You are currently browsing the daily archive for 26 March 2009.

By Mark Devenport

The party generally believed to be the political wing of the Continuity IRA has held its first news conference since the recent killings in N Ireland.

RSF spokesman Richard Walsh would not condemn the killings

Republican Sinn Féin refused to condemn the attacks describing them as regrettable but inevitable “acts of war”.

Two soldiers and a policeman were shot dead by dissident republicans earlier this month.

The news conference was called to complain about police raids.

The party’s publicity director, Richard Walsh. also used the press conference in Belfast to complain about the detention of suspects at Antrim police station.

Mr Walsh responded to the Deputy First Minister Martin’s McGuinness’s description of those behind the recent killings as “traitors to the people of Ireland. ”

He said Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams had been guilty of “severe treachery” and the Provisional IRA were now unionists.

“We have always upheld the rights to the Irish people to use any level of controlled and disciplined force to drive the British out of Ireland. We make no apology for that,” he said.

The party has no plans to run in forthcoming elections and refuses to say how much support it has.

Three young men from Craigavon also appeared at the news conference.

The men, who did not want to be identified, complained that their homes had been raided and one man said the police had taken all his clothes.

One of the people detained by the police in Antrim police station was present in the building whilst the news conference was taking place but declined to be interviewed.

A police landrover parked outside the party’s office in west Belfast kept an eye on those leaving the building after the news conference.

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead on 9 March. The Continuity IRA said it killed him. Two men have been charged with his murder.

Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were shot dead by the Real IRA two days earlier.

Terrorist murders of two soldiers and policeman this month could be followed by more attacks, Republican Sinn Féin warns

Henry McDonald
Thursday 26 March 2009

The killings of two soldiers and a policeman this month in Northern Ireland were an act of war rather than murder, a hardline republican group said today.

In an uncompromising message to their one-time comrades in Sinn Féin as well as the British government, the Continuity IRA-aligned Republican Sinn Féin predicted there would be more such attacks.

At a press conference in the heart of Gerry Adams’s West Belfast constituency, the organisation’s national press officer, Richard Walsh, claimed the Sinn Féin president and Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, were guilty of “the severest form of treachery”.

After the murders of the soldiers at Massereene barracks in Antrim Town on 7 March, and the fatal shooting of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll 48 hours later, McGuinness described those behind the attacks as “traitors” to the people of Ireland.

But in its first public statement in Belfast since the upsurge in dissident terrorism, Republican Sinn Féin justified the three killings. Asked if the deaths were murder, Walsh said: “I do not accept the use of the term ‘murder’. They were acts of war.”

He said while the deaths of Sapppers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey were “regrettable” the fact was that they both belonged to the “forces of occupation”.

On McGuinness’s comments, Walsh replied: “Adams and McGuinness are guilty of the most severe treachery … Martin McGuinness should look where he came from and where he has gone over the last few years. They are now administering British rule in Ireland and supporting the armed forces of occupation.”

Walsh was flanked by Josephine Hayden, a former Continuity IRA prisoner who was convicted in connection to an arms find nine years ago in the Irish Republic. Hayden said the deputy first minister’s remarks about traitors “would be written on his tombstone”.

Two men, including a 17-year-old from the North Armagh area, have been charged with Constable Carroll’s murder, while a 21-year-old man was charged yesterday with withholding information related to the killing.

Six men were freed from detention yesterday after a high court judge ruled their continued incarceration was unlawful. A seventh man, prominent republican Colin Duffy, was re-arrested and remains in custody.

By Richard Walsh
Republican Sinn Féin
Email: tiocfaidh at btinternet dot com
26 Mar 09

A press conference was held in Belfast on Thursday afternoon by Republican Sinn Féin. This was organised to highlight the ongoing situation in the Craigavon and Lurgan areas of County Armagh – particularly in the Drumbeg, Ardowen and Meadowbrook areas, where there have been widescale raids and detentions over the course of the past two weeks. Some homes were raided on up to three different occasions.

Sniffer dogs were present during many of the raids, with numerous landrovers parked outside. The RUC were armed with heavy weaponry in the presence of children, and used the barrels of their guns to force the children out of the way.

Many householders were confined to a room during the raids, despite legal requirements that they be able to witness the searches.

A number of people affected by the raids attended the press conference, and described the aggressive nature of the RUC raiding parties. One of these described how many of the possessions in his household – including all of his and his brother’s clothes – were seized:

“I had to go out in a pair of slippers and socks, and to get a lend of clothes. When I approached the Department of Health and Social Security, they refused assistance claiming that I still ‘had clothes on my back’.”

Another victim of the recent raids said that the whole of Craigavon and Lurgan had been kept under siege over the course of the past fortnight. The actions and demeanour of the RUC was clearly designed to intimidate the Nationalist residents of these areas, he added. They were revving the engines of their landrovers, and screaming at people on the street and in their homes.

Children had their schoolbags emptied onto the street, and young mothers had prams searched when entering and exiting a number of estates in the area. Mobile telephones were also seized and examined.

Minors were stopped and searched without an appropriate adult present, and youths were intimidated by British guns, which were trained on them.

A spokesperson for Republican Sinn Féin in North Armagh said:

“Once again the RUC have shown their brutal heavy-handedness in operations against the people of Craigavon. They have proven that they will stop at nothing to disrupt the lives of local hard-working people.”

At present three men have been charged in connection with the shooting of RUC Constable Carroll, and one man remains in custody in connection with the killing of two British soldiers. A total of eleven people were detained without charge for periods of up to fourteen days. Yesterday their detention was ruled unlawful. They were being held under the provisions of Britain’s so-called “Terrorism Act 2006”, under which they can be held for up to a maximum of 28 days. Such provisions are unique to places under British jurisdiction within the western world.


By William Graham Political Correspondent
Irish News

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde is in talks with the British government to secure up to £76 million extra to combat the dissident threat.

He was questioned by the assembly executive and review committee yesterday about issues including the cost of dealing with legacy inquiries, a spike in police overtime and soaring claims by officers for hearing loss.

“We have been to government and we are looking at a number of areas and we have asked for additional help in relation to helicopter top cover. Of course we have no military helicopters at all. We have a plan to purchase a helicopter but that is 18 months down the line.

“We are looking for additional money for armoured vehicles. We have of course downsized our armoured fleet and we will now review that to give guys the confidence to go out and deliver community policing in vehicles that look like police vehicles and are not Land Rovers and are in the appropriate style.”

Sir Hugh said a conservative estimate of the extra funding needed to deal with terrorist issues would be £50m, although the figure could reach £76m.

Hearing loss claims, now running at hundreds per month, could cost around £98m. There is also a bill of £50m for equal pay claims.

The extra pressures on policing could add up to between £300m and £400m over the coming years on top of the present government allocation.

A theme which emerged from the session was that the police budget should be reorganised, removing bills for legacy inquiries, hearing claims and updated pension provisions.

Also at yesterday’s committee meeting, Sir Hugh promised to study a report being prepared by Monica McWilliams, head of the Human Rights Commission, on conditions at the Serious Crime Suite at Antrim police station.

She has expressed concern about the suitability of cells for long detention.

Sir Hugh said Antrim was not in the plan for refurbishment as it was one of the most modern facilities the PSNI had.

The cost of rebuilding Antrim police station could be upwards of £15m, Sir Hugh said.


By Barry McCaffrey
Irish News

A 17-year-old charged with Constable Stephen Carroll’s murder had been sent to a young offenders centre after he was judged too young to be held in an adult prison while awaiting trial.

There was heavy security in Lisburn, Co Antrim, yesterday with heavily armed police officers operating checkpoints on approach roads to the city’s magistrates court for the hearing yesterday morning.

Police stopped and searched several people entering the courthouse.

Up to a dozen officers wearing bulletproof vests packed into the tiny court shortly before 11am.

The public were asked to leave the room before the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was led in.

District Judge Rosemary Watters said she was temporarily transforming proceedings into a youth hearing to allow the 17-year-old to be brought before the court.

Dressed in a grey T-shirt and jeans, he stood with his arms folded across his chest as the charges were put to him.

He is charged with:

• murdering Constable Carroll (48), a Catholic father-of-one who was answering a 999 call at Lismore Manor in Craigavon, Co Armagh, on March 9

• possession of an AKM rifle and 26 bullets found near the scene eight days later

• Continuity IRA membership

• collecting information likely to be useful to terrorists between January 1 and March 9.

Detective Inspector John Caldwell confirmed to defence solicitor Patrick Moriarty that he could connect the teenager with the murder and that the youth had made no comment during the 18 interviews conducted over the 13 days he was held at Antrim police station.

Before he was charged on Monday night the teenager made legal history by becoming the suspect held for the longest time in police custody in Northern Ireland.

Mr Moriarty said his client denied the charges and would apply to the High Court for bail in the near future.

As he was led away the youth smiled to his mother, who had stood alone in the public gallery throughout the hearing.

He was remanded in custody to reappear via video-link on April 3.

It later emerged that the defendant could not be taken to Maghaberry jail, near Lisburn, due to his age and was instead taken to Hydebank Young Offenders Centre in south Belfast.

Judicial review

Judges will today rule on a challenge to police being given more time to detain people arrested over the Antrim and Craigavon murders.

Those taking the case, who include prominent republican Colin Duffy, are contesting the granting of a seven-day extension to their detention pending forensic test results.

All claim that the extra period of custody is unlawful and that the county court judge who oversaw the extension failed to justify it.

However, after the six applicants won the right to seek a judicial review, the PSNI’s legal team stressed that detectives were working flat out.

Paul Maguire QC told the High Court in Belfast: “This was a very important investigation. The stakes were very high – an investigation of this type with two incidents which were of the highest possible significance to society as a whole.

“The position consequently was that police were working overtime, as were laboratories, to try to deal with these matters.”

Four of those taking the case, including Duffy, have been questioned about the dissident republican shootings of two British soldiers outside Massereene army barracks in Antrim on March 7. The other two were arrested in connection with the murder two days later of a police officer in Craigavon.

At the weekend an extension was granted under the 2006 Terrorism Act which allows police to hold suspects for up to 28 days before they must be formally accused or released.

A three-judge panel headed by Lord Chief Justice Brian Kerr was told that one of the suspects – who have been granted anonymity apart from Duffy – was receiving medical attention in custody.

Barry Macdonald QC, for the applicants, said the county court judge had failed to explain why the extension was necessary.

Due to the urgency of the case a further claim that it breached their right to liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights was set aside to allow a full hearing to proceed.

Mr Maguire disclosed details from an affidavit submitted by the detective superintendent leading the investigation into the Massereene killings.

The officer believed the forensic results would be ready within a week and could lead to charges or more interviews, he said.

Mr Maguire also defended the efforts of the judge who granted the extension, saying she had sat almost continuously for two days hearing the application.

“The court was sitting into the small hours and then reconvening again,” he said.

Sir Brian said the issues involved were extremely important.

“They are by no means free from complexity. Therefore we will reserve judgment overnight and we will give it first thing tomorrow morning,” he said.

By Allison Morris
Irish News

THE controversial Public Inquiries Act has been used to block the publication of evidence given by a former head of Special Branch to the ongoing Billy Wright Inquiry.

Last year anonymity was granted to the former senior RUC officer on the grounds that there was a “moderate” risk to his safety from dissident republicans should he be identified.

The inquiry into the 1997 Maze murder of the loyalist leader is in its 143rd day sitting in Banbridge courthouse.

Inquiry chairman Lord MacLean this week signed a restriction order which prevents sections of evidence given by the witness from being made public.

Using the terms of the 2005 inquiries act a redacted version of the transcript, with certain intelligence evidence removed, will be published on the inquiry’s website.

LVF leader Wright was shot in a prison van in the Maze prison.

Three members of the INLA were convicted of the killing. All were later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2004 retired Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended that public inquiries be held into six controversial Troubles killings, including Wright’s.

Judge Cory criticised the introduction of the Public Inquiries Act.

Irish News

A leading dissident republican is understood to have gone on the run after being suspected of involvement in a shooting on St Patrick’s Day.

The former IRA prisoner, who served jail terms in the 1970s and 1990s, is understood to be the main suspect for the gun attack in south Belfast’s lower Ormeau area.

After a disturbance outside a bar in the area on March 17, shots were fired into a Volkswagen Golf parked outside a house at Cooke Street.

Police believe that a silver Mitsubishi car belonging to the leading dissident was used in the attack.

Last night police remained tight-lipped on claims that they may have recovered CCTV footage from cameras situated on the Ormeau Road identifying the dissident in the vehicle shortly before the shooting.

Police searching for the 47-year-old raided two addresses in west Belfast last Saturday.

However, he was not at home and is understood to have gone on the run.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that officers had searched two houses in west Belfast in relation to “serious crime”.

The man they are looking for is a former ‘blanketman’ who recently made public speech-es at rallies organised by the Eirigi group.

He is alleged to be a leading member of Oglaigh Na hEireann, a dissident paramilitary organisation which claimed to have been responsible for the murders of British soldiers Mark Quinsey and Cengiz ‘Pat’

Azimkhar at Massereene army barracks in Antrim earlier this month.

The man police are looking for is not believed to have been involved in the killings but security sources believe that he was involved in a gun attack less than an hour afterwards, when a shotgun blast was fired through the front door of a house at Monagh Road in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast.

The shooting is believed to have been part of a personal grudge against the occupants of the house.

In 1988 the republican was jailed for 12 years for possession of weapons after police thwarted a Provisional IRA gun attack on a British army post in west Belfast.

However, he is understood to have split from the Provos over Sinn Fein’s decision to support policing structures in January 2007.

Oglaigh na hEireann has increased in strength in Belfast over the last 18 months with a significant number of former Real IRA members transferring allegiance to the new group in frustration at the lack of attacks on members of the security forces.

It also admitted responsibility for parammilitary-style shootings in Belfast during the last 12 months.

News Letter
26 March 2009

A SENIOR unionist is demanding the resignation of the Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Monica McWilliams.

Danny Kennedy MLA accused her of a “seriously ill-judged media intervention concerning the detention of suspects related to dissident republican terrorist attacks”.

The deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party said: “At a time when the rule of law is threatened by dissident republican terrorists Monica McWilliams’ intervention was unforgivable.

“The Chief Commissioner undermined the reputation of the PSNI and Northern Ireland’s human rights record.”

He said she had ignored “the fact that the detentions were completely within the rule of law and – as today’s events clearly illustrate – subject to the rulings of the court”.

Mr Kennedy continued: “In light of such a serious error of judgment, my party is compelled to demand the resignation of the Chief Commissioner.”

He spoke out after it emerged that a split had occurred in the Human Rights Commission after unionist members of the body publicly disagreed with Prof McWilliams’ criticisms of the detention of terror suspects.

Prof McWilliams hit out at the length of time police were holding without charge those suspected of involvement in the recent dissident murders of two soldiers in Antrim and Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon.

Prof McWilliams has responded to criticism by saying: “I remind those concerned that the commission is charged to independently ensure human rights standards are adhered to, not to reflect populist sentiment.”

News Letter
26 March 2009

THE jury in a trial of a man accused of laundering money from the Northern Bank robbery are due to consider their verdict.
County Cork man, Ted Cunningham, is facing 10 charges in total in connection with the 2004 heist.

Irish prosecuters claim the 60-year-old knew that more than £3 million traced to him was from the £26.5 million robbery.

Denying the charges, the financier maintained that £2.3 million sterling discovered in a locked cupboard in the basement of his home on February 16, 2005 came from the cash sale of a gravel pit in Co Offaly to Bulgarian businessmen.

Gardai claimed during the 43-day trial that under interrogation the money lender said he was given £4.9 million from an unidentified male in a northern-registered car whom he met on four separate occasions.

Poleglass man Chris Ward, an employee at the bank, was acquitted of involvement in the Belfast robbery in October last year.

The 26-year-old maintained his innocence throughout the high-profile trial after prosecutors branded him the inside man in the raid.

A senior bank employee and his wife were taken hostage in their Loughinisland home as the assailants carried out the biggest bank robbery of its time over four years ago.


A former Sinn Féin councillor has appeared in court charged with the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll.

Brendan McConville has been charged with the murder of Constable Carroll

Constable Carroll was shot dead as he answered a distress call in Craigavon.

Brendan McConville, 37, of Glenholme Avenue, Lurgan, who denies the shooting, was also charged with having a rifle and 26 rounds of ammunition.

Also on Wednesday, a 21-year-old man was arrested and subsequently charged with withholding information about Constable Carroll’s murder.

Brendan McConville was remanded in custody to appear again at court on 3 April.

There was a heavy security presence at Lisburn Magistrates Court, with riot police standing guard and security checkpoints in the city.

Mr McConville served on Craigavon Borough Council from 1993 to 1997. Sinn Fein say he was expelled from the party some time ago.

Defence solicitor Kevin Winters asked police to confirm that Mr McConville denies shooting Constable Carroll.

Detective Inspector John Caldwell confirmed this but said he could connect him with all charges.

On Tuesday, a 17-year-old youth was remanded in custody charged with Constable Carroll’s murder.

On Monday, two men, aged 27 and 31, who were being questioned in connection with the murder were released without charge.

Constable Carroll’s murder came just two days after the killing of two soldiers at Massereene Army barracks in Antrim.

They were Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21.


A 21-year-old man has been remanded in custody accused of withholding information in relation to the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll.

The policeman was shot dead as he answered a distress call in Craigavon on 9 March.

Reporting restrictions were imposed on the case, and no further details can be published.

A teenager and a 37-year-old man have already been remanded in custody charged with murder.


A woman who failed to appear before the Robert Hamill Inquiry has been reported to the High Court.

Mr Hamill was attacked as he walked home through Portadown

Tracey Clarke, who was once engaged to a man suspected of Mr Hamill’s murder, told the inquiry she was unable to attend for medical reasons.

However, the inquiry said she had not submitted any medical evidence despite being given eight weeks to do so.

Mr Hamill died after he was attacked by a loyalist mob in Portadown in 1997.

Ms Clarke failed to give evidence at an oral hearing on 28 January, after the inquiry chairman Sir Edwin Jowitt issued a legal notice compelling her to attend.

The High Court could now start civil enforcement proceedings against Ms Clarke. Ultimately she could be prosecuted for contempt of court.

A spokesperson for the inquiry said: “The inquiry regards Ms Clarke as a very important witness.”

Ms Clarke gave information to the police in 1998 which led to the arrests of several people in connection with Mr Hamill’s murder.

The inquiry has heard Ms Clarke knew who was involved in the attack, including Allister Hanvey who was at the time her boyfriend and later became her fiance.

She also claimed Mr Hanvey was receiving updates on the murder investigation from a police officer.

During the investigation into the murder Ms Clarke told the Director of Public Prosecutions that she would not give evidence in a criminal trial against any of the accused.

Mr Hanvey has appeared before the inquiry and denied involvement in Mr Hamill’s murder.


BBC Panorama reporter John Ware has told MPs a government investigation into the intelligence surrounding the Omagh bombing was defective.

Twenty-nine people were killed in the Real IRA atrocity.

A government review was set up after Panorama claimed GCHQ was listening to some of the mobile telephones used to coordinate the 1998 bombing.

Mr Ware told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee the government’s report was flawed.

He said the approach of its author Sir Peter Gibson was “adversarial”, claiming he was “impatient and dismissive”.

The BBC reporter stood by his programme and said Sir Peter’s report had failed to tackle the nub of his programme.

The Panorama programme presented by Mr Ware, was entitled ‘What the police were never told ‘.

Last week the committee met relatives at Stormont and family members want the government to set up a full public inquiry.

Wednesday’s meeting with Mr Ware is expected to be followed by other evidence sessions in the weeks ahead.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


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