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31 Aug 2011
The family of a man killed by an IRA bomb 23 years ago have criticised a further delay in the publication of a report into how the RUC dealt with the attack.
Sean Dalton was one of three people killed when a booby-trap device exploded in August 1988.
The bomb had been left for the security forces at Kildrum Gardens in Creggan.
The Police Ombudsman’s Office began an investigation after receiving a public complaint about the police response.
Mr Dalton, who was 55 and Sheila Lewis, 60, were murdered.
Another man Gerard Curran died the following year from his injuries.
In a statement released on the anniversary of the bomb, Mr Dalton’s family said they had asked that allegations that the RUC had known that the flat had been booby-trapped be investigated in 2005.
“It was agreed we would receive a final report in the autumn of 2010. Since then we have been promised many times that the report would be ready, yet we are still waiting.
“We were recently assured that we would receive the report at the end of August 2011 to coincide with the 23rd anniversary.
“In a letter dated 26 August 2011 to the Pat Finucane Centre, however, the ombudsman has reneged on that promise and says the report will be delayed yet again.
“We are deeply disappointed and urge the ombudsman to release the report without further delay.”
Al Hutchinson is the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. A spokesman for his office said: “We can understand the family’s frustration and can assure them that it will be the next major historical report that we publish.”
‘Good neighbours bomb’
Lost Lives, the book which chronicles every death in Northern Ireland’s Troubles, said the incident was described as the “good neighbours bomb”.
It said the IRA had kidnapped a man and booby-trapped his flat in the expectation it would be searched by the security forces.
Instead the three victims, who had noticed their neighbour’s absence, went to the man’s flat. Mr Dalton managed to get inside which detonated the bomb and demolished the flat.
According to Lost Lives, Mr Dalton’s family later claimed the police had been negligent in allowing civilians to approach the flat.
They alleged the police were aware it had been booby-trapped but the bomb had been left in place to protect an informant.
The family stressed that the IRA was ultimately responsible for what happened but said the RUC should have also accepted its responsibility.
30 Aug 2011
A secret world of people in the UK, many of them ordinary citizens, are living extraordinary double lives to help the government. But what is it like to live with the danger and loneliness involved and keep important state secrets, ask Peter Taylor and Richard Knight.
Throughout the many violent years that led up to the Northern Ireland peace process, Londonderry businessman Brendan Duddy and his family lived with an extraordinary secret.
Duddy was, for decades, the secret intermediary between MI6, MI5 and the IRA. Without him it’s unlikely that Northern Ireland would be where it is today.
“It took somebody with a lot of brains,” says Seanna Duddy, Brendan’s daughter. “He had what it took to go into a room, be in danger and keep his cool.”
The threat to Duddy’s life came not just from some members of the IRA who suspected he might be working for MI5, but from the loyalist paramilitaries who wanted to kill off any negotiations with the IRA – and perhaps anyone associated with them.
So the family could not breathe a word about the meetings between British intelligence officers and the IRA leadership that took place in the “wee room” in their family home.
“People had absolutely no idea,” says Larry Duddy, Brendan’s son. “Really close friends of my father for 50 years didn’t know what he was doing.
“There’s part of you wants to let the world know what your father did and there’s another part that doesn’t want anyone to know. I was quite happy with no-one knowing because it was the end result which was important.”
Duddy finally did get the end result he wanted – peace in Northern Ireland. But his children made personal sacrifices as co-inhabitants of their father’s secret world.
“When you came home from school you couldn’t bring your friends home,” says Seanna. “If everybody was out playing in the gardens or the roads nearby and it was our turn [for] our mammy to make tea, that never happened.”
Most individuals who operate in the secret world do not involve their families. Many, in fact, tell no-one about their hidden lives, not even those closest to them.
Ali, a pseudonym, is a Muslim who was recruited by MI5 shortly after 9/11. When he spoke to the BBC it was the first time he had discussed his work with anyone other than his handlers at MI5.
He said he’d been able to stop some terrorist attacks but did not want to get into “the specifics”. The impulse to share his successes or failures must, he says, be ignored.
“If you want to be able to help out doing this kind of work then you just have to hold those feelings in, which could be challenging but you learn with time,” he says.
Ali is proud of what he does and of what he believes he has achieved. But he knows some in his community would regard him as a traitor and that his life as a Covert Human Intelligence Source – CHIS – is risky.
“I think it’s quite evident that if some people would find out what I’m doing there may be people that probably would ignore it, there would be people who would try to do something about stopping me from helping out as well,” he says.
“Therefore I’m careful and my handlers are being careful as well. And I’ve got my own brain… so I just have to be vigilant.”
Man walking by IRA graffiti The IRA, MI5 and MI6 secretly met for years in the Duddy home
Steve, also a pseudonym, is a former undercover Special Branch officer who infiltrated the hard left to counter subversion. Steve adopted a cover story – known as a “legend” – and lived it for four years. He says his work put tremendous strain on both him and his wife, who knew his secret role.
“You’re a police officer and you know your role, and you’re briefed to do a role, and then you are operating as a political activist. You’re living two lives, but you have to remember which is which.”
Despite the pressures Steve says his years as an undercover officer were the best of his service. Ali continues to face significant risks but he also says, without hesitation, he would do it all again. The Duddy family made astonishing sacrifices for peace. Now they are able to view the transformation of Northern Ireland with quiet satisfaction.
Whatever you may think about the morality and ethics of those who lives in the secret world, many are remarkable men and women. They are prepared to live with secrets, danger and loneliness, for what they believe is a greater good.
**I’m sorry I am again overdue in marking this anniversary.
Died August 20th, 1981
A typical Derry lad
TWENTY-seven-year-old Micky Devine, from the Creggan in Derry city, was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike to the death.
Micky Devine took over as O/C of the INLA blanket men in March when the then O/C, Patsy O’Hara, joined the hunger strike but he retained this leadership post when he joined the hunger strike himself.
Known as ‘Red Micky’, his nickname stemmed from his ginger hair rather than his political complexion, although he was most definitely a republican socialist.
The story of Micky Devine is not one of a republican ‘super-hero’ but of a typical Derry lad whose family suffered all of the ills of sectarian and class discrimination inflicted upon the Catholic working-class of that city: poor housing, unemployment and lack of opportunity.
**Posted to group by Danielle Ni Dhighe. Click on above link for more photos
Fallen Comrades of the IRSM – Michael Devine
Died on Hunger Strike on 20 August 1981
Michael James Devine was born on 26th May 1954 in Springtown, just outside of Derry city. He grew up in the Creggan area of Derry, where he was raised by his sister Margaret and her husband after both parents died unexpectedly when he was age 11.
Mickey was witness to the civil rights marches of the late 1960s in Derry in which civilians were often brutally attacked and the trauma of Bloody Sunday. In fact, Mickey himself was hospitalised twice because of police brutality. In the early 70s, Mickey joined the Labour Party and the Young Socialists. Then in 1975, Mickey helped form the INLA.
In 1976 he was arrested, and sentenced in 1977 to 12 years after an arms raid in County Donegal; he immediately joined the blanket protest. While on hunger strike an appeal to Irish workers he drafted was smuggled out of Long Kesh and it was this letter to Irish workers that was read at factory gates throughout Ireland.
Mickey was 60 days on hunger strike; he was the third INLA Volunteer to join the hunger strike and died at 7:50am on 20th August 1981.
He died as he lived: a Republican Socialist. Remember him with honour and pride.
It’s hard to know what way to behave when a friend and a comrade is slowly dying on Hunger Strike just a few cells away, everyone of course tries to put on a brave face and act normal but both he and we know that it is only make believe. We’ve organized story telling and singsongs to keep up his morale, ours too, but it’s hard, very hard. It won’t be long now until he’s taken away to join the other Hunger Strikers in the prison hospital and then?
Well it seems that only slow terrible death awaits them all. We try to shout words of encouragement but what can you say to a dying man. The screws for their part keep him as isolated from us as possible and go out of there way to taunt and belittle him, yet in their midst he, like his comrades is a giant. If they even had one ounce of their courage if even they had a spark of decency, decency from these who have tormented us all these years? Compassion from these who have made all this suffering necessary?
No, not even a friendly word, not even a word of sympathy during the long days and nights of agony but then neither he nor we expect it. We know only too well that these people have been put here to torment and persecute us and they have done their job well but not well enough. They have served their British masters, the poor pathetic fools, they think that inhumanity and cruelty can break us, haven’t they learnt anything? It strengthens us, it drives us on for then more than ever we know that our cause is just.
Bobby Sands, Frank Hughes, Patsy O’Hara and Raymond McCreesh hunger for justice, they have suffered all the indignities that a tyrant can inflict yet still they fight back with their dying breath. Only a few yards from here, four human skeletons lay wasting away and still the fools the poor pathetic fools cannot break them. Even death will not extinguish the flames of resistance and this flame will without doubt engulf these who in their callousness and in greed have made all this necessary. Britain you will pay!
Long Kesh, 1981
**Click on above link for large view of mural
Portrait of Mickey Devine, the final hunger striker to die, and a quotation:
“I refuse to change to suit the people who oppress, torture or imprison me, who wish to dehumanise me…I have the spirit of freedom which cannot be quenched by the most horrendous treatment. Of course, I can be murdered, but I remain what I am – a political prisoner of war”
INLA Volunteer Micky Devine
Michael Devine was born May 26th, 1954 on the former American army base, Springfield Camp, outside of Derry City. Unlike his comrades on hungerstrike, Micky did not come from a typically extended family. His father died when he was only 11 years old and his mother when he was a teenager. He grew up fast and fiercely nationalist.
Group launches campaign urging greater help for the survivors still suffering after many years
By Noel McAdam
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Stormont and Westminster are facing renewed pressure for an effective strategy to help thousands of people injured during the Troubles.
A victims’ group is organising a campaign aimed at highlighting the plight of thousands injured during three decades of conflict, including the need for compensation. A petition is being prepared demanding action, which will be sent to Justice Minister David Ford and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson.
So far around 7,000 have signed up but the Wave Trauma Centre hopes to increase the total to 10,000 by the end of October.
Wave spokesman Alan McBride said: “It is not to say that the Government has done nothing, they have been quite pro-active in some areas but the fact is that what is in place is not working for the greater number of these people.”
A self-appointed group of injured individuals which meets at Wave admits, and welcomes, that some work has been done to meet the needs of those still suffering after many years.
But they argue gaps in provision has left some victims and survivors better looked after than others.
Their Campaign For Recognition believes the long-standing status quo is unfair and is aiming to rectify it by actively campaigning for recognition for all victims and survivors of the Troubles.
Mr McBride, who lost his wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond Frizzell in the IRA Shankill fish shop attack 18 years ago, argued: “It is time to move on from the question of who did what to whom, we must now begin to address the issues and pain which have been left behind.”
Mr McBride recently took part in a Channel Four programme where he met Gerry Adams.
The IRA Shankill blast killed 10 people in all, including Thomas Begley who helped plant the bomb. Mr Adams was a pallbearer at Begley’s funeral.
Now a member of the Northern Ireland’s Victims’ Forum, Mr McBride said: “Quite rightly there has been an awful lot of focus on those who died in the Troubles, but there are many others who feel they have been forgotten.”
The campaigners say there should be “inclusive and equal recognition” for the injured but refuse to become involved in the controversy over whether perpetrators – paramilitaries, for example – can be equated to victims.
Future “recognition” payments or benefits in kind must be financial in part and practical in terms of support services, the group said, with the immediate implementation of a “comprehensive needs assessment”.
“The campaign believes there has been too much dithering on this issue,” it said.
The group is also seeking interim payments for those who are aged 65 and over or with terminal injuries.
“Many people cannot wait for the Campaign For Recognition to be complete,” a leaflet said.
“(We) take the view that victims and survivors bore the brunt of the violence during the Troubles and therefore should be well looked after in the new society that is emerging.
“This also applies to their immediate families and those that took on a caring role.”
Ex-IRA prisoners are up in arms that a mural honouring republican women killed in the conflict was replaced by an ad promoting landlords.
The ‘women in struggle’ mural on the Falls Road commemorated famous IRA women including Mairead Farrell, killed by the SAS in Gibraltar and Maire Drumm, the Sinn Féin vice-president assassinated by loyalists in Belfast’s Mater hospital.
But the detachable mural was recently removed by Sinn Féin. A mural depicting Uncle Sam saying ‘Landlords We Need You’ was then erected in its place by a local business.
It advertised the services of Northern Property, a wealthy Falls Road-based estate agency. Bizarrely, the new mural sat above one of republican socialist icon James Connolly, the 1916 leader renowned for his hatred of landlords.
Ex-IRA prisoner, Nuala Perry, who knew both Farrell and Drumm said: “I’m horrified that Mairead and Maire have been discarded for landlords. This shows what West Belfast has become – it’s all about money and nothing about republicanism or socialism now. The last thing we need is more landlords.”
So enraged were locals that Northern Property’s ad was paint-bombed last weekend and has now been removed. “I’m not surprised that happened. People were very angry,” said Perry who served five years in Armagh prison.
Padraic McCotter, a former blanketman who served 15 years in Long Kesh, said he was stunned that the women’s mural had been cast aside for the landlords’ ad. “When I first heard of it, I thought it was a joke.
“The irony must be lost on (those) who put this ad up given that it’s placed above a painting of James Connolly.” McCotter called for the republican women to be put back on the Rockmount Street wall.
Tony Donnelly, director of Northern Property, said his office had been inundated with calls about the mural’s removal. He said it had been taken down by Sinn Féin and his company had then erected its ad separately.
“We now realise that wasn’t a brilliant idea and the old mural will be reinstated in due course,” he said. Ex-prisoners have complained about Sinn Féin’s support for some property firms.
Donnelly confirmed that Northern Property advertised in the local Sinn Féin news-sheet and the company had attended a Sinn Féin fund-raising dinner in the Europa hotel.
August 29, 2011
This article appeared in the August 28, 2011 edition of the Sunday World.
Sectarian bigotry has once again graced the streets of Newry as tens of thousands of unionist bandsmen and supporters were bussed into the area two days in a row.
On Friday night [August 26] over 50 bands and over 2,000 supporters descended on the city which is almost 90 per cent nationalist.
In an almost routine example of bigotry, intimidation and disruption, Newry was brought to a standstill with severe traffic disruption; unionists drinking openly in the street, actually outside Ardmore PSNI barracks; the playing of sectarian songs; bands displaying the emblems and flags of unionist paramilitary death squads.
It was also reported that in the run up to this “bigotfest” event the PSNI had sealed roads and stopped traffic to facilitate the erecting of loyalist flags.
éirígí’s Stephen Murney was at scene to observe these sectarian coat-trailing exercises on Friday and Saturday.
Stephen said, “I was standing watching on Friday evening when I was immediately targeted by heavily armed members of the PSNI, one of which was a notorious thug called Sgt Wright. He made reference to the fact that we recently exposed their true nature and seemed quite annoyed about it. A TSG gunman standing beside me then quipped, “At least I get paid to watch the parade.”
“It’s unreal that citizens of Newry are being targeted by this militia who are facilitating a sectarian parade through a nationalist area. It’s bad enough being on the receiving end of sectarian intimidation without having to be subjected to PSNI harassment too.”
On Saturday it was much worse. It was reported that an estimated 110 bands many of which were displaying UVF and YCV flags, 115 preceptories and 50,000 “supporters” were on the streets of Newry as well as a massive British “security operation” to facilitate the bigots.
Widespread disruption lasted for two full days, affecting businesses, shoppers, resulting in the harassment and intimidation of local people as well as costing thousands of pounds. Anyone Walking down Hill Street on Saturday afternoon would have noticed many shops were closed and many restaurants were empty on what should be one of their busiest days of the week.
At one point an ambulance responding to an emergency call was stuck in traffic due to the disruption.
It’s high time the people of Newry took to the streets to oppose this blatant naked sectarian intimidation.
éirígí will continue to campaign for the right for everyone to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation.
The IRA helped carry out a major bomb attack against the South African apartheid government, according to a former ANC cabinet minister.
In posthumous memoirs, Kader Asmal, also claimed Gerry Adams was approached to provide IRA men to train ANC members in Ireland.
Professor Asmal, who was a founder of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, died in June aged 76.
Kader Asmal, who was a close ally of Nelson Mandela, lived in Ireland for 27 years
Sinn Fein has so far not responded to the claims.
A law professor at Trinity College Dublin for 27 years, Professor Asmal was a founder member of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement.
He returned to South Africa in 1990, and became Minister of Education after elections in 1999.
In the book, Politics in my Blood, he recounts how he was approached in the late 1970s to help arrange training in Ireland for the military wing of the ANC known as MK.
“I was very keen, but it was a delicate task because it would of necessity involve the IRA,” he said.
“None of us wished to place the ANC office in London in jeopardy or fuel the allegations of connivance between the ANC and IRA.
“I went to see the general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, Michael O’Riordan, who was a man of great integrity and whom I trusted to keep a secret.
“He in turn contacted Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein and it was arranged that two military experts would come to Dublin to meet two MK personnel and take them to a safe place for two weeks of intensive training.”
Professor Asmal also claimed that the IRA had a significant role in an attack on a major oil refinery in South Africa in June 1980.
He recalled that at the time of the attack, he was “a strong believer in Irish independence and in a united Ireland”.
However, he added that he never supported the IRA.
The Irish justice minister has said that forthcoming child protection measures, including mandatory reporting will “apply regardless of any internal rules of any religious grouping”.
Alan Shatter was responding to comments made by Cardinal Sean Brady who defended the seal of confession.
Cardinal Brady stressed it was a “sacred and treasured” rite.
Mr Shatter said past failures in the Catholic Church had led paedophiles to believe they could act with “impunity”.
Last month the Cloyne report was published.
It found the diocese failed to report all complaints of abuse to police.
As a result, a number of child protection measures were announced under the legislation currently being drawn up.
A priest could be convicted of a criminal offence if they were told of a sexual abuse case and failed to report it to the civil authorities.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Shatter said: “It is the failure in the past to make such reports that has led sexual predators into believing that they have impunity and facilitated paedophiles preying on children and destroying their lives.”
Anyone who fails to declare information about the abuse of a child could face a prison term of five years.
The Irish Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that priests who are given admissions of child abuse during the sacrament of confession will not be exempt from new rules on mandatory reporting.
During his homily to worshippers at Knock shrine in County Mayo, on Sunday, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said: “Freedom to participate in worship and to enjoy the long-established rites of the church is so fundamental that any intrusion upon it is a challenge to the very basis of a free society” he said.
The inquiry into the Cloyne Diocese was set up by the Irish government in January 2009 following a report published the previous month.
It was conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) – a body set up by the Catholic Church to oversee child protection policies.
It found child protection practices in the diocese were “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that 22 new seminarians are to begin studying for the priesthood this autumn at Ireland’s national seminary, Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth.
The group includes a chartered surveyor, a pub manager, several mature students and at least one school leaver.
The average age of the new entrants is 25-years-old, and they come from 14 of the 26 dioceses of Ireland.
The environment minister has said NI councils are to be given more powers to tackle the problem of litter.
Alex Attwood was responding after a survey by Tidy NI which found NI’s streets are dirtier now than at any time in the last four years.
This was despite local councils spending £34m on street cleaning during that period.
Mr Attwood said the new powers would come into effect from next April.
“The councils in NI, which are responsible for cleaning our streets are spending £100,000 a day, and if our streets aren’t clean enough, it is not helpful to inward investment, tourism or the quality of life that we lead and it costs us a lot of money,” he said.
“What the assembly has done is given more powers to councils and these powers will be live by April 2012 whereby councils will be able to spot fine people higher fines and I will give the councils greater powers to make sure that people clean up the streets.”
Mr Attwood said people in Northern Ireland were not taking the issue of littering “seriously enough”.
“The appearance of our streets, their cleanliness or otherwise is in many ways the first impression that people have when they come to NI,” he said.
He warned that those who litter can expect to pay for their actions.
“Under the Clean Neighbourhood act, spot fines will be increased by 50%, up to £75 and if the councils want to go higher than that they now have the freedom to do so,” he said.
“I will also give them powers to serve notices to clean up streets and in future people will need approval for handing out free literature and leaflets outside shops on the streets of Belfast and elsewhere, in an effort to build more responsibility into not just those who distribute paper but all of us.”
“If people end up going to court level, because at the moment this is all done by the way of a spot fine, then the level of fines can be up to £2,500.
“There is no reason why in the event of people littering our streets, dropping fag butts, gum, paper, drink cans, that part of the response should not be for people to have the requirement to clean up the streets.”
Tidy NI surveyed more than 500 sites across NI for the department of the environment.
Only 2% of areas had no litter, and 14% failed to reach an acceptable standard, up from 8% in 2009.
Tidy NI said more litter was observed overall and the figures show the highest percentage of areas failing to meet government standards for litter since 2006.
Almost all types of litter became more common in the areas surveyed, which included retail, industrial, housing and recreational areas.
Cigarettes and chewing gum were almost “ever-present” in retail areas.
Drinks litter – cans, bottles and cartons – was found on nearly nine out of 10 rural roads, and was more common across all land uses than chewing gum.
The amount of dog fouling observed increased five-fold, being found on no less than 15% of all surveys carried out and was found in over a quarter of recreational areas.
Tidy NI is holding a conference in Lisburn on 14 September for all interested parties to come together to discuss how to change the public’s outlook on litter.
A copy of the report and more information about the conference can be found at Tidy Northern Ireland.
By Ken Foy
Thursday August 25 2011
REAL IRA bosses have vowed to kill garda informants after claiming responsibility for a bomb attack yesterday which left a former informant injured.
Paddy Dixon (48) remains under armed garda protection today after he escaped serious injury when a booby-trap bomb exploded at the front door of his home in Navan, Co Meath.
Blanchardstown man Dixon was discharged from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda yesterday where he had been treated for injuries to his face, hands and body as a result of the blast, which showered him with shards of glass.
In a chilling statement, the Real IRA said that they had intended to kill Dixon and had also vowed to murder other people who co-operate with gardai.
It said: “Dixon was an informer and he passed on information to gardai. We want to send a message out that if you are an informer we will get you. It is 12 years since this emerged and his life remains in danger.”
The Real IRA statement added: “He was a known informer. He had been in and out of the country for the last number of years. We thought the best option was to blow him up to send out a message to all other informers that you will be killed. He is very lucky he is still alive.”
Yesterday morning, investigating gardai initially were working on the theory that Paddy Dixon’s son Mark was the target of the pipe bomb.
Mark Dixon was kidnapped by a drugs gang in 2007 and eventually rescued by the Garda Emergency Response Unit, who tracked him down using mobile phone signals.
Another son Ciaran Dixon (28) was jailed for six years for threatening to kill someone who owed him money for drugs and possession of two shotgun cartridges.
However officers quickly turned their attention to Mark and Ciaran’s father Paddy and are now certain that dissident republican terrorists were responsible for the attack.
Former car thief Paddy Dixon, who lived in the house with his son Mark, spotted the device as he opened the front door and tried to dash back into the house.
But the blast smashed glass panels in the door and he was struck several times in the head and body. However, gardai said he had saved himself from more serious injury.
Dixon had been under garda protection in the late 1990s when he tipped off detectives about cars — that he knew were stolen — that were due to be used by the Real IRA in bombing attacks.
He was recruited as an informant by now disgraced Det Sgt John White when he worked as a detective garda in Blanchardstown.
26 Aug 2011
A Catholic teenager stamped on by men in an alleged sectarian attack needed facial surgery for the injuries he received, the High Court has heard.
The 17-year-old was knocked to the ground by the gang, who are accused of trying to murder him, in Antrim earlier this month.
The teenager – who was transferred to hospital in a critical condition – was subjected to the assault after being questioned with his friends about where they had been on a night out, according to the prosecution.
Details emerged as bail was refused to 22-year-old Kyle Taggart, of Kilgreel Road, Antrim, one of three men charged with his attempted murder.
The court heard that all three accused deny any sectarian element.
The attack happened after the victim and three friends were dropped off by a taxi on their way back from Magherafelt on 5 August.
Crown counsel Ian Tannahill told the court they were approached by three men, including Taggart, and asked where they had been.
It was claimed that after they named a bar one of the co-accused replied: “Youse are Fenians then. Fenians shouldn’t be here.”
According to the prosecution the two groups parted, but a short time later the victim was confronted in the Station Road area by one of the suspects and punched twice to the face.
His friends allege that Taggart and the third man then arrived at the scene and joined in the attack, the court heard.
Mr Tannahill claimed the victim was punched, kicked and stamped on as he lay on the ground.
The three men then ran off towards the nearby Parkhall Estate, leaving the teenager unresponsive and covered in blood.
CCTV footage has been secured from a Tesco store in the area, a bus station and Northern Ireland Railway as part of the investigation.
Mr Tannahill said it was accepted that Taggart did not make the sectarian remarks. But opposing bail, he added: “This man, on the Crown case, decides to involve himself.
“We say he can’t distance himself from the sectarian nature of what happened.”
Taggart claimed in interview that he got involved to pull the others away, and was acting as “a peacemaker.”
Charles McCreanor, defending, said: “We say the Crown case is wrong. It was never put to him there was any sectarian language from him.”
Refusing bail, Lord Justice Higgins ruled that the application was premature.
Thu Aug 25 2011
SENIOR fire personnel will hold an “extraordinary” board meeting next month in an attempt to resolve the row over the removal of a memorial to victims of an IRA atrocity.
A tribute to the 11 people killed in the 1987 Poppy Day bombing in Enniskillen was taken down from the town’s fire station, amid an outcry from relatives, following an anonymous complaint almost four years ago.
Despite the Northern Ireland Ombudsman deeming the action taken by the fire service to be “ill-considered” and concluding that the process of removing the montage was by “maladministration”, a logjam has persisted.
Earlier this year, a consultation exercise with staff at the Fermanagh station failed to reach consensus on the future of the memorial.
However, following a meeting this week members of the service’s board have agreed to hold a special summit on September 9 to deal with the issue.
A fire service spokeswoman said senior personnel will be seeking to finally bring “closure” to the matter.
Referring to the meeting, she added: “It will be to singularly discuss and resolve Enniskillen.”
UUP leader Tom Elliott welcomed the fire service’s commitment to address the issue.
“This has run on for quite a while so I am looking forward to a positive resolution,” the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said.
“I hope it is finally resolved and the memorial can be replaced or go back up.”
Mr Elliott has personally supported Stephen Gault’s campaign to have the tribute re-instated. Mr Gault’s father, Samuel, was killed in the terrorist bombing.
He added: “There have been times when we felt we were making progress and then all of a sudden it has taken a step back. I hope we don’t get to that position again and we do get a resolution this time.”
An online campaign calling for the re-instatement of the memorial has attracted the support of almost 6,500 people.
By John Mulgrew
Thursday, 25 August 2011
The official opening of playing fields in Bushmills was postponed last night after loyalists staged a demonstration.
Crowds gathered outside the Dundarave playing fields to protest against the official opening by the chair of Moyle council, Padraig McShane, in the predominantly unionist village of Bushmills.
It is believed demonstrators ripped a plaque off the wall which was to be unveiled by Mr McShane.
Mr McShane said when he arrived at the scene he was told by police that protesters would try to stop him from entering the building and blamed paramilitaries for organising the protest.
“I had prior warning that a protest was to take place in Bushmills while I was to open the new changing rooms at Dundarave in the village,” he said.
“Police informed me that they had met with UDA representatives in the area who indicated that they would stop the event.
“I remain committed to representing all the people of Moyle including Bushmills and refuse to bow to the bully boy tactics of the UDA and their sidekicks.”
He added he would officially open the facility “in the very near future”.
The planned demonstration followed comments by the borough’s first citizen earlier this summer in which he described the annual Twelfth of July parades as an “unsavoury event”.
Police said around 80 people gathered outside the centre shortly after 5pm yesterday.
One of the village’s well-known eating spots, The Bushmills Inn, pulled out of hosting a civic event planned to follow the official unveiling by the independent councillor.
One local community worker, Derwyn Brewster, who was at the scene last night, said he wanted “to see a unionist councillor open the unit as soon as possible”.
Moyle chairman Padraig McShane is no stranger to controversy. As well as lambasting the Twelfth, he upset unionists recently after proposing to twin Moyle with war-torn Gaza.
On Monday night the former Sinn Fein man suspended a council meeting and walked out after unionist members raised concerns about the offer, which they claim was made without full council approval.
KEVIN CULLEN in Boston
25 August 2011
PROSECUTORS IN the US have issued a second set of subpoenas seeking the contents of a secret archive from Boston College of oral histories about the Troubles.
The new court application makes it clear that the focus of the investigation by British authorities is the 1972 disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10.
Acting at the behest of as yet unidentified authorities associated with the British government, the US attorney in Boston, Carmen Ortiz, last spring had demanded that the college turn over interviews its researchers had conducted with two admitted members of the IRA, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price.
But now federal prosecutors say they want the contents of 26 interviews given by former members of the IRA, to see if they shed light on Mrs McConville’s abduction and murder.
After the college’s lawyers argued that the government’s initial request was too broad, federal prosecutors filed a new demand for the college’s records, specifically demanding “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs Jean McConville”.
Federal prosecutors said the college had no authority to grant confidentiality to those interviewed, and dismissed the university’s contention that revealing the identities of those who gave interviews would place them in danger.
“Simply put, the [college] made promises they could not keep – that they would conceal evidence of murder and other crimes until the perpetrators were in their graves,” wrote assistant US attorney John McNeil. “While the impetus for collecting this evidence was laudable, the promise of absolute confidentiality was flawed.”
With anything that could advance a criminal investigation, he wrote, “there is no academic privilege”. Claims that disclosure would lead to retribution, he wrote, “falter in the face of close scrutiny”. He described the prospect of threats to individuals, and even the peace process itself, by such disclosures as “speculative”.
Federal prosecutors also made it clear they were interested only in the 26 interviews with IRA members that were conducted as part of the college’s oral history project about the Troubles.
The lack of interest in crimes that may have been discussed by loyalists interviewed for the project has led many officials at the college to complain privately that the investigation appears politically motivated and is aimed at embarrassing, if not prosecuting, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
In interviews given to Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA member hired by the college to record the oral histories of various IRA figures, Mr Hughes claimed Mr Adams gave the orders to kill and secretly bury Mrs McConville after the IRA accused her of being an informer. Mr Hughes, whose interviews with Mr McIntyre formed the basis of Ed Moloney’s book Voices from the Grave, fell out with Mr Adams over Sinn Féin’s direction of the republican movement.
Boston College turned over to US prosecutors its interviews with Mr Hughes, saying its promise of confidentiality ended with his death in 2008.
But the college refused to turn over its interviews with Ms Price, one of the Old Bailey bombers, who last year made similar allegations to the Irish News about Mr Adams’s alleged involvement in Mrs McConville’s disappearance and murder.
Mr Adams has repeatedly denied any involvement with the IRA’s admitted abduction, murder and secret burial of Mrs McConville, whose body was found on a Co Louth beach in 2003.
Sinn Féin spokesmen have suggested the initial request for the information in the college archive came from within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and that the effort was aimed at embarrassing or even prosecuting the Sinn Féin leader after his election to the Dáil last February. But the initial order for the subpoenas remains sealed, making it unclear exactly who sought the information and why.
In response to the second set of subpoenas, Jeffrey Swope, a lawyer representing the college, wrote that it maintained its belief that disclosing the contents of the archive would put people, and the peace process, in danger while undermining academic freedom.
US district court judge Joseph Tauro is due to schedule a hearing for arguments in the case soon.
Wed Aug 24 2011
**Click on the News Letter link to read the comments there on this article.
The 30th anniversary of the hunger strike took place in Camlough on August the 14th
THE Orange Order is watching to see if the Parades Commission takes any action over a south Armagh event at which men with paramilitary uniforms and weapons took part.
The Camlough event on Sunday, August 14 was designed to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes.
A large contingent of former IRA prisoners led the parade while Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was the main speaker.
His party colleagues, deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and local MP Conor Murphy, also attended. The parade was authorised by the Parades Commission.
However, local MLA and regional development minister Danny Kennedy was angered by the “final salute” on the roadside as the parade passed.
Three men in paramilitary uniforms were pictured with their weapons raised over a coffin which was draped with an Irish tricolour, black beret and gloves.
“I will be raising this paramilitary display in a formal complaint with the Parades Commission,” the UUP man said.
“It is absolutely blatant and it is particularly disgraceful that a government minister was present, which beggars belief. Hunger strikers were members of an illegal organisation, which still remains the case.”
He said that such events at actual funerals during the Troubles were considered illegal, so it followed that there were questions about the legality of a similar event at the parade. “The police need to ask whether these were toy guns or real,” he added.
A spokesman for the Orange Order said: “We will be interested to see what action, if any, is taken by the Parades Commission.”
The commission recently angered Orangemen when it wrote to the Presbyterian Church to complain about a press statement criticising the commission which quoted Rev Mervyn Gibson.
A spokesman for the Parades Commission said the Camlough parade “was not flagged up as contentious in advance by the PSNI and therefore, like thousands of others across Northern Ireland every year, was not subject to an intervention by the Parades Commission”.
He said the paramilitary display “was neither approved or otherwise” by the commission and that his organisation did not have any observers on the ground at the time.
The Parades Commission Code of Conduct states that “No paramilitary-style clothing is to be worn at any time during a public procession”, he said.
Asked if the commission will be taking any action regarding the Camlough display, he replied: “We do not have the authority to take action, prosecutions are a matter for the PSNI and the PPS.”
However the commission will consider the matter at its next meeting, he added.
A PSNI spokesman said they had not received any complaints of shots being fired the Camlough parade.
TUV MLA Jim Allister issued a statement after the parade in which he complained that the advance publicity material for the commemoration events showed that young republicans were to camp at Shane O’Neill’s GAA club and that a hunger strike exhibition and a talk by a convicted bomber were to take place at the sports club.
However, a GAA spokesman said that “no commemorative activity took place on GAA property” although the club car park was used to accommodate an overspill in car parking.
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “It is Danny Kennedy’s prerogative to talk to the Parades Commission if he so wishes.”
24 Aug 2011
A former car thief who gave information to Irish police about stolen vehicles used to transport Real IRA bombs has been the target of a pipe bomb attack.
Paddy Dixon, who is 48, suffered minor injuries when the bomb went off as he opened his front door in Navan, County Meath, on Wednesday morning.
It is thought dissident republicans may have been behind the attack.
The victim, who is from Blanchardstown, west Dublin, is under armed guard in hospital in Drogheda.
The attack happened shortly before 08:00 BST.
It is understood Mr Dixon spotted the device just before it exploded and was able to back away from the full force of the blast.
Mr Dixon had never entered the Witness Protection Programme.
He is believed to have been living quite openly in Navan for the last number of years.
By Gemma Burns
North Belfast News
22nd of August 2011
The grandson of a McGurk’s massacre victim said the leaked Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) report that questions the independence of the Police Ombudsman’s office has simply vindicated what the families have long believed.
Ciarán MacAirt, whose grandmother Kitty Irvine was one of the 15 innocent victims who lost their lives in the 1971 UVF bomb, said Ombudsman Al Hutchinson’s report into the massacre released in February this year already proved there are “serious failings” within the office.
Earlier this week the CJI report was leaked before its official release date in September. The damning report concluded Ombudsman reports were altered or rewritten to exclude criticism of police with no explanation, a “lowering of independence” in the Ombudsman’s office means it should now be suspended from investigating historic murders and that Ombudsman staff believe intelligence vital to their investigations has been deliberately withheld.
The damning criticism of the Ombudsman’s office comes after the report into the McGurk’s Bar bombing, which was due to be released in July last year, had to be withdrawn after a number of embarrassing mistakes, including a failure to get names and dates correct.
“If this “leak” of the Criminal Justice Inspection draft turns out to be a substantive representation of the final report, it may be shocking to society but it merely attests to our families’ well-publicised thoughts on the management of the Office of the Police Ombudsman,” said Ciarán.
“One need only look at our experience with Mr Hutchinson to know that there have been serious failings during his tenure.
“In July 2010 he tried to railroad our families, many of whom are aged, into accepting an absolute whitewash of a report which he then had to abort before publication. It was so glaringly incorrect that it did not see the light of day.
“It was obvious then that he had some serious questions to answer regarding his independence. This leak supports what we have said since then.
“We also voiced other grave matters of concern, many of which have been published in the North Belfast News.”
In the second McGurk’s report released in February this year the Ombudsman concluded that the RUC allegations at the time that the bombing was an IRA ‘own goal’ was due to an “investigative bias”. However he said the bias fell short of actual collusion found no evidence that the RUC directly assisted the loyalist death squad responsible for the bombing, a conclusion the families dispute.
Ciarán MacAirt said the final CJI report needs published as soon as possible and said when it is Mr Hutchinson should resign from his post.
“We may question whether the Police Ombudsman’s fear to hold the RUC to book for its flagrant wrongdoings in the past has less to do with his narrow remit as laid out by legislation and more to do with the influence of ex-members of the RUC who are now in the PSNI,” he added.
“That is why we need to publish this report as soon possible so that we may assuage these concerns. Until then our families may question whether this is the same cover-up and collusion we have had to fight relentlessly and constitutionally for two generations.
“If it is, and I have my own concerns, we will have to root out any residual corporate memory of the RUC now existing in the PSNI. It will be for the greater good of society and for future generations. Mr Hutchinson will have to go but we should remember how important it is to distinguish the man from the office when he does go.”
A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said it would be ”inappropriate” to comment on the CJI report until the final draft is published next month.
By Gemma Burns
North Belfast News
22nd of August 2011
A North Belfast project set up almost a decade ago to deal with interface trouble is to be scrapped next month, despite the area still having the greatest number of interfaces and more sectarian attacks than any other part of the North.
The North Belfast Interface Network (NBIN) employs five staff who have worked since 2002 to develop a strategic response to interface violence and to work on community relations in North Belfast.
However funds for the project from the International Fund for Ireland and Community Relations Council have run out and the group has now had to be disbanded with the loss of five jobs at the end of September.
The scrapping of the project comes after serious rioting in Ardoyne, New Lodge and North Queen Street and the Oldpark over the eleventh and twelfth of July and ongoing sectarian incidents throughout the district. Recent figures from the PSNI show that for the period between April 2009 and March 2010 532 sectarian incidents were reported in North Belfast.
The figure is significantly more than other areas of the six counties with Derry coming in second place at 184 incidents, Coleraine third with 164 and West Belfast fourth with 124. All other areas had less than 100 reportings of sectarian incidents.
NBIN staff not only attend the scenes of interface violence they also develop relationships with loyalist communities.
Coordinator of NBIN Rab McCallum said the loss of the project will have an impact on the wider North Belfast community.
“There is a lot more work still to do here and our project is still very relevant, We have spent the last nine years building relationships and trying to work with the other communities and now this has all been lost. This is years of building up trust.”
Fellow staff member Malachy Mulgrew said the recent violence over the summer proves that the sectarian and interface violence is far from over.
“You saw what happened in the Short Strand, it can turn around over night, you saw it in the Springfield Road a few years ago, but even then our group was in contact with loyalists.”
A spokesman for the Community Relations Council said “The Community Relations Council (CRC) has supported the work of the North Belfast Interface Network (NBIN) for a number of years and recognises its value for community relations. CRC is continuing to discuss with NBIN on how it may sustain its work in the longer term.”
Police have praised army bomb experts who prevented a device exploding inside a Co Down bank.
Officers were alerted at around 9.40am after two masked men dropped a bag, which they said contained a bomb, inside a branch of Santander in Newry.
Army technical experts were called to the scene and a large number of buildings around the centre of the city were evacuated.
Police later confirmed the bag contained a viable explosive device.
The attack followed a similar bombing of a Santander branch in Derry earlier this year which caused extensive damage.
Area commander for Newry and Mourne Chief Inspector Davy Beck said: “This was a viable device which was capable of causing death, serious injury and substantial damage to the area.
“I would place on record my gratitude to the army technical officer and his team for their actions, which clearly prevented the detonation of this device.
“Newry city centre is returning to normal at this point. However, a thorough investigation into the attack has been initiated.
“I would appeal to the community for information about the people who conducted this cowardly attack on the people of Newry and Mourne.”
He asked anyone with information about the incident to contact police.
By Gráinne McWilliams
22nd of August 2011
WEST Belfast-based victims’ group Relatives for Justice has called on Justice Minister David Ford to remove Al Hutchinson from office after a leaked draft report into the workings of the Police Ombudsman’s office heaped new criticisms on its performance.
The draft report by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJI) was leaked to investigative website The Detail. Criticisms carried in the report include claims that Mr Hutchinson has lost the trust of key staff and that some investigators asked to be disassociated from reports they had worked on because their findings were changed. The report also claims that the lack of independence of the Ombudsman’s office was so concerning that the body should be suspended from investigating Troubles-related murders until further reviews of the organisation are carried out.
Mark Thompson, Director for Relatives For Justice, said the findings of the report were “devastating for truth recovery and the search for justice”.
“The findings of fundamental compromise of independence (of the Police Ombudsman’s office) have far reaching implications,” he said.
Mr Thompson said the situation was “simply unacceptable”.
“Victims of our conflict must have an independent process. That their pain and anguish has been drawn out for so long is not only unacceptable it is cruel and inhuman,” he said.
“Al Hutchinson must be removed by David Ford. An independent forum to construct a truth commission should be established immediately by both governments.”
A spokesperson for the CJI said: “Following the completion of factual accuracy checks, the final report has been submitted by the Chief Inspector Dr Michael Maguire to the Minister of Justice and permission to publish has been sought in line with normal CJI processes.”
A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman’s Office said it would not be appropriate to comment on the report in advance of it being officially released.