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–of providing phone used to claim the murders at Massereene Army Barracks
By Rebecca Black
22 November 2013
Marian ‘Price’ McGlinchey has pleaded guilty to buying the mobile phone used by the Real IRA to claim responsibility for the murders of two British soldiers outside Massereene Army Barracks
Old Bailey bomber Marian Price has pleaded guilty to providing a mobile phone linked to a Real IRA attack in which two soldiers were murdered.
Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were killed in the attack at Massereene Army barracks in Antrim in 2009 as they collected pizzas, just hours before they were due to be deployed to Afghanistan.
The 59-year old veteran republican also entered a guilty plea to the charge of aiding and abetting the addressing of a meeting to encourage support for terrorism.
The charge related to a separate incident at a republican Easter commemoration in Londonderry in April 2011 where Price was photographed holding up a statement for a masked man. Price, from Stockman’s Avenue in west Belfast, was released on continuing bail, to be sentenced next month. Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr QC told Price that the fact she was being released was no indication of how she would eventually be dealt with.
Price’s trial, which began on Monday, heard that she had links to “dissident republican activity” and must have known that the mobile she bought was to be used to make the call claiming the attack on the Co Antrim base.
Prosecutor Tessa Kitson told the court that the day after the Massereene attack, a man contacted media outlets claiming responsibility for it on behalf of the Real IRA.
Ms Kitson said that on March 8, 2009, a woman was caught on CCTV purchasing the pay-as-you-go mobile from the Tesco store in Newtownabbey. She said it was the Crown’s case that the woman was Price.
Price was questioned about the purchase of the phone but “declined to make any comment in relation to these circumstances and she didn’t identify the person or persons to whom she must have passed this telephone to”.
Price had been released early from prison on licence in 1980, but it was revoked in May 2011 on the direction of the then Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, shortly after the Derry rally.
The SDLP had campaigned for her release, arguing that her licence had been revoked on the basis of intelligence rather than evidence that would be admissible in court.
Yesterday, unionists called on those who worked towards the release of Price to apologise and “admit they were wrong”.
DUP South Antrim MLA William McCrea said the SDLP needed “to find its moral compass”.
“This plea leaves the SDLP and other organisations that campaigned for her release hanging out to dry,” he said.
“Now the SDLP and others owe an apology to those they criticised and attacked, who acted rightly in the interests of public safety. It is time for the SDLP to find its moral compass again.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan added: “I trust now that those who were crying the loudest about the ‘injustice’ of her having her licence revoked will have the good grace to apologise and admit they were wrong.”
However, SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness insisted his party position was “right at the time”, adding it would repeat it in similar circumstances.
Fr Alec Reid ferried messages between republicans and UK and Irish governments, and was witness to arms decommissioning
Fr Alec Reid was threatened with death in 1988 as he tried to stop out of uniform corporals David Howes and Derek Wood being beaten and shot in Belfast. (Photograph: Ballesteros/EPA)
22 November 2013
An Irish priest who played a key role in brokering peace in Northern Ireland has died.
Fr Alec Reid, 82, acted as a clandestine go-between ferrying messages to and from republicans and the British and Irish governments in the earliest stages of the peace process in the 1980s.
Years later, with paramilitary ceasefires delivered and the 1998 Good Friday peace accord signed, he acted as an independent witness to the decommissioning of the IRA’s arsenal of weapons.
During the Troubles his image was seared into the public conscious when he was pictured kneeling over the bloodied corpse of one of two British soldiers he performed the last rites on after they were beaten and murdered by a republican mob in west Belfast.
The Redemptorist order of Catholic priests, of which the Co Tipperary born cleric was a member, announced that he died peacefully in hospital in Dublin.
The Irish president, Michael Higgins, led tributes to the late cleric, who in his later years made Dublin home. “Fr Reid will perhaps best be remembered for the courageous part he played in identifying and nurturing the early seeds of an inclusive peace process,” he said.
“Fr Reid’s role as a channel for peace laid the ground for the achievement of the IRA ceasefire and created the political space for the multiparty talks that ultimately led to the Good Friday agreement. While he spent the last few years of his life in Dublin, Fr Reid would have been gratified by the positive transformation that is under way throughout Northern Ireland, and especially in the Belfast that he loved so well.”
The cleric had a long association with Clonard church in west Belfast and his funeral will be held there on Wednesday.
“He will be especially remembered for his work in the Northern Ireland peace process,” the Redemptorist order said.
Reid was a key confidante of Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams, and the republican leader trusted him to ferry messages to and from the then Social Democratic and Labour party leader, John Hume, and contacts in the British and Irish governments.
Adams on Friday described the cleric’s former base in Clonard as “the cradle of the peace process”.
He said he was tenacious in his efforts to end the conflict. “There would not be a peace process at this time without his diligent doggedness and his refusal to give up,” said the Sinn Féin leader.
Adams, who recently visited Reid at his hospital bed, said he and the cleric had many discussions during the Troubles about how the violence might be ended.
“Out of those conversations emerged a commitment to dialogue as the first necessary step along that process and a commencement of a process in the early 1980s to commence a process of dialogue with the Catholic hierarchy, SDLP leader John Hume and the Irish and British governments,” he added.
Seven years after the signing of the Good Friday agreement, Reid was again called upon to help the peace process move on. The presence of the cleric and Methodist minister the Rev Harold Good, as the IRA put their weapons beyond use, was vital in convincing those sceptical of republicans’ intentions.
The priest once famously recalled that an armed IRA member present for the decommissioning act handed over his assault rifle, which Reid said became the last weapon to be “put beyond use”.
“The man handed it over and got quite emotional,” said Reid. “He was aware that this was the last gun.”
Seventeen years earlier, the cleric witnessed the brutality of IRA violence when he tried desperately to save the lives of the two soldiers who had inadvertently driven into the funeral procession of an IRA member.
He was unable to stop corporals David Howes and Derek Wood being beaten and shot, having been threatened with death if he did not get out of the way.
The killings was one of the most shocking incidents of the entire Troubles.
While the dramatic picture of the cleric knelt beside Howes was beamed around the world, no one would know until years later that beneath his coat that day Reid was carrying an envelope containing one of the numerous top secret messages he ferried between Sinn Féin and Hume.
The churchman’s career was not without controversy. In 2005 he prompted outrage in some quarters when he likened the unionist treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland in the past to the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews.
“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
–President John F. Kennedy
By Philip Bradfield
11 November 2013
The man who allegedly shot Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville was yesterday named as former Sinn Fein councillor and Belfast IRA commander Pat McGeown.
It was claimed yesterday that he also shot dead ‘Good Samaritan’ Protestant workman Sammy Llewellyn when he went to help Catholics on the Falls Road board up windows after an IRA bomb in 1975.
“I was recently approached by grassroots republicans who were sympathetic to the McConville family,” Jean McConville’s son Jim said yesterday in a Sunday paper.
“I was given some details of what happened and only two weeks ago I gave Pat McGeown’s name to my solicitor.”
The paper claimed that McGeown was only 17 when he shot Mrs McConville in the back of the head, and that he later rose to become a close political confidant of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.
The News Letter understands McGeown’s name had been widely linked to Mrs McConville’s murder before he died in 1996.
Gerry Kelly MLA said at McGeown’s funeral that he had been a prisoner in “Cage 11” of the Maze with Gerry Adams. Adams officially launched the Pat McGeown Community Endeavour Award at Belfast’s Upper Springfield Development Trust in 1998.
He described McGeown as “a modest man with a quiet, but total dedication to equality and raising the standard of life for all the people of the city”, adding that McGeown “would have been one of the last people to expect an award to be given in his name, and yet few others could have deserved the honour more”.
Mr Kelly said McGeown started “barricade duty” at 13 and then joined the local unit of the IRA in the Beechmount area. He added that “at one point he held the most senior rank in the Belfast brigade of the IRA”.
The book Lost Lives, which lists all those who died during the Troubles, said McGeown’s health never recovered after 47 days on hunger strike.
He was jailed in the Republic for explosives offences aged 14 and at 16 was interned before being imprisoned for a bombing attack.
He served 15 years for bombing the Europa Hotel and was the Officer Commanding of the IRA in the Maze. After being released in 1986, he went on to become group leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council.
Sinn Fein yesterday declined to offer any comment.
Another Sunday paper yesterday reported that the IRA member, then aged 16, who drove Mrs McConville away from her children has phoned her daughter Helen McKendry to apologise.
8 Nov 2013
Michael McIlveen died in May 2006
A man has pleaded guilty to the sectarian murder of a Catholic teenager in Ballymena seven years ago.
Michael McIlveen, who was known as Mickey Bo, died after being beaten and kicked in an alleyway.
Jeff Colin Lewis, 24, from Rossdale in Ballymena was convicted of the murder in 2009.
The conviction was later quashed and a retrial ordered. On Friday, he admitted his guilt and will be re-sentenced. Two other men are already serving life.
Christopher Francis Kerr, 26, from Carnduff Drive, will have to serve at least nine years before he can be considered for parole.
Aaron Cavana Wallace, 24, from Moat Road, will serve eight years. Both men pleaded guilty.
Fifteen-year-old Michael McIlveen died from brain injuries the day after he and two friends were attacked in 2006.
04 November 2013
Liam Gonzalez Bennett
An SDLP councillor has welcomed the launch of a Police Ombudsman probe in to how the PSNI conducted an investigation, after no one was prosecuted for the death of a Co Antrim toddler.
Declan O’Loan – whose wife Nuala formerly occupied the Ombudsman’s post – sent a letter of complaint to Dr Michael Maguire’s office, as he was troubled by details that emerged during the inquest earlier this month into the death of Liam Gonzalez Bennett.
Mr O’Loan said: “Someone needs to break in to this case to see if there can have been justification for no charges having been taken and to establish if there was failure in some part of the legal chain.
“The Police Ombudsman is well placed to begin the necessary inquiries, and I welcome the fact that he has done so.”
The 20-month-old died on February 8, 2009, the day after he was rushed to hospital from his home at Sunningdale Park in Ballymena, having suffered 31 head injuries, leading to blindness and brain death.
His mother Samantha Bennett and stepfather Paul Noel McKeown were arrested and were questioned several times. But no prosecution was ever brought, and police are not seeking anyone else in connection with the little boy’s death.
In court, Dr Alistair Bentley, Deputy State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, concluded the bruises on Liam’s head may have been caused by the “knuckles of a clenched fist”.
At Liam’s inquest, Coroner Suzanne Anderson requested that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) look at the matter again.
Mr O’Loan said Mr Maguire had written to the coroner, Ms Anderson, seeking the reasons for her referral of the case back to the PPS and asking whether she had concerns about the quality of the police investigation.
He said the Ombudsman has also written to the DPP expressing an interest in the review that will take place and requesting that should the PPS identify any concerns about the adequacy of the police investigation, they refer the matter to him.
Recording of deceased Belfast IRA commander Brendan Hughes names Sinn Féin president as giving execution order
2 November 2013
Jean McConville, who disappeared from west Belfast in 1972, with three of her 10 children. (Photograph: PA)
A tape recording of a deceased Belfast IRA commander in which Gerry Adams is accused of ordering the murder and secret burial of a widowed mother of 10 in 1972 will be broadcast for the first time this week.
A former IRA hunger striker, Brendan Hughes, alleges the Sinn Féin president was one of the heads of a unit that kidnapped, killed and buried west Belfast woman Jean McConville. Hughes, who died in 2008, is recorded as saying: “There was only one man who gave that order for that woman to be executed – and that man is now the head of Sinn Féin.” Hughes also says that Adams went to the McConville children after their mother was abducted and promised an internal IRA investigation. “That man is the man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did.”
Adams is challenged on the BBC’s Storyville programme over whether he was a senior Provisionals commander in Belfast at the time McConville was abducted, just before Christmas 1972. “That’s not true,” Adams replies, adding that he has not “shirked” his own responsibilities in the conflict. The Sinn Féin leader has always insisted that he was never in the IRA.
In response to the tape, Adams, who is the Sinn Féin member for Louth in the Irish parliament, accuses his former friend of lying. “Brendan is telling lies,” Adams tells the programme. He adds: “I had no act or part to play in the abduction, killing or burial of Jean McConville or any of the others.”
An expert forensic detective tells the joint BBC Northern Ireland-RTE production that the IRA sometimes weighed bodies down with heavy stones to ensure that the corpses would not surface if the bogs they were buried in ever dried up.
Storyville reveals that the first of the “disappeared” to be found back in 1999, north Belfast man Eamon Molloy, had received the last rites from a Catholic priest. The priest saw Molloy tied naked to a bed and asked his captors if any of them had rosary beads that their prisoner could hold when he was to be shot.
Security sources in the Republic told the Observer last week that up to four additional men who were “disappeared” by the IRA have not yet been identified by the organisation set up to find the Troubles’ missing victims. The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR) has so far found eight of the “disappeared”, including McConville, but seven on their official list are still unaccounted for.
A spokesman for the ICLVR, Geoff Knupfer, said: “At this moment there is no information to suggest there is any addition to the list.” However, security sources insist that at least four IRA victims were buried in secret. The film is to be broadcast on BBC4, BBC Northern Ireland and RTE on Tuesday.
It includes a reading of the late Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Bog Queen’, which the Nobel laureate agreed could be used in the programme to remember the plight of the “disappeared”.