waylaid.”

Politicians, police chiefs and many relatives and friends gathered to pay their final respects to PC Carroll, a Catholic who was killed by Continuity IRA on Monday night.

Among them were representatives of Sinn Féin – the party’s first ever presence at the funeral of a police officer killed in a terrorist attack.

Stevenson said the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had been constituted to represent all parts of the community. “It represents all of us. It’s essentially a part of us,” he said. “An attack on the PSNI is primarily an attack on the whole population of Northern Ireland.”

Security was tight as the funeral cortege moved from the family home in Banbridge, Co Down, to the hilltop church of St Therese. A lone piper played as PC Carroll’s body neared the church.

PC Carroll’s sister-in-law, Deidre, read from Ecclesiastes: “There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven … a time for killing, a time for healing … a time for war and a time for peace.” Amazing Grace and The Lord Is My Shepherd were sung and afterwards PC Carroll’s body was buried in a cemetery close to the family home.

The mourners included Sir Hugh Orde, the chief constable of the PSNI, and Fachtna Murphy, the Garda Síochána commissioner. Politicians of all the main parties in Northern Ireland were present, wearing purple ribbons to mark their solidarity against the killings both of PC Carroll and the two young soldiers.

John O’Dowd, a Sinn Féin assembly member, said: “We are there in sympathy with Constable Carroll’s family. We have built a new society, part of that was the building of the PSNI and Constable Carroll was part of that new society.”

Across the modern circular church was a long-time foe of republicanism, Jackie McDonald, recognised as the leader of the Ulster Defence Association.

McDonald said: “We have come to show support for the Carroll family and to let everybody know that loyalism is against this sort of thing.”

He praised Northern Ireland’s Sinn Féin deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, and other Sinn Féin members for their forthright condemnation of the three murders.

“They have been very brave. It is obviously a new language for them and I think they have reassured the loyalist community that this is not about orange and green, it is about those who support the peace process, it is about uniting everybody.”

Also at the funeral was Shaun Woodward, the Northern Ireland secretary, and the minister of state Paul Goggins.

Speaking ahead of the funeral, PC Carroll’s widow, Kate, told how she had not been able to wait to get her husband’s body back into her home. “I wanted to see him and be with him,” she said.

Mrs Carroll described how his body was the man she knew – apart from his smile. “He was always smiling, a big cheesy grin. The only thing missing from him is the big cheesy grin.”

She said she felt dead inside. “I just hope he hasn’t died in vain. We only get one chance in life and that piece of land [where he will be laid to rest] is just a piece of land and my husband is going to get just six foot by six foot of it.

“That’s all any of us are going to get, and why don’t they realise this, and talk to each other. Why not enjoy your life, it’s short – very, very short.”

Detectives were last night given five more days to question two males aged 37 and 17 arrested late on Tuesday in a housing estate close to Lismore Manor in Craigavon, where Carroll was killed. The older man is a former Sinn Féin councillor, it emerged this morning.

At the end of the service, Orde said PC Carroll was one of the ordinary men and women who did an extraordinary job, displaying a willingness, bravery and commitment to serve the community.

Orde said he had been in his office at police headquarters when the message of the call-out PC Carroll had gone on was flashed on the operations screen.

He said: “It was a message calling for help from a member of the public and her children and the first people she looked to was the police service.”

Despite the threat to themselves, PC Carroll and his colleagues responded immediately.

Orde said: “The bottom line is, he knew in his heart of hearts, and his colleagues knew in their hearts, that they were going to a place where sometimes people try to hurt us.

“Did he step back? No. Did any of his colleagues step back? No. They went and they dealt with the call. Stephen tragically lost his life.”

Addressing the officer’s widow, he said: “He will not be forgotten, Kate, I promise you. My staff and officers will not forget what he did, I know the community will not forget what he did.”

By Scott Millar and Shaun Connolly
Examiner.ie

THE PSNI chief constable of Foyle District has warned of a growing dissident Republican threat in Derry with paramilitary groups mounting a recruiting drive in the area.

Chief Constable Chris Yates’s warning comes as the PSNI prepares to bury the force’s first member to be killed by terrorist activity since its foundation as the replacement to the RUC in 2001.

Constable Stephen Carroll was murdered on Monday night in the Craigavon area by the Continuity IRA, just two days after two British soldiers were killed by the rival dissident Republican faction, the Real IRA, in Co Antrim.

Yesterday PSNI detectives were granted a five-day extension to the detention period of a man and a youth, aged 37 and 17, who were arrested in the Craigavon area in relation to Mr Carroll’s murder on Tuesday. His Mass will be held today at 12 noon at St Therese’s Catholic Church, Banbridge.

A large number of the North’s politicians and Church figures are expected to attend, among them Sinn Féin MLAs John O’Dowd and Alex Maskey, as well as the party’s local councillor Dessie Ward. Mr O’Dowd said: “The PSNI is a police service which is working towards being fully civilianised. Stephen Carroll was involved in that process, as is Sinn Féin. It is only right and proper we pay respect to Stephen Carroll and give solidarity to his family.” He added: “There is a political message as well, it is a continuation of political leadership.”

Last night Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams held talks with Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Mr Adams warned against a knee-jerk response by the British government to the upsurge in violence.

Mr Cowen stressed he will discuss the developments in the North with US President Barack Obama when he meets him at the White House on St Patrick’s Day next week. Earlier Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy and PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde met in Belfast. They vowed to work closely in the wake of the dissident republican murders.

After the meeting Mr Orde said the relationship between the police forces was “excellent”. He said the PSNI and gardaí were “determined to bring those responsible for these despicable murders over the last week to justice”.

Mr Murphy said: “An attack on any police officer is an attack on the whole of society.”

By Roy Greenslade on ‘Comment is free’
Guardian

**Please see original article for links to citations of points made

Reactionary commentators have used the killings in Northern Ireland to start a propaganda war against Irish republicanism

The British press reaction to the three murders in the north of Ireland has been, on the whole, sensible. Most newspapers have acknowledged the success of the peace process by pointing to the way in which Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party have been singing from the same hymn sheet.

But there have been exceptions. The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, and their sad band of reactionary commentators, have treated the killings as another opportunity to fight a propaganda war against Irish republicanism that is wholly at odds with the reality of the past decade.

Clearly unhappy that power-sharing has kept violence off the streets, and that Sinn Féin is now part of the devolved government of Northern Ireland, those papers and their ideologues are locked into an old mind-set.

There was Max Hastings railing in the Mail against strong leaders to
combat it – “the bitter and bloodstained old men” such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

It was an hysterical media museum piece, laced with prejudice and full of distortions. For example, he wrote: “Ulster’s old industries – textiles, ship and aircraft building – collapsed during the Troubles and have never been replaced.” There is not the least proof that “the troubles” had anything to do with the eradication of Belfast’s manufacturing industry (which has been mirrored in Britain and the United States).

But Hastings was far from alone in the republican-bashing Mail. Edward Heathcoat-Amory purported to deconstruct “the weasel words of Gerry Adams” in a fatuous piece that, I note from the Mail’s website, was condemned by people who live in Ireland, and who have welcomed Sinn Féin standing shoulder to shoulder with the DUP.

Just in case the Mail’s readers were failing to get the message, its leading article took Adams to task for, allegedly, refusing to condemn or express “genuine sorrow” over the soldiers’ murders, claiming that it proved “a leopard can’t change its spots”.

Can the Mail be serious? I certainly agree that Sinn Féin were slow to react. That’s a fair criticism (though, unlike many political parties, it has a culture of internal democracy that probably accounted for the delay). Anyway, its statement – once it was delivered – was unequivocal.

To suggest that a man who has led his party away from violence into a lengthy peace has not changed his spots was extraordinary. Yet the Mail had the gall to say that very few people “would want to turn the clock back” when its whole approach was embedded in the past.

It claimed that Sinn Féin was to blame for the murders by having “effectively forbidden” the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) from pursuing violent republican dissidents. Oddly, the overwhelming majority of unionist politicians do not agree.

On a BBC Newsnight discussion about the murders, it was noticeable that Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey and the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson did not get close to trading blows. Donaldson praised McGuinness for his statements.

But none of this was good enough for that other reactionary mouthpiece, the Daily Telegraph. Philip Johnston implied that the peace process was only skin deep. The only difference between Sinn Féin and the dissidents is over tactics rather than ideology. Two days later, following the policeman’s murder, Johnston took a more conciliatory line in his report.

Unsurprisingly, Simon Heffer weighed in with his own assault on the “canting hypocrite Gerry Adams” before, bizarrely, accusing the Labour government of having blood on its hands. It was pleasing that the Telegraph carried a letter from a former soldier who wrote of “the real progress” made during the years of peace.

I ought also to mention, in fairness, that Liam Clarke’s front page commentary on the situation in the Telegraph was altogether more sensible and sympathetic. Then again, he does live there.

And then today came today’s contribution – in The Spectator this time – by another Telegraph writer, Charles Moore, who has never come to terms with Sinn Fein’s adoption of the ballot rather than the bullet.

He accuses Adams of not only being “cold and unfeeling” in his response to the murders but viewing them as “necessary” because they might well advance the possibility of a united Ireland. It’s a convoluted argument, but like the others, he sees no virtue in the peace process.

The truth, the sad, undeniable truth, is that all these writers, and this trio of publications, have never been able to stomach the fact that republicans were not beaten to a pulp by the security forces.

They would so dearly like to give war another chance.

Sir Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable in Northern Ireland, has called on loyalist paramilitaries to resist the urge to seek revenge after the fatal shootings of two soldiers and a policeman.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent, in Belfast
Telegraph.co.uk
13 Mar 2009

He said he had full confidence in the unionist leadership but was worried about “rank and file” elements who might try to “level the playing field.”

“I think the message is loud and clear on this one: ‘Don’t do it, let us get on with our inquiries,'” Sir Hugh, who heads the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said in a newspaper interview.

“The risk is that we are stretched by people seeking to level the playing field – in their words – and who carry out unprovoked attacks on others.

“My concern is not with the leadership, it is with how much grip the leadership has on the rank and file. If they can’t control them, then we will pursue them relentlessly. It is a real issue and something which is at the front of our minds.”

The leadership of both the loyalist Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force have said they will not retaliate against the dissident Republican attacks.

Sir Hugh described the arrests of a 37-year-old man and a 17-year-old youth over the shooting of Constable Stephen Carroll on Monday as “significant.”

Police have been given another five days to question the two men who were arrested on Tuesday.

PC Carroll is due to be laid to rest in his home town of Banbridge on Friday.

Sir Hugh ruled out any link between the Continuity IRA , which claimed repsonsiblity for the murder, and the Real IRA which claimed the repsonsibility for the murder of two soldiers at Massereene Barracks in Antrim two days earlier.

He said 380 police officers were working on the murders and added: “Real IRA is a name used by many disorganised groups who frankly hate each other.

“Continuity IRA is no different. The notion this is some concerted, co-ordinated campaign currently doesn’t hold up at any level.”

Sir Hugh said the soldiers’ killers were “highly likely” to have struck before.

“The general wisdom is that this was not a first-time attack,” he said.

“Very good detective work since the crime has given us a number of leads, which I obviously can’t discuss. We will not rush, but I am confident that when we are ready arrests will be made.’

Sir Hugh has been tipped to take over at the Association of Chief Police Officers when he steps down at the PSNI after seven years this summer.

“The sad thing is that we are now in the situation where small groups of people are determined to wreck what has been achieved,” he said. “I always said there was going to be a difficult end game. That is where we are.”

Scotsman
13 March 2009

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed, claimed today that he would not have faced rendition and torture if it was not for the involvement of the Security Service, MI5.

Mr Mohmed, a UK resident who was released last week after seven years in captivity, said that MI5 officers helped US agents to interrogate him following his arrest in Pakistan in 2002.

He told the BBC Radio 4 today programme that he believed that it was their involvement which led to him being transferred to Morocco where he says that he was tortured.

“If it wasn’t for the British involvement right at the beginning of the interrogations in Pakistan, and suggestions that were made by MI5 to the Americans of how to get me to respond, I don’t think I would have gone to Morocco,” he said.

“It was that initial help that MI5 gave to America that led me through the seven years of what I went through.”

Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, said that he had originally travelled to Afghanistan in 2001 after converting to Islam.

“I decided to take a journey to Afghanistan as any 21, 22-year-old would do. Just go and see a part of the world and learn about what’s happening over there,” he said.

“I was trying to understand Islam and I was told that Afghanistan was where the real Islam was.”

He said that during his detention in Pakistan – where he was arrested for travelling on a false passport – he was questioned by a MI5 officer who called himself John.

Following his removal by the Americans to a secret site in Morocco he said that he was interrogated by local officers who asked him questions supplied by British intelligence, showing hundreds of photographs of Muslim men living in the UK.

“Most of the questions I was asked could not have come from anywhere else but British intelligence,” he said.

“I was shocked because there I was in Pakistan talking to John on how is going to help me and I find out that the way he is going to help me is by forcing the Americans to question me on things I had no idea about.”

The Government has consistently said that it does not solicit or condone the use of torture. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith referred Mr Mohamed’s claims to the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, when they first surfaced last year.

Mr Mohamed, who is now living in a secret location in southern England, said that he had been left feeling “dead” by his experiences.

“Even now I don’t feel I am free. I don’t have the regular person’s feelings that people have. The feelings of happiness and sadness, I still don’t have them,” he said.

Michael Evans, Defence Editor and David Sharrock in Belfast
The Times
13 March 2009

**Video onsite

Soldiers armed with automatic rifles are guarding Massereene Barracks, where two sappers from 38 Engineer Regiment were shot dead by Real IRA terrorists on Saturday night.

The decision to deploy soldiers armed with SA80 rifles to protect the barracks in Co Antrim followed an urgent review of security at the base, which at the time of the shooting was being guarded by members of the civilian Northern Ireland Security Guard Service (NISGS), armed only with 9mm Browning pistols.

A review is also continuing into whether the regular Army should be given a wider security role in the Province. This could lead to regular soldiers taking on permanent guard duties to provide extra firepower and deterrence at other barracks.

Regular soldiers from an infantry battalion preparing for operations in Afghanistan, supported by Territorial Army soldiers from a transport squadron, have taken over guarding the Massereene Barracks, although NISGS employees have remained at the location. The regular soldiers with SA80 rifles across their chest were manning the front gate yesterday, and all visitors were being subjected to close inspection.

Defence sources said that barracks guard duties by regular soldiers would be maintained until a full review of security for the whole of Northern Ireland was completed. The Times highlighted the low level of security apparently enforced by the NISGS, who failed to act as the terrorists stood over their victims and continued to fire at their wounded bodies.

The defence sources said that the alert state for the barracks had also been raised, emphasising the decision to upgrade security awareness after the attack in which two pizza deliverymen were also wounded.

The terrorist threat level was raised from “substantial” to “severe” a few days before the attack after a reassessment of the terrorist risks carried out by MI5, which took over lead responsibility for national security issues in Northern Ireland in October 2007.

Although the “severe” status affected the whole Province, based on MI5’s assessment of the threat posed by the dissident republican groups, alert levels, which dictate certain security measures to be taken at different locations, varied depending on the perceived risk of an attack.

It appears that Massereene Barracks was not put on the highest alert, but sources say that this has now been changed.

A spokesman for the Army in Northern Ireland would not give details of any new security measures at Massereene Barracks.

Jeffrey Donaldson, Democratic Unionist MP for Lagan Valley, had earlier hinted at new security measures at the barracks when he said: “It’s important at this stage to be careful and we don’t suggest for a moment that the soldiers who died . . . was a result of a breach of security. But we did have concerns about the level of security at army bases.”

He added: “It had been scaled down under the normalisation process and the Army, anxious to adopt a more normal posture, had reduced the level of security. That has now been reviewed and I can confirm that security has been significantly increased at those bases and I think that is the right response in the circumstances.”

He said that the NISGS had been given additional resources that would help them to strengthen security, but he did not give any details.

“I rather suspect that there were politics operating here. There was a desire on the part of some to present a softer image at army bases because of the normalisation programme in Northern Ireland,” Mr Donaldson said.

“We had raised concerns on a number of occasions that the speed of the normalisation process was not consistent with the level of threat, that it was moving too fast and that really the Government needed to be careful that it wasn’t pushing this too hard – with the security forces having to take steps to reduce security when there was an ongoing threat and particularly when that threat was severe,” he said.

For the first time yesterday MI5 made a public appeal for help in tracking down the terrorists responsible for the shooting of the two soldiers and the police officer.

An e-mail sent to internet users who subscribe to updates to the MI5 web-site invited anyone with information to contact the service directly.

“These murders are being investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, with assistance from the Security Service and other agencies,” it said.

“Anyone wishing to share information relating to possible threats to national security can contact the Security Service [MI5] directly and in confidence by phone, e-mail or letter,” the e-mail said.

Advising how to make contact, MI5 added: “It would help if you explained how you came by the information. We shall treat your information and any personal details you submit in confidence.”

By SHANE PHELAN and BRIAN ROWAN
Independent.ie
Friday March 13 2009

GUNS used by dissident republicans in the brutal murders of two British soldiers and a PSNI constable were sourced through the Dublin criminal underworld, the Irish Independent has learned.

A clear picture is now emerging about the leadership of the Real IRA and Continuity IRA groups behind the killings, with “the weight of the leadership residing in the south”, according to senior police sources.

However, despite the close timing of the killings, the authorities do not believe the dissident groups coordinated the attacks.

It also emerged last night that the Real IRA has been engaged in an active recruitment campaign in the wake of the atrocities.

The revelations are set to heap pressure on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to move swiftly to clamp down on the dissident groups operating here. Yesterday he revealed he would discuss the killings with US President Barack Obama when the pair meet next week.

More than 350 PSNI officers are now involved in the massive manhunt for both sets of killers, with the assistance of MI5 and An Garda Siochana.

Surveillance

Many more officers are involved in undercover surveillance duties, senior PSNI sources said.

It had originally been thought that there was no “southern element” to the Real IRA murders of British Army engineers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey at Massereene Barracks in Antrim town and the Continuity IRA murder of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, Co Armagh.

However, a different picture has begun to emerge as the investigations deepen.

Senior PSNI sources said they believed the dissidents had opened up a supply line of new weaponry through Dublin gangland contacts and connections in Eastern Europe.

It is thought some of the weapons came in to the country with drugs shipments ordered by Dublin gangs.

The North’s Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, met with Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and Deputy Commissioner for Operations Martin Callinan yesterday at PSNI headquarters in Belfast to discuss the situation.

Afterwards Commissioner Murphy said both forces were determined to deal with the current dissident threat.

“An attack on any police officer is an attack on the whole of society,” he said.

The high-level meeting took place just hours before a military service was held at Massereene Barracks for the slain British Army engineers and their bodies were released to their families.

Commissioner Murphy was briefed on fears that dissident membership could swell in the aftermath of the attacks.

One police commander, Chief Inspector Chris Yates, revealed that the Real IRA was now on a recruitment drive in Derry.

“These are dangerous groups, they are very much small in number, but they are very keen to increase their influence,” he warned.

“The reality is they are out there in the communities, working, trying to recruit people, trying to pervert people, trying to turn people to their cause and that’s very worrying.”

Investigators do not believe the shooting dead of the soldiers and the murder 48 hours later of Constable Carroll were specifically coordinated.

“One success spurred on the other,” a senior officer said.

“There was no suggestion of one group saying to the other: ‘We’ve got a Saturday spectacular, you get something for Monday’.”

However, the officer said it was apparent the separate dissident groups had spent a considerable amount of time organising the logistics for the attacks, including the purchase of the weapons involved.

“There is a constant effort on the part of the dissidents to obtain weapons,” he added.

Investigators have been able to draw up a list of the key figures in the dissident groups.

“The leaders are identifiable to us,” the officer said, adding that while there were some prominent figures in the North, the real heavy hitters were based south of the border.

Assassination

Senior PSNI sources also said they now believe the Massereene Barracks gunmen came from outside the Antrim area.

They described it as a “classic assassination”, which demonstrated a degree of training or a degree of experience on the part of the gunmen.

Detectives have identified the calibre and type of weapons used in the Massereene attack, but do not want to reveal those details for operational reasons.

Senior officers said an analysis of what is known about the Real IRA’s structure indicated that it did not currently have the capability to mount a campaign in a cohesive fashion.

Different sections have different leaders making it difficult for them to achieve “an organisational thrust”, the officers said.

However, this disorganisation also makes it more difficult for the security services to gather intelligence on the group.

– SHANE PHELAN and BRIAN ROWAN

The terrorist sniper who murdered Pc Stephen Carroll in Northern Ireland was a trained marksman who used a high powered rifle with a laser sight, police believe.Telegraph.co.uk
12 Mar 2009

Pc Carroll, 48, was hit by a single bullet in the head from the .223 automatic rifle and was killed instantly, a source said.

Details of the sophisticated attack emerged as the family of a teenager arrested over the murder said they are living in fear of reprisal attacks.

They claimed the 17-year-old was held because he wears clothing similar to a man seen near the scene at the time of the shooting. The clothes were taken by police for forensic examination.

But his family said the youth had an alibi – that he was at his teenage girlfriend’s house when Pc Carroll was killed on the Lismore Manor estate in a notorious republican area of Craigavon, County Armagh.

Pc Carroll and his colleagues had answered a 999 call in Craigavon that turned out to be an ambush. The Continuity IRA has claimed reponsibilty for the murder.

Following the murder tensions in the area were high and republican youths, under cover of darkness, set fire to flowers left in tribute yards from the murder scene. Their charred remains littered the road next to a burnt traffic bollard.

The suspect’s Catholic mother said: “We’re scared. My daughter has loyalist friends and she goes to loyalist estates but we’ve told her not to go there for the time being.”

She said her son listens to republican musc but was not political and had never been arrested before.

She said: “They just picked hm up because he was dressed the same way as a suspect. He was wearing jeans and a white hoodie but a lot of kids dress like that.

“He hasn’t done anything but just the fact he has been arrested will cast a shadow over him and us. We haven’t been able to speak to him since they took him. He isn’t interested in politics, he only likes football.”

The suspect’s stepfather said: “There is no way he had any experience of guns or anything like that. The only thing he has ever had his hands on is a pellet gun.

“It’s a disgrace that he’s been arrested. He likes a drink but he would never harm anyone. He’s a good boy.

“They’ve taken computers and shoes and clothes. It’s terrible the way they are treating people.”

Police investigating the murder are also questioning a 37-year-old man.

Irish News
12/03/2009

Surveillance logs contradict FBI spy David Rupert’s claims about jailed Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt attending a paramilitary army council meeting, the Omagh civil action heard yesterday.

As lawyers for McKevitt closed their defence at the marathon High Court case in Belfast, they urged the judge to take into account the impact of that material’s late disclosure on criminal proceedings in Dublin.

The court heard that details emerged only after Mr Rupert, the American trucking boss who infiltrated dissident republican ranks, finished giving evidence at the 2003 trial where McKevitt was convicted of directing terrorism.

He was found guilty after sacking his legal team and remaining unrepresented for much of the hearings.

McKevitt’s barrister, Michael O’Higgins SC, told the landmark litigation hearing that it was anticipated that lawyers for relatives of those killed in the August 1998 attack on Omagh would rely on events at the Dublin trial during their closing submissions.

Mr O’Higgins stressed how Mr Rupert’s statement included claims about McKevitt attending an ‘army council’ meeting in 2000.

“Mr Rupert gave his evidence [in Dublin] and was cross-examined and the case then moved to surveillance evidence,” the barrister said.

“Only at that juncture there was disclosure to the defence to the effect that Mr McKevitt couldn’t haven been at this army council meeting because he had been under surveillance by An Garda and placed elsewhere.”

With McKevitt having failed to have the criminal case halted due to the late disclosure, he dismissed his lawyers.

“That was the decision he elected to make and he lived with the consequences,” Mr O’Higgins said.

“If he takes a decision within a criminal trial not to participate, that’s his decision but it shouldn’t have an adverse affect on him in any other proceedings.

“There was late disclosure in the case. It was past Mr Rupert’s cross-examination and it was in circumstances where the defence team said ‘If we had known that we may well have approached that differently’.

“He had no one on his behalf to perform the rather difficult function of pulling all the strands of what Mr Rupert said in his testimony and what the relevance of it was,” he said.

Closing submissions by both sides in the case are due to begin next week.

Irish News
12/03/2009

THE failure to bring those behind the Omagh bombing to justice might have contributed to the three latest murders, victims’ relatives have claimed.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the 1998 Real IRA car bomb blast along with 28 other people including a woman pregnant with twins, said the British and Irish governments must take some responsibility for the latest dissident republican attacks.

“If they had put those people behind bars it would have sent a strong message to the terrorists and may have prevented some of those involved in the planning, preparation, or the actual terrorist attacks themselves,” he said.

Mr Gallagher was speaking in Madrid on the fifth anniversary of the Spanish train bombings which killed 191 people.

“Sadly, the re-emergence of terrorism murders on Northern Ireland streets right now is a matter which not just challenges the security forces but most of all the political and justice systems in our country. It is a shocking reminder of their appalling failure,” he said.

Mr Gallagher said relatives have been failed by government and called on the EU to enact legislation to ensure member states follow the example of the Spanish government in response to attacks there.

An NIO spokeswoman said: “The government recognises and understands the ongoing pain felt by the families of the Omagh victims but it is clear that responsibility for acts of terrorism such as the three murders in recent days lies with the terrorists and no-one else.

“The PSNI has the government’s full support in its investigations to bring those responsible for all terrorist attacks to justice.”

By Barry McCaffrey
Irish News
12/03/2009

A PORTADOWN loyalist identified by police as having jumped up and down on the body of Robert Hamill is facing potential perjury charges after allegedly repeatedly lying at the public inquiry into the Catholic man’s murder.

Rory Robinson (37) yesterday gave evidence at the public inquiry into the April 1997 killing of the Catholic father-of-three in Portadown town centre.

Robinson was one of six men originally charged with the 25 year-old’s murder.

He was identified by at least four policemen and four civilians in their witness statements at the time – and to the inquiry – as having jumped up and down on Mr Hamill’s body as he lay unconscious on the ground.

A year later the charges against all six were unexpectedly dropped.

In 2004 Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended a public inquiry into Mr Hamill’s murder over concerns that police had failed to properly investigate the killing.

When he appeared at the inquiry yesterday Robinson claimed to have suffered memory loss and could no longer remember anything about the attack.

During three hours in the witness box Robinson repeatedly claimed he could not recall events and had never heard of the Troubles.

In a bizarre series of answers Robinson said he had never heard of the UVF or IRA or even the Maze prison, despite having spent five months on an LVF wing inside the jail awaiting trial for murder.

Robinson claimed that he was even unaware of tensions in his native Portadown throughout the 1990s over the Drumcee dispute.

He denied having loyalist sympathies despite being asked to be housed on an LVF wing inside the Maze.

Asked when he had lost his memory, Robinson replied: “I can’t remember.”

After he repeatedly rebuffed even the most banal question, with the words “I can’t recall’’ and “I can’t remember’’, barrister Kevin Murphy asked: “How did you remember to come here today?”

Robinson replied: “My wife reminded me.’’

However, the 37 year-old became agitated and even more evasive when questioned why he had a loyalist tattoo with the words ‘Rem 1690’ on his arm – a reference to the Battle of the Boyne.

He denied having the tattoo but refused to show his arm to the inquiry, claiming that he did not see the relevance.

Inquiry chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt warned Robinson that he would decide what evidence was relevant to the inquiry.

Robinson’s legal team immediately asked for an adjournment to consult with their client.

When the hearing resumed 10 minutes later barrister Mark McComb told the inquiry he could confirm that Robinson did have a ‘Rem 1690’ tattoo on his arm.

Robinson was then released by the inquiry chairman.

However, an inquiry spokesman last night confirmed that Robinson had now been reported to police for alleged perjury.

Detectives hunting the gunmen behind the first murders of British soldiers in Northern Ireland for more than a decade will face a wall of silence from the republican community.

By John Bingham
Telegraph.co.uk
10 Mar 2009

Despite support for the investigation from across the community, including muted expressions of co-operation from Sinn Fein, police have tacitly admitted that they are struggling to find solid information.

In an unusually frank public appeal, Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Williamson, who is leading the investigation, admitted that it would take a “courageous step” for those with the vital information police need to come forward.

He said it was clear someone was harbouring the killers who he said had certainly not come from “foreign lands”.

While thanking members of the public who have come forward with snippets of information, he repeatedly stressed the limitations of what has been provided and made a direct offer of police protection for anyone willing to do so.

For Paula McCartney, one of the sisters of Robert McCartney, the catholic man whose murder in a Belfast bar in 2005 is widely seen as having prompted an IRA cover-up, the prospect of anyone taking up his offer is remote.

“For these young men’s families, their natural instinct will be to seek justice, unfortunately, in this country when it comes to any paramilitary involvement, that is near impossible to achieve,” she said.

“We were given assurances that no stone would be unturned, that these people would be brought to justice and unfortunately that didn’t happen.

“I would urge that probably the same thing will happen again.”

If the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is to have any success, the role of Sinn Fein will be crucial.

Since the McCartney murder the party has pledged its support for the province’s policing structures. But the relationship soured at a crucial moment, with a row last week over the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde’s decision to call in special forces reconnaissance independently.

So far much of the telephone traffic received by the police incident room has amounted to little more than expressions of support from members of the public.

“While those words are welcome we need more than words, we need people to come forward with tangible information,” said Mr Williamson.

Police do, however, have the benefit of some CCTV footage of the attack.

They also have a green Vauxhall Cavalier found a few miles away which – perhaps uncharacteristically – was abandoned without being burned out.

Forensics specialists will be able to scour the car for minuscule traces of evidence while detectives seek to unravel the web of ownership in the two weeks before the attack when it is known to have been sold.

* Paula McCartney quotes courtesy ITV News

David Sharrock: Commentary
The Times
13 March 09

The Gerry and Martin Show was a constant of the Troubles: Gerry Adams did the thinking and Martin McGuinness the enforcing, or so the local knowledge ran.

The peace process saw the dynamics of the relationship change subtly. Mr McGuinness, as Deputy First Minister, ended up a “Chuckle Brother” with Ian Paisley, the First Minister. But there seemed to be a hardening of Mr Adams, the political leader who hitherto relied on his comrade’s strong military credentials to sell the peace process to republican foot soldiers.

This week Mr McGuinness caused astonishment when he stood next to Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable and described republican dissidents as “traitors to the island of Ireland”.

The remark was welcomed by the Government and Unionists and helped to put loyalists at their ease, according to a paramilitary chief. It also opened the door of a dark room containing the moral judgments and civic values underpinning the new political dispensation in Ulster.

One group routinely ignored by the peace process, the victims of Provisional IRA violence, was outraged by Mr McGuinness’s remarks. The reaction in Northern Ireland to the recent killings is strongly reminiscent of that to previous crises caused by terrorist violence: public revulsion expressed in rallies and headline-grabbing gestures of political unity.

The victims, consigned to life sentences by the killing or wounding of their loved ones, endure in silence. It is rare to hear their voices but yesterday was such an occasion.

Evelyn, a policeman’s wife, rang a popular local radio talk-show from her home in Fermanagh. Clearly uncomfortable with the big stage, Evelyn began by saying that she felt obliged, even if it troubled her, to speak out about the praise Mr McGuinness had received for his condemnation of republican dissidents.

“McGuinness and his organisation put me and my family through hell. Through hell. He terrorised us,” she said. “My husband walked after coffin after coffin after coffin of his murdered colleagues.”

Her final observation was that “McGuinness is no hero . . . I feel that this [Stormont] Government is built on sand”. That could only change when it was made up of “principled men”.

Another caller, Sam, said: “I expect McGuinness at the very least to apologise and admit his crimes. I don’t understand the difference between murder then and murder now. It just does not make sense to me. I need Sinn Féin to admit they were wrong, that it was murder, terrorism, criminality.”

This is the moral swamp that haunts the architects of the peace process. Mr McGuinness and Sinn Féin now wish to draw a distinction between the “just” violence of the Provisional IRA and the “criminal and treacherous” violence of those who were formerly in the Provisionals but who left to form the Continuity IRA and Real IRA.

The 14 hours it took Sinn Féin to respond to the murders and the tortuous language Mr Adams used when it finally came are consistent with the “constructive ambiguity” that has been at the heart of the peace process since its inception.

When invited on Channel 4 News to repeat Mr McGuinness’s use of the word “traitor” in describing the actions of the Continuity IRA and Real IRA, Mr Adams declined.

Tom Hartley, the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast who is close to Mr Adams, admitted after Wednesday’s silent protest outside City Hall that “traitor” was not language he would use.

Asked what the difference was between the murders of police officers by the Provisional IRA and Monday’s murder of PC Stephen Carroll by the Continuity IRA, Mr Hartley said: “I think it’s more, you know, people right across the political spectrum don’t want to go back to conflict and they want to work the political process.

“You need to maybe talk to Martin about that.”

The difference, he eventually offered, was “where we are today”.

Mr Adams is a gifted politician who is acutely aware of the importance of the words he uses. He comes from a family steeped in Irish republican tradition, which is not the case with Mr McGuinness. On occasion, when under pressure, Mr Adams lets slip what he really thinks.

In the heat of the moment two years ago – just days before Sinn Féin voted to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland – he appeared to boast of the Provisionals’ bloody past.

Goaded at a public meeting by republicans who accused Sinn Féin of selling out its principles, he ridiculed the splinter groups that vowed to continue to wage “armed struggle” by pointing out that they “haven’t killed a single British soldier”.

Little more than a year ago he praised the IRA of the Fifties and its border campaign – a dwindling band of republican hardliners with no popular support and few resources – in these terms: “They kept faith with the republican past and they ensured the future of our struggle.”

MARY MINIHAN
Irish Times
SF REACTION: SINN FÉIN president Gerry Adams has said dissident republican groups should not be given “room to breathe”.

Speaking after a meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, in Government Buildings yesterday, Mr Adams said the groups had a limited capacity.

“They showed that recently and three people are now dead, a number of people are injured. And the fact is that the rest of us, and that’s right across this island, have said we don’t want it,” he said.

“And that’s where the focus needs to be and that’s why I make the point that they shouldn’t have any room to breathe, that no one should support them, give succour to them, join them or work with them.”

Asked about a warning from the most senior PSNI officer in the Derry area that dissident republicans are on a recruitment drive in the city, Mr Adams said he did not wish to speculate.

Mr Adams said he had a good meeting with the Taoiseach and he believed that Mr Cowen was “seized of the urgency of the situation”.

He said Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, the party’s new vice-president, was heading up an engagement with the “very, very broad republican base”.

This would “make sure that these people have no sense of any breathing space whatsoever, that there’s no ambiguity or ambivalence”.

He said the British government should “stick closely to the political parties and to the political process” and not sideline Northern politicians.

Mr Adams and Ms McDonald were accompanied by the North’s Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy.

A statement released by the Department of the Taoiseach last night said a detailed discussion on the latest situation in the North had taken place.

“There was full agreement on the need for everyone to stick together in the face of recent attacks.”

Mr Cowen and Mr Martin were “heartened by the united response to the attacks and determined to press ahead with the development of the democratic political institutions in Northern Ireland, including through the forthcoming devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.”

The statement said they welcomed the fact that the relevant legislation had been passed at Westminster this week.

BBC

A 21-year-old man has denied murdering former IRA prisoner Francis McGreevy last year.

Frank McGreevy died several days after being attacked

The 51-year-old died in hospital after being found beaten in his Ross Street home in the lower Falls area of west Belfast in March, 2008.

Thomas Valliday, of no fixed abode, appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Friday and denied murdering him.

He admitted six other charges, two involving attacks on two other men near the scene of the murder.

Valliday also admitted damaging the front door of a house at Clonard Crescent and two vehicles.

In addition, the accused admitted a charge of being unlawfully at large from Hydebank Young Offenders Centre on dates between 28 February and 17 March last year.

The court was told that the murder charge would go to trial.

Defence said that Valliday will be undergoing psychiatric assessment next month.

Mr Justice Hart ordered all relevant reports on the accused be lodged to the court by the end of April and said he would review the case on 1 May.

Valliday was remanded in custody.

An Phoblacht
12 March 2009

WHILE micro groups, whether wittingly or unwittingly, have dropped into the role of a counter gang, undermining real political progress and bringing the name of republicanism into disrepute, the puppet masters of counter-insurgency, the British Army’s Special Forces, have been drafted in by PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde. The Peace Process is under attack from more than one direction.
Despite meeting the Policing Board just hours before, Orde chose to announce his decision to BBC journalists. Members of a covert British Army unit, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), were to be deployed in the North, Orde told the media.
The SRR is the latest transfiguration in a series of covert groups which have included 14 Intelligence Company (also known as ‘The Det’), the Force Research Unit (FRU), and the Joint Support Group.
These units have been involved in highly controversial actions, such as extra-judicial executions (ambushes and assassinations), the running of death squads (collusion), as well as spying and sabotage, including attempts to scupper the Stevens Inquiry.

COUNTER-GANGS

At the height of their operations in Ireland, the FRU established and ran loyalist counter-gangs through which the British state not only executed their military and political opponents but also sought to redefine the conflict as indigenous and sectarian.
It is precisely this kind of political manipulation that the Good Friday Agreement sought to eradicate from the ‘policing’ agenda in the North.
The SRR was established in 2005 and is made up of veterans of former covert groups. It is headed by one of the most notorious figures in Britain’s Dirty War, Brigadier Gordon Kerr.
Brigadier Kerr made his first public debut during the trial of a British agent in 1992 when he appeared as an anonymous character witness on behalf of Brian Nelson, who had been targeting nationalists for the UDA. Described in court as simply ‘Colonel J’, he gave his evidence behind a screen but later Kerr was named as head of the FRU, the unit at the heart of British state collusion.
The SRR was also involved in the operation which led to the slaying of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man shot dead on a London tube train in July 2005.

UNDERHAND

Covert British army units like the SRR are not ‘peace keepers’. Their role is not necessarily to thwart violence or, as Hugh Orde suggested, combat a heightened threat from micro so-called republican groups but to manipulate violence in the interest of particular political goals. Historically, these securocrats have been against the Peace Process.
Not surprisingly, Orde’s request for the redeployment of SRR operatives was immediately criticised by Sinn Féin and the SDLP.
Alex Maskey, a member of the Policing Board, expressed his frustration and disappointment at the underhand way the PSNI chief had chosen to make the announcement.
“This is a matter of grave concern in particular for the nationalist and republican community, given the legacy of British Special Forces here in Ireland.
“Sinn Féin remains opposed to any such deployment and remains committed to ensuring that the PSNI is held to account to ensure an effective, efficient and non-political policing service.
“Like many others, I was a victim of so-called Special Forces, who colluded with unionist murder gangs in attempts to murder me and my family. There can be no place for these types of groups within any civic and non-political policing service.”

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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