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Margaret Thatcher’s British government considered the introduction of severe measures to tackle the IRA following the assassination of Lord Mountbatten and the Warrenpoint attacks in August of 1979, which killed 18 British soldiers.
Measures considered including more vigorous use of the SAS, the closing of Border roads and even reintroduction of executive detention [internment].
State papers released in London also reveal that Margaret Thatcher warned Jack Lynch that Irish citizens living in the UK might face repercussions, due to British public opinion, unless the Irish government took measures to improve security co-operation.
The relationship between Thatcher and Lynch had begun promisingly, following Thatcher’s election victory on May 3rd. Just a week later, Lynch became the first foreign leader to visit her at Downing Street. While expressing his desire to see a more positive political approach in Northern Ireland, he welcomed the fact that recent co-operation between the Garda and the RUC had been of a high standard.
A telegram from the British ambassador in Dublin, Robin Haydon, on June 22nd, 1979, confirmed this view. While Irish governments were apt to feel inhibited from too obvious a display of security co-operation, it was noted that Lynch’s government, despite pressure from the republican wing of his party, are prepared to be reasonably helpful during the first months of our new administration.
However, the relationship was thrown into disarray by the attacks of August 27th. Mountbatten was killed along with three others on his yacht on Irish territory. Although the Warrenpoint ambush had taken place north of the Border, the IRA had also made use of the Republic as part of the attack, once again raising the controversial issue of security co-operation.
The day after the attacks, Thatcher convened a special meeting at Downing Street with the chief of the general staff of the British army, the home secretary, defence secretary and the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins. The aim of the meeting was to discuss strategies to stiffen Irish government policies towards the terrorists.
So long as Ireland had the EEC presidency, it was felt that it had cards they could play against the UK. However, the British discussed the possibility of making the rest of the world more aware of the shortcomings of the Irish government against the IRA.
Another suggestion was that the British might be able to exert some pressure by stepping up administrative action against Irish immigrants to the UK, on the lines of the steps already being taken at UK channel ports against Algerians and Turks.
Some foreign office officials had even mooted the freezing of Irish sterling balances in the Bank of England until Ireland signed the European convention for the suppression of terrorism, but this idea was quickly dismissed.
For the moment, the British government was agreed that an attempt would be made to secure greater co-operation from Lynch before the ‘more confrontational policy’ was adopted.
The tone of Haydon’s dispatches from the embassy in Dublin back to the UK also changed markedly in the wake of the Mountbatten murder.
On September 3rd, he wrote: ‘As was expected, last week’s public expressions of shame, shock and regret have by now been largely forgotten or overshadowed. Even now they remain obsessed by 800 years of history.”
Any suggestion that the British are telling them what they must do produces instant reflex statements about Irish independence and sovereignty.
Tensions were extremely high when an Irish government delegation arrived at Downing Street on September 5th, having attended Mountbatten’s funeral in the morning.
Thatcher had a private meeting with Lynch, with only two other officials in the room. She put forward a shopping list of demands for better security co-operation, including extradition of terrorist suspects to the UK, permission for British army helicopters to fly over Irish territory in the Border area, and a suggestion that RUC officers be present at Garda interrogations of suspects.
Lynch observed that ‘all these would raise difficulties for the Irish government’. He also expressed a fear that the reaction to the Mountbatten and Warrenpoint attacks ‘might have repercussions for Irish people living’ in the UK. ‘A majority of the population of the six counties had voted to remain part of the UK,’ Thatcher continued.
This discussion was followed by an explosive plenary meeting at 4pm, involving senior delegations from both governments. Lynch stated that ‘the incidence of terrorism on the Border had been greatly exaggerated’.
In reply, Thatcher ‘stressed that she would be unable to restrain public opinion in this country if, having agreed on the threat, she and Mr Lynch were unable to point to anything new that would be done’. She asked ‘whether the Irish side were prepared to get down to brass tacks’ or would they refuse the British?
The minutes of the meeting also record a spat between tánaiste George Colley and British foreign secretary Lord Carrington.
Mr Colley attempted to argue that Northern Ireland was an artificial creation, and adduced as evidence the fact that there had never been a change of government in Stormont. He did not deny it when the foreign and commonwealth secretary pointed out that there were many states in the world whose creation might, for one reason or another, be said to be artificial, but whose existence was nonetheless a fact.
In the following weeks, the two governments came to a compromise and agreed a new security package on October 5th. The full details were not released to the public to avoid a reaction from the more republican wing of Fianna Fáil.
However, a document in the British archives reveals that the new measures included the establishment of a new RUC-Garda panel to co-ordinator the activities of a specialist Garda unit on the Border (which was also strengthened), the granting of permission for British helicopters to cross the Border within a 5km range, the centralisation of Garda criminal intelligence machinery at Monaghan, and improved liaison between the two police forces.
UDA leader Jackie McDonald faces an uncomfortable New Year as internal dissent grows ahead of February’s decommissioning deadline, writes Alan Murray
Monday, 28 December 2009
At a time of flux within the Stormont Executive, it’s hardly surprising that the UDA hierarchy is experiencing uncertainty over holding a meeting with Martin McGuinness.
The quest to be seen as legitimate, honest, decent and all that, burns strong within the group surrounding the organisation’s south Belfast ‘Brigadier’ Jackie McDonald.
His bonhomie with the husband of the Irish President is the talk of the town and the organisation, so why in this era of understanding and barrier-breaking shouldn’t the next step be taken and the hand of the deputy First Minister grasped and tales of fishing and derring-do exchanged?
Unfortunately, that isn’t how the gritty world of the housing estates and the mean Belfast streets from where the UDA largely hails views the programme of diplomacy and detente advanced by the Inner Council.
There is strong opposition to the venture to shake the hand of a man regarded by many loyalists as the IRA personified. Michael Stone, after all, was sent by the UDA to assassinate the Derry republican as he purchased his morning paper.
We’ve moved on massively since the fraught days of Stone and Milltown cemetery, but within the UDA there still remains a resilience to shaking the hand of the enemy today – especially within the Londonderry/North Antrim Brigade, where the distance is growing daily with Belfast.
Its leading figure, Billy ‘the Mexican’ McFarland, has gone as far as meeting Martin McAleese and his ‘kitchen cabinet’ of advisers here, but shaking the hand of the other Martin is one act few can envisage McFarland performing.
Increasingly, sources in the north west of the province say, the gulf between the Inner Council elements in Belfast and the Londonderry/North Antrim Brigade is widening.
No hostile or belligerent statements have been issued, but privately words are spoken that indicate a clear desire to disassociate from McDonald’s initiative.
McFarland didn’t travel to Brussels recently with McDonald and others and isn’t, it is said, going to the USA on a hand-wringing trip to meet Irish-Americans. Apparently, he isn’t going to decommission weapons even if the four Belfast UDA Brigades hand over what remains of their arsenal.
One wouldn’t even be surprised if McFarland demanded a separate meeting with General de Chastelain to discuss decommissioning.
Already the south-east Antrim brigade has disarmed in a separate manoeuvre in June this year and the faction supporting Andre Shoukri in north Belfast handed over some weapons over a year ago.
Both acts weaken the bargaining power of the four UDA brigades in Belfast as they haggle for cash in the form of funding for ‘community projects’ in ‘their areas’.
Martin McAleese’s involvement in this has been well-known for the last two years and it has caused resentment within the leadership ranks of the UVF who decommissioned weapons without the incentive of millions of pounds of funding for pet projects in ‘their’ areas.
The kitchen cabinet assembled here by Martin McAleese is composed of former public servants drawn mainly from the nationalist community in Northern Ireland and the criticism of it, from one who has had the introductions at a recent meeting in the Wellington Park, is that they don’t pick up the implications of funding projects nominated by the UDA alone.
“They are well-meaning former public servants from here who just do not pick up the nuances of this within the loyalist world,” said a well-placed unionist source.
“They don’t seem to see the inherent danger in handing over projects totally to the control, or the partial control, of a paramilitary organisation and the message that would convey on the ground.
“And they don’t get the angle that the UVF, which has decommissioned, feels that the UDA is being treated in a special way when they haven’t delivered and are breaking into pieces as a structure.”
It is inevitable McDonald won’t succeed in bringing all those within UDA ranks to the point of accepting Martin McAleese – never mind embracing Martin McGuinness, however genuine his intentions.
His policy to date has ‘lost’ the south-east Antrim brigade, part of the north Belfast brigade and he may be losing the Londonderry/ North Antrim brigade from the Inner Council structure.
If he does lose McFarland and his men in the next month or so, then the countdown to February’s decommissioning deadline will become a much more uncomfortable one for what remains of the UDA Inner Council.
A magistrate who survived an IRA murder attempt 25 years ago in which his daughter was killed has died.
Tom Travers died peacefully on Boxing Day at his home in Holywood, County Down.
In April 1984, he was shot six times by the IRA as he left Mass at St Brigid’s Church in south Belfast with his wife and daughter.
Tom Travers with his daughter Mary
He was seriously injured but his daughter Mary, a schoolteacher, was fatally wounded.
Mr Travers was unable to attend his daughter’s funeral because he was still in the intensive care unit of Belfast City Hospital.
In January, the Police Ombudsman’s office apologised to Mr Travers for errors in a report into the murder.
December 27, 2009
Gerry Adams’ position as Sinn Féin president has been made untenable by revelations of the lies he has told about the way his alleged paedophile brother was protected for 22 years, writes Northern Editor Suzanne Breen
It’s a horrific story of alleged child abuse, lies, inaction that potentially placed countless Irish children at risk for over two decades, and a cover-up which is still continuing. Sinn Féin member and suspected paedophile Liam Adams was moved around Ireland in the same way that abusing Catholic priests went from parish to parish.
Gerry Adams has believed for 22 years that his brother is a paedophile. Yet he attended his wedding, took him canvassing for Sinn Féin in Dundalk, allowed him to remain active in the party – and lied about it.
He knew Liam was working with children in various youth projects. Yet despite his public claims, he has as yet produced no evidence to prove that he took action to have Liam removed by his employers.
Liam Adams is facing 23 charges in the North of raping and abusing his daughter, Áine Tyrell, between 1978 and 1983. Áine reported the alleged rapes to the RUC in 1987.
Gerry Adams’ disturbingly inadequate response to his brother’s suspected abuse makes him politically toxic. He is stripped of all credibility and moral authority. His position as a public figure is untenable. Were he the leader of any other party, he would have resigned by now. Would Brian Cowen, Enda Kenny, Peter Robinson or Mark Durkan survive such damning revelations? Not a chance.
Yet Gerry Adams defiantly holds onto the reins of power. In any other party, there would be uproar in the ranks with senior colleagues demanding he go. In Sinn Féin, not a single voice of even mild complaint has been raised. Indeed, Mary Lou McDonald – presented as a champion of women’s and children’s rights – has strongly defended him.
Since Áine went public about her father Liam’s alleged abuse on UTV’s Insight programme 10 days ago, Gerry Adams’ account of events has been littered with lies, evasions and inconsistencies. The Sinn Féin president has many serious questions to answer. Áine told him of the alleged rapes in 1987. He said he believed her.
Gerry Adams’ first lie was that he was estranged from his brother for 15 years. This “estrangement” is said to have lasted until 2002-2003. Yet the Sunday Tribune has discovered the opposite.
He attended Liam’s wedding and reception in the Bellingham Castle hotel in Co Louth. How can Gerry Adams justify attending the wedding of a brother he believed to be a paedophile? How can he stand smiling beside Liam for the wedding photographs when he knows Áine is a wreck, barely able to sleep at night?
Gerry Adams also lied about his brother’s activities in Sinn Féin in Dundalk. Liam Adams lived and worked in Muirhevnamor, a well-known republican estate to which many Belfast IRA members on the run moved.
The Sunday Tribune last week reported he had sought the nomination to be Sinn Féin’s Co Louth candidate in the 1997 Dáil election, which was won by local hardline republican Owenie Hanratty. Sinn Féin comprehensively denied this. Gerry Adams said that as soon as he had heard Liam might be nominated, he intervened: “I moved immediately both to stop that and to get him dumped out of Sinn Féin… I moved very, very quickly.”
Today, we expose this as a lie. Far from having Liam “dumped” from the party, Gerry Adams accompanied his suspected paedophile brother on a Sinn Féin canvass through Dundalk town centre just days before the 6 June election. The Sunday Tribune has uncovered photographs and a newspaper report of the event. The brothers are seen laughing on the canvass – more proof that they were not “estranged”.
We have also statements from three republicans who were present at the selection convention in the Imperial Hotel, which Sinn Féin still denies took place. It was chaired by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and minutes were taken, the sources said. Liam Adams was supported mainly by Belfast republicans living in Dundalk who were moderate and pro-leadership.
Local Dundalk republicans, and south Armagh men living in Co Louth, rallied behind Hanratty. After a debate, it was agreed that IRA activists and republican supporters who weren’t in Sinn Féin could vote at the meeting.
“The room was jam-packed,” one source said. “Liam Adams came in with two envelopes. I’m told one was an acceptance speech and the other was one of him conceding. He immediately saw from the crowd gathered that he wouldn’t win, so he pulled out. A massive show-of-hands defeat would have damaged his brother.”
Another source said: “Liam announced to the room that he was withdrawing from the race. He wished Owenie Hanratty all the best, pledged to work for him on the election campaign, and they shook hands.”
Sinn Féin claims Liam’s involvement in the party in Dundalk was brief, but republican sources insist it lasted at least seven years. One source said Gerry Adams regularly visited his brother in Muirhevnamor, staying overnight in his home many times.
Liam Adams was strongly drawn to jobs that provided access to young people. He constantly sought and, with incredible success, secured them in west Belfast and Dundalk. Questions must be asked as to who provided references for him and who sat on the interview panels.
Gerry Adams said that when he became aware of some of the jobs Liam held, he took action to inform the relevant authorities. He has so far produced no written record of this. Nor has he disclosed the names of those he spoke to in the projects Liam worked for, or of those he spoke to in social services.
None of Liam Adams’ four employers has said they were contacted by Gerry Adams. Indeed Brendan Dineen of Clonard Youth Centre said it had reviewed all its documentation “and there is no record whatsoever regarding concerns about Liam Adams during his time of employment at Clonard”.
The youth centre, located in the grounds of Clonard Monastery, is 300 yards from Sinn Féin’s Falls Road offices where Gerry Adams would have visited almost every day on party business. He also worships in the monastery. It is inconceivable that, for five years, he didn’t quickly know his brother worked in Clonard.
Gerry Adams has a close relationship with certain priests in the monastery who were intimately involved in the peace process. Solicitor Pádraigín Drinan, who represents the Rape Crisis Centre, has one disturbing memory from around 10 years ago at the annual Clonard novena in June.
Worshippers write down their ‘intentions’ and a panel selects which are read out from the altar.
“One intention asked for a person who had made allegations of sexual abuse to police to forgive the man involved and withdraw the complaint. I was appalled,” Drinan says. She complained to the monastery.
If the Sinn Féin president was genuinely concerned that his brother was securing so many jobs working with young people, why didn’t he make those concerns public? He didn’t have to compromise his niece’s identity. A statement could simply have outlined that his brother was unsuited to working with young people. But that would have risked public embarrassment. Instead, Gerry Adams stayed silent and his own west Belfast constituents were potentially put at risk from his suspected paedophile brother.
Gerry Adams must also explain why, in his 1996 autobiography, Before the Dawn, he made 11 references to “our Liam” with no insinuation of suspected wrongdoing. Did he not think this might deeply upset Áine?
Did Gerry Adams not read Republican News, his party’s official newspaper, which in 1997 advertised a pamphlet his brother had written on drug abuse among children? Why didn’t he take action as Liam repeatedly gave interviews on youth issues to a range of newspapers, including the Irish News, the Mirror and the Irish Independent, thus allowing Liam to build his reputation in that field?
An Irish News article of 6 August 2006 reports: “A parents’ guide to drugs and alcohol written by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’ brother was launched in west Belfast yesterday.” Liam Adams is quoted speaking at the launch. Why didn’t the Sinn Féin president swiftly distance himself from his brother and his spiralling public profile as a youth worker?
Gerry Adams’ personal response after Áine’s revelations has been criticised by sexual abuse counsellors. In 1987, he drove his vulnerable 14-year-old niece to Donegal to confront her father who was living there. They sat down to tea and Mikado biscuits.
Áine’s family say that, while Gerry Adams was sympathetic at first, his attitude changed in Donegal. When Liam denied the allegations and Áine persisted, Gerry Adams is said to have stated: “it’s like trying to prove who stole the apples from the cart”.
Sinn Féin had a vibrant women’s department. Why didn’t Adams seek and implement their advice – still without revealing his niece’s identity – about how to handle the situation?
When Áine again raised the issues of the rapes with Gerry Adams in 2003 – wanting her father to admit his crimes to her – a five-year period of secret meetings began with Gerry and his brother Paddy Adams. Áine’s family now believe the meetings were to shut her up by giving her false hope. Eventually, she ended the meetings.
“When I heard Áine talk about those endless, useless meetings, I remembered how Sinn Féin had done the same to us in the early stages of our campaign, using double-speak and trying to ‘handle’ us,” said Catherine McCartney, whose brother Robert was murdered by Provisional IRA members. “My heart went out to her.”
There are other questions too. Áine reported the alleged rapes to the RUC in 1987. If they didn’t already know about them, MI5 learned of Liam Adams’ reported crimes then. British intelligence had a perfect opportunity to leak these details to harm Gerry Adams, the most influential Sinn Féin and IRA figure in Ireland. They didn’t, and many republicans are now asking why.
Then there’s the IRA’s response. An ex-prisoner said: “Liam Adams escaped scott-free, while the IRA has tied women to lamp-posts, cut off their hair, and tarred and feathered them for simply dating British soldiers.”
Why was Liam Adams a protected species when other alleged sex offenders were maimed and murdered by the IRA?
Paddy Adams, Gerry’s brother, enjoyed similar immunity in republican ranks. In the 1980s, he hired IRA guns to criminals in west Belfast for money. One ex-IRA member said: “Anyone else would have been shot or expelled. Nothing happened to Paddy.”
Gerry Adams’ revelation that his father, Gerard Senior, was a sex abuser shouldn’t divert attention from the Sinn Féin president’s lies and shameful behaviour following the reported rape of his niece. Of course, he shouldn’t be held responsible for his brother. What he can be blamed for is 22 years of putting the Adams name before the protection of children on both sides of the border, children he has always claimed to care so much about.
Photo shows Dundalk canvass with brother Liam at time he says they were ‘estranged’
Suzanne Breen, Northern Editor
December 27, 2009
The Argus, 6 June 1997
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams actively canvassed for the party in the general election of 1997 with his suspected paedophile brother Liam – in a period he claims they were estranged.
Today we publish photographs showing Gerry and Liam Adams canvassing side-by-side for Sinn Féin in Dundalk at a date when Gerry Adams insists his brother had been expelled from the party.
Liam Adams, who is wanted by the PSNI on charges that he repeatedly raped his daughter Aine from the age of four, is seen canvassing in a shopping centre and Dundalk streets and laughing with his brother Gerry, just days before the 6 June 1997 Dáil election.
A Co Louth republican said: “I’m horrified that, 10 years after Gerry Adams was told his brother was a child rapist, he accompanied him through the streets of Dundalk, meeting women and children. We are all shocked Liam Adams was allowed to be in Sinn Féin so long. We are disgusted at Gerry Adams’s cover-up.”
Gerry Adams and, to his immediate left, his brother Liam, canvassing in Dundalk in 1997
Last week, the Sunday Tribune reported that Liam Adams had put himself forward as a nominee for the Sinn Féin 1997 Dáil candidacy in Louth. At a selection convention, he saw he didn’t garner enough support and publicly withdrew. The candidacy was secured by hardline republican, Owenie Hanratty.
Commenting on this newspaper’s report, Gerry Adams said: “When I heard Liam was in Sinn Féin, and when I heard somebody was putting it about that perhaps he would be a candidate, I moved immediately both to stop that and get him dumped out of Sinn Féin … I moved very, very quickly.”
But far from being “dumped”, Liam Adams remained fully active in the party with his brother’s endorsement months later. By accompanying Liam Adams on the canvass for Hanratty, the Sinn Féin president effectively promoted his brother in the eyes of the local party and community.
Gerry Adams happily posed with Liam – along with Owenie Hanratty and Hanratty’s wife Marie and election agent Fra Browne – for the Dundalk Argus newspaper. The photo-graph, taken days earlier, appeared in the paper on 6 June 1997. Bar Gerry Adams, no-one else in the photograph knew Liam Adams was a suspected paedophile.
During the canvass, Liam Adams proudly sported a Sinn Féin badge. The Sunday Tribune has been told Gerry Adams regularly visited his brother’s home in Muirhevnamor and stayed overnight at a time when he claimed to he was “estranged” from him.
Liam Adams handed himself into Sligo gardaí last week, but wasn’t arrested because the PSNI hadn’t prepared an extradition warrant. He has denied raping Aine.
Sinn Féin claims that Liam Adams played a short, minor role in the party are strongly challenged by many republicans. One said: “Liam was active in Sinn Féin in Dundalk for at least seven years. He was synonymous with the party’s name here. He was seen as an asset to Sinn Féin and the community.
“He breathed new life into the Muirhevnamor cumann. He set up many community schemes. He was the Dundalk face of Gerry Adams. He was always referring to his brother saying ‘Our fellow says this …’ and ‘Our fellow’s in the know on that’.”
The source said Liam Adams’s loyalty was “first and foremost to Gerry rather than to the republican movement” which sometimes caused clashes with local republicans: “He constantly promoted the Belfast leadership’s position which didn’t go down well. But he was a nice guy who was well-liked.
“After one heated meeting on the Mitchell principles (of peace and non-violence), he went for a pint afterwards with those he’d rowed with.” The source said Liam Adams attended hundreds of Sinn Féin meetings, nearly all of which were minuted. He said Liam Adams left Dundalk “still a member of Sinn Féin” in August 1998.
Bizarrely, Liam Adams is quoted in the Irish Independent in July 1998 as a “youth community leader” in Dundalk talking about a “very well organised” paedophile ring which may have links in Donegal. Liam Adams previously lived in Donegal.
Another source said Liam Adams set up homework clubs for children.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Hopes of a breakthrough over the delayed transfer of policing and justice powers have risen, after Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, said he did not want a return to direct rule from Westminster.
Peter Robinson said: “I do not pretend that the government we have at Stormont is perfect: no government is, but it is infinitely more preferable to the only alternative: direct rule, with no say for local people in how we are governed.
“I have no desire to see the country I love relegated to the status of a colony and presided over by a series of here today-gone tomorrow direct rulers, Tory or Labour.”
The First Minister is under mounting pressure to reach an agreement with the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness by the middle of next month at the latest.
The British and Irish Governments fear the Stormont Assembly could collapse unless Mr Robinson’s Democratic Unionist Party signs up to a deal with Sinn Fein.
Mr Robinson said the shooting dead by dissident republicans earlier this year of two soldiers outside Massereene Barracks, Antrim, and a police officer in Craigavon, Co Armagh, showed there were still wicked people who wanted to drag Northern Ireland back to mayhem and destroy devolution.
“The universal reaction of all right-thinking people in our community, including some who had previously refused to condemn such barbarity, showed us that such wreckers will not succeed,” he said.
“Devolved government in its current form might not be the ideal, but it is the best way to make a success of our Province.
“Let us all play our part in making Northern Ireland work for everyone that lives here.
“A safe, secure, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland inside the United Kingdom: that is what I will be working for in 2010.”
24 Dec 09
A man shot in a paramilitary-style attack on Wednesday night was convicted in relation to an assault in which a west Belfast greengrocer was killed.
Patrick Crossan was involved in the attack on Harry Holland in 2007.
At about 1830 GMT on Wednesday Crossan was bundled into a car in the Hillman Street area of north Belfast.
He was driven around for a short time before being taken to Carrigart Avenue in the west of the city where he was shot in both legs.
He was taken to hospital where his injuries are described as not life threatening.
Police have appealed for information on 0845 6008000.
Dissident republicans have been blamed for a spate of similar shootings across Northern Ireland in recent months.
Mr Holland, 65, was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver near his home in Norfolk Drive in September 2007.
Earlier this year Stephen McKee, from Ballymurphy Road was told he must serve at least 12 years of a life sentence for the murder.
Crossan, whose address was given as Willowbank Gardens in west Belfast, was sentenced to four years for attempted affray and having an offensive weapon.
He was released from prison in September.
A 17-year-old girl was placed on a probation order for two years.
She had admitted charges of affray and common assault.
23 December 2009
FURTHER acts of Ulster Defence Association (UDA) decommissioning are not ‘imminent’, according to loyalist sources in the North West.
The process which began in June this year is believed to have stalled because of the breakdown of an initiative steered by the husband of the Irish President.
It is understood that Martin McAleese approached the British and Irish Governments as well as the Northern Ireland Executive for millions of pounds in funding for UDA controlled areas.
Having developed a relationship with senior UDA figures in recent years, Mr McAleese held a series of meetings with the organisation’s leadership and as a consequence drew up an action plan asking the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to contribute £5 million to a project aimed at the regeneration of loyalist communities where the UDA has a strong presence.
However, the perceived failure to deliver the money is thought to have led to a stalling in the decommissioning process. The NIO is thought to have told Mr McAleese that the supply of such funding would not be possible and that such matters were a matter for the Stormont executive.
The Office of the First and deputy First Minister is also thought to have refused funding telling the grouping that regeneration projects must be cross community in nature and based on need. These factors are said to have led the UDA to back track on a commitment on total decommissioning.
The legislation overseeing paramilitary decommissioning expires on February 9.
Earlier this year the Sentinel reported on a rumoured split away from the UDA by the North Antrim and Londonderry Brigade of the organisation over the issue of decommissioning. However, at the time the man believed to be the Brigadier in North Antrim and Londonderry, known as ‘The Mexican’, denied any rupture within the UDA.
23rd of December 2009
THE VICTIMS of the Ballymurphy Massacre were remembered this week at a candlelight procession which made its way through the streets of the area.
The procession on Thursday evening was organised by the Ballymurphy Massacre campaign group.
The Ballymurphy Massacre took place between August 9 and 11 1971, when 11 civilians were murdered in the greater Ballymurphy area by the British army in what relatives believe was a pre-conceived and calculated mass murder operation. Forty seven children were left without a parent as a result of the killings.
Some of the British soldiers who took part in the Ballymurphy Massacre went on to become involved in another massacre of 14 civilians in Derry on 30 January 1972, in what has become known worldwide as Bloody Sunday.
The candlelight procession began at Corpus Christi Church in Springhill and ended at the Ballymurphy Memorial Garden at the corner of the Springfield Road .
West Belfast MP Gerry Adams and Ballymurphy Sinn Féin Councillor Maire Cush joined victims’ families and members of the community at the procession. Victims Commissioner Brendan McAllister was also present.
Christmas carols were playing as family members placed the names of their loved ones on a Christmas tree in the memorial garden.
Briege Voyle, daughter of massacre victim and mother-of-eight Joan Connolly, used the anniversary to repeat their call for the British Prime Minister to meet with the families.
“We have all suffered for more than 38 years from the fact that our loved ones were killed by the British Army,” she said.
“During this time we have had also to suffer insult and harassment, delay and prevarication from the British government.
“We are calling on Gordon Brown to start the process of righting this historic wrong committed by forces acting on behalf of the British government by meeting with us as soon as possible.”
Ballymurphy Sinn Féin Councillor Maire Cush said she is fully behind the families in their fight for the truth.
“I want to commend the families and the Ballymurphy community for their continued and determined efforts to have the British government acknowledge the truth surrounding the shooting dead of their loved ones,” she said.
“Sinn Féin fully supports the Ballymurphy families. They deserve public acknowledgment of the terrible events that took so many lives and traumatised so many others.
“Their demand for an independent international investigation into all of the circumstances is entirely justified.
“And the British government must publicly acknowledge the innocence of the 11 people killed and make a public apology to their families and community for the actions of its armed forces in killing and then covering up the killing of our neighbours.
“This campaign group has put enormous time and energy into their struggle for truth and justice. The story of the mass murder that was perpetrated by the British army Parachute Regiment in this area in August 1971 is now widely known in Ireland, in Europe and indeed across the world.
“Just last month, the families travelled to the European Parliament in Brussels to secure the support of MEPs from a number of different countries, in a trip hosted by Sinn Féin six county MEP Bairbre de Brún.
“The Ballymurphy community will continue to stand behind the families as they battle for truth.”
23 December 2009
BUDDING historians can now access rare and and in some cases unseen footage of era-defining events of Northern Ireland’s past.
Courtesy of a new online facility, made readily available to a potential worldwide audience, Ulster folk can delve into the archives of old newsreel video footage to search for numerous historical events relating to the Province.
The coverage includes political and sporting occasions as well as numerous Royal visits in the period including the early part of the 20th century up until the onset of the Troubles.
A quick search by the News Letter on the British Pathe website found pivotal figures including Sir Edward Carson, Queen Elizabeth and Ian Paisley all feature in the visual snapshot.
DELVE INTO THE ULSTER ARCHIVES
Among several clips featuring Mr Carson, the iconic unionist leader is seen arriving in wartime Belfast as members of the Irish Guards fire shots in the air.
The funeral of the anti-Home Rule campaigner following his death in 1935 is also marked as thousands line the streets of Belfast to pay their last respects prior to a service at St Anne’s Cathedral.
Meanwhile, up to 40,000 Orangemen are seen participating in the traditional Twelfth celebrations in 1923. In the footage, brethren march behind a pipe band through a packed city centre, carrying the traditional Orange banners and accompanied by lambeg drums.
On the sporting front, coverage includes unique rugby footage of Ireland playing England in Belfast in the 1920s and an Ulster TT motorcycle gathering.
An air show in Belfast in 1939 is also featured.
In one of the newsreels relating to the Troubles, a video is available showing British troops on patrol on the streets of Derry in 1972.
The nostalgic coverage is offered by British Pathe – one of the oldest media companies in the world.
Pathe ceased producing cinema newsreel in 1970 but by that time had accumulated 3,500 hours of filmed history amounting to over 90,000 individual items.
Over the last 30 years this material has been used extensively around the world in television programmes, home videos, advertisements, and corporate productions.
To the delight of interested parties, extensive coverage is now available on the internet through free “preview” facilities.
Keen historian and Ballymena Times editor, Dessie Blackadder, hailed the online archive as giving a “wonderful insight into Ulster life before the days of TV news”.
Commenting on the website, he said: “It is just the kind of thing you find on the web. You start searching and end up on a weird and wonderful path – the time just flies in.”
Pinpointing footage of the opening of the Ulster Tower in France and numerous political clips concerning the Home Rule era, Mr Blackadder also found other snippets of significant 20th Century events of personal interest.
“As someone with a particular interest in the 1914 to 1918 era, I found the footage of Lord Roberts attending the massive ‘Peace Day’ parade in Belfast in June 1919 very poignant. You can read about these occasions in old newspapers but to see the actual size of the parade was amazing,” he said.
“There is also wonderful footage of the Queen opening the Queen Elizabeth bridge in Belfast in 1966, which was the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. There is footage on there of her meeting Ulster veterans, including a Victoria Cross winner.”
23 December 2009
REPUBLICANS are being blamed for issuing a death threat to a prominent victims’ campaigner.
The message containing two live bullets was sent to the home of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives spokesman Willie Frazer.
A statement from FAIR said: “Not content with telephone threats and abuse, they have resorted to sending death threats to Mr Frazer’s home.
“The disgusting threat in a Christmas card with two 9mm bullets enclosed threatened that this would be the victims’ worker’s last Christmas.”
The organisation said the Government should move to protect Mr Frazer.
“FAIR as a group are disgusted at this act and now call on the Secretary of State to review William Frazer’s personal security.”
Mr Frazer himself said those behind the threat were sick.
“I have suffered a tirade of abuse over recent weeks which has culminated in today’s death threat. At a time when we all hope to enjoy a peaceful family Christmas, this act is both sick and pointless.
“Nothing shows the depths to which republicans will sink more than threats like these.
“While we welcome decommissioning I would rather republicans were a little more imaginative and positive.”
The PSNI refused to comment on the alleged threat.
A spokesman said: “We do not comment on the security of individuals however if we receive information that an individual needs to review ther security we take steps to inform them immediately.
“We would never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.”
24 Dec 09
The brother of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said he will not surrender himself to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Liam Adams’ solicitor said his client did not feel he could get a fair trial in Northern Ireland because of what had been said in the media.
He is wanted on charges of sexually abusing his daughter.
Speaking through his solicitor, Liam Adams also told the Irish News that he denies the allegations against him.
Liam Adams presented himself to Irish police in Sligo on Monday, but they were unable to detain him because there was not a European arrest warrant against him.
His solicitor, Philip Breen of Breen Rankin Lenzi Solicitors, said Mr Adams had only been contacted once by police, in February 2007, by police investigating the allegations.
Mr Adams, he said, was interviewed three times on 15 February 2007 at Grosvenor Road police station in west Belfast before being released.
Prosecution papers were issued in March 2008, but were never served as Adams could not be located.
Mr Breen said he had not seen his client since February 2007, but received a call on Monday night from “a family member” asking for representation.
“These allegations came to light in 1987, according to what we had been told by police during his arrest,” Mr Breen told the Irish News.
“We were told by police that the alleged injured party didn’t wish to proceed but she wished to have Mr Adams spoken to by police.
“At absolutely no time up until 2007 did police speak to Mr Adams. In 2007 police called to a residence and left a police card for Mr Adams to contact them.
“He immediately contacted them and went voluntarily to the police station in my company. Throughout a series of interviews he strenuously denied the allegations.”
The PSNI have said a European arrest warrant should be processed by next month.
After surrendering himself, Liam Adams left the Garda station and gave his name and address and saying that he was willing to be questioned in the future.
His daughter, Aine Tyrell, has waived her right to anonymity to allege that her father had molested her, claiming that the abuse included rape.
He was due to appear in court in November 2008 to face 23 charges relating to the alleged abuse, but failed to show up.
It was thought at that time he was living in County Donegal in the Irish Republic.
Gerry Adams has come under pressure after it emerged that he first knew about the allegation in the late 1980s.
In an interview during which Mr Adams appealed for his brother to hand himself in to the authorities, he also revealed that his father, a veteran republican, had been responsible for acts of physical and sexual abuse against his own children.
23 Dec 09
Tributes have been paid to the Lisburn councillor and one of the founders of the SDLP, Peter O’Hagan, who died on Tuesday.
South Down MP Eddie McGrady said he had known Mr O’Hagan since his schooldays in Downpatrick and that he had been “a lifelong friend and advisor”.
The SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Mr O’Hagan “was a man of hard work, sound word and positive outlook”.
He said “his strong personal effort motivated his long public service”.
Mr Durkan said: “He brought sharp wit and profound wisdom to all proceedings.”
Mr McGrady said he was “an ardent supporter of the civil rights movement” and “he helped create and run the structures of a new party, the SDLP”.
“He held various positions in the party and worked hard as a public representative for decades and was always an astute observer and advisor to me and others in the party.
“I will miss him as a colleague and a friend,” he said.
Evidence casts doubt on guilt of man sentenced to hang for killing soldier
21 December 2009 21.52 GMT
Evidence that the British army subjected prisoners in Northern Ireland to waterboarding during interrogations in the 1970s is emerging after one of the alleged victims launched an appeal against his conviction for murder.
Liam Holden became the last person in the United Kingdom to be sentenced to hang after being convicted in 1973 of the murder of a soldier, largely on the basis of an unsigned confession. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he spent 17 years behind bars.
The jury did not believe Holden’s insistence that he made the confession only because he had been held down by members of the Parachute Regiment, whom he says placed a towel over his face before pouring water from a bucket over his nose and mouth, giving him the impression that he was drowning.
But now the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has referred Holden’s case to the court of appeal in Belfast after unearthing new evidence, and because of doubts about “the admissibility and reliability” of his confession. The commission says it believes “there is a real possibility” his conviction will be quashed. After a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Holden’s appeal was adjourned to the new year.
However, the account that Holden gave at his trial is remarkably similar to those that have emerged since the CIA began using waterboarding techniques while interrogating al-Qaida suspects during the so-called war on terror.
Lawyers who have taken up his case have identified a second man who gave a similar account of being waterboarded after being arrested by detectives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and questioned about the murder of a police constable. In a statement to a doctor in April 1978, this man said officers had put a towel over his face and poured water over his nose and mouth, and that “this was frightening and was repeated on a number of occasions”. He was eventually released without charge. The CCRC also has a statement taken from a third man who says he was waterboarded by the British army in the early 70s.
All of the allegations of waterboarding come from a period after March 1972, when the then prime minister, Ted Heath, banned five other notorious torture methods which were subsequently condemned by the European court of human rights as being inhuman and degrading.
Holden, a Roman Catholic, was 19 and a chef when he was detained during a raid by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment on his parents’ home in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in October 1972. Apparently acting on a tipoff from an informer, the soldiers accused Holden of being the sniper who, a month earlier, had shot dead Private Frank Bell of the regiment’s 2nd Battalion. Bell had just turned 18 and had joined the regiment six weeks earlier. He was the 100th British soldier to die in Northern Ireland that year.
When Holden came to trial in April 1973 he told the jury he had been playing cards with his brother and two friends in a public place at the time Bell was shot. He said that after being arrested in his bed the soldiers had taken him to their base on Black Mountain, west of Belfast, where he was beaten, burned with a cigarette lighter, hooded and threatened with execution.
Holden also gave a detailed account of being waterboarded, although he did not use that term. In a court report published the following day, the Belfast Telegraph said the defendant told the jury that he had been pushed into a cubicle where he was held down by six men, that a towel was placed over his head, and that water was then poured slowly over his face from a bucket. “It nearly put me unconscious,” Holden was quoted as saying. “It nearly drowned me and stopped me from breathing. This went on for a minute.” A short while later he was subjected to the same treatment again, he said.
A sergeant from the Parachute Regiment and a British army captain told the court that Holden had confessed to the shooting during an “interview”. The unnamed sergeant said Holden had wanted to confess to the murder because “he wanted to get it off his chest”, while the officer said the teenager had told him that he had left the IRA a short while later because he felt such remorse.
The jury took less than 75 minutes to convict Holden of capital murder, and the judge, Sir Robert Lowry, told him: “The sentence of the court is that you will suffer death in the manner authorised by law.” The then Northern Ireland secretary, William Whitelaw, commuted the sentence the following month, and the death penalty was abolished in Northern Ireland shortly afterwards. Holden did not appeal, however, with relatives saying at the time that he believed his trial had been “rigged” and a “farce”.
He was eventually released from prison in 1989.
Holden’s solicitor, Patricia Coyle, said: “At trial Mr Holden gave compelling evidence that the alleged confession was obtained by the army using water torture. He spent 17 years in jail. He is looking forward to the court hearing his appeal.”
The new evidence that the CCRC has submitted to the court of appeal is being kept secret. The CCRC is unwilling to discuss this material, other than to say that it has not yet been disclosed at the request of the public body from which it was obtained. Holden’s lawyers are now asking for it to be disclosed.
The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to confirm whether British service personnel had received instruction in waterboarding techniques as part of their counterinterrogation training at that time, and it would not disclose whether personnel currently receive such instruction “for reasons of operational security”.
There is evidence that such instruction has been given, however. In 2005 Rod Richard, the former Welsh Office minister, told a Welsh newspaper that he had been waterboarded during his counterinterrogation training as a Royal Marines officer in the late 60s.
The Guardian has spoken to a former Royal Marines officer who says that he and his fellow officers and their men were all waterboarded at the end of their escape and evasion training at Lympstone, Devon, in the late 60s and early 70s. “You were tied to a chair and they would tip you over on your back, put a towel over your face and pour water over you. I can’t recall what we called it – not waterboarding – but it produced a drowning sensation and it was pretty unpleasant.”
Seven months before Holden was detained by British soldiers, the Heath government had publicly repudiated and banned five “interrogation techniques”. RUC officers had learned the techniques – hooding, sleep deprivation, starvation and the use of stress positions and noise – from British military intelligence officers, but Heath assured the Commons that they “will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation”.
There were subsequently unconfirmed allegations that the British army had experimented with other methods of torture, including electric shocks, and the use of drugs. Towards the end of the decade, Amnesty International was reporting that terrorism suspects were again being mistreated, this time by RUC detectives, “with sufficient frequency to warrant the establishment of a public inquiry”.
A number of Republican former prisoners have told the Guardian that waterboarding was used as a form of punishment, as well as a means of extracting confessions.
Brother of Gerry Adams tries to hand himself in at garda station in Sligo over allegations of child sex abuse
23 Dec 09
Liam Adams, the brother of the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, remained a free man today after police in Northern Ireland failed to give the Garda Síochána a warrant to detain him in the Republic.
Liam Adams is wanted in Northern Ireland to face allegations that he sexually abused his daughter Aine. While he waits to be arrested, there was dispute over Gerry Adams’s claim that he had made several youth groups in his west Belfast constituency aware that his brother had been accused of child sex abuse.
Clonard youth centre, where Liam Adams worked between 1998 and 2003, insisted no one had made them aware about concerns over Liam Adams’s contact with young people.
“If we had been aware of allegations that have recently come to light, he would not have been employed at the centre. We have reviewed all our documentation and there is no record whatsoever regarding concerns about Mr Liam Adams during his time of employment,” the centre said.
Liam Adams handed himself into a garda station in Sligo on Monday night, but because the force had no EU arrest warrant papers from the PSNI he could not be detained. It is understood he remains in nearby County Donegal, where he will remain until at least the end of this month.
He faces 23 separate charges of raping and abusing his daughter between 1978 and 1983. An arrest warrant was issued more than a year ago, but in November he failed to turn up for a preliminary hearing in Belfast.
Aine Tyrell waived her right to anonymity last Friday to speak about the alleged abuse carried out by her father. She said she had told Gerry Adams about the alleged abuse as early as 1987.
The Muihevenamor community youth project in Dundalk, where Liam Adams worked after Clonard, said that “at no point” had it received any information about allegations dating back to the 1980s.
By Ben Goldby
Sunday MercurySunday Mercury
Dec 21 2009
A JUROR from the original trial of the Birmingham Six has revealed his fight to help the victims of the IRA pub bombings find justice.
Reg Eccles, 67, has dedicated the last decade to meeting the families of those killed and maimed in the 1974 attacks in Birmingham city centre and has written a book about the case.
The grandfather-of-three claims to have uncovered inconsistencies and unanswered questions about the evidence, which could lead to a new investigation.
He now hopes to publish his book about the blasts, which claimed 21 lives and left 162 people injured, but says he is struggling to find a publisher brave enough to cover the controversial case. “It seems that through all the trials and investigations, no-one has really got to the truth yet,” Mr Eccles told the Sunday Mercury.
“The questions I have asked in my book need answering. There are inconsistencies in lots of areas.
“I’ve put the finishing touches to a book that has taken nine years to research, and I think it gets at some of those questions, but no-one wants to touch it because it’s too explosive.”
The idea to re-investigate the original case and speak to the families of the victims came about through a chance meeting as Reg relaxed on holiday in Croatia with his wife in 2000.
“We got chatting to a couple from Birmingham and I happened to mention I had been on the jury in the pub bombings trial,” he said. “That was very rare for me because I hardly ever tell anyone.
“She told us that she was related to the Riley brothers who had died in the blast. She suggested that I write down my experiences, and the whole thing started from there.
“It’s a case that has affected my life ever since I was called up for jury duty and it’s an important story even today. The victims and the families still want justice. They can’t forget, and I certainly haven’t forgotten, the case.
“The jury had a reunion the year after the trial, but the Northern Ireland troubles were still bad so we stopped doing it because we were worried for our safety. That was the last time I saw the others.”
The Birmingham Six – Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power and Johnny Walker – were sentenced to life imprisonment for carrying out the bombings in 1975.
They served 16 years behind bars before the convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal and Mr Hill now campaigns against miscarriages of justice, along with other surviving members of the group.
Mr Eccles, from Lancaster, who was a 32 year-old father-of-two with a newly-born baby boy in 1975, remembers the feverish atmosphere that surrounded the trial.
“We obviously knew the trial was coming to Lancaster, but when I got the brown envelope calling me up to serve on a jury, I had no idea I would be thrust into such a high-profile case,” he recalled.
“It was frightening to think that suddenly you were at the centre of this huge story.
“My legs turned to jelly when they called my name in the court. There were prison officers, police, barristers, the judge, and a dock full of defendants.
“It was a hectic scene.
“Because it was an IRA case, and the troubles were at their worst, I had to tell the wife to be careful. Every day we were on our guard.
“We were given Special Branch protection and everyone was a suspect – we were even looking at the postman with suspicion.
“All through the trial our house was watched by the secret services. It was like a spy novel.
“Our family life changed and in many ways it carried on for years, because you always had to stay alert.
“I remember not long after the trial finished that I went back to work. The boss called over to me in the office one day and asked if there was anything wrong with my car.
“We looked out of the window and there were two blokes with the bonnet of my car up. We rushed outside and they were gone.
“Without thinking I stuck the key in the ignition, and it started fine. It took me a couple of seconds to realise what a stupid thing I had done, and what could have happened.
“It wasn’t until the 1990s and the end of the violence in Northern Ireland that we really felt secure.”
After hearing that the original convictions had been quashed in 1991, as the peace process began to gather pace, the idea of re-examining the case began to appeal to Mr Eccles.
The 1986 book Error of Judgement – The Truth About the Birmingham Pub Bombings by Labour MP and investigative journalist Chris Mullin revealed an account from what he described as the “real bombers”.
These were two men who gave detailed accounts of their involvement in planting the devices that ripped apart the Mulberry Bush pub and the Tavern in the Town.
Mr Eccles met with the former documentary maker to get to the bottom of the claims in the best-selling book.
“It was a very cordial meeting, but we disagree on some of the key questions in the book,” he told the Sunday Mercury.
“The second guy who Chris met, who admitted to the bombings, was asked to point out where the bombs were planted.
“What wasn’t said was that by the time this meeting took place, the positions of the bombs were public knowledge, so the fact that he knew where they were doesn’t prove that he planted them.
“He was also asked about the staircase, which was a key feature of the pub, but he claimed there was no staircase. Again, this can’t be right, the staircase was in the plans, it was in the photos shown to the court and it was mentioned by one of the first officers at the scene.”
Despite the fact that no-one has yet been brought to justice for the bombings, there is little sign of a new probe into the murders.
In an interview with the Sunday Mercury on the 35th Anniversary of the terror attacks last month, Tory leader David Cameron said he would be unable to order a fresh public inquiry into the case should he be elected, and urged the city instead to look to the future.
But Mr Eccles says that there will be no peace for the families of the victims until the truth is known.
“The end result is that we still don’t know who did this, who killed these people, and there is still no justice,” he said. “The victims feel that unless they can get justice they can never have closure for losing their loved ones.
“I’ve come up against a brick wall when it comes to getting my book published, and I’m getting no help from the Government. There are no answers being given to the legitimate questions that are still being asked.
“There are still key issues that haven’t been resolved and a new investigation is the least the families deserve.”
By Adrian Rutherford
22 December 2009
The brother of a man shot dead on Bloody Sunday has said he feels insulted after a top QC branded the Saville Inquiry an “unnecessary exercise”.
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, a highly-respected barrister, author and campaigner, said Lord Saville’s probe into the 1972 massacre had been time-consuming and “inordinately” expensive.
His comments have been criticised as disrespectful and hurtful by relatives.
Michael McKinney from the Bloody Sunday Trust, whose brother William was one of the victims, said a price could not be put on the truth.
Mr Blom-Cooper, who previously represented the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association at the inquiry, made his remarks in an article for the legal journal Public Law.
He argues that by investigating each death in detail, Lord Saville ensured that the inquiry would be very lengthy and expensive.
He writes: “Was it necessary to target the individual soldiers and inflict on them individually the most serious criticism — as distinct from a collective responsibility — having regard to the ambit of an inquiry into an event 30 years ago, with the prospect of a lengthy investigation and commensurately high cost?”
He concludes that Saville’s approach “deprived the inquiry of a reasonably conducted investigation into what went wrong, systematically and operationally, on Bloody Sunday, instead of a protracted investigation towards affixing criminality or serious misconduct on individual participants among the military”.
Mr McKinney described the comments as insensitive.
“He (Blom-Cooper) is putting a price on it and saying that it’s far too costly, but personally I don’t care what it costs,” he added.
By Alan Sherry and Vanessa Allen
22nd December 2009
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was yesterday accused of a ‘cover-up’ over sex abuse in his family.
Critics say the politician revealed his father’s history of sex abuse to distract attention away from his niece’s claims that he failed to act over similar allegations against his brother.
Adams’ niece Aine Tyrell says she was sexually abused for eight years by Liam Adams, the Sinn Fein president’s brother.
She claimed the politician failed to support her properly after discovering the abuse claims, first made more than 20 years ago when she was 14.
The allegations have threatened to cause a major split within Sinn Fein, and could damage Adams’ standing in the party.
A senior Republican figure said the questions over his conduct could cause a dangerous rupture within the IRA, and even put the peace process at risk.
The source said ‘furious’ dissidents had dubbed the politician ‘Archbishop Adams’, a reference to the Catholic Church’s attempts to hide sex abuse by its priests.
Mrs Tyrell, 36, made the revelations about her father in a documentary on Friday.
Barely 48 hours later, Mr Adams revealed his father, Gerry Adams senior, sexually abused children in his family. He said he had known of his father’s crimes for more than a decade.
Documentary-maker Chris Moore, whose Ulster TV programme revealed Mrs Tyrell’s claims, questioned Mr Adams’ timing.
He claimed he was using his father’s history of sex abuse as a ‘cloak’, to duck questions about his behaviour surrounding his niece’s claims.
Mr Moore, who said Mr Adams’ behaviour ‘stinks of a cover-up’, added: ‘He could have brought it up at any time in the past.
‘People are commenting that this is a cloak to distract Gerry Adams from answering the very difficult questions that he should now be asked and should face.’ Mr Adams denied the claims, which he branded ‘a cheap tabloid slur’. He said he supported his niece after she told relatives about the abuse in 1987.
He said: ‘I wouldn’t say that I handled this perfectly. Of course I wouldn’t. But I tried my best for Aine and I tried to do my best by others within my family and, as far as I could, we tried to ensure that no other child was at risk.
‘I told everyone within Liam’s limited circle of the allegation made against him.’
Mr Adams, 61, said he acted to get his brother ‘dumped’ by Sinn Fein when he learned he might be nominated as a candidate in Dundalk.
And he told how he had alerted authorities when he discovered the sex-abuse suspect was working as a youth worker in Belfast.
A warrant for Liam Adams’ arrest was issued in November 2008, in connection with 23 counts of sexual abuse against his daughter. He has not been seen since he failed to attend court.
North Belfast News
21st of December 2009
A North Belfast MLA whose home was the target of a bomb threat last week has called on a political blogger to apologise to his family after he described his feelings on the incident as “schadenfreude”.
David Vance, who writes a unionist online blog called A Tangled Web and was once deputy leader of Robert McCartney’s UKUP, posted the comments on his blog last week after Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly was threatened with a bomb outside his home.
A caller contacted the Antrim Road party constituency office last Wednesday warning a bomb had been left outside his family home which would detonate within an hour. Mr Kelly lives in the home with his wife and three teenage children aged between 13 and 19 years old. The two younger boys were at school, but the 19 year old man was at home preparing to go to work.
Writing on his blog Mr Vance entitled his comments on the warning as “schadenfreude” a German term meaning a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.
“Naturally, I condemn any threat against any person by terrorist vermin. One wonders if the republican terrorists making this threat against Mr Kelly were inspired by republican terrorists like Mr Kelly?,” he wrote.
Junior minister Mr Kelly said the blogger should retract his comments.
“By writing this Mr Vance is saying that bomb attacks on my family are ok and he should apologise for that. Say what you like to me but why bring my family into it,” he said.
“No matter what he may think of me, taking enjoyment out of the idea that my family could have been hurt in a bomb is just wrong.”
Responding to Mr Kelly’s comments David Vance told the North Belfast News he will not be apologizing or retracting his comments.
“The person who needs to apologise here is the convicted IRA bomber Gerry Kelly. He can start by apologizing to the family of the person killed and those who suffered grievous injury as the result of the Old Bailey bombing, of which he was convicted in 1973,” he said.
“He could then apologise to the prison officer that he attempted to murder whilst illegally breaking out of the Maze Prison in 1983. After that, he could express his remorse for the IRA savagery that led to thousands of innocent people losing their lives.
“The bomb threat to his family home was condemned on A Tangled Web as being wrong. It is my view that terrorism is evil and that those, such as Mr Kelly, who was such an enthusiastic member of the IRA, are morally bankrupt and entirely unfit to hold political office.”
However Gerry Kelly said the blogger must look to the future and stop dwelling on the past.
“We have now been in the peace process since 1996, that is 13 or 14 years ago and he is still behaving as of there is a war on,” he said.
“We have moved on from the past and are looking to the future. To take pleasure from the fact that children were threatened by a bomb is just not right and he should rethink what he writes on this blog in future.”