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Calls for Sinn Féin to speak out as Real IRA makes threats against ex-civil rights activist
The father of a young Catholic police officer is being forced out of his home in the Bogside area of Derry because of the growing threat posed by the Real IRA.
Liam Bradley (65), a former civil rights activist who tried to save the life of a teenager shot by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, is moving to the unionist Waterside area because he believes his life is in imminent danger, a family friend said.
Philip Kelly told the Sunday Tribune: “I’ve never met anybody more scared. It’s disgraceful that a man of Liam Bradley’s calibre is being driven from his home by thugs who don’t respect democracy and want to drag Ireland back into the past.
“Liam has serious health problems. The stress he is under is horrendous. He has to stay indoors after dark. The police have said it isn’t safe to leave the house at night. He might as well be in jail. This is all because his son joined the police.”
Bradley, a former deputy mayor of Derry, is a Fianna Fáil member. Two years ago, the Real IRA blasted the front door of his Lone Moor Road home with a shotgun, but the family refused to leave the area. However, the dissident threat has since grown.
Two months ago, a Real IRA bomb exploded outside the home of a policeman’s parents in the Shantallow area of Derry. Dissidents left another bomb outside the home of the same officer’s sister.
Bradley’s son, a law graduate, doesn’t live at home but the Real IRA has targeted police officers’ families in response to police harassment of the families of republicans.
Kelly said that Bradley had lived in the Bogside all his life and moving to the Waterside would break his heart: “He is a lifelong nationalist. He doesn’t want to live in a loyalist area but it’s his only choice now.”
On Bloody Sunday, Bradley helped carry to safety the body of Jackie Duddy (17), shot by British paratroopers. Duddy died from his injuries minutes later.
Kelly said Sinn Féin should urgently do more to support and protect the Bradleys and the families of other Catholics who have joined the PSNI. “There must be public statements, every day if need be, from Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, strongly denouncing these dissidents,” he said. “Sinn Féin should be organising rallies in support of Liam Bradley. Sinn Féin leaders supported the PSNI and encouraged young men and women to join up. Now these recruits and their families are under attack, they need practical support from Sinn Féin.”
Kelly stressed he was speaking as a Sinn Féin supporter. His son Conor stood for Sinn Féin in Dublin in the last council elections, and his niece, Kathy Staunton, is a former Sinn Féin Assembly member for north Belfast.
“We need more people like young Bradley joining the PSNI to ensure that never again is there an Orange police force for an Orange state,” Kelly said.
25 Nov 09
ORIGINAL: The slogan as it was originally hand-painted on the wall in 1969
THE slogan on Free Derry Wall was written during raids by the B Specials and the RUC in the Bogside early on January 5 1969.
After repelling the police, Bogsiders were maintaining the line when journalist and writer Eamonn McCann came up with the slogan.
It was always assumed that Derry man John ‘Caker’ Casey (deceased) painted “You are now entering Free Derry” on the gable wall at Lecky Road.
When he died, a small monument was erected in his honour beside the wall which attracts thousands of visitors every year.
But that version has been challenged in Free Derry Wall, a history of the monument by museum curator Adrian Kerr and Jim Collins, an artist from the Bogside.
Mr McCann recalls being stopped by Derry man Liam Hillen, who challenged the version that Mr Casey had been the graffiti artist responsible.
According to Mr McCann, Mr Hillen told him: “It wasn’t Caker who painted the wall that night – it was me.”
Mr Hillen jogged Mr McCann’s memory by telling him: “I was painting the words and I came over and said to you ‘Is it one or two Rs in “entering”?’”
The authors of the new book provide Mr Hillen’s account of the painting of the slogan.
He said the only paint he could find was yellow and blue so he mixed them to make green paint and, with the help of a taller youth, he painted the immortal words.
“I am dyslexic by the way. I only found that after I had the stroke,” Mr Hillen told the authors.
“So that’s probably why I had to turn to McCann and ask him how many Rs are in ‘entering’.”
Mr Kerr and Mr Collins do not try to decipher the mystery but suggest that while Mr Hillen painted the original graffiti, it was Mr Casey who immortalised the words in huge black block letters.
Their book traces the history of 33 Lecky Road – the building that houses the mural – and unveils details of the McKane family who lived there from the 1930s until the 1960s.
It details the frequent paint and petrol-bomb attacks on the wall by police as well as an effort by British soldiers to destroy it by ramming it with a Saracen personnel carrier.
With many previously unseen pictures, the book notes that Free Derry Wall was a favourite attraction for police and British soldiers.
They would often come at night to have their pictures taken at the world-famous monument.
The authors also record the views of many people about the wall.
“It’s a reminder of all that was wrong and I would be concerned that it would be used in future to try and justify the things that happened around the time that Free Derry Corner came into being,” DUP MP Gregory Campbell says.
Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, says: “For 40 years the simple words ‘You are now entering Free Derry’ have been an inspiration to people everywhere in the world that it is possible and necessary to stand up to and defeat oppression.
“The site will remain a symbol of the struggle for freedom.”
Among the others to comment are former Labour MP Tony Benn, SDLP leader Mark Durkan, journalist Nell McCafferty, former MP Bernadette McAliskey and a former British soldier named only as Keith.
The wall’s enduring attraction is evident in a series of poems by Derry teenagers.
Seanin Wray (14) writes:
“No-one owns the Wall “in the middle of the Bogside “It’s a sign of freedom; it’s a sign of pride.”
27 Nov 09
An order for one of the men charged in connection with the murder of journalist Martin O’Hagan to have no association with loyalist paramilitaries is unenforceable, it was claimed in the High Court.
Lawyers for Robin King (43) argued he could unwittingly breach the bail condition because thousands of people in Northern Ireland might have links to outlawed organisations.
A judge was told that at one stage the UDA alone was estimated to have more than 10,000 members.
The claim came as Mr King, of no known address, applied to have his release terms varied to achieve parity with his co-accused.
He has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice following a reinvestigation into the shooting of Mr O’Hagan.
The Sunday World reporter was gunned down near his home in Lurgan, Co Armagh in September 2001.
Mr King had been subject to a curfew, ordered to report to police three times a week, told to give officers the make and number of any mobile phone he had and ordered not to associate, directly or indirectly, with any member of a loyalist paramilitary organisation.
Mr Justice Hart said he was not prepared to remove the association ban imposed by another judge.
However, he did agree to lift Mr King’s curfew and reduce his reporting to once a week.
By Allison Morris
ONE of Northern Ireland’s most senior police officers heaped praise on a loyalist community yesterday for making positive change at the launch of a new artwork designed by children.
With the help of the artist Ross Wilson pupils of Currie Primary School created bas-relief wall art to replace two UDA paramilitary murals in the loyalist enclave of Tigers Bay in north Belfast.
Images of masked and armed figures that once adorned the walls of the loyalist interface area have been replaced by community-inspired art.
“I feel privileged to have been asked back to attend this event,” Chief Inspector Muir Clarke, a former district commander for the area, said.
“While on the face of it this may not seem like police work, when young people take pride and ownership in their area in the way they have here, there is no doubt it has an impact, with noticeable reductions in anti-social behaviour.
“It’s lovely to see this new generation of young people helping to sweep away the old and transform this area for the future.”
Tigers Bay community worker Leanne Marchall praised the children’s artwork.
“The new artwork is what people passing by or through Tigers Bay will see and I really hope they feel welcome and inspired by it,” she said.
“It’s a lovely warm reflection of our community’s spirit and what makes it so special is that young people from within this area played a pivotal role in designing and creating it.”
By Barry McCaffrey
FAMILIES of 15 people killed in the McGurk’s Bar bombing have expressed “deep disappointment” after a developer refused to allow a new housing development to be named in their memory.
The victims, including two children and three women, were killed when a no-warning loyalist bomb exploded in the doorway of the north Belfast bar on December 4 1971.
Earlier this year a derelict school beside the bombing location was chosen as the site for a new housing development.
Marie Irvine, whose mother Kathleen was one of those killed, said the families had been “devastated” when the housing association Habinteg rejected the McGurk’s Road proposal.
The developer said it could not endorse any name associated with the Troubles.
“We just couldn’t believe it,” Ms Irvine said.
“The British government has admitted that every one of those who were murdered in the bomb were entirely innocent but Habinteg seems to be trying to wipe out the memory of our loved ones.”
A Habinteg spokesman said the developer regretted that it could not support the McGurk’s Road name.
The spokesman said the association was committed to promoting the Department for Social Development’s ‘shared future’ agenda.
“It is incumbent upon the association to choose names for its housing developments which promote the ethos of a shared neighbourhood,” he said.
“Habinteg regrets that it is unable to endorse any housing scheme names which do not support this aim.”
By William Graham
The political row over policing and justice escalated last night with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness accusing the DUP of being in “default” of the St Andrews agreement by not agreeing a date for the devolution of these powers.
The DUP and Sinn Fein had separate meetings with Prime Minister Gordon Brown against a background of growing distrust between the two parties.
“Quite clearly the DUP are in default,” Mr McGuinness said. He said that if the DUP “continue to fail” then the British government needs to make it clear “the consequences” that will follow from that.
Mr McGuinness did not spell out what he meant by “the consequences”.
Earlier yesterday Sinn Fein dismissed as nonsense a claim by Peter Robinson that it is refusing to engage in discussions with the DUP to resolve outstanding issues on the devolution of policing and justice.
Mr Robinson had said: “At the last meeting with the prime minister he identified three main issues that needed to be resolved before policing and justice discussions could be satisfactorily concluded.”
28 Nov 09
UP tO 100 people convicted of paramilitary offences as juveniles through the non-jury Diplock court system are believed to be seeking to have their convictions overturned.
The figure was announced at a press conference held yesterday following a court hearing involving three Derry men.
Eric Wright, James Henry Brown and Peter Joseph McDonald stand to have historic convictions dating back more than 30 years overturned after the prosecution said it would no longer stand over them.
The men all signed confessions in police custody during 1976-77 while under the age of 17 but without the presence of a solicitor or parent.
This was in direct breach of ‘Judges Rules’ – guidelines in place at the time.
Three of Northern Ireland’s most senior judges, sitting in the Court of Appeal, delayed a decision yesterday to overturn the men’s guilty verdicts as they awaited further clarification of legislation in place at the time.
“We want to make sure we get this right,” the lord chief justice Sir Declan Morgan said.
A Belfast man, Stephen Paul McCaul, also stands to have an historical conviction overturned after his case
was referred back to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
A fifth man, Patrick Martin McCourt, also from Derry, jailed for membership of an illegal organisation and hijacking in 1977, is also set to have his case examined when the appeal court sits again in the new year.
In all cases confessions signed in the absence of a solicitor were the only evidence presented against the teenage accused during their original trials.
Sir Declan said: “Although they are old [cases] it is clear those affected by them will be anxious that they have a resolution as soon as possible.”
Following yesterday’s appeal court hearing a number of people who have had – or in the process of having –
unsafe convictions overturned met in the Europa Hotel in Belfast.
Derry man Charlie McMenamin, who had a conviction quashed in 2007 dating back 30 years when he was just 16 years old, spoke about his experiences.
Jim McVeigh of ex-prisoners group Coiste na n-Iarchimi said to date they were aware of up to 100 such cases
either being prepared by solicitors or already in the hands of the CCRC for consideration.
“The cases vary in circumstance but they have one common factor – the Diplock court system,’’ he said.
“Very clear evidence has surfaced of systematic use of torture, falsified statements, dubious forensic evidence as well as numerous young people convicted with no evidence other than a forced confession.
“It is these convictions we are now seeking to challenge and would once again ask anyone who feels their conviction was unsafe to contact Coiste.”
Church child abuse cover-up
By Diana Rusk
CAMPAIGNERS against child abuse in Northern Ireland have renewed calls for an inquiry into institutions run by the Catholic Church.
Earlier this month MLAs backed a motion for a ‘working group’ to be set up to investigate the extent of abuse in the north.
This move followed the handing in to Stormont of a petition signed by more than 6,000 people.
However, members of the group Justice for the Victims of Institutional Abuse say there has been no progress since.
Deirdre Harper, who was a resident of Nazareth House children’s home in south Belfast, run by the Sisters of Nazareth, said survivors in the north wanted to be treated the same as those in the south.
“It’s about being treated equally and fairly,” she said.
“I have had no more information at all since the day we went to Stormont. We have to keep putting the pressure on them.”
Margaret McGuckian, another member of the group, said the executive ought to “strike while the iron is hot”.
“We were told we would hear some progress by the end of November and it is very near the end of November now. We need to know what is happening. Nobody has been in touch,” she said.
SDLP assembly member Carmel Hanna, who proposed the motion, said it was up to the Department of Health to set up the group.
“The motion asked for a working group to be set up to assess the extent of the abuse,” she said.
“I would like to see it set up as soon as possible and I will be asking the health minister for a progress report.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said other departments were to blame for the delay.
“Before the recent assembly debate the minister wrote to all his executive colleagues asking for their views on how the issue of historical abuse in Northern Ireland should be taken forward,” she said.
“We are still awaiting responses from a number of departments.
“When the responses are completed the minister will be able to bring forward firm proposals to the executive for their approval.”
Alliance leader David Ford, suggested as a future justice minister, said the need for a similar inquiry must be assessed.
“As a former social worker, I’m aware of the trauma that can be caused in cases of child abuse and how long-lasting the effects can be,” he said.
“I believe that those entrusted with the care of children in every part if this island will need to read the report coming from Dublin and consider two things.
“First, how best to ensure protec-tion for children today and second, to consider whether inquiries are needed on a wider scale in Northern Ireland and the Republic.”
November 29, 2009
A proposal to give children in primary schools a taste of “gaelscoil-lite” education, as part of a 20-year strategy to spread the use of Irish, has been given a lukewarm reception by some opposition TDs.
Michael Ring, Fine Gael’s gaeltacht spokesman, said that parents who decide not to send their children to gaelscoileanna should not then see them being forced to learn through Irish. “Let’s not make the same mistake with Irish that we’ve made since the foundation of the state,” Ring said.
“Anything that is compulsory never works in this country. Gaelscoils are getting stronger and that could be the lifeline for the language. But parents who have chosen not to send their kids there shouldn’t be forced to have them learn through Irish.”
The idea has already received approval from a cabinet sub-committee led by Brian Cowen, the taoiseach. It would involve sending teachers back to training college to boost their command of the first official language so as to ensure they can teach occasional maths or science classes in Irish.
The government wants to treble the number of people using near-fluent Irish from 85,000 to 250,000 over the next two decades. The potential growth areas are thought to be urban middle-class neighbourhoods outside traditional Irish-speaking gaeltacht districts. At present 1.6m people have some knowledge of Irish.
Special booster courses are to be designed for the one-in-four teachers who admit their knowledge of Irish is weak. “You cannot transmit a subject you don’t know and you cannot create a love for a subject you are not yourself comfortable with,” said Eamon Ó Cuív, the gaeltacht minister.
“You hear people say, ‘I went to school for 14 years and I never learnt any Irish’. If the teachers don’t feel comfortable teaching the language, no wonder the pupils don’t feel comfortable learning.”
Ó Cuív circulated a draft 20-year strategy for the Irish language to TDs and senators last week. It proposes renaming Udaras na Gaeltachta, an industrial authority for Irish-speaking areas, to Udaras na Gaeilge and giving it responsibility for increasing the use of Irish.
The strategy defies An Bord Snip’s suggestion to close Ó Cuív’s department, asserting that “there will continue to be a senior minister and a government department [the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs] with central responsibility for Irish language affairs”.
It also suggests diverting more licence fee money away from RTE and into an independent broadcasting fund of which TG4, the Irish language channel, is the largest beneficiary. The strategy proposes to increase from 5% to 7% the proportion of the €215m in annual licence fee revenue put into the independent fund.
The main growth of the language is expected outside the traditional gaeltacht areas of Galway, Donegal, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Mayo and Meath.
The strategy envisages developing urban-centred gaeltachts — which are not defined by a geographical area but where a community of Irish speakers has grown within a wider English-speaking community — and putting a critical mass of Irish language services in place, including crèches, mother and toddler groups, youth clubs and gaelscoileanna.
These areas could then apply as “network gaeltachts” for government assistance in building a community or cultural centre for Irish language activities.
The strategy document cites a 2007 study — the Harris report — which found a substantial fall in the number of pupils achieving “mastery” of Irish language listening, vocabulary and comprehension skills between 1985 and 2002.
“The education system is one of the critical engines for generating the linguistic ability on which this 20-year strategy is premised,” it says. “From [2013 on] it is proposed to move towards a situation where partial Irish language immersion will be offered to all children.”
This approach will be launched as teacher competency in Irish rises on the back of enhanced training. “It should not be a choice for parents of all or nothing,” said Ó Cuív, arguing for some Irish immersion outside the gaelscoileanna.
“The option of teaching a subject other than Irish through Irish is something that will be positively encouraged.”
The draft strategy says that Irish language immersion could be delivered “through the teaching of some mainstream subject matter in Irish in the infant classes, and be complemented by designated subject areas to be taught through Irish in the middle and upper years in primary schools”.
The ultimate intention is that by 2026 — five years from the end of the 20-year plan — all pupils in mainstream schools taking Irish language as a core subject “will be offered the experience of partial immersion education in other subjects”.
By Barry McCaffrey and Maeve Connolly
The family of a Catholic murder victim have expressed outrage after the Parades Commission said it would allow a loyalist band commemorating his UVF killer to pass the scene of the shooting.
Patrick McKenna (43) was shot dead by UVF gunman Brian Robinson outside Ardoyne shops in north Belfast in September 1989.
Minutes later an undercover British army unit shot Robinson dead as he and an accomplice fled on a motorbike.
In a statement yesterday the Parades Commission confirmed that the Shankill Star band, whose logo carries the UVF man’s name, would be allowed to take part in an Apprentice Boys march past Ardoyne shops next Saturday morning.
The commission said it had taken into account strong opposition expressed by nationalist residents, Sinn Fein and the SDLP to the decision to allow a band with strong associations with the UVF killer to pass the scene.
It said it had held talks with the North and West Belfast Parades Forum (NWBPF) which told the commission the band had been chosen to take part because of its ‘excellent musicianship’.
A commission spokesman insisted that no paramilitary flags or emblems should be displayed during the parade, with only a single drum beat being played as the band passes Ardoyne.
The murder victim’s nephew Gerard McKenna said his family were “devastated” by the decision.
“This is a band which openly glorifies the man who shot my uncle dead in the street for no other reason than he was a Catholic,” he said.
“I told the Parades Commission what effect it would have on my family if they let this ‘Brian Robinson tribute band’ parade past the spot where he killed my uncle.”
Mr McKenna questioned why the loyalist band was only now being included in the parade for the first time.
“There are at least three other flute bands in Ballysillan which they could use but they have chosen a band which commemorates the man who murdered a Catholic from Ardoyne,” he said.
“The NWBPF says they chose the band because they’re great musicians but if they’re only allowed to play a single drum beat then what is the point of them being on this parade?
“It’s a sick joke but it has been made worse by the Parades Commission allowing it to go ahead.
“It feels as if the Parades Commission has slapped us in the face.”
Nationalist residents are expected to hold a protest.
Parades Commission chairman Rena Sheppard appealed for all sides to ensure the parade took place without incident.
Last night Tommy Cheevers from the North and West Belfast Parades Forum said it would not matter which band was marching in the eyes of the nationalist community in Ardoyne.
“No band has ever been acceptable, no matter what they dress like or look like,” they said.
“Both communities need sensitivity.
“We equally walk by Ardoyne when there are people there who murdered people on the Shankill Road, laughing and jeering at us.”
Mr Cheevers said neither community “has the monopoly on pain and suffering here and that’s the kind of conversation we need to be having”.
Northern Ireland’s dissidents may have been foiled in their recent attacks but they can still scent a victory of sorts
November 29, 2009
Dissident republican groups wanted last week to be a bloody one for Northern Ireland, and came close to succeeding in a wave of attempted attacks across the province. Danger levels haven’t been this high in six years.
Last weekend they launched two attacks designed to inject instability into the province’s still-fragile peace process. On a single day they set out to murder a police officer in rural Fermanagh and to destroy the Northern Ireland policing board headquarters in Belfast. The 400lb bomb they planted was nearly as large as the device that killed 29 people, plus unborn twins, in Omagh in 1998.
In March, dissident groups killed two British soldiers and a police officer in two separate attacks. They used the killings to launch a recruiting drive and have now about 300 active members. In recent weeks security for unionist politicians has been tightened and judges have been given increased protection, including bodyguards in court, after plots were uncovered.
Last month in Strabane, the Real IRA, one of three main rival dissident groups, staged a show of strength at the funeral of one of their members who had hanged himself in police custody. Earlier, the same organisation set up a roadblock in Co Armagh to distribute leaflets warning motorists not to “collaborate” with the police, MI5 or Sinn Fein. A police patrol car drove away, rather than intervene.
It all sounds just like the bad old days, except for a key element: failure. The plot to kill judges didn’t come off, and neither did the recent attacks. The men believed by police to be on their way to murder a Catholic police service recruit were rammed by an undercover police vehicle and arrested after an exchange of gunfire. In Belfast the bomb at the policing board failed to fully explode. There are suspicions that the security forces had neutralised this and other devices that were mysteriously abandoned or failed to detonate. In all, more than 130 dissident bomb, weapons and ammunition finds have been made in the past six months.
So, instead of celebrating victory, the dissidents are conducting demoralising mole hunts this weekend. They must wonder just how many of the young recruits and disgruntled Provisional IRA veterans who swelled their ranks after the March murders were planted by MI5.
It’s a good question. MI5 devotes 60% of its electronic surveillance operations and 15% of its manpower to spying on the dissidents. The current trial of three republican suspects accused of attempting to smuggle weapons revealed that the “arms dealers” involved were in fact MI5 officers.
As if this weren’t disheartening enough, there’s the matter of popular support, or, rather, the lack of it. Sinn Fein, which disarmed the IRA and turned its back on violence, was the most popular party in Northern Ireland in the most recent European election. By contrast, the dissidents attract negligible support and are incapable of mounting a sustained campaign. When they are arrested or go on hunger strike in prison, they attract little sympathy.
Despite those weaknesses, these small groups of fanatics are able to tie up large security resources simply by continuing to exist. They know this and when they observe the fragility of the power-sharing administration, it gives them the hope that they may be able to bring it down.
Could they succeed? Since it was set up in 2007, the Northern Ireland executive, led by Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist party, has lurched from crisis to crisis, and trust has been hard to establish.
The two parties are at loggerheads over the timing of devolution of policing powers to the assembly. Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein took a big gamble in backing the police after a lifetime of opposing them. He feels he has been blocked at every turn by unionist intransigence and is warning of “serious consequences” if Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, does not at least set a date for the devolution before Christmas.
In the past, such a warning from McGuinness would have been read as a threat of violence; nowadays it is more like a hint that he might pull out of government and precipitate an election. Compared with the old days, this is surely progress. But it’s also unnerving: the instability and the possibility that Northern Ireland may prove ungovernable are enough to encourage the dissidents to keep trying, whatever the odds.
Devastating report on abuse of children by clergy from 1975 to 2004 accuses church and Garda of colluding to cover up scandal. Roman Catholic church in Ireland hid decades of child abuse by its leaders to protect the church’s reputation, inquiry found.
26 Nov 2009
Ireland’s police colluded with the Catholic church in covering up clerical child abuse in Dublin on a huge scale, according to a damning report on decades of sex crimes committed by priests.
The devastating report on the sexual and physical abuse of children by the clergy in Ireland’s capital from 1975 to 2004 accuses four former archbishops, a host of clergy and senior members of the Garda Síochána of a cover-up.
The three-volume report found that the “maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church and the preservation of its assets” was more important than justice for the victims.
Four former archbishops in Dublin – John Charles McQuaid, who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan, who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara, who died in 1987, and retired Cardinal Desmond Connell – were found to have failed to report their knowledge of child sexual abuse to the Garda from the 1960s to the 1980s. But the report added that all the archbishops of the diocese in the period were aware of complaints.
The report, launched today by the Irish justice minister, Dermot Ahern, also concluded that the vast majority of priests turned a “blind eye” to abuse, although some individuals did bring complaints to superiors, which were not acted upon.
The report, commissioned by the government, strongly criticises the Garda and says senior members of the force regarded priests as being outside their investigative remit. The relationship between some senior gardai and priests and bishops in Dublin was described as “inappropriate”.
Rather than investigate complaints from children, gardai simply reported the matter to the Dublin Catholic diocese, the report says. The Garda Síochána is accused of connivance with the church in stifling at least one complaint of abuse and letting the alleged perpetrator flee the country.
Ahern said there should be no hiding place for abusers. “The persons who committed these dreadful crimes will continue to be pursued. They must come to know that there is no hiding place. That justice – even where it may have been delayed – will not be denied,” he said.
He told a press conference: “I read the report as justice minister. But on a human level – as a father and as a member of this community – I felt a growing sense of revulsion and anger at the horrible, evil acts committed against children.”
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre welcomed the report, saying it was “another acknowledgment of the abject failure of our society to take care of our children”.
The report states that senior clerical figures covered up the abuse over nearly 30 years and that the structures and rules of the church facilitated that cover-up. It says that state authorities facilitated the cover-up by allowing the church to be beyond the reach of the law.
The Murphy Commission of Inquiry into the abuse of children in Dublin identified 320 people who complained of child sexual abuse between 1975 and 2004. It also stated that since May 2004, 130 complaints against priests operating in the Dublin archdiocese had been made.
The report details the cases of 46 priests guilty of abuse as a representative sample of 102 priests within its remit. But it concludes that there was no evidence of an organised paedophile ring in the Dublin archdiocese, although it says there were worrying connections. One priest admitted abusing more than 100 children. Another said he had committed abuse every two weeks for more than 25 years.
The report highlights the case of a Father Carney and Father McCarthy who it claims in one case both abused the same child. The abuse by Carney often occurred at swimming pools, sometimes when he was accompanied by another priest.
The report states that it was not until 1995 that the archdiocese began to notify civil authorities of complaints of abuse. The commission concludes that in the light of this and other facts, every bishop’s primary loyalty was to the church itself.
A move by the archdiocese to take out insurance against potential compensation claims arising from abuse, according to the report, proved knowledge of child sexual abuse as a potential major cost.
The Garda Síochána’s current commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, said the report made for “difficult and disturbing reading, detailing many instances of sexual abuse and failure … to protect victims.”
Pope Benedict was urged today to go to Ireland and apologise for his clergy’s behaviour. John Kelly, of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse, said only a papal visit would exonerate the worldwide church in the abuse scandals.
Since June 1994, when paedophile priest Father Brendan Smith was sentenced to four years in prison for the abuse of children in Northern Ireland, there have been three major reports into the abuse of children at the hands of Ireland’s Catholic clergy:
• October 2005 the Ferns report detailed extensive child abuse and the cover-up of paedophile activity in the south-east of Ireland.
• November 2005 Judge Yvonne Murphy was appointed to head a commission of investigation into clerical child abuse in the Dublin diocese, which concluded today.
• May 2009 the Ryan report detailing abuse at orphanages and industrial schools run by Catholic religious orders across the state was published.
Report by Commission of Investigation into the handling by Church and State authorities of allegations and suspicions of child abuse against clerics of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.
29 Nov 09
Disturbances in Portadown in which police were attacked have been blamed on a “carefully-orchestrated loyalist mob” by a local SDLP assembly member.
A large crowd gathered on Sunday shortly after midnight in the Mandeville Street and West Street area.
Ten officers sustained minor injuries and a number of vehicles were damaged.
Police said appropriate resources were in place to deal with any trouble
Dolores Kelly said the plans were known weeks ago and the gathering should have been stopped. A police spokeswoman said appropriate resources were in place.
The trouble, said by police to be sporadic, lasted for about three hours.
A 19-year-old man is to appear in court next month charged with assault on police and public order offences, while a 31-year-old was released pending further inquiries.
Mrs Kelly said: “Two weeks ago we warned that texts were circulating calling on all loyalists to gather for a show of force in the centre of the town at pub closing time.
“This was incredibly stupid, incredibly provocative and the purpose was made absolutely clear in the texts which we forwarded to the media – to intimidate nationalists and lay claim to ownership of the town centre.
“As far as I have heard the police were prepared and were able to move the mob back and generally control the situation. But the fundamental point is that a very substantial group of people are determined to deny access to the town centre for all.”
She said she had called for an investigation into the police’s handling of the incident.
The Irish News reported on 19 November that text messages were circulating urging loyalists to gather on a given weekend night “to show republicans that we will not tolerate their behaviour or presence in our area”.
Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition spokesman Breandan Mac Cionnaith said: “By permitting this intimidatory mob to assemble last night in the first place, the PSNI ensured a clear message was sent out signalling that Portadown town centre is not a welcome or safe place at night for Catholics or nationalists.
“That is totally and completely objectionable and abhorrent and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”
A police spokeswoman said they were aware of the text messages being circulated and appropriate resources had been put in place to deal with the illegal gathering.
She said police were “working with the public and community representatives to resolve the situation”.
27 November 2009
This is the father and son from Derry who have admitted being involved in a major drug dealing operation in the city.
The men say that, in recent weeks, they transported a number of substantial consignments of cocaine from Coleraine to Derry on behalf of two named drug dealers originally from Derry but who are now believed to be based in the North of England.
Armed men with a Derry father and son who admitted ferrying drugs, while another masked man reads a statement on behalf of Republican Action Against Drugs.
Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) say these two dealers will be executed on sight if caught.
The latest development emerged this week after a ‘Journal’ reporter and photographer were picked up at a pre-arranged meeting place in the city, put in a van – the interior of which was completely blacked out – and then driven to an unknown destination where they discovered the father and son along with members of RAAD.
Two masked men – armed with what appeared to be guns – stood behind the men, who were both blindfolded.
Another masked man then read a statement on behalf of RAAD in which he said that, as a result of a recent “major intelligence gathering exercise” carried out by RAAD activists, the father and son – who they named – were identified as “a link” in a drug-dealing operation masterminded by two individuals who they also identified by name.
The RAAD spokesman said that, when questioned by the organisation, the father and son “broke and told us everything”, including details of the cocaine transported from Coleraine.
According to RAAD, for transporting the drugs, the father was paid a “paltry” £250 while the son was “given a free bar of cannabis”.
Asked if they had admitted their involvement in the local drugs trade voluntarily, both men replied: “Yes.”
The son said he wanted to urge anyone involved in drug dealing to “think again – it’s just not worth it.”
“These people (RAAD] know all about the drugs scene in Derry,” he said. “They were able to tell me precise details of my movements. Anyone out there dealing drugs should wise up, take advantage of the RAAD amnesty, come forward, and admit what they’ve done. If they do this, they’ll be allowed to get on with their lives.”
The father added: “I want to say I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I can’t believe the amount of money I was paid for doing what I did.”
Speaking directly to both men, the RAAD spokesman said: “Because you came forward and admitted your involvement in the drugs trade, you are now free to go and get on with your lives.”
DAN KEENAN Northern News Editor
28 Nov 09
TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen is to hold private talks with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in his Co Offaly constituency later today following a worsening of relations between Sinn Féin and the DUP over the devolution of policing and justice powers.
Mr Cowen is also to hold talks with British prime minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street on Monday afternoon.
It was thought that a speech by First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson at his party’s annual conference last weekend indicated some intention to agree to the transfer of justice powers from London to Stormont at some point.
However, separate talks in Downing Street on Thursday between Mr Brown and the joint leaders of the Stormont Executive on the troubled devolution project served to highlight the continuing difficulties at the very heart of the Executive. A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the talks with Mr McGuinness would be private and were being held “to review progress”.
He warned against jumping to conclusions about the state of relations on all sides of the issue and insisted that both Mr Cowen and Mr Brown had remained “engaged” throughout recent difficulties.
Sinn Féin said today’s talks with Mr Cowen were taking place at Mr McGuinness’s request. A well-placed source said Mr McGuinness had already met the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin earlier this week to raise what Sinn Féin views as the DUP reneging on its obligations under the St Andrews Agreement, which paved the way for the restoration of devolution in May 2007.
Of prime concern to the party, in addition to the stalled devolution of policing and justice powers, are the failure to work towards an Irish language Act and what the source described as “the operation of the Stormont institutions”.
In a speech to DUP colleagues in Co Derry last night, Mr Robinson repeated calls for reform of the voting mechanisms at Stormont “to regain the support of the community”.
The “continual inability” of the Executive to agree on policy was draining credibility from the Stormont institutions, Mr Robinson warned.
“It is clear that the present arrangements are not delivering and whilst some would seek to cling to them for fear of change, it is time to remove the obstacles to the Executive’s effective performance,” he said.
“In essence our proposals include the abolition of community designation and its replacement by a 65 per cent weighted majority voting,” he added.
However, Sinn Féin told The Irish Times last night that Mr Robinson’s speech was further evidence of the DUP “looking for unionist majority rule”.
Dissident republicans blamed for attempted murder
23 Nov 09
The target of a republican dissident murder attempt in Northern Ireland was spirited out of his home before his potential killers arrived thanks to an Irish police intelligence report, sources revealed.
The man, a Catholic officer with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and his family were moved out of their house in the border village of Garrison, County Fermanagh, just hours before the planned attack.
Five men remain in custody in connection with the shooting outside the officer’s home on Saturday night. Four are being questioned by the PSNI in Northern Ireland and a man from County Leitrim is being held by the Garda Síochána.
“When the gunmen went to the door there was no one inside,” one security source said. “Lucky for the officer that the Gardaí had good intelligence that this was about to happen.”
Shots were exchanged between the gunmen, believed to be from the Real IRA and a heavily armed undercover PSNI unit, but no one was hurt.
The foiled attack took place shortly before a 400lb bomb partly exploded outside the headquarters of the Northern Ireland Policing Board in Belfast.
Nobody was hurt, but two men were seen escaping from the area.
The chief constable of the PSNI, Matt Baggott, said the attacks were designed to derail political progress. “We have said from day one that the terrorist situation is severe. We have substantial resources being put into investigating and thwarting these attacks,” he said.
Police are investigating a car found burned out nearby in the republican New Lodge area of the city.
Catholic recruits to the PSNI remain a prime target for all three main dissident republican terror groups.
The policing board is a symbolically important target for dissidents opposed to the peace process. The board, which holds the PSNI to account and sets its budget, represents all shades of political opinion from Sinn Féin to the Democratic Unionists and is made up of non-party political members from across the community.
The Real IRA, Continuity IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann regard Sinn Féin’s participation in a power-sharing coalition with unionists as a sellout of republican principles. The overall goal of the three insurgent groups is to destabilise Northern Ireland and drive a wedge between republicans and unionists in the Stormont assembly, leading to the fall of the power-sharing executive.
Earlier this month the Independent Monitoring Commission reported that the dissident republican threat in Northern Ireland was at its highest level for almost six years.
The IMC said the two main dissident republican groups, the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, were working more closely together to increase the threat to security forces.
Alliance party leader David Ford says lessons must be learned from Omagh bombing
Sunday 29 November 2009
A Northern Ireland justice minister must insist that MI5 share all intelligence on republican dissidents with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, according to the man widely tipped to take over that department.
David Ford, the Alliance party leader and the preferred choice for justice minister of the first and deputy first minister, said he will seek to secure the principle that the security services exchange secret information on the armed republican terror groups with the police.
In an interview with the Observer, Ford said his only precondition for becoming minister was that all four main parties in the coalition agree to a set departmental programme. He said that “intellectually at least” the first minister, Peter Robinson, had already accepted that policing and justice powers should be transferred from Westminster to Stormont.
Referring to the Omagh bomb investigation, which revealed that MI5 had not shared intelligence on dissidents with the RUC, he said: “There is clearly the need, as Omagh showed, to ensure that intelligence is joined up. I would expect the justice minister to be informed in a general sense but on specific security details.
“There has to be sharing of information in principle. I will be the champion of that principle if I become justice minister.
“In the context of Omagh, there are significant concerns about how much information was held in advance by MI5 on the activities of those who carried out the bombing, which was not shared with police in Omagh. That should not have happened, regardless of whether justice powers are devolved or not. But the minister in a devolved department should be the champion of that principle of sharing intelligence.”
Thursday 26 November
Jim McDowell, northern editor of the Irish newspaper, Sunday World, was attacked last night in Belfast city centre.
He said that as two men approached him one shouted: “Your paper’s trying to get my brother killed”. Then he was struck, he thinks, by some sort of object, which felled him. He was then repeatedly kicked while on the ground.
He told the BBC: “I was dazed and then the blows came raining in. I went down and then the kicks came in, very, very hard and frequently. It was relentless.
“There’s a heel mark on the back of my head where they were actually stamping on my head. I tried to get up a couple of times – and I can look after myself – but it was impossible to do it. They wanted to do severe damage to my head.”
McDowell was injured in the head, arms and legs, but did not seek hospital treatment.
The attack happened less than two weeks after McDowell’s car was vandalised outside a court in Craigavon. He was attending a hearing involving a number of men who were charged in connection with the murder of Martin O’Hagan, who was a Sunday World reporter.
O’Hagan was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in Lurgan, County Armagh, in September 2001.
McDowell has been threatened several times before by loyalists and republicans.
28 November 2009
A former close associate of murdered loyalist terror chief Jim Gray is to relinquish his home and eight bank accounts, crimefighters revealed yesterday.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) said it was granted a recovery order against 48-year-old Thomas Gary Matthews and his wife Lucinda.
High Court proceedings were launched against the couple, of Dixon Park Road, Bangor, after the case was referred by police in 2007.
In an application for civil recovery SOCA claimed Matthews derived the majority of his assets through money laundering and false accounting.
It also was alleged that he had been involved in extortion and blackmail.
The couple yesterday agreed to settle SOCA’s claim by handing over assets including the residential property in Bangor and the contents of eight bank accounts.