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Breaking News.ie
30/04/2014

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is tonight being questioned by detectives investigating the abduction and killing of Jean McConville.

Mrs McConville, a widow, was dragged away from her children in her home in the Divis flats, west Belfast, by an IRA gang of up to 12 men and women after being accused of passing information to the British Army in the city.

An investigation later carried out by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman rejected the claims that she was an informer.

She was shot in the back of the head and buried 50 miles from her home. The IRA did not admit her murder until 1999 when information was passed to gardaí.

She became one of the so-called ‘Disappeared’, and it was not until August 2003 that her remains were found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth.

Deputy Adams has vehemently rejected the allegations made by former republican colleagues that he had a role in ordering the IRA killing.

No one has ever been charged with the murder. But after years without progress in the criminal investigation there have been a series of arrests in recent weeks.

A veteran republican – 77-year-old Ivor Bell – was charged last month with aiding and abetting the murder.

In the wake of the recent developments in the case, last month Deputy Adams, who has always denied membership of the IRA, said he would be available to meet with detectives if they wished to speak with him.

That meeting is taking place this evening.

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald said this evening: “Last month Gerry Adams said that he was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. That meeting is now taking place.

“Gerry Adams is right to confront this issue. There has been a concerted and malicious effort to link Gerry Adams to this case for some considerable time.

“He has consistently and forthrightly rejected any suggestion that he had any part in what happened to Jean McConville 42 years ago or that he has any information about these dreadful events.

“I believe the timing of this latest decision by the PSNI is politically motivated and designed to damage Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin.

“It is Sinn Féin’s view that legacy issues and dealing with the past, including past conflict events, are best addressed through an independent, international, truth recovery process.

“In the absence of that, we have agreed to and are seeking the implementation of the Haass compromise proposals. These include the right of families to choose whether to pursue legal action or to seek maximum truth recovery.”

In a statement made before meeting the PSNI today, Deputy Adams said: “Last month I said that I was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. While I have concerns about the timing, I am voluntarily meeting with the PSNI this evening.

“As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility to build the peace. This includes dealing with the difficult issue of victims and their families. Insofar as it is possible I have worked to bring closure to victims and their families who have contacted me. Even though they may not agree, this includes the family of Jean McConville.

“I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family.

“Well publicised, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these.

“While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville.

“Sinn Féin has signed up to the Haass proposals for dealing with the past. While I also respect the right of families if they wish to seek legal redress there remains a huge onus on the two governments and the political parties to face up to all these issues and to agree a victim centred process which does this.”

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BBC
30 April 2014

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been arrested by Northern Ireland police in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.

Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow and mother of 10, was abducted from her flat in the Divis area of west Belfast and shot by the IRA.

Her body was recovered from a beach in County Louth in 2003.

Police said a 65-year-old man presented himself to Antrim police station on Wednesday evening and was arrested.

In a statement, Sinn Féin said: “Last month Gerry Adams said he was available to meet the PSNI about the Jean McConville case. That meeting is taking place this evening.”

Entrepreneur Peter Drayne paid thousands for specially crafted Gallagher guitar

Barry Roche
Irish Times
18 April 2014

Rory Gallagher photographed with the guitar. Peter Drayne from Lisburn bought the JS Berlin Legend at auction. The guitar was custom built for Gallagher who first made first headlines with his band, Taste.

An Irish entrepreneur and music fan has spoken of his delight at being able to bring a limited edition electric guitar specially crafted for Irish born blues and rock legend, Rory Gallagher back to Ireland after buying it at auction in the UK.

Peter Drayne from Lisburn told how pleased he was to have bought the JS Berlin Legend which was custom built for Gallagher who first made first headlines with his band, Taste in the late 1960s before becoming a solo artist with album sales of over 30 million worldwide.

Mr Drayne (59) recalled going to see Gallagher play in both the Ulster Hall in Belfast and the National Stadium in Dublin throughout the 1970s and said he felt he had to bring the guitar back to Ireland when he heard it was for sale.

“I used to see Rory in the Ulster Hall and then I started making this annual pilgrimage down to the National Stadium in Dublin in January every year to see him- he was just such an amazing performer and I’m so pleased to be able bring the guitar back to Ireland,” he said.

“I think guitars like this need to be preserved but they also need to be played and I’m hoping the guitar will be used on a regular basis,” said Mr Drayne who is a director of MITA Records who have recently signed legendary guitarist Steve Marriott’s daughter, Mollie.

Mr Drayne explained that he only discovered the guitar was going for auction with 1818 Auctioneers in Cumbria just a few hours before the auction began but once he began bidding for the instrument made by British luthier, Patrick Eggle, he quickly secured it.

“It started at £19,000 (€23,000) and I was bidding quite aggressively over the phone, going up in £500 a time and it was all over within a few minutes when I got it for £25,000 (€30,370),” said Mr Drayne who regularly attends the annual Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.

Gallagher, who died in 1995 aged 47, was reknown for playing a battered Fender Stratocaster as a substance in his sweat reacted to the lacquer which caused its finish to peel but the JS Berlin Legends guitar is notable for its fine figured maple finish and mother of pearl inlay.

Auctioneer, Kevin Kendall of 1818 Auctioneers said he was delighted with the price obtained for the guitar which was custom built in 1992 to suit Gallagher’s playing style and is distinguishable by its gloss finish and the initials ‘RG’ on the 12th fret of the fretboard.

“We got almost twice what we were expecting to get for it so we’re very pleased – it’s definitely been the highlight of my career as an auctioneer in terms of selling rock memorabilia and it’s obviously going to a very good home,” he said.

‘Tragic reminder of violent past conflict’

By Jilly Beattie, Chris Sherrard
Mirror
18 April 2014
**Video onsite

Dad-of-four gunned down on Springfield Road around 5pm after threats from former republican colleagues

Ex Continuity IRA chief Tommy Crossan was blasted to death in broad daylight on Friday evening.

The dad-of-four was shot seven times including once in the head by a gang who strong-armed him into a fuel depot in West Belfast.

Sources understand that prominent dissident republican Crossan was executed after he was accused by former colleagues of being a British agent and touting to the PSNI and MI5 about high-profile dissident republicans.

A gang of three men in a red BMW car are believed to have carried out the killing. It was found burnt-out two streets away minutes after the shooting.

The incident happened shortly before his daughter, Joanie, drove into the area to fill her car with diesel.

One local resident said: “It is terrible for his wife and children but other than that there’s little sympathy for Tommy Crossan on this street.

“You reap what you sow and he has been part of a wrecking ball in our community and now he is gone.

“He was warned.”

A heavy police presence filtered into the Springfield Road area at 5.15pm after the shooting.

Officers in a dozen police vehicles including members of the Tactical Support Group were at the scene and were on high alert. They helped escorted a cross-community group visiting the area moments after the shooting to safety.

As the PSNI helicopter maintained a presence overhead a large group of family and friends, many of them weeping, gathered outside the building where Crossan had met his bloody end.

Dozens of local children clambered around police vehicles demanding to know where the dead body was.

Fr Tony Devlin, the parish priest of St Paul’s Catholic Church on the Falls Road, gave the last rites.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast condemned the murder:

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir @newbelfast: Shame on those who bring death to Belfast streets at Eastertide. They represent no-one but themselves and have no place in our great city.

Crossan had been defying a death threat by rival dissident republicans since 2011.

He received the threat from former comrades when masked gunmen accused him of being a British agent and ordered him to leave. They threatened: “Get out of Ireland or be killed.”

But Crossan told a Belfast newspaper: “I’m going nowhere. My conscience is clear. I’m no tout and never would be. It goes against everything I believe.

“I haven’t stolen Continuity IRA money and I haven’t been involved in robberies. These liars are trying to criminalise me and drive me from my home. But I’m here to stay.”

Speaking from the scene SDLP Councillor Colin Keenan, who lives nearby this afternoon’s incident, said: “I condemn this murder completely and in doing so I reflect the view of all of the community.

“There is a real sense of shock that this has happened.

“I was on the scene shortly after this tragic event and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to the victim’s family.

“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”

Forensic experts were quickly on the scene of the murder.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard
Press Association
18 April 2014

Dissident republican suspects in the killing of one of their former commanders in Belfast are “dinosaurs trapped in the past”, the city’s Lord Mayor said.

Ex-Continuity IRA (CIRA) figure Tommy Crossan, 43, was shot dead at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex in full view of surrounding houses. Three gunmen may have carried out the killing and a red BMW car was found on fire nearby.

A priest attended to pray over the bloodied victim in West Belfast, an area long known as a republican heartland but which has been relatively peaceful in recent years following the end of the IRA campaign in 1998.

Relatives gathered in tears at the scene, their devastation visible to onlookers.

First citizen Mairtin O Muilleoir of Sinn Fein said the killers existed in the dark margins of society but could not slow the pace of change in Belfast.

He claimed: “They are dinosaurs trapped in the past and I urge everyone to work with the police to remove them from our streets.”

Crossan was once the CIRA’s Belfast leader but was believed to be the subject of a death threat and had been expelled from the group some years ago after a fall out.

He served time in prison for conspiracy to murder Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers following a gun attack on a police station in West Belfast in 1998.

The CIRA has opposed the peace process which largely ended three decades of violence and transformed Northern Ireland. Crossan was killed on the 16th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which mandated political power-sharing at Stormont.

CIRA gunmen murdered Police Constable Stephen Carroll in Lurgan in Co Armagh in March 2009 but the organisation has since been riven with splits, security sources have suggested.

Friday afternoon’s attack happened at the Peter Pan Centre in Springfield Road, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said. Detectives have launched a murder investigation and are combing the scene for forensics clues.

Mr O’Muilleoir told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: “There are some micro groups of criminals masquerading under an assortment of republican labels. They have no support within the community.

“I wouldn’t under any guise brand them ‘professional’ but they certainly are killers… They have nothing to offer to the people of Belfast.”

He said t here was a whole assortment of factions, and fractions of factions, of dissident republicanism and added every week produced another schism.

“Sadly they clearly have access to guns and they have murderous intent and they are willing to kill those with whom they disagree.”

The largely-nationalist area of Belfast where the shooting happened is mainly comprised of tightly-packed terraced housing estates and businesses.

Nationalist SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said it was a horrific scene.

“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”

The Springfield Road, one of the main arterial routes, was closed to traffic.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Detectives from Serious Crime Branch have launched a murder investigation after a man was shot dead in the Springfield Road area of West Belfast.”

Members of the security forces have been on high alert for attacks by various extremist factions who have also killed two soldiers and a prison officer.

In recent weeks they have stepped up efforts to kill police officers, with several attacks on the force in West Belfast.

After the murder of prison officer David Black on the M1 motorway in November 2012, police mounted an unprecedented surveillance operation against various factions as well making significant arrests.

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann said t hose behind Crossan’s killing had no consideration for anyone in the community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.

She added: “They have shot a man dead and endangered anyone in the immediate vicinity.

“There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting.

“It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends.

“This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away.”

David Ford, Northern Ireland’s justice minister, said the murder should be condemned by all.

Accused, Seamus Daly, faces 29 counts of murder over 1998 Real IRA attack in Northern Ireland that tried to derail peace process. He pretended to be his brother when stopped by police

Tom Whitehead
Telegraph.co.uk
11 April 2014

Seamus Daly, accused of the Omagh bombing in 1998, arrives at court in Dungannon, Northern Ireland. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Omagh bomb suspect Seamus Daly was arrested as he attended a maternity unit with his heavily pregnant wife, a court was told.

Daly, 43, was held on Monday at a hospital in Newry, Northern Ireland, after a decision to arrest him for 1998 atrocity was taken in consultation with prosecutors at the “highest level”.

He claimed to be his own brother when stopped and was only formally identified through fingerprint analysis.

He appeared before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court on Friday charged with 29 counts of murder in connection with the bloodiest outrage of the Troubles.

The prosecution comes a year after a civil court ruled that Daly was liable for the atrocity.

Dungannon magistrates heard that the prosecution case against him is based on phone, forensic and witness evidence.

A detective said the decision to charge Daly, originally from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, had been taken in consultation with the “highest level” of Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service after reviewing a range of evidence allegedly linking the bricklayer and publican with the August 1998 attack.

Daly, who now lives in Jonesborough, Co Armagh, was remanded in custody after deputy District Judge Paul Conway refused a bail application.

His lawyer told the court that Friday was the due date for Daly and his wife’s second child.

No one has ever been successfully convicted in the criminal courts for the Real IRA bombing in Omagh, Co Tyrone, which happened just months after the Good Friday Agreement.

A 500lb car bomb was detonated on Market Street which left 29 people dead and 200 injured.

In 2009, bereaved families were forced to take their own action in the civil courts and won a landmark ruling at Belfast High Court when a senior judge found four men, including Daly, liable for the bombing.

Daly, along with Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy, were ordered to pay £1.6 million to the families in compensation.

Daly and Murphy appealed and were granted a retrial in the civil courts but were found liable for a second time in 2013.

Dressed in jeans and a dark grey hooded top, an unshaven Daly did not speak during the half-hour hearing in court.

He also faces counts of causing the explosion in Omagh; possession of a bomb in the Co Tyrone market town with intent to endanger life or property; conspiring to cause an explosion in Lisburn, Co Down in April 1998; and possession of the Lisburn bomb with intent.

He sat in the dock only yards in front of the public gallery, where Michael Gallagher, whose son 21-year-old Aiden died in the blast, looked on.

After the hearing Mr Gallagher said: “This is part of our life for the past 15 and half years and if it’s happening we are going to be there, wherever that is.

“It was important for our presence for the people, in our case our son Aiden, it was important to be there and represent him because there was no one else going to do it.”

Mr Gallagher said the latest legal proceedings linked to the case would not sidetrack the families’ campaign for a cross-border public inquiry into alleged security failings in the lead-up and aftermath of the attack.

“We need the truth,” he said.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile

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