You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2010.
29 September 2010
A CIGARETTE butt found at the scene of a policeman’s murder almost 30 years ago carries the DNA of the man accused of the shooting, a court heard yesterday.
RUC Reserve Constable John Proctor, 25, was gunned down by the IRA in the car park of the Mid-Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt after visiting his wife June, who had just given birth to their baby son John.
His wife was waving to him from her bedside window when the father of two from nearby Upperlands was ambushed on September 14, 1981.
Seamus Martin Kearney, 54, appeared in Derry Magistrates’ Court yesterday, accused of the historic murder.
The defendant, from Co Derry, denies the charge and an additional charge of possessing an Armalite AR 15 rifle on the same date.
A detective sergeant told District Judge Barney McElholm that a DNA sample found on the discarded butt matched the DNA profile of Mr Kearney. “On July 19, 2010, the defendant was arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act and questioned about his knowledge of the murder,” the witness said.
“He made no comment throughout the interview and he was released unconditionally after providing a specimen for DNA sampling.
29 September 2010
THE former US President Bill Clinton has arrived in Northern Ireland on a visit designed to support the peace process and promote economic growth.
Mr Clinton is visiting Derry where 25,000 people turned out to see him on his first visit in 1995.
He is making a speech at the University of Ulster campus at Magee on how to build economic prosperity.
He is also expected to meet the First and Deputy First Ministers.
Mr Clinton waved to crowds as he arrived at Magee College in Derry
His visit is in advance of a Washington summit on the Northern Ireland economy, which will be hosted by his wife Hillary, the US Secretary of State.
The summit is due to take place on October 19 and aims to encourage American business leaders to invest in Northern Ireland.
The Clintons have been long-time supporters of the Northern Ireland peace process and have made several high-profile visits in both official and personal capacities.
This will be the former president’s first return trip since 2004.
It is believed he may meet the former SDLP leader and Nobel peace prize winner John Hume during his Derry visit.
Mr Clinton is due to travel to Dublin for another engagement on Wednesday evening.
Last year, Hillary Clinton addressed local politicians at Stormont Castle in her capacity as secretary of state.
Her visit took place during protracted negotiations on the devolution of policing and justice from Westminster to Stormont.
At the time, she warned MLAs that economic progress was linked to the success of the peace process.
30 September 2010
A PAINSTAKING search for one of the so-called disappeared victims will be wound down in the coming days, it was revealed yesterday.
Forensic experts scouring a site in Co Louth, in the Irish Republic, for Gerard Evans said they have found no remains after a year-and-a-half long operation.
The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) confirmed all survey and search work at Carrickrobin would halt in the next few days.
“The commission’s experts will have completed an 18 month long thorough and painstaking search of areas highlighted in information received,” said a ICLVR spokesman.
“Regrettably, to date, the remains of Gerard Evans have not been found.”
The ICLVR again appealed for more information on the case and those of the other disappeared, believed to have been abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republicans during the Troubles.
Dismissing suggestions of the search moving to a new site, the spokesman added: “There are 16 cases on the commission’s books, and several of them are ongoing inquiries. If and when we are in a position to start another operation on a site it will most certainly be announced.”
Mr Evans vanished while hitch-hiking outside Castleblaney, Co Monaghan in 1979. He was 24 at the time.
His family lived in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, just across the border in Northern Ireland, close to another disappeared victim Charlie Armstrong.
The remains of Mr Armstrong, who went missing in 1981, were buried earlier this month after being discovered in bogland in Co Monaghan last July.
By Sara Girvin
30 September 2010
CHIEF constable Matt Baggott is to push ahead with plans to introduce an armed civilian guard to Northern Ireland, it has been confirmed.
In July, the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) vetoed the recruitment of armed civilian guards, despite claims from the chief constable that the move could save the force £5 million per year and free up hundreds of officers to help tackle the dissident threat.
The proposal was rejected at a private meeting of the board, with seven board members voting in favour, but eight against.
Mr Baggott wants to bring in civilians to carry out duties such as protecting terrorist targets like judges and politicians, guarding police stations and escorting explosives, with the hope this would allow some 400 officers to return to frontline policing.
Much of this kind of work is currently carried out by members of the full time reserve, but with it due to be disbanded in March of next year, regular officers would have to provide the cover.
There were reports last month that the chief constable intended to present his armed civilian guard proposals to the Policing Board again with the hope they would be approved, and following a Freedom of Information request from the News Letter, this has now been confirmed.
A PSNI statement said the armed civilian guard project “has been revised and it is envisaged that approval for this new concept will be sought from the NIPB again”.
Policing Board member Basil McCrea said: “I am in support of the reduction of costs but I do think it’s important that the chief constable explains his plans for an armed civilian guard in detail to board members so they have time to carefully consider the indications.”
The UUP man added: “Now is the time to take innovative and positive steps in Northern Ireland policing.”
Although there are no indications of the changes made to the chief constable’s proposals, a Policing Board source told the News Letter that the armed civilian guard plans may have been quashed in July because they had “come out of the blue” to Policing Board members.
The source said board members required assurances that the civilian guards would be recruited in an open and transparent manner. There were also questions to be answered on whether civilian guards would be answerable to a code of ethics and whether they would be subject to scrutiny from the Police Ombudsman – and if not, how they would be made accountable.
By Gráinne McWilliams & Damien Brown
27 September 2010
THE Ballymurphy Massacre families took their campaign for justice to Stormont this week where they launched a new leaflet detailing events surrounding the killings.
The families were joined in Parliament Buildings’ Great Hall by West Belfast MP Gerry Adams and relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday.
Members of the British army’s Parachute Regiment murdered 11 people in the Ballymurphy Massacre, including a local priest and a mother of eight children. The massacre took place over a 36-hour period during the introduction of internment without trial in August 1971.
Six months later the same regiment murdered 14 people in Derry’s Bogside area in what became known as Bloody Sunday. Six months after that they killed another five people in West Belfast’s Springhill area, including a second Catholic priest.
Speaking at the launch of the leaflet, which is entitled ‘Time for Our Truth’, Briege Voyle of the Ballymurphy Massacre families said the leaflet was a chance to spread the word about their campaign further afield.
“This leaflet tells everyone the story that our loved ones were murdered over a three-day period and that we need answers now and we need the truth to be told,” said Briege, whose mother Joan Connolly was shot four times and killed as she tried to administer aid and comfort to fatally wounded teenager Noel Phillips.
“This year alone we have got the support of the Catholic Church which was a great thing for us because really now we need to up our campaign. We have been campaigning for the last three years and we think with this new leaflet now’s the chance to bring out the campaign even more.
“From here on in we are hoping to meet with Owen Patterson (Secretary of State) in October. We have asked for a meeting with David Cameron, and we’re hoping to go Capitol Hill, Washington DC, in December.”
Briege Voyle paid tribute to the members of the Bloody Sunday campaign who travelled to Belfast to help launch the leaflet.
“I would like to thank the Bloody Sunday families for coming on board,” she said.
“They have got their apology and I think we deserve an apology as well.”
John Kelly of the Bloody Sunday families, who officially lunched the leaflet, spoke of how he got involved with the Ballymurphy families’ campaign after speaking at a Féile an Phobail event in the summer.
“After listening to their heartbreaking stories I was completely overcome by what I heard – stories of blatant murder and terrible brutality conducted by the Parachute Regiment, the same regiment who were responsible for the same murderous brutality carried out in Derry on Bloody Sunday,” said Mr Kelly, who lost his 17-year-old brother Michael in the Bloody Sunday atrocity.
“The Ballymurphy Massacre happened six months before Bloody Sunday. It and many other murders by the British army around that time, helped set the precedent that British soldiers were immune from prosecution and knew that they could, would and did get away with murder.
“We know that the agencies of the British state, from the government down through the prosecution services, helped to promote and encourage this culture of immunity.”
Mr Kelly vowed that those responsible for both massacres would not get away with it.
“Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday stand side by side in history as massacres carried out by the British army. I can tell you that after the Saville Report they will not get away with murdering our loved ones and they hopefully will be brought to justice at long last,” he said.
“We have achieved some justice with the publication of the Saville Report, and we hope that the families here can get the same. The Bloody Sunday families will always be there to support the Ballymurphy families, and all the other victims that cry out for truth and justice.
“Hopefully this leaflet will travel the world, educating and making people aware of the type of atrocities and war crimes carried out by the British army against innocent Irish people. Hopefully it will be part of these families getting the truth and justice they deserve.”
Welcoming the Ballymurphy families to Stormont, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “The accounts of how the 11 died in Ballymurphy bears a striking similarity to the stories told by the Bloody Sunday families. The families have carried out substantial inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones. They believe that not all of the facts pertaining to the shootings were made known or that the killings were properly investigated. They also have concerns about the inquests that were carried out.
“In July the Catholic Church released archive documents surrounding the events in Ballymurphy in August 1971. This included new eyewitness accounts which lend support to the families’ opinion that vital evidence was withheld.
“The demand of the families is very clear. They want truth. They are campaigning for an independent international investigation into the circumstances of the 11 deaths and a statement of innocence and apology from the British government.”
By Scott Jamison
North Belfast News
27 September 2010
A major programme designed to create awareness of local political, social, economic and cultural issues has been launched in North Belfast.
SInn Féin MLA for the area, Gerry Kelly formally unveiled the North Belfast Respect Programme earlier today (Thursday). It contains a range of conferences, historical tours, lectures, discussions, debates and other activities that affect society here.
The programme will include headline events focusing on the following themes – young people; remembrance; social and economic regeneration; health and sport; cohesion, and sharing and integration and will see over 50 individual events take place in total, run by community organisations from New Lodge, Mount Vernon, Tigers Bay, Shore Road, Ardoyne, Cliftonville, Skegoniel and Shankill.
Paul Roberts, chief executive of the Ashton Community Trust, which is facilitating the programme, said he was delighted to see it kick off.
“Months of hard work have finally come to fruition and we have high hopes for an engaging and exciting five-week long programme of events. I would like to thank everyone for all their help in developing the Respect Programme and I am encouraging local people to get involved and take part.” The first headline event, a remembrance ceremony by the Bridge of Hope group, will take place this Monday (September 27) at 7pm outside their Duncairn Gardens offices.
Two local secondary school students will read out a statement dealing with North Belfast’s past as well as its hopes for the future. Afterwards a discussion by a ‘women only’ panel of politicians, community leaders and academics will take place, including North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Carál ní Chuilín and Baroness May Blood, among others.
Other events will include a socio-economic regeneration conference at the Landsdowne Hotel on October 13, a ‘Run for Respect’ race on October 10, and a cohesion, sharing and integration conference in St Kevin’s Hall on October 21.
Cross-community tours of the various areas involved will also run throughout the length of the programme.
Details of all the events are available at www.ashtoncentre.com.
By Kieran Hughes
North Belfast News
27 September 2010
A gala event in memory of a 15 year old schoolboy murdered just yards from his North Belfast home is to be held next weekend in the Europa Hotel.
The Thomas Devlin Gala will be the first held since his killers, Gary Taylor and Nigel Brown, were convicted of the murder in May of this year.
The 15-year-old was stabbed to death as he walked home along the Somerton Road with his friend Jonathan McKee in August 2005.
The gala night has now become a firm fixture on the local charitable calendar and broadcaster Claire McCollum has been confirmed as host for the evening.
Jim Devlin, Thomas’ father, said it was a real pleasure for both him and Thomas’s mother Penny to host the Thomas Devlin Gala in memory of their son.
“It’s fantastic that Thomas can leave such a positive legacy, with thousands of pounds disbursed in his memory to young people in Northern Ireland.
“Our heartfelt thanks go to Claire McCollum for agreeing to be our host for the evening, her enthusiasm and interest is infectious.
“I hope as many people as possible will come on the evening and help us raise money to give some of our most creative young people a real boost for their futures.”
Last year the event raised £12,000 for the Thomas Devlin Fund, administered by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
This year’s awards will be presented to young people studying music and eight bursaries will be provided, totaling over £8,000.
Last year’s bursary awards helped local students meet the costs of tuition fees, materials, equipment and travel and this year’s successful students will be recognized at the gala event.
In total, the Thomas Devlin Fund has dispersed almost £30,000 to local students since its development in 2006.
The Fund also hopes to break the Guinness World Record for the longest piece of continuous bunting over the next year, through the Flags of Hope initiative, launched in May this year.
• To purchase a ticket for the Thomas Devlin Fund Gala Dinner and Bursary Ceremony, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland on 028 90 245 927.
• For further information about the Thomas Devlin Fund, click online at www.thomasdevlin.com.
By Paul Ainsworth
27 September 2010
MEMORIES of the first republican volunteer to die on active service following the outbreak of the conflict are to be shared at a plaque unveiling at the Westrock Community Garden in Ballymurphy.
Thirty-five-year-old father-of-six Michael Kane, who originally hailed from the New Lodge area of North Belfast, had his life cut short in a premature explosion in September 1970.
IRA Volunteer Michael was killed in Newforge Lane in South Belfast, while his comrade Tony O’Kane was seriously injured, and was only discovered after the RUC followed a trail of his blood to a nearby house.
Following his untimely death, Michael’s funeral left the family home in Westrock, Ballymurphy, and he was buried in the Republican Plot in Milltown Cemetery.
However, the Remembering Our Volunteers Committee are hoping that, despite the passage of time, Michael has remained more than just a name on a roll of honour, or a statistic in Ireland’s bloody history, but rather remembered as a local man who cared deeply about his family and community.
A French polisher by trade, Michael ran a business in the Short Strand area of East Belfast, where he was thrust into one of the defining moments of the recent troubles.
As Remembering Our Volunteers Committee Member Marty O’Hara explained, Michael fought in the ‘Battle of St Matthews’ in the Short Strand just months before he lost his life.
“When the area came under attack from loyalists, Michael was ready to defend the residents. This reflects his own grandfather Jack Coogan’s role in defending areas during the pogroms of the 1920s,” he said.
With republicanism in his blood, Michael went on to play an active role in the transformation of the Provisional IRA’s campaign to offensive from defensive. However, behind his military role lay the quintessential “ordinary man” of Belfast, who enjoyed his family, friends, music, and having a bit of craic.
“He was a father of three sons and three daughters,” continued Marty.
“And although he loved socialising, he was a teetotaller. Meanwhile, he was a keen musician, playing the guitar, and enjoyed songs ranging from ‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’, to Tom Jones’ ‘The Green Green Grass of Home’.
“Our aim with this plaque unveiling is to let people of this generation know that Michael was a much-loved ordinary guy, like a lot of people caught up in the conflict at the time. It’s important to us and his family that he is remembered this way, along with his role as a volunteer. Sometimes leadership is thrust upon you, and that was the case with Michael. People at the time looked up to him, and he was a hero to many, as well as being a great family man. It’s one thing to be a republican, but it’s a massive sacrifice to make for your family and your country to take up the struggle.
“The event will also mark the 40th anniversary of his death, the date of which took place earlier this month, but it will be a chance for the community in Westrock and beyond to pay their respects and remember a decent man who achieved a lot in his short life, but who had so much more to give.”
n The plaque dedicated to Michael Kane will be unveiled at the Westrock Community Garden this Sunday, September 26, at 3pm, and will feature a speech by veteran republican activist Joe Austin. All are welcome.
North Belfast News
27 September 2010
THERE have been renewed calls for an independent inquiry into the murder of North Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane – at the United States House of Representatives.
The demand was made by the President of the National Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, Seamus Boyle, as he addressed the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on International Organisations, Human Rights and Oversight.
Last week’s meeting focused on ‘Peace, Reconciliation, and Human Rights in the North of Ireland’ and saw Mr Boyle call on the British government to “completely implement” the Good Friday Agreement, along with a Bill of Rights for the Stormont Assembly and an international truth recovery process.
However, Mr Boyle also referred to previous meetings which had been addressed by members of the Finucane family, where they slammed legislation they claim prevented the truth about the 1989 murder from being uncovered.
Mr Boyle outlined for Committee members the background to collusion claims in the North. “We ask the Committee to continue their long- time insistence, envisioned by Justice Peter Cory as well at a previous session, that the British government convene a truly independent Inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane immediately,” he said.
“In previous hearings by this committee several members of the Finucane family have stated that the Inquiries Act prevents the independent inquiry from being transparent and opposes democratic principles of natural justice and truth concerning the Finucane murder despite tremendous evidence of official collusion in the Pat Finucane murder.
“Next, that in relation to dealing with the history of collusion in the North the Police Ombudsman’s Office has had to deal with a tremendous amount of cases concerning allegations of collusion and failed to completely investigate conflict-related killings. The current caseload of the Ombudsman’s Office is 106 active cases and the estimate is that it may take 50 years to complete the investigations properly. The Northern Ireland Office has stated that adequate resources to complete this work are not available.
“The Ombudsman’s Office supports the creation of a separate process, a truth commission, of the type envisioned by the Eames/Bradley consultative group commissioned by the British Secretary of State, and its findings, which recommended the merging of the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the Ombudsman’s Office as one office with international oversight.
“The HET is not independent and has little support in either community because it is still viewed as part of the security forces it is investigating.”
Calling for a truth recovery process, which he stated would “provide resolution” for many of the families bereaved in the Troubles, Mr Boyle claimed such a move could prevent the constant stalling of the peace process as past atrocities were reviewed.
“The purpose of such a truth and reconciliation committee is to accelerate the coming together of the communities that suffered the most in the recently concluded conflict.
“The huge backlog of cases and investigations, along with new accusations occurring almost daily, will paralyse the peace process if we do not find a solution soon.
“The refusal to deal with these cases while delaying and backtracking on truth and reconciliation is almost certainly an attempt to cover up for those in the British security forces who supported the systemic actions of these same forces during the conflict.”
30 September 2010
Sinn Féin has welcomed the first stage in setting up a development corporation to oversee the development of the Long Kesh site.
The Assembly has debated a Draft Order that will allow for the establishment of a development corporation which will have responsibly for all matters relating to the site. It is hoped that the corporation will come into being next April.
“If established the key objective for the corporation will be to maximise the economic, historical and reconciliation potential of the site,” said former prisoner and Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler.
“At 347 acres, Maze/Long Kesh is the largest regeneration site in the region.
“The Long Kesh site is recognised as a strategic land reserve of regional importance. It enjoys a unique strategic position at the Sprucefield interchange and the gateway to Belfast.
“It is a most exceptional opportunity for a regeneration site, especially one of such international importance, to be located at the intersection of our main North-South and East-West highways, giving easy access to ports and airports.
“We have the opportunity now to show the world that this symbol of past conflict can live now as a symbol of peace, for it is here that I believe will be a key role for the new Maze/Long Kesh, a centre for the building and promotion of peace across the world as well as here, allowing for a physical symbol of our society’s transition from conflict and division towards peace and a better future for all.”
The Lagan Valley MLA said it would stand as a “new great beacon of hope across the world, building on the foundations of the peace process supported by the EU and others and recognised by EU President José Barrosso.
“Before us is a unique opportunity – an opportunity to derive the maximum social and economic benefit from a major public asset that will in turn positively impact on many sections of our society, promoting economic development and social regeneration and making a real contribution to peace internationally.
“There needs to be a clear collective priority now to ensure that the site’s social and economic benefits are maximised to benefit the whole community especially at the moment as we face an unprecedented public expenditure challenge.”
The DUP leader Peter Robinson has said legislation to replace the Parades Commission has been put on hold after the Orange Order refused to review their decision to reject it.
“I am disappointed by the outcome as considerable effort was made at Hillsborough to solve the issues around parades and protests. We had developed a new and improved framework to deal with parades.”
“This framework was based on specifications outlined by the Orange Order,” he added.
Mr Robinson said the draft bill should have been submitted to the NI Executive by September, in order to be ready for January 2011.
The first minister said that the time frame has now been missed because the Grand Lodge, which met at the weekend, did not review its decision to reject the Bill.
He revealed he had written to the Grand Master on 15 September telling him the Bill would be left in abeyance until if, or when, the order decided to proceed.
Mr Robinson said the reappointment of the Parades Commission would “sadden many” within the orders as the Commission has proved to be “part of the problem rather than part of the solution” to parades disputes.
“I see no advantage in moving from one system which the Orange Order does not engage with to another which, at the present time, does not have its support, ” the minister said.
Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said the Orange Order’s rejection of new legislation should “not be allowed to veto the establishment and endorsement by the Assembly of a new framework to address the issue of parades”.
“The legislation is an important part of the outworking of the Hillsborough Castle Agreement,” he said.
“The Orange Order was not party to that Agreement and they cannot be afforded a veto over progress to resolve this issue.”
The TUV’s Jim Allister said: “No matter how much Peter Robinson and the DUP lash out in a fit of pique, the inescapable truth is that it is the DUP which has failed to deliver a better way forward on parading.”
“It was they who promised they’d sorted parading as a quid pro quo over gifting Sinn Fein its demands on policing and justice.”
“Now, we find Sinn Fein got what they wanted but their cheque on parading to the DUP has bounced.”
DUP MP Jeffry Donaldson said his party believed the Parades Commission was deeply flawed and had left the loyal orders in “a very disadvantaged situation”.
“We believe this is a good system, but unfortunately, at the moment, the Orange Order has not given its consent and agreement to that system.”
He added, however, he had no doubt “some people have sought to play party politics with this”.
“We know for example that the new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Tom Elliot, is a senior Orangeman. He opposed the new legislation and indeed he even supported a motion way back earlier this year which said that the order shouldn’t even make a response to the consultation, in other words, shouldn’t even put forward a view on this issue.”
The SDLP’s Dolores Kelly said the collapse of the proposed legislation provided an opportunity “to go back and get it right without any more political fixes”.
“This was bespoke legislation, full of contradictions because it was tailored for the Orange Order in a secret working group with an order observer present,” she said.
“They demanded the Parades Commission’s head on a plate and that was the price of power that the DUP extracted from Sinn Fein at Hillsborough.”
The original proposals were contained in the Draft Public Assemblies Bill and had been agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.
They were rejected by 37 votes to 32 by members of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in July.
The draft legislation focused on dialogue and a code of conduct for both residents and marchers. It also spelled the end of the Parades Commission.
The PSNI yet again resorted to the use of repressive legislation yesterday [Tuesday] as the force launched a major “security operation” on the outskirts of the Derrybeg estate in Newry.
Allegedly responding to a bomb alert, dozens of heavily armed PSNI officers in riot gear descended on the Camlough Road area in armoured landrovers. They were soon backed up by a helicopter, which hovered extremely low over the estate for several hours.
True to form, the paramilitary police spent their time goading and provoking local nationalist youths, who responded by throwing stones and fireworks.
Concerned at the aggressive attitude of the PSNI towards the youngsters, a number of Derrybeg residents contacted local éirígí activists, who then made their way to scene, accompanied by the concerned residents. Almost immediately, several riot clad PSNI members, heavily armed with machine guns, surrounded them. The political police directed their attention towards one éirígí activist in particular and proceeded to question him under Section 43 of the British government’s ‘Terrorism Act’, which gives the PSNI the power to “stop and search persons for items which may constitute evidence that person is a terrorist”. They also accused the activist of gathering information “likely to be of use to terrorists”.
Undeterred by the harassment, the éirígí activists remained in the area to ensure the safety of local people.
Several hours later, after finding what they described as a “hoax device”, the PSNI withdrew from the area.
Rúnaí ginearálta éirígí Breandán Mac Cionnaith said: “Today, once again, we have witnessed the British police force in Ireland engaging in repression and, once again, it is used against a nationalist community in Newry.
“Several months ago, it was announced that the use of Section 44 would be suspended; at the time, éirígí expressed concerns that it would simply be replaced with other repressive legislation, in this instance Section 43 has been employed instead.
“éirígí is urging domestic and international human rights organisations to closely examine the use and validity of this legislation with a view to initiating test cases challenging the compatibility of these powers with established EU human rights case-law.
“éirígí was one of the very few organisations prepared to consistently challenge the use of Section 44 powers in the Six Counties. We have also previously highlighted the draconian nature of the equally objectionable Justice and Security Act and, as a party, we will continue to mount strenuous opposition to its use, along with the various other draconian legislations which are in use in occupied Ireland.”
Mac Cionnaith continued: “The Derrybeg estate and its residents are no strangers to Crown Force repression and have been to the fore in resisting this repression over the years. Today’s actions by the PSNI are only proving to people that they are an unchanged, unaccountable paramilitary force.
“Our activists in Newry have received a lot of unwanted attention in recent times from the political police. However, rather than intimidating them out of political activity, it will in fact strengthen their determination to continue to build the party in the Newry area and across Ireland – to complete the reconquest of this country by the working people of this country.”
GARC Press Release
29 Sept 2010
Received via email
Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) Spokesman; Paul Carson has
spoken of GARC’s disappointment that the discredited Parades Commission will
continue to administer sectarian parades.
‘In light of the Orange Order’s authority over Stormont Politicians, Tory
Minister, Owen Paterson has announced the Parades Commission will continue
to rule on sectarian marches.
Regardless of, the legitimate wishes of the majority of Greater Ardoyne
residents being strongly opposed to bigoted parades. Every decision made by
the Commission in respect of Ardoyne have completely ignored and
disrespected our community. Its rulings have regularly created tensions
between local communities as well as, a vacuum, where riots are inevitable.
As such, local people have absolutely no confidence that the Parades Quango
will tackle the Loyal Orders who insist on marching where they are clearly
Given the lack of certainty surrounding sectarian parades through Greater
Ardoyne, GARC call upon residents, community and political groups to unite,
discuss and formalise plans for a collective response to next year’s
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Fresh leads in a 37-year-old murder investigation have prompted detectives to reopen the cold case.
Eileen Doherty, 19, was shot dead by loyalist gunmen who hijacked the Belfast taxi she was taking home after visiting a friend during some of the worst of the Northern Ireland troubles in September 1973.
Police believe she was the victim of a random sectarian killing.
Eileen Doherty was shot dead by loyalist gunmen in 1973
A review of the case by the police’s specialist historical enquiries team (HET) has identified new evidential opportunities.
The investigation has now been transferred to detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s serious crime branch to take forward.
Reacting to the development, Ms Doherty’s family expressed hope that the killers could be finally caught.
“Eileen was murdered 37 years ago but she has always been in our thoughts,” relatives said in a statement.
“The pain of losing a loved one in circumstances like this never goes away. Eileen had her whole life in front of her and it is a sin that it was taken from her. We knew that the historical enquiries team was looking at Eileen’s case but this development is a surprise. We hope police can get somewhere with it.”
While detectives would not reveal the nature of the evidence, they said it was sufficient to justify re-opening the case.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector John McVea, said: “This is an unusual step but one which we think is worth taking because there are sufficient grounds for believing we can catch the killers.”
By Amanda Poole
Thursday, 30 September 2010
The Progressive Unionist Party announced last night it would be keeping its relationship with loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force.
At a closed party meeting in east Belfast last night the PUP said their links with the UVF would continue despite its bosses being linked with the murder of Bobby Moffett.
Interim leader Dr John Kyle read a statement detailing the party decision.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Dr Kyle said he has not put his name forward for the leadership race in October.
“I will be continuing with the party at the moment but I am reviewing my position,” he said.
An official PUP statement read: “After much debate and open conversation the membership decided to maintain the link with these organisations (UVF and Red Hand Commando).
“The Progressive Unionist Party is founded upon the core principles of social justice and conflict transformation. It has provided a vehicle for loyalists to actively participate in the political process.
“If our communities are to |consolidate the peace process we cannot ignore our obligation to those who continue to be underrepresented.”
The announcement follows the report by the Independent Monitoring Commission detailing that the UVF ordered the murder of loyalist Bobby Moffett, as it felt he had flouted their authority.
The IMC report called Moffett’s murder on the Shankill Road in May a “public execution”. It said the death could have been prevented by UVF bosses.
Shortly after the shooting in June the then PUP leader, Dawn Purvis, resigned.
At the time she said she was stepping down from her post because the PUP was, “severely restricted because of its relationship with the Ulster Volunteer Force”.
Monday, 27 September 2010
A man has been questioned about the murder of a policeman in Northern Ireland almost 30 years ago.
Father-of-two Reserve Constable John Proctor, 25, was shot dead by the IRA in the car park of the Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry after visiting his wife who had just given birth to a baby boy.
Police said a 54-year-old man has been detained in Swatragh, south Derry.
Just hours before he was ambushed on September 14 1981, Constable Proctor had been a pallbearer at the funeral of a UDR soldier friend gunned down by an IRA gunman in a neighbouring village of Maghera two days earlier.
**Received via email from Helen McClafferty
A brief Interview with Martin Galvin, Esq.
September 22, 2010
There is a great deal of speculation and assumptions floating around out there in cyber space regarding what type of sentence Gerry McGeough is facing. I asked Martin Galvin, a prominent New York attorney helping out on Gerry’s case, to explain what the possibility is if pronounced guilty.
Martin explained that “Under the terms of the deal, if pronounced guilty, Gerry McGeough would first be sentenced to a lengthy jail term. While he would be eligible for early release, after 2 years, (even for someone like Gerry who endured a notorious German prison and 3 years in a federal penitentiary) this is not a minor thing for a man in his 50s with a bad heart serving time in the conditions at Maghaberry with young children.
Martin went on to to say that “The problem with this type of sentence is the fact it is “a release on license or parole”, which can be revoked at any time for little or no reason other than the constabulary claims to have intelligence information that you are associating with people they dislike. (eg Terry McCafferty). McCafferty was jailed a few weeks after his release. It was claimed there was intelligence information that he was associating with dissident Republicans. After 15 months it was admitted that there had been no intelligence information against him. This could mean a quick return to Maghaberry prison under the original sentence”.
For those of you not familiar with the Terry McCafferty case, the following was taken from the Irish News, Monday, March 29, 2010:
The Irish News reported “Alleged Real IRA leader” Terry McCafferty was released from Maghaberry Prison after the Sentence Review Commissions ruled his detention illegal on the basis that the case against him was unreliable. McCafferty had been released on licence in November 2008, half-way through a 12-year sentence for possession of explosives, but, as noted at the time, in December 2008 the Secretary of State revoked his parole licence and he was re-arrested at Belfast International Airport. Since then there has been a legal battle over the case, which included a December 2009 Court of Appeal ruling rejecting a legal challenge to the decision to revoke McCafferty’s licence.
As part of that legal battle the attorney general appointed a special advocate to represent McCafferty at hearings which he was not allowed to attend because of sensitive intelligence material presented to the commission by security agencies. The case took a dramatic turn earlier this month when the special advocate announced he was withdrawing from the case, claiming he was not being allowed to properly represent the alleged dissident. However, McCafferty’s lawyer Paul Pierce was last night informed that the sentence review commission had recommended the prisoner’s immediate release. Welcoming the move, Mr. Pierce said: “My client has been held in prison without any valid evidence for the last 15 months. “He will be considering a civil action against the secretary of state for this illegal detention.”
I hope the above information helps people to have a better understanding of exactly how serious the consequences are facing Gerry at this time.
I cannot impress enough upon republicans that if Gerry is convicted, not only will it serve to prove the British government did not hold up their end of the Good Friday Agreement, but it will now set a precedent, going forward, that all republicans will now be in jeopardy if the RUC/PSNI decide you are next.
• For more legal information on Gerry’s case, you can download and listen to Martin Galvin on WBAI’s Radio Free Eireann, by using this link and scrolling down to Saturday, September 18, 2010 show 1:00pm: http://archives.wbai.org
Michael Collins wins out over James Connolly and Bono as Ireland’s greatest person
24 Sept 2010
Michael Collins has won the IrishCentral.com Ireland’s Greatest Person Poll by a landslide with 58 percent of the votes. ‘The Big Fella’ received an overwhelming majority of the votes showing he still pulls the populist vote.
In second place came James Connolly with 16 percent, in third was Bono with ten percent, the John Hume with eight percent and Mary Robinson with just five percent.
We were prompted to publish the poll as RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) have created a competition to see who Ireland will vote in as the greatest Irish person ever. The show has sparked a massive interest in Irish Americans.
As part of the show Irish celebrities and political figures picked famous Irish figures and became their champions. Michael McDowell a Senior Counsel and former Minister for Justice chose Michael Collins to champion.
Collins is generally thought to be one of the most influential figures in creating the Irish republic so it is not wonder that he is still topping the votes on the popularity scale.
During his lifetime he was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and MP for Cork South in the First Parliament of 1919. He was also the director of Intelligence for the Old IRA and a member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both chairman of the Provisional Government and commander-in-chief of the National Army. Throughout this time, at least as of 1919, he was also President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
He was killed in an IRA ambush in 1922 having accepted that Treaty that partitioned the country. Over 300,000 mourners attended his funeral.
The final five on the list also includes James Connolly, Bono, John Hume and Mary Robinson.
James Connolly, though Scottish-born played a huge role the 1916 Easter Rising and built much of the framework for the Irish state. He was shot by a British firing squad after the Easter Rising.
Bono, aka Paul Hewson, is the lead singer from the internationally famous U2. He has become just as well known for his good works around the globe and for his role as ambassador.
John Hume was one of the main architects in the Irish peace process and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He gave over his life to helping to resolve the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Europe’s longest running conflict.
Finally, Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland transformed the position being the first woman to hold the role and reinventing the role of women in political life in Ireland. She also became the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner.
In March the RTE show introduced a list of 40 names. Two weeks later this list was whittled down to the top ten. They were Bono, Dr. Noel Browne, Michael Collins, James Connolly, Stephen Gately, John Hume, Phil Lynott, Padraig Pearse, Mary Robinson and Adi Roche.
The RTE competition continues however if IrishCentral’s poll is anything to go by Michael Collins will surely win.
• For more info go to www.rte.ie/tv/irelandsgreatest .
By Rimante Kulvinskyte (CP)
24 Sept 2010
VILNIUS, Lithuania — A Lithuanian judge postponed a hearing Friday in the trial of a suspected Irish Republican Army dissident accused of trying to purchase weapons and explosives in the Baltic country.
Michael Campbell, the brother of a senior Real IRA figure in Ireland, was arrested in January 2008 in an international sting operation when he allegedly handed €10,000 to an undercover Lithuanian agent posing as a weapons supplier.
The hearing was cancelled because Campbell’s lawyer, Ingrida Botyriene, was ill.
Campbell is the brother of Liam Campbell, who helped found the Real IRA and, according to Irish police, is the faction’s overall commander today.
“We have enough information to affirm that Michael Campbell was attempting to get a big amount of weapons and explosives,” said prosecutor Girmantas Mikelionis.
The trial has dragged on due to sheer volume of testimony and international bureaucracy involving undercover agents using different languages.
Campbell could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seeking weapons for terrorist purposes.
He served a four-month prison sentence in the Netherlands in 2004 after being convicted of smuggling millions of counterfeit cigarettes into Ireland, a major criminal racket run by the Real IRA.
Friday, September 24, 2010 – 06:42 PM
Dissident republican groups remain small and isolated organisations, but experts warn they are growing in size and expertise.
The fringe groups are violently opposed to the peace process and have focused their energies on launching sporadic waves of attacks, primarily on the police.
And key figures in the North concede that it only takes a handful of dangerous individuals to inflict major casualties.
The murder of three security force members last year has been followed by a string of other attacks, plus near misses where large scale civilian, military or police deaths could easily have been caused.
The British Government’s official paramilitary watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), has said it is difficult to place a figure on the number of active dissidents.
But while the groups are small scale in comparison with the mainstream IRA and loyalist groups active at the height of the Troubles, there are early signs of some co-operation between the separate dissident republican organisations.
Prominent Sinn Féin member and former IRA prisoner Gerry Kelly, who is now a Junior Minister in the North’s power-sharing government, recently observed: “These small groups have the ability to do damage. Two or three people can do a lot of damage if they go undetected and they have the expertise.”
Experts have said the dissidents remain a loose collection of dangerous organisations with no central command.
But they have noted a worrying recruitment trend in recent years.
Professor Adrian Guelke, an expert on Irish terror groups at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Throughout 2009 there was seen to be an increase in recruitment.
“Their capacity is quite advanced as they have recruited people who were former provos (members of the Provincial IRA). There is now concern that these groups have access to a team of experts.”
The main groups include:
:: The Continuity IRA: It has its origins in ideological divisions in the republican movement that forced splits in the 1980s. In 1986 Sinn Féin voted to change its party policy, opting to seek to take seats in the Dáil. This saw traditionalists, who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Republic of Ireland, leave its ranks to form the Republican Sinn Féin party. It has regularly denied being linked to the Continuity IRA (CIRA) paramilitary group that later appeared, but they are widely seen as being connected. The Continuity group came to wider attention with attacks in the mid-1990s that took place as tensions grew within republican ranks over the emerging peace process and the mainstream movement’s advance towards a solely political path. The Continuity group is strongest in pockets of the border counties. In March last year it claimed responsibility for the murder of Police Service of Northern Ireland constable Stephen Carroll in Co Armagh.
:: The Real IRA: The “RIRA” group has become the most prominent of the dissident organisations and was responsible for the Omagh bombing of 1998.
The blast claimed the lives of 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. The attack in the Co Tyrone town was the single biggest loss of life of the Troubles and while it forced the dissidents to wind-down their violence, the move proved only temporary.
The paramilitary group shot dead two soldiers outside Massereene Army base in Co Antrim last year, and has been linked to a string of bomb and gun attacks. It emerged from bitter splits inside republicanism over the peace process in the late 1990s and key members of the Provisional IRA broke away to form their own smaller armed group.
It was to become the biggest of the dissident organisations, and though it has overtaken the CIRA, the IMC believes the two have co-operated.
:: Oglaigh na hEireann: The IMC has described it as a small but dangerous group, bent on violence and involved in other criminal enterprises. It is also said to include former Provisional IRA members and has co-operated with other dissidents.
:: Republican Action Against Drugs: Is believed to be made up of dissidents who have carried out so-called punishment attacks in the Derry area. It may not be a stand-alone group, so much as a front for others.
:: The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA): It was formed in the mid 1970s and carried out some of the most notorious killings of the Troubles.
It was responsible for the 1997 murder of loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Wright, who was shot dead by two INLA prisoners inside the top security Maze prison.
Last week a report by a public inquiry, compiled at a cost of £30m, announced it had found no evidence of state collusion in the Wright killing despite theories to the contrary.
While the INLA opposes the Good Friday Agreement, it last year announced its campaign of violence was over and subsequently decommissioned weapons.