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A Real IRA commander has been convicted of attempting to smuggle weapons and explosives into Northern Ireland after being snared by a daring MI5 sting operation.
By Gordon Rayner
30 Jun 2010
Paul McCaugherty, 43, was caught trying to buy an arsenal of weapons from an undercover agent posing as a Middle Eastern arms dealer.
The Security Service agent, known as Ali, spent two years meeting McCaugherty and bugging 90 hours of conversations which became the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case at Belfast Crown Court.
Paul McCaughert was caught trying to buy weapons (Photo: ALAN LEWIS)
McCaugherty, of Lurgan, County Armagh, was convicted by Mr Justice Hart, presiding over the non-jury trial, who said the case against the Republican dissident was “extremely compelling”.
The judge described the MI5 operation as an “elaborate and successful” one in which agent “Ali” had “skilfully and convincingly played the role of an arms dealer”. It was the first time in 20 years that MI5 agents had given evidence in a court in Belfast.
The judge said McCaugherty: “Was one of a group of terrorists determined to buy arms and explosives to carry out attacks on members of the security forces in Northern Ireland.”
The evidence included tapes recorded between 2004 and 2006 in which McCaugherty described himself as deputy commander of the Real IRA, and asked for equipment including armour-piercing weapons and plastic explosive.
The trial had heard that the Real IRA was using a restaurant on the Algarve in Portugal as a global hub for weapons shipments to Ireland. McCaugherty met the agent in Portugal and in a number of other locations including Amsterdam and Istanbul.
He agreed to pay £87,000 for 100kg of explosives, detonators and cords, 20 AK-47 assault rifles, 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ten sniper rifles and 20 pistols with silencers. No weapons or explosives ever changed hands.
McCaugherty bought a small house in the south of France to store the weapons before they were to be moved on to Ireland, and the Real IRA also had a purpose-built trailer to take the weapons from Portugal to the safe house in France.
He is said to have told the agents his organisation had made the bomb used in Omagh, but had given it to others who had “screwed it up”.
He also said that police in Northern Ireland left the back doors of their Land Rovers open during the summer and he would target them by tossing grenades inside.
A second defendant, Dermot Declan Gregory, was convicted of buying the restaurant with the intention of selling it off and giving the proceeds to the Real IRA.
Charges against a third man, Desmond Kearns, were thrown out two weeks ago after the trial judge ruled the case against him amounted to entrapment by another MI5 agent, codenamed Amir.
McCaugherty and 41-year-old Gregory, of Crossmaglen, County Armagh, will be sentenced at a later date.
In May the Irish justice minister, Dermot Ahern, warned that dissident republicans still posed a “severe” threat after police foiled a major terrorist attack on Ireland’s border with Ulster.
Two men were arrested after officers found what was described as a Real IRA bomb factory near Dundalk, County Louth. The incident came six months after a 400lb car bomb failed to explode outside the headquarters of the Policing Board in Belfast.
And in January The Daily Telegraph reported that police in Britain were tracking more “threat to life” terrorist plots from republicans than Islamic extremists.
30 June 2010
Ian Paisley has been challenged to withdraw remarks made in 1999 linking innocent murder victims to the IRA.
Catholic brothers John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey were shot dead in their home at Whitecross in south Armagh by the UVF in January 1976.
Ian Paisley made his remarks under parliamentary privilege
A special Assembly debate heard how Mr Paisley alleged under parliamentary privilege that their brother was behind the next day’s Kingsmill massacre.
They were all later cleared of being in the IRA and any wrongdoing.
In the Assembly’s last day before adjourning for the summer, SDLP Newry and Armagh assembly member Dominic Bradley said: “Ian Paisley is known as ‘the big man’ – he now has the opportunity to show that he is big, not just in stature, but in heart and in mind as well.
‘Do the right thing’
“I hope for the sake of Sadie Reavey (88-year-old mother of the victims) that he matches up to that description.
“Many more people died in South Armagh and I remember all of them here this evening. I hope that their loved ones get the truth which they deserve.
“I ask this House to join me in that sentiment and to recognise the innocence of the murdered Reavey brothers and the whole family, and to join me in urging Dr Paisley to do the right thing by them.”
Ulster Unionist Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy challenged claims of widespread security force collusion in South Armagh killings.
He said blanket criticisms of security forces in the past by nationalist politicians had raised tensions.
“None of those events should have happened,” he said.
“Can I say that in relation to specifically the murder of the three Reavey brothers, Brian, John Martin and Anthony who died some weeks later, it is my belief that they were murdered in a very cruel and callous manner and that they were entirely innocent victims.
“And I place that on the record and I have no doubt of that.”
At the time of the Reavey murders, 16 people were killed in 24 hours.
The victims of the spate of sectarian shootings included three members of the Catholic O’Dowd family who were killed by gunmen on the same night as the Reavey family murders.
Joseph O’Dowd, 61, and his nephews Barry O’Dowd, 24, and Declan O’Dowd, 19, were killed, while Barney O’Dowd, father of the boys, was seriously injured.
Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd is a relative, and he spoke of how he heard of the attack.
Unionists challenged Sinn Fein speakers over the legacy of IRA violence, but Mr O’Dowd said: “I know members opposite have lost loved ones in similarly horrible circumstances.
“And their pain is no different from any other family’s pain, whether you be an innocent civilian, whether you be a republican activist, or whether you be a member of one of the British services that lost their lives during the conflict.
“The pain is no different to a family member.”
The day after the Reavey brothers were killed, 10 Protestant workmen were murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills in south Armagh. Two people survived the attack.
Mr Bradley later said no speaker had risen to defend Ian Paisley’s claims, and he should now apologise to the family.
By Brian Rowan
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Loyalist ‘brigadier’ Jackie McDonald and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams have met face-to-face for the first time, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
It happened yesterday when Mr Adams came to offer condolences to the family of loyalist community worker Harry Haggan who worked on the Suffolk-Lenadoon interface in Belfast.
Mr Haggan, a former prisoner with UDA links, died on Friday. His funeral takes place today, with some republicans expected to attend.
Mr Adams first called his widow Margaret and then asked to visit the family home.
The loyalist and republican leaders met on the peaceline and arrived at the house together.
They had spoken previously on the telephone, but had never met.
“I’ve viewed him from a distance,” the UDA leader told the Belfast Telegraph.
“He didn’t seem to be the type of person you could get close to.
“But today (Tuesday) I thanked him for what he did for the family. It was a wonderful gesture.”
He described Mr Haggan as a man who had helped create a better atmosphere for the two communities on the Suffolk-Lenadoon interface — dealing with difficult issues such as flags and bonfires.
And Mr McDonald said it was only when the west Belfast MP visited the family home that they “realised the work that Harry was doing”.
“He praised Harry for his work and his courage,” the loyalist leader said.
“And when Gerry told them this was the first time he and I had met, there was an even greater sense of pride.
“They couldn’t believe Harry’s death had brought us into the same room.
“He left the family with a great sense of pride.”
Three years ago Adams stepped into the loyalist community to attend the funeral of political leader David Ervine — just weeks before the historic Stormont agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP.
**Received via email
It could have been a scene from the 1970s or ’80s when, in the early hours of last Wednesday morning [June 16], a large convoy of armoured PSNI landrovers descended on the nationalist Derrybeg estate in Newry.
Dozens of riot clad members of the political police decamped from their vehicles and conducted a politically-motivated operation during which they raided the home of a republican activist. A search operation was also carried out in the surrounding area which lasted for most of the day.
Throughout the day, heavily armed PSNI personnel stopped vehicles entering and leaving Derrybeg, which caused widespread disruption for residents in the area, including parents collecting their children from the nearby school.
Several other homes across the city were also targeted in Wednesday’s raids.
éirígí’s rúnaí ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith condemned the raids: “At a time when the great and the good are proclaiming a new beginning for policing in the Six Counties, the PSNI is proving, by its own actions, that it is business as usual as far as its treatment of nationalist communities is concerned.
“Is this the new beginning to policing we were promised? This is not normal policing, this is not civic policing. This is the same repressive policing that we have been subjected to for decades. Nothing has changed with this paramilitary force except their name and badge.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “Despite the change of name, the primary aim of the PSNI is exactly the same as the primary aim of the RUC – to protect the British occupation of the Six Counties. Ironically, the actions of the PSNI last week proved that point. The type of political policing is exactly the type of thing the RUC were infamous for.”
The Derrybeg estate has a proud history of opposing the British occupation, whether it comes in the form of the British army or British policing. No doubt, republican activists from the area will continue their work despite this upsurge in Crown Forces harassment.
Serious concern has also been expressed by éirígí as newly published figures show that politically-motivated stop and search legislation has been used on almost 35,000 occasions in the Six Counties within a 12 month period.
Amongst those being harassed with this legislation are éirígí activists engaged in peaceful protests and other political activity.
Mac Cionnaith concluded: “While constitutional nationalist politicians might try to claim that there has been a sea-change in policing in the Six Counties, the reality of ongoing repressive tactics on the ground belies the harsh truth that little has changed. People in working-class communities across the North are only too aware of that fact.”
29 June 2010
Police on both sides of the Irish border are searching for the driver of a lorry which struck two PSNI officers during a customs raid in South Armagh.
The two officers were hit as they took part in a search of a warehouse on the Low Road, near Meigh at about 1300 BST.
One male officer is in a critical condition whilst the second officer’s injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
Seven million cigarettes were recovered. Two men have been arrested.
The critically injured policeman was airlifted from the scene by helicopter. He was taken to the Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry and later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
The officer suffered very serious injuries to his upper body and has undergone emergency surgery.
It is understood that over the weekend a cargo of smuggled cigarettes arrived from China in Dublin Port.
It is believed it was then watched by customs officers in the Irish Republic as it was brought to Dundalk.
Earlier on Tuesday, the container was taken across the border to warehouses near Meigh.
It is understood a number of armed PSNI officers and revenue officials raided the warehouse as the cigarettes were being unloaded.
The driver of one lorry drove through a roller door as he escaped and hit the two PSNI officers, who were outside.
The lorry drove the short distance to the border at high speed.
However, as the driver was turning the truck into a yard in the Irish Republic, he lost control.
The lorry ended up on its side and a search is now underway on both sides of the border for the driver.
PSNI Inspector David Beck condemned those responsible.
“These officers were doing their utmost to prevent and tackle crime in the south Armagh area,” he said.
“But unfortunately those involved were prepared to risk the lives of these officers. Their actions are in sharp contrast to the actions of the officers.”
Sinn Fein MP for the area Conor Murphy said he condemned the incident and that his thoughts were with the injured officer.
DUP MLA William Irwin said it was a “dastardly crime”.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers and their families,” he added.
29 June 2010
A County Kildare man has been jailed for 21 years for plotting to run drugs and counterfeit cigarettes into Northern Ireland two years ago.
Paul Meehan, 36, was caught during an international police operation against criminal gangs which stretched from Dublin to Belfast and Holland.
He had arranged for 37 guns to be brought into Ireland along with ammunition, silencers and drugs.
He was described as a dangerous criminal with contacts across Europe.
Meehan, from The Crescent in Sallins, admitted 10 charges at Belfast Crown Court including conspiring to possess firearms, ammunition and drugs between 29 July and 3 September, 2008.
He also admitted smuggling illegal cigarettes.
As well as the guns and ammunition, he had attempted to smuggle in 14kgs of heroin and 5kgs of cannabis.
All the items were destined for criminal gangs in Dublin.
Meehan was arrested in a Belfast hotel in September 2008 after a sting operation involving the Dutch police, the PSNI and the Garda.
He is a cousin of Dublin gangster Brian Meehan, the only man jailed for the 1996 murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.
Sentencing Paul Meehan on Tuesday, Mr Justice Stephens told him he was “devoid of insight and remorse” and would readily re-engage in supplying guns to criminal gangs.
Speaking outside the court, PSNI Detective Superintendent Essie Adair said he was “delighted” at the sentence given to a “dangerous criminal”.
“I think it sends out a very clear message that international organised crime will not be tolerated,” he said.
Det Supt Adair also paid tribute to the Irish and Dutch police.
“Without them and their co-operation the investigation could not have progressed and it shows that when we all work together, the results are significant,” he said.
29 June 2010
MP NIGEL Dodds and a local community worker have condemned an attack on Protestant homes in Belfast on Sunday evening.
Around 40 youths are believed to have entered the Oldpark area from the direction of Rosapenna Street before attacking the houses – and a resident who attempted to protect his property – with petrol bombs.
Mr Dodds said he is calling for “concerted action to protect the homes of Protestant residents on the lower Oldpark Road” and has called for security cameras in the area as a “matter of urgency”.
The DUP deputy leader said: “These have been provided at many other interfaces in Belfast and are long overdue at this location where Protestant families are regularly coming under attack.”
Community worker Gerald Solinas said: “These attacks have been going on since well before Christmas and the people being attacked can’t take any more.
“Only two of five houses occupied by Protestants still have people living in them and the attacks are becoming more and more vicious.”
Describing the attacks as “unprovoked and sectarian”, Mr Solinas added: “This current attack came on the back of a republican parade that happened in the area not far from the residents’ homes.
“The rest of the residents have moved out because of the nightly attacks.”
A PSNI spokeswoman confirmed they are investigating the incident.
“Police responded to the area and the crowd dispersed. There were no reports of any injuries and no damage was caused to any property,” she said.
The spokeswoman said the police were working closely with community representatives and that police had maintained a presence in the area for several hours after the attack.
One male was arrested but later released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.
29 June 2010
AN MLA has accused the Parades Commission of not playing by the rules in its treatment of loyal order and nationalist parades.
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey was speaking after the commission confirmed they had accepted a late notification for a parade by Rosnashane Ancient Order of Hibernian Accordion Band in Rasharkin on Sunday.
He claimed that if a loyal order band had acted in the same way they would not have been shown the same leniency.
Mr Storey, who is due to meet with the Parades Commission in the coming days, added: “If this had been a loyalist band parade, or Ballymaconnelly Flute Band, it would not have been accepted. You either have rules or you do not have rules.”
Last night a spokesman from the Parades Commission confirmed that they accepted a late notification for the parade.
He said: “We received a late notification for the Rasharkin parade through the usual mechanism we have for managing late notifications.
“Through an error on our part the parade was not logged on the commission website.
“The commission did send a monitor to the parade and we have received a report which will be considered this week. The indications are that this was a small, family friendly event.”
Mr Storey said: “I understand that an 11/1 was only submitted on the preceding Thursday, despite claims that this had been done as far back as February.
“There is a very real onus upon the Parades Commission to demonstrate that there are not two separate systems in operation – one whereby the loyal orders are rigorously overseen and another that allows republicans to do virtually what they want whenever they want.”
He claimed that “yet again republican bands were on parade in Rasharkin seemingly without abiding by the rules”.
PUP representative for the area Ken Wilkinson also challenged the Parades Commission on the “double standards” of the Rasharkin parade.
“During the parade there were men in full paramilitary uniform, and one band from Dunloy – Dunloy Fallen Comrades – with full AK47s pictured on their base drums. There are many Protestant people who live in Rasharkin too and who do not want to see this out their windows.”
Mr Wilkinson said he also wanted to challenge the Parades Commission on claiming they made a mistake by not putting the parade details on their website, “because this is the first mistake I have ever seen them make like this”.
The Parades Commission spokesman said they receive late notifications “every week of the parading year and we have a mechanism for dealing with them”.
He added: “We receive late notifications from bands right across the political spectrum, as well as from community groups and others in the community.
“We deal with each request, from right across the community, on whether we believe it to be genuine.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “It is the Parades Commission’s responsibility to make a determination on all notified parades and protests.
“The police have a responsibility to police a Parades Commission determination and any such parade or protest will be policed appropriately.”
Last year it was Westminster, this year the formidable Ulster politician Ian Paisley has been “drawn and hung” at Stormont.
Irish artist David Nolan has unveiled his portrait of the former firebrand DUP leader who is soon to be known as Lord Bannside.
First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams were among the guests who joined the Paisley family at the ceremony on Monday evening.
Mr Paisley stepped down from the post of NI first minister in 2008.
Admiring the latest portrait – in which he is wearing his trademark hat – he said he liked it.
“It is excellent. It is sharp. It is to the point. It is just myself. There are just the people waiting to hear what I have got to say,” he said.
Last year, a portrait of the former firebrand as elderly statesman, painted by Northern Ireland artist Mark Shields, was unveiled at Portcullis House beside the Palace of Westminster in London.
It was pointed out that not even unionist icon Sir Edward Carson had such a privilege accorded to him.
Community workers in north Belfast have said they are working hard to contain sectarian tension at an interface flashpoint.
It follows the latest in a long line of violent incidents on the lower Oldpark Road.
At the weekend a Protestant man confronting youths attacking his house had petrol bombs thrown in his direction.
There are now calls for concerted action to deal with the problem.
Joe Keenan said last October the police asked him to keep a log book of attacks on his home. He said he is already into his second book as the first one is full.
Mr Keenan lives in a row of five houses on the Oldpark Road, three of which are now empty.
At the weekend, a few hours after a republican parade passed nearby, his home was attacked by a crowd of about 40 people.
“It was only when it finished you got the crowds coming back. For no reason I can see, they came down and started throwing petrol bombs round the house.
“I went out to try and stop everything but they just kept throwing the petrol bombs,” he said.
“Up here over the last 26 years you get used to it, it’s near enough a daily occurrence or a weekend occurrence – if it’s not petrol bombs it’s stones and bottles.”
The most recent phase has been going on since last year and for a while the PSNI kept a landrover parked at the interface for about 12 hours a day.
DUP Councillor Brian Kingston said police have told him the interface has the most number of attacks of any in north Belfast, but there are no CCTV cameras in the area.
Mr Kingston said posting the Land Rover at the interface for six to seven months cost about £80,000, but installing a CCTV camera would cost under a third of that.
However, Protestant community worker Gerald Salinas said cameras were not the answer.
“Really what you need to do is get to the people’s mindsets who are carrying out these attacks – either engage them or put them behind bars,” he said.
On the other side of the interface, SDLP Councillor Nichola Mallon said she believed Sunday’s attack was fuelled by alcohol.
“My heart goes out to the residents who live down in there,” she said.
“We have to be mindful that in no way is this representative of the Oldpark community and those thugs who carried out his attack have no support whatsoever.”
It was a nice sunny morning, early in July, 1983, when Howie Allen and myself left the city of Derry, in Northern Ireland, and set out on our rental motorcycles for the city of Belfast, about 70 miles away. From there we would take a two-hour ferry ride to the west coast of Scotland.
We made good time and were only 10 miles from Belfast when, rounding a turn, we came face to face with the British Army. Both sides of the highway were sealed off. In the middle of the road was an armoured vehicle, while on each side a soldier lay prone behind a machine gun. We braked to a hard stop and came face to face with several heavily armed men.
I was in the lead and was told to get off the bike. When Howie attempted to do the same he was immediately told, at gunpoint, to stay put. I was escorted from the road into a small clearing where I stood in front of a superior officer. I was told to produce documents, which I did: passport; driver’s licence; credit cards; airline tickets; even my Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union card.
While all this was going on, at gunpoint, a corporal off to one side flipped through a file folder of small I.D.-type photographs. He was obviously looking for my image. I also had to provide a sample of my handwriting, which was then compared with the signature on my documents.
There was, however, a small problem. We were Canadians, driving German motorcycles with British licence plates, which we had rented in London. All my papers were in order, with one exception. I had no green card, an international insurance card that is mandatory for all vehicle rentals in the British Isles and Europe.
I attempted to explain that our cards were not ready when we picked up the motorcycles in London. Rather than waste valuable time, I had given the rental people a friend’s address in Scotland, to which the cards could be sent once they were available. When asked to produce further identification, I replied that I had none. However, I did add that my friend Howie had a rather special form of I.D.
With that we returned to the highway and approached Howie, who was still sitting on his motorcycle, at gunpoint. He produced from his wallet a card indicating that he was a major in the Canadian Militia, the 2nd Battalion Nova Scotia Highlanders (Cape Breton) to be exact.
He was asked a number of pointed questions, the answers to which required an insight into the military that could only be known to a person who had close ties to the services. Finally, there came a question the broke the tension.
“What’s the name of the British regiment that the Nova Scotia Highlanders are twinned with?”
“The Cheshire Regiment,” was Howie’s reply.
With that the interrogating officer broke into a wide grin, shook hands with Howie and then myself, and replied: “We’re Cheshire lads. I’ve been in Nova Scotia. You put on a great tattoo in Halifax.”
(The 22nd Cheshire Regiment, over 300 years old, won their first battle honours with Brigadier James Wolfe at the Second Siege of Louisbourg in 1758. Thus the connection with the Cape Breton battalion.)
We spent the next hour with the Cheshire lads. Even when talking and joking, one of their number was constantly watching the surrounding countryside, while others continued to stop and search traffic. They had lost one of their ‘mates’ a few days earlier, to an IRA car bomb. Several others had been seriously injured.
As we made ready to leave Howie put a question to the young soldier who had held him at gunpoint on his motorcycle.
“Why wouldn’t you let me get off the bike?”
“As long as you were on the bike, mate, I knew those saddlebags wouldn’t explode!”
The Cheshires were not taking any chances.
• Rannie Gillis is an author and avid Celtic historian whose column appears every week in the Cape Breton Post. email@example.com.
June 27, 2010
The controversial proposed state visit by Queen Elizabeth II is set to cost the taxpayer in excess of €8m in security costs, and groups are already planning protests against the historic trip.
Gardaí will erect a ring of steel for the queen’s visit – which is likely to take place next year – in anticipation of threats from the likes of dissident republicans and Islamic extremists to the safety of the head of the British monarchy.
Tom Clonan, a retired army officer and military expert, said that such a visit would have the same costs attached as any of those by US presidents – George Bush Jnr’s visit alone cost in excess of €8m.
Negative public reaction began to mount immediately after Brian Cowen’s comments last week that an official visit could be arranged before the end of 2011.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune, Clonan said there was a “clear and present danger” to the British head of state in Ireland, both from dissident republicans and Islamic extremists, that could not be underestimated.
“For Clinton and especially for Bush, the greatest threat that would have been identified would have been
Islamic extremists,” he said. “For the queen you have a range of concerns, but the major one, the clear and present danger for the queen, is dissident republicans, and they are active.
“For that reason all the security that would have been in place for the US presidential visits would be in place for this. The security for the queen would be the equivalent of the visits of prime ministers before the ceasefire.”
President George Bush Jnr’s 18-hour visit to Dromoland Castle, Co Clare, in June 2004 cost the state €4m in garda overtime alone, while the full bill for security precautions came in at over twice that figure.
A visit by Queen Elizabeth would involve significant garda manpower, as well as army and possibly Air Corps support.
Every area the queen will visit will have to be sweeped in advance for security purposes, which will pose a logistical nightmare, and thousands of gardaí will be on duty while she is on Irish soil.
News of a possible visit by the British monarch provoked an immediate backlash from the public and certain political quarters.
Not surprisingly, the republican socialist party Éirigí was straight out of the blocks, criticising the plans and vowing to oppose the visit with demonstrations.
“In the aftermath of the publication of the Saville report, the extensions of an invitation to Windsor would be a massive insult to the victims of British state violence across Ireland,” it said in a statement.
Blogs and online forums were also quick to adopt the subject for public debate.
One contributor noted: “Personally I am opposed to this. The idea of monarchy and one person just as a result of genealogy and primogeniture being a ruler of a country is sickening to me as a democrat. I’d feel the same if it was the Dutch queen or any other hereditary ruler.”
Others were more supportive, with one in particular commenting: “They should at least get the same welcome as they extended to our head of state, which as I recall last time was pretty good and included tea, biscuits and probably crumpets..”
28 June 2010
REPUBLICAN NETWORK for UNITY (RNU) Spokesperson, Martin Óg Meehan, has slammed a vicious attack on RNU Activists in the Market’s area of South Belfast as totally unprovoked.
‘On Tuesday 22 June, 2010 a number of RNU members were distributing leaflets concerning a number of issues relevant to the local community. Not long after finishing the canvass, a thirty- strong gang of anti-social thugs, armed with crowbars and knives, verbally and physically assaulted some of our Activists, in full view of the public.
RNU regularly distribute leaflets in many areas of Belfast and have never encountered such indecent and cowardly behaviour. To have an armed gang attack Activists, both male and female, on a leaflet drop shows the calibre and mentality of the attackers.
The attack demonstrates how criminal elements in the area do not want Republicans to express our politics or indeed to offer our support to the community. No community will not nor should they tolerate this kind of criminal behaviour and neither will RNU.
Despite the unjustified attack, the Republican Network for Unity is determined to confront political, social and economic problems facing working-class areas and pursue our core objectives.
RNU assures the Market community that they will not be abandoned by RNU and we will continue to offer our support.’
28 June 2010
A FORMER RUC officer whose policing career spanned 40 of Northern Ireland’s most turbulent years has paid a lasting tribute to every officer killed in the line of duty.
Sam Trotter BEM joined the RUC in a period of relative calm, but was soon to witness the often brutal nature of the job with the sporadic killing of police officers in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The young constable was deeply moved by the murders and found it impossible to casually discard the Police Gazettes containing photographs and personal details of the slain officers.
Over several years, and hundreds more tragic deaths, he built up a complete collection of the magazines which eventually could only be stored in his roofspace.
Now, having retrieved his own archive from storage, he has written Constabulary Heroes featuring the murder of every police officer in what is now Northern Ireland since 1826. The book also includes those members of the RUC killed in Donegal while visiting relatives.
Meticulous research has produced the definitive record covering 183 years and 535 police fatalities up to 2009, including the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC), Harbour Police, and even one from the Revenue Police.
As Sam explains, he first got the idea of researching USC deaths which proved anything but straightforward.
“I took the notion of researching all the members of the Ulster Special Constabulary who had lost their lives from 1920 to 1970 and thereafter on disbandment in 1970.”
He said that this proved a formidable task as records of the ‘B’ men’s names had to be gleaned from the orders of service at commemorations.
Relying among other records on the News Letter’s extensive archive, Sam began his account with the 1826 murder of Constable Thomas McKinley – beaten to death by a mob in Dromore.
“Thomas McKinley’s was the first record of a police officer’s murder I could find.
“The News Letter’s archive proved to be the best source of information as the paper carried better accounts of the many atrocities over the years and included details of how they were killed and the subsequent church services.
“I was also given permission to use whatever I needed from the Police Gazettes and I consulted various other police magazines as well.”
Sam said: “Far from being just a record or a list of names, several of those included were friends and colleagues of mine and I attended numerous funerals over the years.”
The police officer turned author said that he considered it only right that the general public should know the facts of the courage and dedication of the members who gallantly laid down their lives in the defence of Northern Ireland.”
He hopes the book will be of some comfort to the families of officers, who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“They have not been forgotten,” he said.
The book, due for release in mid-July, is available from most bookshops or Impact Printing, 59 Leyland Road, Ballycastle, BT54 6EZ, price £25 plus £5 p&p.
Part of the proceeds will go to the widows’ and parents’ associations of the RUC GC.
28th of June 2010
Although it is forty years since his brother was killed by the British Army during the Falls Curfew, Kevin Burns remembers it vividly.
Billy Burns (54) was shot by the British Army during the Falls Curfew in July 1970. He was one of four people who were killed as a result of the three day curfew imposed by the British Army on the people of the Falls.
His younger brother Kevin remembers Billy with fondness.
At the time of his death, Billy lived in the family home at 57 Falls Road with his two brothers Tommy and Eamonn and sister Sadie.
The family were well-known locally and in previous years had owned a shop in Castle Street — Burns’ Fish, Fruit and Poultry Shop.
Kevin recalled getting the news that his brother had been shot on the first day of the curfew, Friday July 3.
“I had to be wakened because I was on night work,” said Kevin.
“I got down as far as the Springfield Road and they weren’t going to let me past.
“As far as I remember a priest came and he managed to get me down to 57 Falls Road.
“My two brothers and sister were there, so I arranged for them to come up and stay in my house for two days.”
Billy’s son Paul says his dad, who was working as a handyman at the time, had been helping the man next door, who ran a shop, before he was shot.
“The rioting had started earlier that afternoon further down the Falls and the soldiers had fired tear gas,” said Paul.
Billy had helped his neighbour secure shutters to the shop.
“They had come back and were standing at Billy’s door.”
The men were looking down the road.
“The next thing there was a bang and Billy stepped back into the living-room.
“Billy had been hit in the chest and the bullet had gone straight through into his heart and lungs,” said Paul.
“It was a soldier’s bullet from a 7.62 mm SRL rifle that was recovered from his body.”
Billy was rushed to the hospital but he was already dead.
“The inquest was held later but there wasn’t too much questioning done of the soldiers, or even of the Major of the battalion on that night,” said Paul.
Kevin remembers his brother as an athletic man full of life.
“He was very outgoing,” he said. “He cycled everywhere and every Friday he would take himself down south or up north.”
Billy had travelled all over Europe and his passport shows trips to Germany, Czechoslovakia and Russia. Kevin said that his brother’s murder had a big impact on his family.
The inquest into Billy’s death was held three or four months later and the verdict of the jury was of misadventure.
“On that terrible night, one of my aunts went down and tried to get through the barricaded Springfield Road,” adds Paul. “A soldier said to her that Billy had no business standing at his own front door. That was the reception she got. The anger came from all that, there was always a feeling of helplessness as well. Remember this was the time that the Stormont government was still in power.”
Because of the curfew, Billy’s body couldn’t be brought back to his own parish of St Peter’s.
“Because of the curfew they couldn’t get his body back to St Peter’s,” said Paul.
“He had to go to St. Paul’s chapel. He never actually got back home.
“His body was brought there on the Sunday evening and he was buried on the Monday.
“The other sad thing was that Billy’s brother Tommy took ill that weekend and he ended up in hospital.
“I always remember that one of the saddest things was when we came out of St Paul’s on to Cavendish Street and we were facing the Royal Victoria Hospital, that the nurses had wheeled Tommy out to one of the windows so that he could see the funeral,” he added.
If it wasn’t for Penny and Jim Devlin’s persistence, their son’s killers would still be walking the streets, they tell Suzanne Breen, Northern Editor
27 June 2010
**Poster’s note: This is an excellent article, and I urge everyone to read it. There is something majorly rotten with the PPS.
It was the most innocent of excursions. Thomas Devlin and two friends had gone to the garage to buy sweets, crisps and Lucozade. It was a balmy summer’s evening and they were enjoying the school holidays, laughing and joking, as they walked back to Thomas’s home to play computer games
They were only 200 yards from the house when the killers struck. The boys were easy prey – younger and with far less street sense than their assailants. At the end of the brutal attack with a knife and a two-foot-long wooden bat, Thomas Devlin (15) lay fatally stabbed and his friend Johnny McKee badly beaten.
Only Fintan Maguire escaped unhurt. The leafy, mainly Catholic Somerton Road in north Belfast is home to solicitors, teachers and other professionals. Even during the worst days of the Troubles, it wasn’t somewhere associated with random murder.
Jim Devlin and his wife Penny Holloway, parents of murdered schoolboy Thomas Devlin, attend a police press conference in Belfast in 2007, on the second anniversary of their son’s death
The killers had come from the loyalist Mount Vernon estate, about a mile away. Within weeks of the murder in August 2005, police knew their identities, as did Thomas’s parents from their own enquiries. Yet it took five years and an uphill battle with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) before the family got justice.
“The PPS twice refused to prosecute my son’s murderers,” says Penny Holloway. “It was only when independent counsel in England reviewed the case that we secured a prosecution. Without our persistence, Thomas’s killers would still be on the streets.”
Nigel Brown (26) and Gary Taylor (23) were convicted in February and sentenced to life imprisonment. “Thomas’s case showed that the PPS needs a complete overhaul but, four months later, nothing has happened,” says Penny. “The PPS hasn’t even indicated that it did anything wrong. The pain of grieving for our son was compounded by the stress of dealing with the PPS yet we’re still awaiting an apology.
“What’s most worrying is that with the devolution of policing and justice from Westminster to Stormont, the PPS is actually more unaccountable now than when Thomas was murdered. What happened to us could easily happen another family and they would have even less options to challenge the PPS than we had.”
The Devlins are a well-educated, articulate couple. Penny works in industrial relations. Her husband, Jim Devlin, was a BBC engineer. They’re concerned that a catalogue of similarly wrong decisions may have been made by the PPS in the past but other bereaved families have lacked the knowledge or resources to challenge them.
Gentle and generous
His friends called him ‘Dev’. In family photographs, Thomas Devlin seems younger than his years. Those who knew him speak of a gentle, generous, well-mannered lad. He played the tenor horn at school but he loved heavy metal music too. Thomas was the youngest of three children. He had rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and a Great Dane called Rosie. He’d built a treehouse at his grandparents’ farm.
“He was always late for school because he didn’t like getting up in the mornings,” says Penny. “But he was a good pupil. He wanted to study law or computer science at university. He was our brilliant, beautiful boy. He loved to bake. His grandmother taught him to make pancakes and he’d just perfected a recipe from the internet for chocolate brownies.”
Penny laughs as she remembers coming home from work to find the bathroom and every towel in the house a mess – and Thomas’s hair dyed red. “From a young age, he was very funny. He had some great one-liners. He called his father’s bald spot ‘Dad’s sun roof’.”
Thomas was brought up Catholic in a religiously mixed marriage. He had friends from both communities. He was a member of the local Boys’ Brigade run by the Presbyterian church. He’d go to meetings with his BB uniform under his goth clothes. On Saturdays, he and his mates would head to Belfast City Hall where goths, punks and skaters gathered.
Thomas’s killers, Nigel Brown and Gary Taylor, inhabited a very different world. Brown had 72 previous convictions, mainly for violence and disorder. Taylor had 19 convictions for similar offences and the court heard he held “deeply sectarian attitudes”. Both men had been engaged in sectarian street fighting in north Belfast in 2003.
Taylor was armed with a knife and Brown with the wooden bat when they left Mount Vernon, with Brown’s dog Zola, on the night of Thomas’s murder. They were walking along the Somerton Road when they spotted the three teenagers. For some reason, Thomas sensed danger. “Run!” he shouted to his friends.
Fintan Maguire scrambled to safety over a school gate. Thomas tried to make it but didn’t. Taylor stabbed him nine times in the chest, abdomen, arm and face. From the other side of the gate, Fintan could hear his friend screaming in agony. As Taylor stabbed Thomas, Brown beat Johnny McKee with the wooden bat. When Taylor had finished with Thomas, he then stabbed Johnny.
But Johnny was better protected. Thomas had been carrying a rucksack but had a sore back and had asked his friend to take it. As Taylor stabbed Johnny in the back, the rucksack probably saved his life. Taylor and Brown walked off, leaving their two victims for dead.
As local man Lawrence Kelly passed them they covered their faces and Taylor threatened: “We’ll do you too.” Thomas’s parents were having a meal at a nearby hotel when they learned of the attack. They ran to the scene.
“Thomas was lying, breathing heavily with a vacant look in his eyes and a paramedic desperately trying to save his life,” says Penny. “He was taken to hospital and we stood outside the theatre. But when I saw someone leave and then return with clean sheets, I knew Thomas was dead.”
The big breakthrough in the murder investigation came within weeks. Brown told a relative details of the attack. That individual told a relative of theirs who is a serving PSNI officer. But the individual Brown personally told refused to make a statement to police. The Devlins want this person, and four others, prosecuted for withholding information. The PPS hasn’t announced its decision.
In July 2008, three years after the murder, the PPS told the Devlins that, after examining police files, there was insufficient evidence for a reasonable prospect of convictions. The PPS had sought advice on the case from one of the North’s leading prosecutors, Gordon Kerr.
“The PPS never told us we were entitled to appeal its decision,” says Penny. “We only discovered that by trawling through the internet. We requested an external review because the legal fraternity in Northern Ireland is so small we believed we were unlikely to get an opinion going against Gordon Kerr’s.”
The Devlins now had hired solicitor, Joe Rice, who fought their corner with gusto. They also continued doing their own research. From studying fatal stabbing cases in England and Wales, Penny found that the Crown Prosecution Service there took a much more assertive approach than the PPS. “We were certain that if Thomas had been stabbed in England or Wales, his killers would have been quickly in the dock,” she says.
In August 2008, the PPS announced an internal review into the Devlin case by senior assistant director Raymond Kitson. Three months later, Kitson rubber-stamped the original decision: Brown and Taylor wouldn’t be prosecuted for Thomas’s murder.
The Devlins wrote to the then British attorney general, Baroness Scotland, who had a supervisory role over the PPS. Within 72 hours, there was a u-turn. The PPS now agreed to seek the advice of senior counsel in England David Perry. He concluded that there was “compelling circumstantial evidence” against Brown and Taylor and that the test for prosecution was met. English barrister Toby Hedworth was brought in to prosecute. It took the jury just 80 minutes to reach guilty verdicts.
Failure to prosecute
The Devlins’ solicitor, Joe Rice, says: “How did independent counsel in England arrive at a decision on prosecution so substantially different from the PPS? Nothing had changed in the case, there was no new evidence, no new witnesses. Why was a jury able to convict so quickly in a case which the PPS initially didn’t think met the prosecution test?
“The PPS hasn’t answered any of these questions. It owes an explanation to the Devlin family and to the public. There are serious implications for previous cases before the PPS. How many other killers are possibly free because of its failure to prosecute? How many bereaved families, without the knowledge and determination of the Devlins, have been denied justice?”
Rice says legal experts from Dublin and London must be brought in to regularly evaluate the decisions of the PPS and the opinions of prosecuting counsel in the North. The Devlins are completely satisfied with the PSNI’s conduct: “One reason we persisted in fighting for prosecutions was because of the PSNI’s total belief in their case files.” Sources say detectives themselves were “very frustrated” by the PPS’s attitude.
Although they secured justice, the Devlins know they haven’t “won”. Thomas’s bedroom remains just the way he left it with his Iron Maiden posters on the wall and science fiction novels lining the shelves. His parents have kept all his school work.
He had always wanted a balcony for his bedroom. His father was building it when Thomas was murdered. It’s finished now and, on sunny mornings, Jim and Penny sit there drinking coffee, thinking of their son. “Thomas would have been 21 in September,” says Penny. “We would have thrown him a great party. His friends always call on his anniversary.
“We hear about their girlfriends, their travelling, and how they’re getting on at university. It’s comforting to chat to them but it hurts so much too. It brings home all the things that Thomas has been denied. Our battle for justice was successful but what we really want is to have Thomas alive at home with us.”
In a statement to the Sunday Tribune, the PPS acknowledged “the tenacity” of the Devlins and apologised for “any additional stress” they experienced during the review of the original decision not to prosecute.
It hoped the successful prosecution of Brown and Taylor “in what was a difficult circumstantial case, will bring some comfort to the family”.
The PPS said it had previously met the Devlins five times to discuss “prosecutorial decisions” and intended to meet the family again. It denied that the devolution of policing and justice to Stormont meant it was now even less accountable than before.
“The new arrangements mirror the arrangements which have existed in the Irish Republic since 1975 when the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was established,” a spokeswoman said.
28 June 2010
Lobbying on behalf of a dissident republican who ended a 42-day hunger strike last month has paid off – with his ‘demands’ being met.
But the news that Liam Hannaway – who is a relative of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – had been moved to the mainstream prison at the high security Maghaberry prison is being kept very low key.
The prisoner was previously being held in a vulnerable prisoners’ unit for his own protection – rather than on a wing with other dissidents as the prison authorities believed his life would be in danger if he were moved to the republican wing.
Now, amidst a flurry of other problems for NI Prisons’ regime a Prisons Press and Communications Unit spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that Mr Hannaway is now being located in the general prison population.”
In late May, he was placed under medical care inside the Co Antrim prison with his protest fast adding to growing pressure for a move – a request which have now quietly been granted after he has served almost two and a half years of a 10-year sentence for possessing explosives and ammunition.
A Prison spokesperson wouldn’t give any detail this week of which section of Maghaberry the high profile west Belfast republican is now being held in – but it was hinted that the ‘threat’ to him had been from those outside, rather than within the facility itself – which implies he is being housed in the republican wing.
Four weeks ago, Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney held a meeting with Justice Minister David Ford on the ongoing situation in Maghaberry prison – including Liam Hannaway’s hunger strike.
After the meeting that was due to be attended by Deputy First Minister Martin Guinness – who later pleaded another appointment – Mr McCartney said: “All of the republican groups in the prison have made it clear that there is no threat to Liam Hannaway if he is moved back into the segregated wing.”
The ex-Maze Prison hunger striker and now MLA said: “It is my firm view that with the necessary political will all of these issues relating to Liam Hannaway, and indeed the wider problems in Roe House can be resolved.”
That move has now taken place and coincides with last week’s shock resignation by the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service Robin Masefield that he intends to step down from his post before the end of this year.
There is also a background of controversies, which have afflicted the high security Maghaberry prison.
The most critical focused on the death of 34-year-old convicted murderer Colin Bell, who hanged himself in Maghaberry jail in 2008 despite being on 24-hour watch.
Investigators found that wardens who were supposed to be checking the high-risk inmate were lying on beds watching TV.
But only weeks after new governor Steve Rodford took charge another prisoner killed himself inside Maghaberry.
Medical unit staff were suspended from duty following a probe into the suicide of convicted sex offender John Anthony Deery, 50, who hanged himself in August 2009.
Then Mr Rodford, who was reforming the regime and had set about improving prisoner monitoring inside Maghaberry, left his post after only five months in office – over fears that he could be targeted by dissident republicans.
But just days afterwards, 10 prison service staff facing disciplinary charges following the suicide of the prisoner were all reinstated after appeals and two senior prison officers recommended for demotion also returned to their previous positions, with a formal warning.
New research has shown that flying the flag from every lamp post, telegraph pole and gable wall remains a key trend in unionist communities with nearly 4,000 logged during a four year period compared to just 245 in nationalist areas.
The statistics, fresh from Queen’s University, also show the number of paramilitary flags flying along main roads has dropped by over 50 per cent from 161 in 2006 to 73 to 2009.
The majority of those new flags – erected only on arterial routes – supported the UVF or Young Citizen Volunteers with a total of 55. This was followed by the UDA with 14 and four of the Starry Plough, which has been adopted by the INLA in recent times.
While the report published by South Belfast academic Dr Dominic Bryan does not brand the Union Jack or Tricolour as paramilitary it does controversially reveal that many people believe those flags are “put up by paramilitaries”.
Using data collected from the NI Life and Times (NILT) 2008 survey Dr Bryan’s report concluded: “Since these flags are frequently used in conjunction with paramilitary flags and murals in areas where paramilitary groups may hold particular sway it is widely believed that people with paramilitary connections put the flags up and these flags are likely to be popularly associated with the paramilitaries.
“As such, in this context the two national flags can be seen as markers of paramilitarism for many people.”
This in turn makes people less likely to shop in areas which have such displays, the report adds.
“If you leave your flags up for a parade and take it down a couple of weeks later it probably won’t make a difference,” Dr Dominic stated.
“But if you leave it for a while then the evidence here suggests that it can be economically detrimental to your area. “People don’t mind displaying identities, the issue here is the length of the time, and does it have a long-term effect? And the evidence in the Life and Times survey suggests that it would.”
NILT surveys conducted in July and September over the last four years reveal one third of the flags put up along main roads in Northern Ireland over the summer months are still flying at the end of September.
The surveys also found that those flying from lampposts were often not removed and were left to become torn and tatty over winter months.
The vast majority of the flags flying represent the unionist or loyalist tradition the report concludes.
During July 2006 to 2009, the average number of unionist flags was 3,868 compared with 245 nationalist flags. During September, the average number of unionist flags was 1,411 compared with 505 nationalist.
At Easter, two thirds of the flags on arterial routes remained unionist.
“Over the last thirty years, the tradition in some areas of Northern Ireland of flying flags on houses appears to have declined, while there has been an increase in the hanging of flags from lampposts,” Dr Dominic Bryan said.
“Instead of celebrating identity, tattered and torn flags are left to demarcate territory. In Northern Ireland, where national identity is so keenly felt, this would seem to indicate that in actual fact the national flags are treated with little respect.”
Dr Bryan’s Public Displays of Flags and Emblems report has been funded by the Office of the First Deputy First Minister, to evaluate the creation of shared space and the effectiveness of the multi-agency Flags Protocol, introduced in 2005.
It finds that on average, over 4,000 flags are put up on lampposts and houses, in town centres and on arterial routes every July.
In South Belfast there remains several key areas for loyalist flags including Sandy Row, the upper section of the Ormeau Road, Tate’s Avenue off the Lisburn Road and Shaftesbury Square.
Sandy Row with its infamous landmark mural, ‘Welcome to Loyalist Sandy Row’ is one of the worst offenders, the Queens academic offered.
“There has been quite a range of flags on it over the past 10 years or more. Way back in the 1990s there were loads of Ulster Independent flags but more recently there has been a lot of UDA and UFF flags.
“Last year there was quite a few erected but there has been a reduction in paramilitary flags in the area generally.”
The recently completed flats at the top of Sandy Row, which remain bereft of any commercial interests, tells its own story, Dominic explained.
“There has been an issue opposite the Orange Hall at the block of flats. It has six or seven shops at the bottom but no one is in them. It’s a very strange thing that not a shop has opened,” he said.
“With somewhere like Sandy Row, it’s very close to the city centre, which puts it under quite a lot of economic stress, but also potentially a lot of people come into it from city centre. However if flags are flying all year round it clearly has an effect on the area, economically.”
Other areas like the Lisburn Road do not feature in the flags survey as strongly, the QUB Institute of Irish Studies expert revealed.
“With the Lisburn Road there has been changes with flags, in and around Tate’s Avenue it being an interface between working class Protestant areas like The Village and the middle class mixed area around the university.
“The other area is the Ormeau Road, particularly the upper part around the Orange Hall. There has been a massive improvement around the bonfire site in Annadale Flats where you’ve seen less flags and you’ve seen the area much tidier than in recent years.
“There are nearly always tatty flags at Shaftesbury Square and they are there all year round, other than that there aren’t many, apart from flags outside the NI Supporters Club. Donegal Pass has been very controlled in recent years. They usually put up UVF Battle of Somme commemoration flags around July 1, but they’ve been taken down a day or so later. It’s interesting to see that UFF flags areas, in comparison to somewhere like Mount Vernon, differ across the city.”
26 June 2010
**Poster’s note: I suspect the reason Orangemen WANT to parade in public is not so much to celebrate their culture as to get up in republicans’ faces and rub their noses in their ‘Orangeness’, so parading in private would not do that, but I agree with this.
Concerned Orange Resident (Write Back, June 22) wants Orange parades to be peaceful. Well, that is pretty easy to achieve. Just stop having them, or only parade in private.
People talk about the marching season like it is inevitable and unpreventable. Something like the arrival of spring or summer.
In reality it is a choice. Orangemen do not have to parade.
They claim they choose to parade because it is a celebration of their culture. Well, if celebrating your culture necessitates excluding and alienating many of your fellow citizens, then perhaps it is time to examine your culture.
Remember public executions, witch-burning and bull or bear-baiting used to be part of our culture, too, until intelligence and public abhorrence prevailed.
The Orange Order promotes their parades as being a celebration on a par with something like Mardi Gras, while in reality they are not.
Anyone can participate in Mardi Gras whereas only Protestants can march in an Orange parade. How is that for a non inclusive celebration?
If Orangemen really need to parade, why don’t they rent a large football stadium, invite all their friends and march there all day until their hearts are content.
As far as I can see that is a win-win solution that will fully meet Concerned Orange Resident’s objectives.
LIVE AND LET LIVE
By John Burke
27 June 2010
Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Fe¤ in deputy first minister in the North, is facing a £10 million claim for damages in a civil action taken by the son of a man killed by the IRA.
James Frazer, a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, was shot dead in 1975 while off duty in Co Armagh. Frazer’s son, William, appeared in the High Court in Belfast last Monday and said that he had served the writ on McGuinness.
The court has asked Frazer to declare by affidavit the amount of damages sought. Frazer told The Sunday Business Post that his affidavit for damages, which is being prepared by his legal team, will include a demand for »10million.
This is based ‘‘on the loss caused by the murder of my father in 1975, the loss of two farms which passed out of our family, and the loss of potential which my family endured after my father was murdered by the IRA,” he said.
‘‘The figure of £10 million is not one that I picked from nowhere. It is something that I have taken into account when you consider all that my family has lost out on from the actions of the IRA,” said Frazer. ‘‘It is not the money that matters at all.”
Last week’s court hearing followed an application by Frazer to proceed with the civil act ion on the basis that McGuinness had not returned the writ of summons or made an appearance. Sinn Féin claims the writ was not properly served on McGuinness and that it is invalid, which the court will now decide. There is nothing to stop Frazer serving another writ.
Frazer is a well-known victims’ rights campaigner. He is also heavily involved in negotiations between groups representing victims of IRA violence, British Foreign Office figures and Libya’s Gaddafi regime, which supported the IRA with weapons and money.
Frazer fronts Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, which is in the final stages of negotiating the hand-over of a £2 billion compensation package from Libya.