You are currently browsing the daily archive for 28 April 2012.
27 April 2012
A veteran civil rights activist is calling for support for a weekend rally protesting against the activities of Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).
Dermie McClenaghan, who was a leading light in the civil rights movement in Derry in the 1960s, says people should “turn out in large numbers” for Saturday’s rally at Guildhall Square (3 p.m.)
He said: “RAAD’s defiance is related directly to what they consider is either support for them or apathy among the the Derry public as regards what they are and what they do.
“It is difficult to imagine the extremes to which it would go if it felt it had a ‘free hand’ altogether. It is up to the people of the city to tell them that they do not. Indifference to the activity of RAAD is interpreted by it as permission and, thus, support for it.
“It is aware that the issue of drug abuse is an emotive one and so it attaches itself to that issue. If it was a sincere and caring organisation and truly interested in the welfare of people, it would by now realise that the problem of drug abuse and other problems that working class people have to put up with are deeply rooted in the nature of the society in which we live. It is that reality it should be focusing on rather than reducing the problem to the behaviour of individuals. By doing this it is dealing with the consequences rather than the causes.”
Mr. McClenaghan says that “not in a million years” will RAAD prevent the abuse of drugs.
“If it continues with its activities, it will drive drug activity underground where it will flourish in conditions more suitable to its needs. RAAD must stop what it is doing. It is wrong. It must consider the dehumanising effect its activities are having on the young people in the city. Stop maiming and killing working class people. Stop reducing the problem to the weakness of, and behaviour of, working class people. Look at the causes of the behaviour of working class people. Stop maiming and killing them.”
27 Apr 2012
The families of two men brutally murdered five years ago in Belfast say they are alarmed at reports surfacing this week that indicate British Intelligence services may be protecting the murderers. Eddie Burns was found shot dead at the Bog Meadows on March 12, 2007. A short time later Joe Jones was found in an alleyway in North Belfast – he had suffered horrific head injuries likened to the work of the Shankill Butchers.
In 2009, Gerard Mackin from West Belfast was jailed for life for the murder of Mr Burns. But the Dublin Court of Criminal Appeal ordered a retrial, which collapsed after a witness refused to testify, saying he was under threat from paramilitaries.
Nobody has been held accountable for the deaths and this week reports surfaced alleging that a key suspect in the murders is currently on a crime spree, carrying out robberies and tiger kidnappings in Belfast but remains “untouchable” because he is in fact a British agent.
“If this man or others is being protected by the British Intelligence services it comes as no shock to us,” Joe’s brother Peter Jones told the Andersonstown News.
“We have been trying for more than five years to get to the truth about the vicious murders of Joe and his friend Eddie Burns. It seems to us that the killers of Eddie and Joe are being given a free hand to do what they like.”
Eddie Burns’ mother, Kathleen Burns, said the families plan to speak to both the police and the Public Prosecution Service about the allegations that have been made.
“We will be raising this issue at a meeting with the PPS and senior members of the PSNI,” she said.
“If the intelligence services are protecting any of the people involved in the brutal murders of Eddie and Joe, then they have lost the plot.
“It doesn’t stack up for us or other ordinary people if thugs are immune from prosecution from crimes as serious as murder, tiger kidnappings, robbery and extortion.”
28 Apr 2012
Police have said that the bomb found at the border near Newry contained 600 pounds of explosives and was fully primed.
The device, which had been placed in an abandoned van on the Fathom Line, was discovered on Thursday.
It was made safe on Friday evening.
Ch Supt Alasdair Robinson said the bomb was as twice as big as the bomb that exploded outside Newry courthouse two years ago.
He said it could have caused death and massive destruction. He also rejected criticism that motorists had been able to drive past the bomb and said police had closed a main cross-border road in a very short time.
The Fathom Line was closed for 24 hours while the police and Army dealt with the alert.
Ulster Unionist MLA for the area, Danny Kennedy said if the bomb had exploded it would have caused serious destruction.
“It had the potential to cause lethal damage. A 600 lbs device at the road side waiting for a police patrol. It is just unthinkable.”
On Thursday, the SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley, said a member of the public had reported the discovery of a suspicious vehicle to police.
It had been abandoned with its engine running.
Dissident republican paramilitaries have been blamed for a number of bomb attacks in the city in recent years.
Earlier this month, a bomb was found near the Cloghogue roundabout in Newry, just off the main Belfast to Dublin dual carriageway.
Police said the device contained a significant amount of explosives and had the potential to kill.
It was also made safe by army bomb experts.
28 Apr 2012
Police have found a number of guns and ammunition during an operation in north Belfast to combat dissident republican terrorism.
Army bomb experts were also sent to the area and officers in white forensic suits carried out searches on a patch of derelict land.
A number of houses in Ardglen Place were evacuated during the operation which began on Friday evening.
A PSNI spokesperson said the operation has now ended.
The recovered weapons have been taken away for forensic examination.
The PSNI District Commander for north and west Belfast, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, said the actions of police had “undoubtedly thwarted the attempts of criminals to inflict death, injury and misery on the community of north Belfast.”
“Police are determined to work to protect the communities from these threats and would appeal for the public’s continued assistance and co-operation,” he said.
But ex-RUC man tells tribunal he wasn’t alarmed by revelation
28 Apr 2012
A former Special Branch officer has told the Smithwick Tribunal that he was not greatly concerned about an intelligence report sent to him which indicated that a Garda Sergeant was “helping out the IRA”.
The retired Detective Chief Inspector told the Tribunal that he received an SB50 form in June 1985 and sent it to police headquarters in Belfast marked “no downward dissemination”.
The witness who was referred to only as ‘Officer X’ said that the report had been compiled by two Special Branch officers working in the Newry area and had come from a “medium grade” source.
The SB50 form which the Tribunal has been seeking from the PSNI’s archive for years, stated “Owen Corrigan, a Sergeant in Garda Special Branch in Dundalk, is helping out the IRA.”
It continued: “Corrigan is keeping both the boys and the organisation well-informed and, he lets the boys know what the security forces in the North are doing when he can”.
The heavily redacted document pointed out that at the time there was “a Sergeant Owen Corrigan attached to the Garda Special Branch stationed in Dundalk” and recommended that Corrigan’s name be recorded on a ‘White slip’, a document used to indicate the first report of a person’s alleged involvement with any subversive organisation.
The retired officer said that as far as he was aware the SB50 form brought to the Tribunal this week was the only official document ever created, that he was aware of, mentioning alleged collusion between a Garda and the IRA.
But the officer who served in Special Branch in the Newry area between 1981 and 1985 said that he was not overly concerned about dealing with Garda Corrigan.
Witness X said he forwarded the report to Police Headquarters in Belfast but felt at the time it was something that he did not have “to give too much attention to”.
He said he continued to personally meet with Detective Sergeant Corrigan at Dundalk Garda Station after he processed the SB50 warning to Police Headquarters and on one occasion was advised not to return to visit the Garda officer at Dundalk.
”There was one particular evening that I went to Dundalk to see Detective Sergeant Corrigan about matters concerning the border area, and, whenever we had finished our business, he advised me to wait until he checked to see if the coast was clear for me to leave.
“He went down into the entrance area of the station, came back up, and advised me to hang on a while because there was certain people in from Belfast that would probably know me, and I waited until they had left the building.
“Then — whenever he came back, he said, I don’t think it would be wise for you to be coming back to this place again. If we have anything to discuss in future, we will meet either up north or further south, Ardee, Collon, Drogheda, just don’t come back to this place again”, Witness X said.
The retired officer said that thereafter he was wary of travelling to Dundalk Garda station. Like murdered Superintendent Bob Buchanan, Witness X said that it had been his practice to travel to Dundalk in his own car, mostly alone but sometimes with another RUC officer.
Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen were murdered by the IRA in March 1989 almost four years after the SB50 intelligence report was passed to Special Branch Headquarters in Belfast.
The Smithwick Tribunal was set up to investigate the murders of Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen, two of the most senior RUC members to be murdered during The Troubles. They were ambushed after a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station in 1989. Chief Supt Breen and his driver Supt Buchanan left their Newry headquarters for what they thought was a routine meeting. But the pair never returned. Later in the day, as they drove back across the border near Jonesborough, Co Armagh, the two senior RUC officers were ambushed in an IRA gun attack.
By Steven McCaffery
Saturday, 28 April 2012
Police have discovered two bombs following separate security alerts in Belfast and Newry.
The explosives were described as “viable devices” and were found in Belfast and near the Irish border.
Police said the dissident republicans suspected of being behind at least one of the bombs had shown a “callous disregard” for the public.
This comes after police investigating the activity of dissidents opposed to the peace process found guns and ammunition in a separate search operation in Belfast yesterday.
The first bomb alert began in the Fathom Line area of the border town of Newry after an abandoned car was found on Thursday evening.
Police confirmed overnight that a “viable explosive device” was found in the vehicle.
It was made safe by army bomb experts.
Police also said a viable device was found under a parked car in the Ballygomartin Road area of north Belfast.
Chief Inspector Ian Campbell said several homes had to be evacuated while the security operation was carried out late last night.
He said: “Those responsible for this have shown callous disregard for members of the public.
“The operation resulted in the evacuation of up to 80 people, including families with young children and elderly residents, for several hours.”
He added: “The finger of suspicion points towards dissident republican terrorists and I appeal to anyone with information to come forward to police.”
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of last night’s weapons find, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, District Commander for North and West Belfast, said the police had succeeded in combating activity by the dissident groups.
“The actions of police have undoubtedly thwarted the attempts of criminals to inflict death, injury and misery on the community of north Belfast,” he said.
“Police are determined to protect communities from these threats.”
Police said a number of weapons had been seized, but no further details were available on the arms find.
Mr Clarke appealed for the public’s continuing assistance in combating dissident activities.