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By Gemma Burns
North Belfast News
28th of February 2011

“So near and yet so far.”

Those were the words of Alex McLaughlin this week after a day which should have been a momentous occasion for the McGurk’s families was turned into a “slap on the face” from the PSNI.

The pensioner, whose 55-year-old father Thomas was killed in the atrocity which claimed the lives of 15 people, said his beloved mother Anne never got over the horrific death of her much-loved husband and father of her eight children.

Anne McLaughlin died in 1997 never seeing her husband’s name cleared or a retraction of the allegations that those killed in the blast were IRA members who died as a result of an “own goal” bomb.

Alex said that a day that began with so much hope and elation had been effectively ruined by Chief Constable Matt Baggott’s refusal to apologise for the RUC investigative bias.

“It was a momentous day for us, I was so happy that after 40 years the truth was coming out and we were so close,” he said.

“But when Matt Baggot said that it was just a slap in the face, it is so frustrating for us it feels like we were so near and yet so far.”

The McLaughlin family lived in Ardilea Street in the Bone at the time of the bomb. Alex was 29 years old. His two younger brothers had rushed to the scene to help dig through the rubble after the news broke that a bomb had gone off. His brother Peter had to identify his father’s body.

“It practically finished my mother, like it did the rest of the families.

“It was bad enough the loss but afterwards with the lies getting told and no matter how much we tried to counteract them there was nothing we could get done, it was just doors slamming in our faces.”

Monday’s Police Ombudsman’s report is the result of years of work by the families and campaigners, fighting for truth and to clear the name of the innocent victims of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

“There are so many people that need to be thanked for all their hard work, from the Pat Finucane Centre to the British Irish Rights Watch,’ he said.

“I also want to say a special thank you to two men who did so much work but never really got the recognition they deserved. Paddy McManus who was a Sinn Féin councillor in the New Lodge who did so much work and Gerard Brophy who came after him. They were real forerunners of the McGurk’s campaign.”

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By Gráinne McWilliams
Andersonstown News
28th of February 2011

COMMUNITY workers from across West and North Belfast have united in solidarity with their threatened colleague Seamus Finucane.

Shadowy dissident republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) issued a death threat to the former IRA prisoner for what many believe is for his work with the West Belfast Community Safety Forum (WBCSF). The forum works with the PSNI and other stakeholder groups to address crime and anti-social behaviour in the West.

At a special press conference held in Conway Mill yesterday, a statement signed by upwards of 70 community groups from across Belfast was issued. The statement called on the ONH to “withdraw their threat to community workers” and to “allow us to continue providing services to vulnerable and needy people free from any threat of violence and intimidation”.

Gerry McConville, Director of the Falls Community Council, said the press conference was called after several unsuccessful approaches were made to ONH to try and get the threat on Mr Finucane’s life lifted.

“We are here today to show these groups that we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Seamus,” said Mr McConville, who chaired a panel made up of Geraldine McAteer, Chief Executive of the West Belfast Partnership Board (WBPB), and Liam Maskey, Director of North Belfast inter-community organisation Intercomm.

Inundated

“Since this statement was drafted only a day ago, we have been inundated with pledges of support from community groups across Belfast. They are absolutely disgusted with ONH’s actions.”

“The WBCSF was set up in response to my brother Harry’s death and the death of Bap McGreevy and has had a good success rate in reducing crime in this area,” continued Geraldine McAteer, the sister of greengrocer Harry Holland, who was murdered in 2007 after trying to stop thieves from stealing his delivery van.

“These people threatening community workers should come out in public and debate with us openly.”

Speaking about community groups working with the PSNI in addressing crime, Liam Maskey said this practice would continue, despite the threat.

“This is not a beg or a plea to allow us to continue our work – this work is continuing no matter what,” said Mr Maskey.

“This country voted for the current dispensation and we have to work within this dispensation. There is no-one we will not work with for the good of our community.”

By Gemma Burns
North Belfast News
28th of February 2011

Community Restorative Justice Ireland is expanding its mediation and victim support services with clinics starting next week in the New Lodge area.

The twice-weekly clinics will run on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm in the offices of the New Lodge Housing Forum.

Seán Mag Uidhir of CRJI said that the idea for the clinics came from meetings between the group and the New Lodge’s Safer Streets Initiative.

“CRJI has been operating a very busy office at the Flax Centre in Ardoyne and last year alone it dealt with over 320 cases,” said Seán Mag Uidhir.

“These cases ranged from disputes between neighbours, people under threat, residents reporting crime and anti-social behaviour, and support for victims of crime or families coming under pressure from drug dealers. The CRJI project has worked with residents, statutory and community bodies and taken a non-violent problem-solving approach to all these issues and although the project has been based in Ardoyne we have also handled a number of cases from areas all over North Belfast, including the New Lodge and Newington.”

Liam Wiggins of the Safer Streets Initiative said the idea for CRJI to begin operating clinics in the New Lodge area came out of meetings between the groups.

“CRJI did a presentation about its work to the Safer Streets committee. We felt that having a CRJI presence in the New Lodge would complement the work Safer Streets is already doing in the area.”

“We have organised Neighbourhood Watch schemes, reclaimed some of the area’s hotspots and our members have given talks in local schools educating children about the risks associated with anti-social behaviour.

“We believe that the collaboration with CRJI’s mediation services can help us increase the community’s ability to solve problems.”

For more information on the clinics contact Liam Wiggins at 90742399 or Seán Mag Uidhir at 90753043.

By Paul Ainsworth
Andersonstown News
28th of February 2011

A WEST Belfast man whose grandfather was killed in the 1971 McGurk’s Bar atrocity has slammed PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott following the publication of the Police Ombudsman’s report into the UVF attack.

Robert McClenaghan, whose grandfather Phillip Garry was one of 11 Catholics murdered when the bomb tore through the North Belfast bar in December ’71, has strongly condemned the Chief Constable’s comments, which claimed that the Ombudsman’s findings that the RUC investigation in the aftermath of the explosion was flawed was just one theory – and that other reports had stated otherwise.

This week’s new report, which was re-written following complaints that the report due to be published last summer was flawed and even contained basic spelling mistakes, found that the RUC at the time insisted on investigating the theory that the bombing was an IRA “own goal”.

Describing the police’s attitude at the time as “RUC bias”, the report said this error prompted the unionist government at the time to spread the misinformation that the bomb was due to be collected by a republican before it went off prematurely. It took until 1978 for one of the UVF members responsible for the mass slaughter, Robert Campbell, to be convicted.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News following the publication, Robert McClenaghan insisted evidence still pointed to collusion on the part of the RUC.

“Mr Baggot’s comments are outrageous, and add to the pain felt by the families,” he said.

“Also, how he can say there is no evidence of collusion is still amazing. The genesis of that is outlined in the report, as the RUC duty officer’s report immediately after the bomb describes how a man left the bomb in the bar, to be ‘picked up’ by an IRA member for use elsewhere. This so-called evidence was based on nothing.

“Collusion is not just helping paramilitaries, it can also be distracting investigators or turning a blind eye. The lie was then carried to London by then Stormont Prime Minister Brian Faulkner, who said that it was in all likelihood the IRA, and that the ‘associations’ of those killed and injured should be investigated. So this is him redirecting the investigation away from who was really responsible, and it tarnishes the names of our families.

“We had put several complaints to the Ombudsman over the reports, and all but one of these have been upheld – that of collusion. For us, the glass is only three-quarters full. There’s enough evidence in this report to start another investigation.”

North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly also hit out at Mr Baggot’s statements following the publication. “I think what the families deserve from the Chief Constable is an apology,” he said, “but what they got instead was him defending the indefensible. He has added to the families’ hurt.”

BBC
28 Feb 2011

The leaders of the Fine Gael and Labour parties are due to meet for a preliminary discussion ahead of talks on forming a coalition.

Fine Gael is on course to win about 75 seats in the new parliament – just short of enough to form a majority single party government.

It is most likely go into coalition with Labour, who finished second.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is likely to seek a coalition with the Labour Party

Party leader Enda Kenny is expected to meet Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore in Dublin shortly.

On Sunday Fine Gael’s director of elections Phil Hogan said: “I expect that the leader of Fine Gael will be contacting Labour and will be contacting independents as well.

“There seems to be a realisation that there are some important decisions coming up for the country in the context of EU matters.”

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said he had not been contacted by Fine Gael, but said his party would be open to discussions.

“If Fine Gael want a government for a period of five years, strong, stable that brings together the two largest parties, in what will be the closest we’re going to get in this country to essentially a national government, the Labour Party is willing to play its part in that,” Mr Gilmore said.

“But I do say that the window of opportunity for that to happen is very narrow.

“I believe that a government needs to be formed on the first day the Dail is back which is 9 March.
______________

Irish politics

* Dominated by two parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, which emerged after Irish nationalists split over the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty
* Fianna Fail was once seen as more centrist, Fine Gael as more conservative, but differences have blurred
* The Labour Party was the traditional junior partner in coalitions until 1997
* The Green Party came into its own in 2007 when it joined Fianna Fail in coalition
* Sinn Fein, shunned by the mainstream because of its IRA connections, held nearly as many seats as the Greens in the outgoing parliament
______________

“So really there’s about a week in which a programme for government can be put together.”

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who is set become the next Irish prime minister, said he hoped a coalition could be agreed quickly.

“We don’t want a situation where this is going to be dragged out,” he said.

On Sunday, Mr Kenny promised to work to renegotiate the country’s crippling 85bn euro bail-out next week.

Mr Kenny also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday night.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Mr Cameron had invited Mr Kenny to Number 10.

The ruling Fianna Fail party suffered a crushing defeat in the election, with high profile casualties including deputy prime minister Mary Coughlin and tourism minister Mary Hanafin.

Thirty-four outgoing Fianna Fail TDs failed to be re-elected, while its coalition partner, the Greens, lost all six of its seats.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin put on a brave face and said he believed that Fine Gael had managed to secure support from floating voters.

“There’s a soft vote there for Fine Gael and Labour, just as there was for us for years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has won 13 seats so far in the Irish general election, a gain of eight on its representation in the last Dail.

Party president Gerry Adams topping the poll in Louth after giving up his Westminster seat for West Belfast.

Recounts are underway in the three constituences which remain to be decided.

:::u.tv:::
24 Feb 2011

High-profile dissident republican Colin Duffy and five others, who were arrested in connection with the murder of two soldiers and a policeman, have failed to win a court declaration that the period of detention contravened human rights laws.

The suspects were seeking a verdict that provisions under anti-terrorism legislation were incompatible with their right to liberty under European legislation.

But Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, and two other senior judges ruled that no basis for making the declaration had been established.

Lawyers are now set to mount a challenge to the verdict at the Supreme Court in London.

The case related to the detention of four people in connection with the Real IRA shootings of Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim on March 2009.

Duffy, 43 and from Lurgan, is due to stand trial for the murders.

Two others involved in the challenge were held over the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon, Co Armagh two days later.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000 the suspects were able to be detained for up to 28 days before they must be formally accused or released.

The six claimed that relevant sections of the legislation were incompatible with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It was argued that a judge who hears applications for extended custody was not a competent judicial authority because issues of bail cannot be considered.

The Divisional Court rejected claims that the Act meant a person could be detained for up to 28 days without any consideration of the proportionality or justification for such detention.

It stated that there is a continuing need to demonstrate reasonable suspicion.

Sir Declan said: “Issues of proportionality and justification are fundamental aspects of the review process.”

Lawyers for the applicants also argued that Article 5 of the European Convention requires a detained person to be charged well before the expiry of the 28 day period. But finding against this submission, the court held that the charging of a detainee was not relevant to the duration of their detention.

Sir Declan added: “We do not consider that the appellants have established any basis for contending that paragraphs 29 or 36 of Schedule 8 to the 2000 Act are incompatible with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Following the verdict a lawyer for four of those involved in the case confirmed plans to contest it.

Paul Pierce, of Kevin R Winters and Co, said: “We are going to carefully consider the judgement and it will be out intention to petition the Supreme Court so they can consider the matters further.”

The Committee on the Administration of Justice has expressed its deep disappointment at the ruling.

Mike Ritchie, CAJ’s Director said: “It is of great concern that such extended detention has not been ruled unlawful.

“It is deeply regrettable that the domestic courts feel that, with the peace process never more deeply stable, the police should have a power to detain for 28 days.”

By Alan Erwin
Belfast Telegraph
26 Feb 2011

A High Court judge has reversed the decision to throw out a |damages claim brought by the husband of one of the Omagh bomb victims.

Mr Justice Gillen’s ruling |allows Laurence Rush, whose wife Elizabeth was among 29 people killed in the atrocity, to proceed with his action against the police and Government.

The widower sued the Chief Constable and Secretary of State for failures in the apprehension, detection and pre-emptive arrest of the Real IRA men responsible.

He also claimed for loss and damages, alleging that police failed to act upon information |received on the August 1998 bomb plot, did not give adequate warnings or implement sufficient |evacuation procedures.

His case appeared to have failed last May when a High Court master granted an application by the defendants to strike it out on the basis that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action, or that it was frivolous or vexatious.

It was held that the claim was unsustainable and without the potential for success.

But Mr Rush’s lawyers appealed that decision, instructing high-profile English barrister Michael Mansfield QC to lead their challenge.

In the event the judge did not require to hear from Mr Mansfield before deciding that the case should go to trial.

Mr Justice Gillen is expected to give written reasons for his decision in due course.

The case centres on the duty of care owed by the police in the course of carrying out its functions of investigating, controlling and preventing the incidence of crime.

The core principle is that, in general, officers should be immune from litigation for activities in investigating suspected crimes.

Counsel for the defendants pointed out that Mr Rush’s lawyers were seeking to make it an exception because of the alleged information available to police and the scale of the bomb.

David Ringland QC argued: “The fact that more than one person did die or could have died, and that wouldn’t have happened if there had been some form of intervention beforehand, had nothing to do with the law as to whether there is an exception or not to the core principle.”

However, Mr Justice Gillen upheld the appeal, prompting Mr Mansfield’s only submission when he told the judge: “Thank you.”

Mr Rush’s solicitor Des Doherty said: “After a long battle that involved closed hearings for nearly two years we are now content that the case is allowed to proceed.”

Background

Relatives of six people killed in the Omagh bomb successfully sued four men deemed responsible for the 1998 explosion in which 29 people died. The Real IRA’s Army Council was also found liable in June 2009. The families were awarded damages totalling £1.6m in 2009. High Court judges are currently considering an appeal. Initially Laurence Rush was part of the civil action but then split to pursue a separate case. The families are also calling for a full public inquiry into the atrocity.

By Liam Clarke
Belfast Telegraph
25 February 2011

Two former senior RUC detectives have said the proposed conflict resolution centre on the Maze prison site need not become a “shrine to terrorism” as its opponents claim.

In the Executive’s draft Budget for the next four years, £21.38m has been earmarked for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to develop the site. Much of the money will be covered by European grants.

Yesterday Roy Beggs, UUP MLA for East Antrim, called for the project to be axed. Describing the idea as “divisive and highly contentious”, he went on to call for this “dark period of our history” to be “left firmly in the past”.

However Raymond White, a former RUC Assistant Chief Constable in charge of Special Branch, said: “I understand the fears that it could be exploited, but if it was handled properly, by objective bodies like the Ulster Museum or the history departments of the two universities, this could be a good thing.”

Mr White, who served in the RUC throughout the Troubles, warned against the project falling into the hands of partisan |organisations and suggested that a victims’ section, with taped |testimonies of Troubles survivors, should be added.

“If we do this properly, for the first time, Northern Ireland could hold up its head and say: ‘Bad things have happened here and this is our story’,” he said.

Mr White has visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and believes a garden of remembrance and testimonies of the dead could be added to the proposed resolution centre.

“I would like an oral archive. I would like somewhere I could bring my grandson, look up a Troubles victim in our family and walk away with a record of it,” he said.

Peter Sheridan, another former RUC Assistant Chief Constable, now heads Co-operation Ireland, which brings people from conflict zones abroad to study here.

He said: “We need to take a longer-term view. It shouldn’t be a shrine to anybody. It would be best organised with the selection of material grounded in research, not driven by gut instinct.”

Richard O’Rawe, a former IRA prisoner in the Maze who has written two books about protests there, also believes the site should be used in an inclusive way.

“Why shouldn’t it be a shrine to everybody who died in the Troubles?” he asked. “If we don’t preserve our history, how can we learn anything from it?”

Contrary to recent comments made by senior members of Sinn Fein and its
friends in CARA, the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective are still active
and planning for the forthcoming Loyalist marching season. Which will
undoubtably negatively impact on Ardoyne and surrounding communities, as it
has for decades. Unlike some, our Collective is solely interested in
challenging the insistance of the Loyal Orders to march through the Greater
Ardoyne community. GARC has no interest in accomodating or facilitating
secterian organisations who impose their unwelcome parades through our
community.

In recent weeks, upwards of 40 protesters who peacefully blocked the Crumlin
Road on July 12th, 2010 have been summonsed to appear at Belfast
Magistrate’s Court to ‘answer’* *various charges relating to the above
protest. GARC stand firmly behind those men and women, most of who are
Ardoyne residents and send our solidarity and support to them and their
families. We intend mounting peaceful protests against these
politically-sponsored charges and ask all political parties and groups to
attend and express their disgust!

These charges are a political response by the British State and Stormont
Administration to criminalise peaceful protests. It is clear to the Greater
Ardoyne community that nothing has changed and those defenders of civil
rights continue to be intimidated, arrested and charged. Despite these
charges Greater Ardoyne residents will continue to oppose unwelcome
secterian marches!

Will the PSNI and PPS be charging the scores of Unionists who regularly
block the Upper Crumlin /Hesketh Road and the dozens who also block the
Woodvale/Twaddell junctions. Each and every time one of these unwanted
parades trample the Ardoyne community? Maybe, they will also issues a
summons to every Loyalist protester who prevented workers and customers
entry to ASDA’s Shore Road complex for four days, last July?

GARC haven’t gone away you know…

:::u.tv:::
25 Feb 2011

Lawyers for a former Sinn Féin councillor and a teenager accused of murdering PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll have said they are applying to have the charges dropped.

The arraignment of 39-year-old Brendan McConville, from Aldervale in Tullygally, and 19-year-old John Paul Wootton, from Collingdale in Lurgan, was subsequently adjourned on Friday.

The pair both deny murdering PC Carroll while he was on duty in Craigavon, on 9 March 2009, and possessing an AK47 assault rifle with intent to endanger life.

Defence lawyers acting on behalf of McConville and Wootton told Belfast Crown Court they would be applying for a ‘no bill’ on the murder charges.

McConville also faces two charges of possessing explosives with intent to endanger life and possessing them under suspicious circumstances, on dates between 11 October 2006 and 11 October 2007.

He denies the charges and his solicitor told the court the indictment is “flawed”.

Wootton is also charged with attempting to collect information which would be useful to terrorists, relating to the home address of a serving police officer, on dates between 10 January 2009 and 10 March 2009.

His mother, 38-year-old Sharon Wootton – who lives at the same address as her son – faces a charge of perverting the course of justice. She is alleged to have “removed a computer or computers from her home address, believing her home address might be searched and the said computer or computers seized by police”.

The court was told legal applications would be made on her behalf as well.

Mr Justice Hart directed both defence and prosecution lawyers to lodge skeleton arguments for the no bill applications and said he would hear submissions on a date to be fixed.

PC Carroll, a 48-year-old married man and grandfather with 24 years service in the police, was shot dead by a gunman lying in wait as he answered a 999 call-out in Lismore Manor, Craigavon. He had been nearing the end of his 12-hour shift.

The murder came just two days after a gun attack on Massereene Army Barracks in Antrim, in which two soldiers were shot dead while collecting a pizza delivery.

PC Carroll was the first police officer to be murdered since the RUC was replaced by the PSNI.

Indymedia.ie
26 Feb 2011

In recent days Oglaigh na hEireann the dissident republican group warned it would not tolerate “acts of treachery” — meaning any information passed to police that could lead to the arrest of its members. At the heart of the story is the issue of community co-operation with the PSNI.

SIPTU’s lead organiser Martin O’Rourke today called for the retraction of the threat against Community Sector workers by Oglaigh na hEireann.

“We as a union are standing shoulder to shoulder with community sector workers and we insist this threat be rescinded with immediate effect. We condemn threats to anyone especially those whose only objective is to enhance and serve the communities in which they live.”.

“Community sector workers’ sole focus is to build a better society for all our community. They need to be able to engage with all aspects of society in furtherance of this objective and it is neither right, proper nor acceptable that they be issued with threats by any group” stated Martin O’Rourke.

“We call upon all right thinking people to join with us in insisting this threat be rescinded with immediate effect so community sector workers can continue to work towards improving our society by virtue of the excellent services they provide without fear or threat” the SIPTU statement continued.

• Related Link: http://www.siptu.ie

GERRY MORIARTY
Irish Times
25 Feb 2011

DISSIDENT REPUBLICANS are coming into direct confrontation with community workers in nationalist areas of Belfast.

They have refused to lift a death threat against west Belfast community activist Seamus Finucane, a former IRA prisoner and a brother of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane.

Community workers gathered together in west Belfast this week to resist the threat from the group calling itself Óglaigh na hÉireann. They insisted they would not be intimidated by the threats which are against anyone who passed on information to the PSNI that would lead to the arrest of an Óglaigh na hÉireann member.

The threat has created something of a community power struggle within nationalist areas of Belfast between the dissidents and republicans who support the PSNI and are signed up to the new political dispensation. Community activists were angered that Óglaigh na hÉireann felt emboldened to issue a threat against Mr Finucane – a former senior IRA figure who carries out community work in the Upper Springfield area of west Belfast – and to other community workers.

On February 17th, the PSNI warned him there was a serious threat to his life. Efforts by community workers to have that and other threats lifted have failed. Óglaigh na hÉireann warned that “acts of treachery” would not be tolerated and that the threat applied to anyone who co-operated with the police “regardless of their previous background”.

Gerry McConville, director of the Falls Community Council, said yesterday while the threat was still in force it would not deflect local community activists from their work. He said over 90 community groups and individuals had supported a statement rejecting the “unacceptable blanket threat against community workers” and demanding it be lifted.

“They have badly misjudged the people of west Belfast if they think they can intimidate us,” he said.

BBC
25 Feb 2011

Around a hundred people have attended a candle-lit vigil and anniversary mass in Londonderry for Real IRA murder victim Kieran Doherty.

Mr Doherty was found shot dead at the Braehead Road in February 2010.

The events, held at Termonbacca and at the Braehead Road, were attended by Mr Doherty’s friends and family, including his three-year-old daughter.

Kieran’s mother, Christine Doherty, said the anniversary mass was “very difficult”.

The 31-year-old was found shot dead on the Braehead Road outside Derry

“It’s just hard to believe that he’s dead, I just can’t take it in at all,” she said.

Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson, who was at the vigil, said it was “important for the family to feel the support of the community.”

SDLP MLA Pol Callaghan said the Doherty family “need justice” and called on anyone with information to come forward.

Detectives investigating the murder of the 31-year-old have issued a renewed appeal for information on the first anniversary of his death.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison said progress had been made but “not enough to bring charges”.

“There are others who know who killed Kieran,” he said.

“Information from the community, not speculation, will help police to build an evidential case.”

Anyone with information on what happened to Kieran Doherty is asked to contact detectives at Maydown.

BBC
25 Feb 2011

A High Court judge has reversed the decision to throw out a damages claim brought by the husband of one of the Omagh bomb victims.

Laurence Rush’s wife Elizabeth was among 29 people killed in the atrocity.

The ruling allows him to proceed with his action for damages against the police and government.

He sued the NI Chief Constable and Secretary of State for failures in the apprehension, detection and arrest of the Real IRA men responsible.

He also claimed for loss and damages, alleging that police failed to act upon information received on the August 1998 bomb plot, and did not give adequate warnings or implement sufficient evacuation procedures.

His case appeared to have failed last May when a High Court master granted an application by the defendants to strike it out on the basis that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action, or that it was “frivolous or vexatious”.

It was held that the claim was unsustainable and without the potential for success.

However, Mr Rush’s lawyers appealed that decision, instructing high-profile barrister Michael Mansfield to lead their challenge.

In the event the judge did not require to hear from Mr Mansfield before deciding that the case should go to trial.

Mr Justice Gillen is expected to give written reasons for his decision in due course.

The case centres on the duty of care owed by the police, in the course of carrying out its functions of investigating, controlling and preventing the incidence of crime.

The core principle established in leading cases is that, in general, officers should be immune from litigation for activities in investigating suspected crimes.

Counsel for the defendants pointed out that Mr Rush’s lawyers were seeking to make it an exception because of the alleged information available to police and the scale of the bomb.

David Ringland said: “The fact that more than one person did die or could have died and that (allegedly) wouldn’t have happened if there had been some form of intervention beforehand had nothing to do with the law as to whether there is an exception or not to the core principle.”

However, Mr Justice Gillen upheld the appeal, prompting Mr Mansfield’s only submission when he said to the judge: “Thank you.”

Mr Rush did not attend the hearing due to ill health.

Outside the court, his solicitor Des Doherty said the case “potentially had ramifications for quite a number of cases in the north of Ireland involving the security forces.”

BBC
24 Feb 2011

An inquest into the death of unarmed IRA man Pearse Jordan, shot by police in west Belfast almost 20 years ago, may be held in October.

Up to four weeks have been allowed for the hearing, provisionally set for 3 October 2011.

The Belfast Coroner’s Court still has to decide on whether up to 20 potential witnesses should be screened when giving evidence.

Mr Jordan, 23, was shot by the RUC in disputed circumstances in 1992.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said: “Maybe we should try to prioritise this matter, if we can provisionally think about the third of October for this matter to proceed.”

He is also consulting with colleagues about the handling of material from the Stevens inquiry, the London police team which probed security force collusion in controversial conflict deaths in Northern Ireland.

The police service is responsible for using the database and it will also be represented at the inquest.

The coroner said the database could impact on many other cases.

“It is important that nothing is done here that casts any doubt on the integrity of the PSNI,” he said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson will also have to consider issuing public interest immunity certificates to prevent disclosure of certain details which he feels may endanger security.

The coroner will also have to consider all applications for witness anonymity submitted by members or former members of the police.

A review hearing will be held later this year.

Hungerstrike 30th Anniversary Exhibition & Function Sat 19th March Armagh City

Indymedia.ie

2011 will mark the 30th Anniversary of the Hunger strikes and consequential death of ten Irish republicans in the H Blocks in 1981.

As a fitting tribute to these men Republican Sinn Fein will host an exhibition and history of the Blanket protest and Hungerstrikes in the meeting room of Northern Bar Armagh on Saturday 19th March from 2 pm. Admission is free and open to everyone.

You will be able to view memorabilia such as Comms smuggled from the Gaol. Letters to family and friends, Newspaper cuttings from the time as well as numerous other artefacts,

Special guests at this event will recount their experiences and recollections of the conditions in the Gaols physically and mentally and the political atmosphere which dominated the time,

Guest will include :

A former blankerman, hunger striker and various members of the movement who were heavily involved in the support of the protests.

The days events will be concluded in the Northern Bar with a traditional Irish Ceili.
Taille £5.00
Raffle on the night.

All are welcome to this great event in Armagh City

Go raibh maith agat

Liam Clarke
Belfast Telegraph
23 Feb 2011

Sinn Fein has called on embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to step down and allow an election to take place.

The statement formally ends a long-standing alliance between the Libyan ruler and the republican movement, which he armed and funded in the 1970s/80s.

A Sinn Fein spokesman declared: “We are opposed to these absolutist regimes.

“His support of the republican cause in the past is irrelevant.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has vowed to die a martyr

“What you have now is people being shot down in their own streets just as the British shot Irish protesters on the streets of their home towns, for instance on Bloody Sunday.”

Gaddafi, who deposed King Idris of Libya in a bloodless coup in 1969, started supporting the IRA in August 1971 after he saw Joe Cahill, then its chief of staff, give a defiant televised Press conference in which he said only 30 IRA members had been arrested in the internment swoops.

Regarding the IRA as an enemy of colonialism, he started supplying it with weapons.

Gaddafi brought Cahill to Tripoli, the Libyan capital, to arrange the supply of arms and money.

Cahill was arrested aboard the MV Claudia with five tons of Libyan weapons in 1973. The most significant arms shipments were delivered in 1986 after the US accused Gaddafi of sponsoring an attack on American soldiers in Germany and bombed Tripoli from bases in Britain.

Around 60 Libyans were killed and Nasser Al-Ashour, a Libyan intelligence agent, again made contact with the IRA. This time up to 400 tons of weapons were landed in three shipments before the final consignment of 120 tons was seized when the MV Eksund was intercepted crossing the Bay of Biscay by French Customs in 1987.

The weapons and munitions which had already landed, including heavy machine-guns and Semtex explosives, equipped the IRA for the remainder of its campaign.

Later Gaddafi made peace with Britain and gave complete inventories to the UK authorities of the arms he had supplied.

Relations improved so much that PSNI officers were sent to train Libyan police in counter-insurgency methods, which may well now be used against demonstrators.

Last night Amnesty International called on the PSNI to reconsider counter-terrorism training to absolutist regimes like Libya and Bahrain.

Gaddafi and his son Saif had also entered British Government-sponsored talks on possible compensation and peace-building payments to Northern Ireland.

By Noel McAdam
Belfast Telegraph
23 February 2011

A UVF killer played by Liam Neeson in a major movie has claimed too many films show loyalists as “morons”.

Alistair Little admitted he struggles with his past on a daily basis but has learned that sometimes reconciliation is impossible.

The gunman said he was “content” that the drama in which he was portrayed by Oscar-nominated Neeson — the BBC production Five Minutes Of Heaven — reflected the complexity of dealing with the past.

But he added: “There are a number of films that have in my opinion been quite prejudiced towards loyalists, who are portrayed as morons and drug dealers.”

Alistair Little

Now a conflict resolution worker who has talked to Israeli and Palestinian groups and been in Afghanistan, the 52-year-old said: “I don’t buy into the concept of closure. For me this is life-long.”

Little was a 17-year-old member of the UVF when he shot dead 19-year-old Catholic Jimmy Griffin in Lurgan in 1975.

Now he is taking part in a breakthrough event in Belfast this week — debating how drama and song can carry powerful messages — which will bring together senior loyalists and republicans.

Little will be on a panel including victims’ spokesman Alan McBride, playwright Martin Lynch, actor Donna O’Connor, the star of the recent hit A Night With George. It will be chaired by journalist and actor Ivan Little.

The Play For Peace, at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast this Friday (5.30-7.30pm), is a joint venture of the David Ervine Foundation and the Belfast-Nashville Singer-Songwriters Festival.

The event includes five young people who work with victims organisation the Wave Trauma Centre, who will re-enact the Holy Cross school dispute and act out issues of intimidation and suicide.

By Helen McClafferty
freegerry.com

On February 18, 2011, after almost 4 years of a politically motivated arrest and trial, Gerry McGeough’s case ended with a “guilty” verdict handed down by a British diplock court. McGeough is the first Irish republican to be sentenced under the GFA on troubles related charges dating back over 30 years. He is now in Maghaberry prison awaiting sentencing.

For several years, prior to McGeough’s arrest, he was living a peaceful existence with his wife and children in Tyrone until he decided to run in the Assembly Elections as an Independent candidate on an anti-PSNI platform in March of 2007. That is when Gerry’s life took a change for the worse and it has been a living nightmare for him and his family ever since. Gerry was arrested at the count center, following the poll, and he has been vindictively persecuted by the British crown ever since.

In contrast, the British government has operated a secret scheme granting royal pardons or immunity from prosecution to hand-picked ex-IRA members and Loyalists wanted for killings, bombings and other paramilitary activities. No members of the British forces are being charged or tried for their part in the 1969-98 North of Ireland conflict (the soldiers responsible for “Bloody Sunday” including those British/Orange forces behind the Dublin-Monaghan bombings).

In their obsessive need to prosecute and imprison Gerry, the British turned international political asylum refugee laws on their head by using as their chief “evidence” alleged political asylum application papers from Sweden (which are normally subjected to a 50-year confidentiality protection clause under Swedish law). The move was the first time such documents were used against a republican and now has widespread implications for the entire concept of political asylum.

To pretend that McGeough’s arrest, his almost 4 year on-going legal saga, and now his ‘guilty’ verdict, has anything to do with “justice,” is pathetic. He is being discriminated against for purely political reasons and there was a determined effort to railroad him into prison at the highest political level.
McGeough’s attorneys have filed a request with the NIO seeking a “pardon” for McGeough. People are being asked to contact their local politicians to ask them to ensure that the NIO treat McGeough equally, the same as others have been treated since the GFA, and grant him a pardon. For further details, updates and history on the case, please go to the ‘freegerry.com’ web site.

Helen McClafferty
Chairperson,
Freegerry.com Campaign
freegerry.com

News Letter
21 Feb 2011

THE Ancient Order of Hibernians has been challenged to expel Gerry McGeough following his conviction for attempted murder.

On Friday the former IRA and one-time senior Sinn Fein member was found guilty of shooting UDR man Sammy Brush in 1981, the first republican to be convicted of a Troubles offence since the Belfast Agreement.

Yesterday TUV leader Jim Allister called on the AOH to expel McGeough: “AOH claims to be anti-violence. Following the conviction of its Tyrone president, Gerry McGeough, of the attempted murder of Samuel Brush, will it now move, as it should, to expel him?

“This is a test of its bona fides. Is attempting to murder a postman because he was a UDR man acceptable to the AOH and compatible with its dogma?

“The community is watching to see where the AOH stands and will judge them according to their actions.”

Mr Allister also accused agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew of “outrageous comments which demonstrate that she and her party are still on the side of the law-breaker” after she called for McGeough to be released on Friday.

He added: “Since it was the DUP that promised us Sinn Fein had changed and now supports British justice, Gildernew’s outburst is also a matter for them to deal with.”

Speaking outside the court on Friday, McGeough, who has been a vocal critic of Sinn Fein and its support for the PSNI, claimed that a Sinn Fein MP had visited his home last year assuring him that the party could stop him being convicted if he stopped criticising it.

The republican said: “Why is Martin McGuinness not on trial for past IRA membership which he has admitted?”

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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