25th November 2014
Adams apologises for using 'offensive' language
Gerry Adams has apologised for using an "offensive" term at a public meeting but reiterated that he was referring to "bigots", and not all unionists.
The Sinn Féin leader used the term "bastards" while answering a question at the meeting in County Fermanagh.
He told the BBC's Talkback programme he was "sorry for using the b word" and acknowledged it would cause offence.
He also said he partly regretted using a "Trojan horse" analogy when referring to Sinn Féin's equality strategy.
'Alternative to war'
Mr Adams accepted a suggestion that he had made a "political gaffe" and added "we all make mistakes".
He also confirmed that he was correctly quoted as telling the public meeting: "I think the [Northern Ireland] Assembly could collapse. I don't think unionists have a game plan. The assembly for many is an alternative to war."
The meeting took place in Enniskillen on Monday night and audio of Mr Adams' comments, containing the swear word, was tweeted by Impartial Reporter journalist Rodney Edwards.
A full transcript of the exchange has been published by the Impartial Reporter.
Speaking on Talkback on Tuesday, Mr Adams said: "I'm sorry for using the b word, and I don't mean bigot, I mean the other word. That was inappropriate and people would be offended by it.
"The full transcript of my remarks will show very, very clearly that I wasn't talking about unionists, I was talking about bigots," he added.
"I was responding to a question, which was about what's the point in republicans trying to do business when there's a cadre or a cohort who clearly are against the type of changes that are contained in the various agreements that the political parties have signed up for."
Mr Adams told the programme he had "used the wrong term" during the "cut and thrust" of a question and answer session.
However, he said he stood over "the main thrust" of what he said during the meeting because bigotry had to be "faced down" and challenged "in a smarter way than I did it last night".
Mr Adams was asked repeatedly who he had in mind when he referred to bigots.
The Sinn Féin leader replied: "I'm using the broad brush to describe that cohort who on the one hand, are out-and-out bigots, and there's nothing worse than an educated bigot."
He told the programme he did not believe unionists had "a game plan to collapse the assembly", but added "the negative axis within unionism was dictating the pace".
Unionists have criticised the language Mr Adams used at the meeting, and both the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionists have made it clear they believe he was insulting all unionists.
Mr Adams was apparently answering a question about Sinn Féin's relationship with the DUP in the light of Gregory Campbell's disparaging comments about the Irish language.
During the meeting, Mr Adams said he was often asked by republicans "what's the point?"
"They weren't blaming Sinn Féin - in fact they were making the point that Sinn Féin were doing their best," he said.
"But what's the point? The point is to actually break these bastards - that's the point. And what's going to break them is equality. That's what's going to break them - equality.
"Who could be afraid of equality? Who could be afraid of treating somebody the way you want to be treated?
"That's what we need to keep the focus on - that's the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to reach out to people on the basis of equality."
The DUP's Arlene Foster said Gerry Adams' "foul-mouthed abuse had been disrespectful to an entire community".
"Republicans use the Irish language as a weapon and tonight Gerry Adams confirms that they view equality as another weapon to attack unionists," she said.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt described it as "shocking to the point of nausea".
"The most shocking revelation is that he considers equality as a 'Trojan horse'," he said.
"The audio recording makes clear Gerry Adams thinks equality is nothing more than a tool to be used to manipulate people like me."
Alliance leader David Ford said he was "appalled and disgusted" at Mr Adams' comments.
"He has actually damaged
equality legislation with his remarks."
condemn Gerry Adams use of swear word
Unionists have strongly criticised the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams after he used offensive language at a public meeting in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, on Monday night.
Both the DUP and the Ulster Unionists have made it clear they believe Mr Adams was insulting all unionists.
The Sinn Fein president has maintained that he was talking only about bigots and racists.
Mr Adams used the phrase "the point is to break these b******s".
Audio of the comments containing the swear word was tweeted by Impartial Reporter journalist Rodney Edwards.
Mr Adams was apparently answering a question about Sinn Féin's relationship with the DUP in the light of Gregory Campbell's disparaging comments about the Irish language.
Mr Adams said he was often asked by republicans "what's the point?"
"They weren't blaming Sinn Fein - in fact they were making the point that Sinn Fein were doing their best," he said.
"But what's the point? The point is to actually break these b******s - that's the point. And what's going to break them is equality. That's what's going to break them - equality.
"Who could be afraid of equality? Who could be afraid of treating somebody the way you want to be treated.
"That's what we need to keep the focus on - that's the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to rejoin the people on the basis of equality."
The DUP's Arlene Foster said Gerry Adams' "foul mouthed abuse had been disrespectful to an entire community".
"Respect is a two-way street. The hyperbole from republicans over recent days has been exposed as hypocrisy," she said.
"Republicans use the Irish language as a weapon and tonight Gerry Adams confirms that they view equality as another weapon to attack unionists, or these b******s as he would term us."
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt described it as "shocking to the point of nausea".
"The most shocking revelation is that he considers equality as a 'Trojan horse'," he said.
"The audio recording makes clear Gerry Adams thinks equality is nothing more than a tool to be used to manipulate people like me."
On Twitter, Gerry Adams said "Mea
Culpa" acknowledging he was at fault, but insisted he had been
talking about "bigots, racists and homophobes".
protest camp will remain indefinitely pledges demonstrator
A large-scale march on Monday night marked the 500th day of the Twaddell loyalist camp, with one its main figures issuing a renewed pledge to remain firmly in place.
One of the key faces behind the camp, UPRG figure Gerald Solinas, told a crowd at a rally by the Ardoyne roundabout that the much criticised cost of policing the camp at the volatile interface was down to the violence of Republicans.
He said both protestors and police had endured armed attack since the camp first sprung up, but vowed they are prepared to remain in place for another 500 days, or longer if needs be.
There has been an ongoing nightly demonstration at the north Belfast camp, in opposition to the Parades Commissions’ decision to deny three lodges back up the Crumlin Road on the Twelfth, and the camp has called consistently for this decision to be reversed.
Asked how long he thinks it will take before their demands met, he said: “How long is a piece of string? We are resolute and determined in our cause to peacefully lobby until this happens.”
Mr Solinas, 39 – a spokesman for the West Belfast UPRG and secretary of Ballysillan LOL 1891 (one of the trio of Ligoneil-area lodges at the centre of the dispute) – said of last night’s display: “It was fantastic. The support was great from all corners of Northern Ireland – from Londonderry to Banbridge to Dungannon.We had brethren from everywhere”.
He said that having been there so long now, continuing their protest would simply be “run of the mill”.
He estimated the crowd to have been in excess of 1,000, and said there had been no violence or counter demonstrations; merely two Catholic churchmen observing from the other side.
There are two caravans at the
camp, plus a canteen providing refreshments to Orangemen on their
daily protests, and e area is manned 24 hours.
chief rejects delay claims
Northern Ireland's deputy chief constable has rejected claims officers have deliberately delayed the disclosure of top secret material for legacy inquests to protect former colleagues.
Drew Harris acknowledged there was a "fear" among retired officers that inquests were a way of putting ex soldiers and police on trial, but he refuted allegations the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had exploited the cumbersome redaction process to slow legal proceedings.
He said: "I refute that. There's no endeavour whatsoever to protect individuals from this process."
Mr Harris had been summoned to Laganside courts to explain the length of time taken to hand over state files linked to nine deaths during the early 1980s.
The cases involve six people, including IRA men and a Catholic teenager, who were shot dead by the security forces around Lurgan and Armagh in 1982 amid claims there was a deliberate intention to kill them.
Senior coroner John Leckey is also examining the deaths of three Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who died in a bomb blast in Lurgan weeks earlier, an attack allegedly carried out by the IRA men who were subsequently gunned down - and therefore seen as a potential motivation for the claimed shoot-to-kill policy.
Mr Harris, who was dressed in full uniform, was questioned about the perceived conflict of interest and bias after disclosures that three retired RUC special branch detectives had been recruited to the legacy support unit (LSU) to carry out the complex vetting process.
One of those tasked with redacting data had served alongside 52 people named in the documents while the others served alongside those who were directly involved in the killings, the court was told.
Mr Harris denied that members of the LSU had a "special interest" in protecting former workmates, insisting they held the necessary expertise for trawling through historical files.
"I can see how the allegation could be made, but it is not borne out by their work," he added.
The deputy chief constable had given evidence to the inquest in September but the hearing was adjourned to allow cross examination by lawyers for the next of kin.
He was also asked about so-called "legacy information seminars" organised by his predecessor Judith Gillespie at the PSNI's leisure complex at New Forge in south Belfast and facilitated by the Retired Police Officers Association in Northern Ireland.
Mr Harris, who told the Policing Board he had attended two of the meetings, chairing one, said they had been an attempt to "reach out" and "encourage" former officers to engage with coronial inquiries.
He batted away suggestions from Barry Macdonald QC, representing some of the republican families, that the meetings were designed to "brief" retired officers who were "hostile" to the inquest process.
He said: "Being reluctant is not the same as being hostile. There would be a reluctance that we would wish to address in terms of supporting our ex officers in relation to coronial inquiries."
Meanwhile, Mr Leckey, who is due to retire next year, expressed further concern about the delays in the long-running case.
The coroner said: "It almost beggars belief that this has lasted longer than the duration of World War II and we still are not there."
The hold-up has been blamed on the requirement to security vet top-secret investigations into the killings that were carried out by Greater Manchester Police Deputy Chief Constable John Stalker and Sir Colin Sampson, of West Yorkshire Police, in the 1980s but never published.
Karen Quinlivan QC, representing three of the families, said the PSNI had engaged in an unnecessarily cautious redaction process and described it as illogical that information contained in a "best-selling book" was not considered to be in the public domain and had been blanked out of material disseminated to the legal teams.
It also emerged that the PSNI has adopted a different approach to disclosing information for the use in criminal trials compared with inquests.
In an unusual outburst, Mr Leckey demanded a written explanation for the disparity.
He said: "There has never been an answer as to why I am being treated differently to the PPS. I want to make it plain, I expect chapter and verse."
The case has been adjourned until
police to install armed checkpoints to stop Christmas attacks
Northern Ireland police fear shooting attacks and bombings by republican dissident terror groups during festive period
Armed police checkpoints are to be deployed around Belfast to prevent a Christmas bombing campaign by republican dissident terror groups, it has been announced.
The police service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed vehicle checkpoints will be mounted and plain clothes officers will be on the streets to thwart attacks on the city during the festive period.
PSNI Ch Supt Nigel Grimshaw, the district commander of Belfast city policing district, said stopping high profile bomb attacks is one of the police’s priorities in the run up to Christmas.
He said: “As of this moment we’ve stopped something in the order of 1,000 vehicles coming in and out of the city centre. We want to do this in a balanced way so people feel safe but as well as that we want to ensure that people with a more sinister intent don’t get to bring something into the city centre.”
Referring to several dissident republican bomb attacks last December, Grimshaw added: “I think Christmas is a very busy period and clearly the instances that happened last year around Christmas were significant and certainly grabbed the attention of the public. We take that on board, we have also seen the attacks that have happened just outside the city centre but in Belfast city over the last few weeks, so we constantly review our security profile.”
He added that as well as being used to watch out for car bombs and arsonists linked to hardline anti-ceasefire republican groups, the presence of plain clothes officers would also deter normal street crime in the city centre. The PSNI has been active over the last few weeks in deterring dissident republicans from staging bombings and shootings in Greater Belfast.
A 29 year old man appeared in court in Belfast earlier on Monday charged with possessing a rifle in the city last week. There were cheers in court in support of west Belfast man Vincent Kelly, who also faced charges of possessing 50 rounds of ammunition.
Kelly was among four people arrested in a police operation in Belfast last Thursday night. They recovered what was believed to have been an AK47 and ammunition in a holdall bag inside a white taxi close to Grosvenor Road police station in the west of the city. Three others all aged in their late 20s were arrested as part of a follow-up operation but have since been released without charge.
The case is expected to be heard
again on 22 December.
'contempt' over deaths
The Ministry of Defence has been accused of showing contempt for an inquest investigating the Army killings of 10 people in Belfast.
During a preliminary coroner's court hearing, a lawyer representing families whose loved ones were killed in three days of shooting in the Ballymurphy area in 1971 heavily criticised the MoD for failing to provide files to the court within set timeframes.
Karen Quinlivan's remarks came after the hearing in Belfast was informed there are set to be significant delays in the disclosure of both MoD and police documents related to an episode the bereaved relatives refer to as the Ballymurphy Massacre.
The victims, which included a Catholic priest and mother of eight, died in an Army operation that saw soldiers storm republican strongholds in west Belfast to arrest IRA suspects following the introduction of the controversial state policy of internment without trial.
Coroner Jim Kitson was told the reason for the Police Service of Northern Ireland's disclosure slippage was down to a serious resourcing issue caused by its cost-cutting decision to axe agency workers.
But the court was offered no explanation as to why the MoD had missed a deadline to hand over personnel files of the soldiers involved in the incident to enable lawyers to establish if they had been involved in other 'lethal force incidents' while in service.
Ms Quinlivan QC, representing the majority of the bereaved families, said she was concerned by the PSNI's stance, but said at least the service had attempted to explain itself to the court.
The barrister said it was "entirely unacceptable" that the MoD had apparently not even tried to explain why it had missed a four-week deadline for disclosing the files set down earlier in the autumn.
"The MoD is treating this entire process with contempt and nothing more," she said.
"They haven't complied with the timetable and haven't provided an explanation. The MoD has no explanation for the fact they have apparently done nothing since September. At least the (PSNI) chief constable (George Hamilton) has given us an explanation."
She urged Mr Kitson to order an MoD official to come to court to face questions.
"Someone from the MoD should be directed to attend to explain why they have decided to disregard this process to date, because that's what they have done," she said.
Mr Kitson told a lawyer representing the PSNI and MoD - Dr Tony McGleenan QC - to ask both his clients to outline in full the reasons for delays in disclosures.
Soldiers involved in the incident claimed they had come under attack and had returned fire.
Relatives have long campaigned for an acknowledgement that their loved ones were wrongfully killed.
The new inquest was ordered by Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin in 2011. That move came after a cold case review of the deaths by the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Historical Enquiries Team (HET).
As well as those shot dead in Ballymurphy, another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with soldiers. The new inquest only covers the deaths caused by gunfire.
As well as the missed deadline in regard to the MoD personnel files, the court earlier heard that anticipated time-scales for the disclosure of police folders related to the case and other military documents had also been knocked back.
Dr McGleenan had explained that the PSNI's decision to end recruitment of agency staff meant that workers deployed with security checking the documents would be leaving post next month.
"There's a lot of personnel leaving post in December," he said.
The lawyer said while new staff had been recruited to do the job they had not yet taken post.
In relation to the additional MoD material, the lawyer said its disclosure was also impacted by the PSNI's internal staffing issue, as some of it had to go through police assessment.
Mr Kitson said he was aware of the resourcing issues within the PSNI but stressed those problems could not be allowed to overly delay coroner's proceedings.
"I appreciate there are issues in terms of staff going, it's in the public domain on a regular basis," he said.
"That's no excuse for not progressing these cases."
The family of the one of the victims, Joseph Murphy, are bidding to have his body exhumed to ascertain if a bullet was left in his body after autopsy.
His relatives contend that the bullet was fired by a soldier through an already open gunshot wound when Mr Murphy was being held in Army custody after sustaining his initial injury.
Mr Kitson said he would make a ruling on whether the exhumation would be permitted at the next preliminary hearing on December 18.
The public gallery of the coroner's court was packed with bereaved relatives for this morning's hearing.
Afterwards, a number of them criticised both the PSNI and MoD.
John Teggart, whose father Danny was killed, said the delays were "totally unacceptable to the families who have suffered enough".
He added: "These documents
have been in their possession for many years and this is just another
example of the PSNI/MoD dragging their heels and stalling the legal
calls on Irish government to reopen 'hooded men' case
Amnesty International has called on the Irish government to reopen a landmark case against the UK government over the so-called "hooded men".
They are a group subjected to what the Army called "deep interrogation" in Northern Ireland in 1971.
In 1978, the European Court found that the UK had carried out inhuman and degrading treatment - not torture.
But Amnesty has said new information from the UK national archives suggests crucial evidence had been withheld.
Nine of the original "hooded men" appeared at an Amnesty International press conference in Dublin on Monday, calling for a reopening of the case by the European Court, ahead of a 4 December deadline.
Fresh information came to light in a television documentary, The Torture Files, by Irish broadcaster, RTÉ
It stemmed from documents held in the UK public records office in London.
The men, arrested under the policy of internment in 1971, were taken to a secret location and subjected to what was called "deep interrogation".
It has since been confirmed the secret location was Ballykelly Army base.
On their way to the interrogation centre in 1971, the men were hooded and thrown to the ground from helicopters.
They had been told they were hundreds of feet in the air, but were actually just a few feet from the ground.
They were then subjected to what the Army referred to as "the five techniques".
They were beaten, deprived of sleep, food and water, and forced to stand in a stress position against a wall for long periods.
While all of the men were interned, none was ever convicted.
The Ministry of Defence has consistently rejected allegations that it used torture.
It has also pointed out that it has "always fully co-operated" with statutory inquiries.
In Dublin on Monday, Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland said the men and their families had a right to truth and justice.
"We recognise the diplomatic challenges in Ireland's seeking to have this case reopened," he said.
"However, we hope the Irish government today shows the same determination of its predecessors in 1971 who took a bold and unprecedented step to uphold the rule of law and expose human rights violations.
"The Irish state argued then that the UK's actions amounted to torture - we call on it to do so again now.
"That means that a request to the European Court to look at this new information must be lodged within the next two weeks. The clock is ticking."
The Committee on the Administration (CAJ) and the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) have welcomed Amnesty's call.
Timeline: Army torture allegations
Aug 1969 Due to rising civil unrest, the Army is deployed to Northern Ireland to support the police.
Aug 1971 The government introduces internment - imprisonment without trial - in Northern Ireland in a bid to restore order.
Twelve of the internees, who became known as the hooded men, allege they were tortured during their detention.
The men claim they were hooded and deprived of food, water and sleep for seven days. They say they were forced to stand in stress positions and subjected to white noise under methods known as "the five techniques".
Dec 1971 The Irish government begins an international legal action against the UK government based on the hooded men's allegations.
Sept 1976 The European Commission for Human Rights rules that the UK government was guilty of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment. The case is referred to the European Court for Human Rights
Jan 1978 The
European Court of Human Rights rules that while the five techniques
amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment, they did not constitute
in Belfast over sub-machine gun
A 29-year-old man has been remanded in custody charged with possession of a sub-machine gun.
Vincent Kelly, from Hawthorn Street in west Belfast, was arrested on the Grosvenor Road.
At Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday, he was charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
He was accused of having the gun, 50 rounds of ammunition and three magazines on 24 November.
Three other men - all in their
20s - were arrested in a follow-up operation, but were later released
Gregory Campbell targeted in death threat
DUP MP Gregory Campbell has been informed by police of a serious death threat, his party press office has said.
Mr Campbell said he was liaising with the police.
At the weekend, he told delegates his party would treat Sinn Fein's "entire wish list" as no more than toilet paper.
He also said: "We will never agree to your Irish language act."
DUP leader Peter Robinson claimed Mr Campbell's words were "a bit of comedy" in the middle of the conference.
On Monday, Sinn Féin minister John O'Dowd said his speech threatened the integrity of recent talks and called on Peter Robinson to be clear about the DUP position.
As news of the death threat broke, Mr O'Dowd expressed sympathy for Mr Campbell.
"My thoughts are with him and his family," he said.
"I know the effect on himself
and his family."
Campbell toilet paper remarks 'challenge talks integrity'
The integrity of current political talks in Northern Ireland have been called into question by a senior DUP man's remarks, Sinn Féin has said.
John O'Dowd was referring to Gregory Campbell's comment that the DUP would treat Sinn Fein's "entire wish list" as no more than toilet paper.
Mr O'Dowd said this suggested that current talks were "going nowhere".
It also suggested the DUP had been "pedalling a myth" they were involved in serious negotiation", he said.
Mr Campbell made his remarks at his party's annual conference on Saturday.
In his speech, he also dismissed calls for an Irish language act, saying his party would never agree it.
Mr O'Dowd told BBC Northern Ireland's Good Morning Ulster on Monday that the DUP leader needed to clarify his party's position.
"We need to hear from Peter Robinson," he said.
"The leader of the DUP needs to come out front and centre as to the DUP position. Is his party treating the Sinn Féin negotiating position as toilet paper?
"He needs to come out and he needs to clarify that comment."
However, Mr Campbell defended his position.
"If Sinn Féin are realistic they need to start putting forward realistic propositions," he said.
"We can't have Sinn Féin lecturing us about the need to recognise their culture when they are denying us our culture over parades and flags."
Mr Robinson suggested on Sunday that people had over-reacted to Mr Campbell's remarks.
Earlier this month, Mr Campbell
began an address to the assembly with: "Curry my yoghurt can
coca coalyer", in imitation of the Irish sentence "go raibh
maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which translates as "thank
IRA abuse inquiry planned by Government
Sinn Féin giving names of republicans suspected of sexual assault to gardaí
The Government is considering a cross-Border inquiry into claims of sexual abuse by IRA members in the aftermath of Belfast woman Maíria Cahill’s allegations.
It comes as it has emerged that senior Sinn Féin figures have been co-ordinating the handover of names of well-known republicans suspected of rapes and other sexual assaults to gardaí.
A Government spokesman said allegations that sex abusers were moved by republicans from Northern Ireland to other locations were expected to be discussed when the North South Ministerial Council meets next week.
“The Government is looking at options in relation to a process to establish the facts around the treatment by republicans of alleged abuse victims, including the moving to other jurisdictions of their alleged abusers,” he said.
A senior Government source said it was understood that one of the options being examined was a North-South inquiry. While potential challenges to its establishment were acknowledged, the source described such an investigation as “potentially the most effective process to get at the truth”.
Ms Cahill alleges that she was raped by an IRA member in 1997 and forced to attend a republican-style court along with her alleged abuser. She also claimed child sex abusers were moved by republicans from Northern Ireland to locations south of the Border.
Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin called for an all-island inquiry last month. The Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has suggested the creation of an all-island body to “deal with the issue of support for those who were victims of sexual abuse during the conflict”.
The North South Minister Council will meet on Friday, December 5th. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the North’s Minister for Justice and Alliance Party leader David Ford met in Dublin last Friday.
The Government spokesman stressed that the protection of children was paramount. “Such information regarding [sexual abuse] should not wait for any process to be established.”
Letter reveals names
A report in The Sunday Times newspaper said former IRA prisoner turned Sinn Féin councillor in Co Meath Joe Reilly delivered a letter to a Garda station in Co Meath on behalf of a former IRA member with six names of republicans suspected of historical sex crimes.
The Irish Times understands there have been similar deliveries to other Garda stations containing further names of well-known republicans suspected of rapes and other sexual assaults.
The deliveries have been sanctioned and co-ordinated by senior figures in the Sinn Féin party. “This is far beyond one or two people in the party coming forward, it’s organised by the party,” said one source.
Senior Garda management has instructed officers to immediately forward any allegations made against republicans to Garda Headquarters. The information is being passed to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) for investigation.
It has a track record in investigating historical clerical abuse cases. Much of the investigative work is being done by members of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Unit, which is within the NBCI. It was members of this unit who met Ms Cahill.
Garda Headquarters declined to
comment on the investigation, but said: “An Garda Síochána
would urge anyone with information in relation to such matters to
contact us and all such allegations will be thoroughly investigated.”
bid over probe into alleged security forces collusion in 1992 UVF
A man who claims loyalist gunmen colluded with the security forces to murder his parents has launched a legal challenge over the state's handling of the historic investigation.
Charlie and Tess Fox were gunned down in the kitchen of their isolated home in Moy, Co Tyrone, in September 1992 by a UVF gang.
Anthony Fox, one of the couple's six children, has applied for leave to take a judicial review against the UK Government, Stormont's Department of Justice and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for an alleged failure to deliver an effective probe into the shootings.
The legal challenge, which claims the authorities are in breach of human-rights law, raises concerns that examinations by both the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman have fallen victim to Stormont budget cuts, which have seen resources diverted away from Troubles investigations.
It further argues that the HET probe has been "tainted and undermined" by a reliance on ballistic evidence that has now been discredited.
While five men were convicted in relation to the killings, Mr Fox's lawyers claim some of those convictions have been rendered unsafe by the recent revelation that police at the time wrongly identified the murder weapon.
The misidentification of the Czech-manufactured rifle was disclosed last year during the inquest of another victim of the same mid-Ulster UVF gang - pensioner Roseann Mallon, who was shot dead as she watched television at a house near Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in May 1994.
Mr Fox said an HET summary report given to him in 2012 relied on the wrong weapon ID.
He said the HET subsequently apologised and pledged to continue its investigations and compile a new summary report - a document he says he has yet to receive.
An inquest was never held into the deaths as it was contended the facts surrounding the case had been examined during the criminal proceedings.
But given the error relating to the weapon, Mr Fox's legal team insist the original rationale for not holding an inquest has been fatally undermined.
In a separate development, the family has written to Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin QC asking him to open an inquest.
Mr and Mrs Fox, aged 65 and 53 respectively, were not involved in paramilitary activity but a week before their deaths their son Patrick had been jailed for being in possession of an IRA bomb.
In the wake of the murders, Patrick Fox alleged that the security forces had threatened to set him and his family up to be killed.
Anthony Fox said the family believed collusion had been at play.
"The UVF admitted responsibility for the attack," he said in a statement lodged with the judicial review challenge.
"However, I and my five siblings have always maintained that British State forces colluded in our parents' killings, including by identifying two of my brothers to the UVF for targeting as members of the IRA and/or by allowing the killers free passage to and from our home on the night of the murders and on scoping missions beforehand."
The stand-alone HET is being wound up by the end of the year and its work is being taken on by a new, and much smaller, legacy unit within the PSNI while the Ombudsman has dramatically reduced the number of investigators working on historic cases - a move that is set to delay probes by years.
Under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the state has an obligation to investigate deaths in a prompt, independent and effective manner.
Among other issues cited in the application for leave for judicial review against Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, Stormont Justice Minister David Ford and PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, Mr Fox expressed concern about the security of files being transferred from the HET to the new PSNI legacy unit.
He also questioned whether the new unit would be sufficiently independent of the PSNI given the case involves allegations of collusion by the service's predecessor, the RUC.
"It has become increasingly clear to me and my siblings that the HET has made little headway in conducting a full, effective and impartial investigation into my parents' death, and that the withdrawal of resources from legacy investigations relating to the Troubles will but compound that failure," he said.
A spokeswoman for Ms Villiers said it would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases.
She added: "We await the outcome of the ongoing legal proceedings."
A spokesman for the Department of Justice also declined to comment on the specific case but he said: "The Justice Minister David Ford has recently said that the Department of Justice is not funded to deal with the past and additional funding should be provided by the British and Irish governments."
A PSNI spokeswoman said: "As the matter is subject of live proceedings it would be inappropriate for PSNI to comment at this juncture."
The case will be heard in Belfast
High Court on Wednesday.
appalling outburst calls DUP’s integrity on talks into question
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd has said today the integrity and commitment of the DUP to the current talks process has been called into question by remarks made by Gregory Campbell at the DUP party conference at the weekend.
John O’Dowd said:
“Gregory Campbell claimed to be speaking on behalf of his party when he addressed his party conference and said and I quote:
‘On behalf of our party let me say clearly, and slowly so that Caitroina Ruane and Gerry Adams understand, we will NEVER agree to an Irish Language Act at Stormont and we will treat their entire wish list as no more than toilet paper. They better get used to it.’
“In doing so Gregory Campbell is clearly dismissing the hopes, aspirations and negotiating rights of almost one half of our people in these talks. While we have come to expect such outbursts from Mr Campbell this tirade appears to have been delivered on behalf of his party.
"The DUP leader Peter Robinson needs to clarify was Gregory Campbell representing the DUP’s position as a whole as that calls into question the integrity and commitment of the DUP’s approach to the talks.”
And John O’Dowd said he is appalled that Gregory Campbell was allowed to use the DUP conference to insult the entire Irish language community once more.
“The insult directed by Gregory Campbell at the Irish language community from the DUP conference is appalling.
“He was clearly sticking two fingers up to the Irish language community and to authority of the Assembly which sanctioned him for his unacceptable behaviour in the chamber.
“I’m dismayed that Peter Robinson, in echoes of his failure to deal promptly with abuse directed at the Muslim community earlier this year, has added insult to injury by suggesting Campbell’s mockery was a piece of comedy.
"I can assure Mr Robinson if I was to dismiss the negotiating position of the DUP as toilet paper or insult anyone's culture as we have witnessed from Gregory Campbell the leadership of my party would not find it one bit funny.
“Peter Robinson needs to
show some leadership and demonstrate to Irish speakers, nationalist
and republicans that this contemptible behaviour is unacceptable in
the 21st century.”
Robinson defends Gregory Campbell DUP conference remarks
DUP leader Peter Robinson has defended remarks made by party colleague Gregory Campbell at Saturday's DUP conference.
Mr Campbell told delegates the DUP would treat Sinn Fein's "entire wish list" as no more than toilet paper.
He said that included calls for an Irish language act.
He also referred to comments he made in the assembly earlier in the month which nationalists said were disrespectful to the Irish language.
However, Peter Robinson told Mark Carruthers on the BBC's Sunday Politics that people had over-reacted to Mr Campbell's remarks.
"This is getting tedious," Mr Robinson said.
"If all that you have out of the whole of the party conference is to question me about that, then there are better things I could be doing with my time.
"Lighten up will you? It's a party conference and it was a bit of comedy in the middle of it, let's get on with some real business."
Earlier this month, Mr Campbell began an address to the assembly with: "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer", in imitation of the Irish sentence "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which translates as "thank you, Speaker".
On Saturday, Mr Campbell started his speech at the conference by saying it was always good to start the day with a healthy breakfast.
He then brought out a tub of yoghurt and said: "So I got some yoghurt today.
"And I'm looking forward
to lunch, because they tell me there's some curry there."
detained inside Maghaberry canteen
Republican prisoners at Maghaberry were locked into a canteen by prison staff on Thursday after renewed attempts to implement a four-year-old agreement appeared to break down.
A note posted on the internet said 55 political prisoners were detained in the canteen in the prison’s Roe House following “heavy searches”, including a rub-down search and a metal detector search.
The prisoner governor later put a note under the door of the canteen to warn of a “total lockdown” at the jail.
Prison authorities were accused of continuing to undermine renewed efforts to reduce tensions at the jail by disrupting the movements of prisoners on the republican wing. In a statement, the prisoners said the potential of a deal at the high security jail had been “sabotaged”.
It comes just days after the same prisoners offered to give “a fair wind” to the recently-completed independent review of the situation at Maghaberry.
The ‘stock take’, carried out by an independent assessment team appointed by justice minister David Ford, examined aspects of a deal struck in 2010 to relax strip searches and controlled movement in the prison.
The report found that the agreement has “been unable to realise its full potential, partly because of bedding in problems arising from the lack of trust between prison warders and republican prisoners and concern about staff safety.
It also said the stock-take has “created an opportunity to get things back on track”.
But jail authorities have now once again reneged on the deal. The prisoners said the review was “sabotaged by the DUP and the POA (Prison Officers Association).”
In a joint statement, republican prisoners said they had been told by the governor that from this week the two landings will now be treated as “separate units” and that a grill separating the landings will not be opened “until violence in the streets stop”.
The prisoners reserved their harshest criticism for hardline unionist Paul Givan, the Chair of Stormont’s Justice Committee, who they said had intervened with prison warders’ association to “oppose every progressive recommendation and change within the jail”.
“We have consistently warned of the malign influence of certain individuals in this jail with inextricable links to the DUP. Our protestations have fallen on deaf ears or have been overruled by darker forces. If those in power are genuine about moving forward to a conflict- free environment within this jail, they need to show that they are serious, for now this process is dead.”
In an earlier statement prisoners in the prison’s Roe Three and Four landings had given the review a cautious welcome, and said the 2010 deal offers “victory to no-one”. The prisoners had said they believed a “resolution of all outstanding issues is within all of our grasps”.
“This should not be held
to ransom by the politically ambitious or reactionary elements who
yearn for a time long past,” the prisoners said. “We are
in the 21st century; prison conditions should reflect that. Therefore
Republican Political Prisoners in Roe House are in full favour of
a conflict-free environment.”
turn out in force at Belfast courthouse as Ardoyne bandsmen accused
of playing music illegally
Dozens of riot police kept order as a crowd of more than 100 loyalists gathered to support six bandsmen charged with flouting the law during parades.
The men were accused of breaching conditions set down by the Parades Commission during several marches at a sectarian interface in north Belfast earlier this year.
The alleged offences took place close to the Twaddell protest camp, set up in July 2013, with all of the accused said to be affiliated with the Pride of Ardoyne band.
A large security operation was put in place for the men's first appearance before Laganside Magistrates Court, with a large number of PSNI Tactical Support Group officers positioned both inside the court building and in Oxford Street outside.
Tensions did threaten to spill over briefly when there was a heated exchange between loyalist supporters and a small rival group outside the court but the crowd dispersed without trouble a short time later.
Appearing before District Judge Des Perry were Robert Hayes Spence (57) of Alliance Road, Belfast; Gary Edwin Wells (24) of Loughview Close, Belfast; James Cosby (25) of Glenbryn Parade, Belfast; Neil Jamison (25) of Summer Street, Belfast; David Johnstone (23) of Westway Crescent, Belfast and David John Murphy (37) of Berwick Road, Belfast.
All six face charges of failing to comply with conditions by the parading watchdog by playing music between the junction of Twaddell Avenue and Woodvale Drive and the dispersal point at the junction of Twaddell Avenue and Crumlin Road during marches on a range of dates between February and May this year.
A defence lawyer said CCTV footage would be relied on.
The men were told they do not have to attend the next hearing on December 18.
A number of unionist politicians attended the court including the DUP's Brian Kingston and Lee Reynolds, as well as PUP councillors Billy Hutchinson and Julie-Anne Corr. Also in attendance was high-profile campaigner Willie Frazer.
Outside the court, Mr Reynolds hit out at the decision to take action against the six bandsmen.
"This is a complete and utter waste of time and effort," he claimed. "In the Ardoyne area we have armed men running around with newly developed rockets, who have impunity as they fire shots over coffins and they have organised huge riots, year after year after year."
He added: "Twaddell will
be there. Peaceful protests will continue until the lodges and bands
get their rightful, peaceful parade home."
arrested and assault rifle recovered in west Belfast
An assault rifle has been recovered and four men have been arrested during a police operation close to Belfast city centre on Thursday night.
A 29-year-old man was arrested on the Grosvenor Road after a vehicle was stopped and the assault rifle and ammunition were recovered.
In a follow-up operation, three men aged 27, 29 and 46, were arrested in west Belfast's Springfield Road area.
It was part of an investigation into dissident republicans, police said.
All four men are being questioned at Antrim police station.
Part of the Grosvenor Road was closed for a time on Thursday night and the early hours of Friday.
The security operation began shortly
after 22:00 GMT
dissident on murder bid charge refused bail
An alleged senior dissident republican paramilitary charged with trying to murder PSNI officers must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Thursday.
Henry Fitzsimons’ bail application was refused after prosecutors revealed new details of a covertly recorded meeting they claim he held with two associates after the gun attack on a police convoy in north Belfast.
The trio allegedly discussed acquiring weapons capable of firing at jeeps or armoured cars and how shoulder-launched devices would be “perfect” for an attack.
Only security force targets with “a high percentage chance of getting a kill” were to be sought out in future, it was claimed.
Fitzsimons faces a range of terrorist-related offences over last December’s shooting incident.
He is charged with attempting to murder members of the PSNI who came under attack on the city’s Crumlin Road.
The 46-year-old, of no fixed address, is further alleged to have conspired with co-accused Colin Duffy and Alex McCrory to murder members of the security forces.
Other charges against him include membership of a proscribed organisation – namely the Irish Republican Army – and aiding and abetting possession of a firearm with intent.
A police Land Rover and two other PSNI vehicles came under fire as they travelled towards Twaddell Avenue.
Two AK47 rifles and 14 spent rounds of ammunition were later recovered along with a hijacked and burnt-out taxi the gunmen used for their getaway.
The officers shot at were extremely fortunate they were not injured or murdered, the court heard.
Prosecution counsel said: “I’m told one of the bullets went through the head rest of a vehicle.”
Fitzsimons was later arrested along with Duffy, 46, from Forest Glade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and McCrory, 53, of Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast.
Their detention followed the secret recording of an alleged meeting the three men held in the grounds of a large country house near Duffy’s home a day after the shooting incident.
According to the prosecution they were taped for more than an hour holding a “leadership command discussion regarding the IRA, its activities and future direction”.
Talks involved the Crumlin Road attack, the loss of the AK47s, burning out the getaway car and whether the gunmen would be recognised, the court heard.
Criticism was said to have been vented that the rifles were not cleaned before the attack - an apparent reference to one of the guns having jammed.
Only those with knowledge of the shooting could have known those details, it was argued.
All three men present were allegedly active participants in operational talks which also explored:
Prosecution counsel continued: “It was also stated that in future the only operations cleared would be ones with a high percentage chance of getting a kill or at least doing damage.”
She claimed in the conversation about the tactics for an attack on police one of them said it was “perfect for a shoulder-launcher”.
“They discussed making something you could fire at jeeps or armoured cars,” the barrister continued.
“They displayed knowledge of attacks on police in other areas such as Derry and they discussed how they would like rifles with armour-piercing rounds.”
Opposing Fitzsimons’ application for bail, she contended: “The nature of the conversation he had with the others shows real, in-depth knowledge of the operations of the IRA.
“Police would believe he holds a senior position therein because of that.”
The accused had mounted his bid to be released based on delays in progressing the case to trial.
But on being informed that a preliminary enquiry hearing will take place next month, defence lawyers told the court their concerns had eased.
Mr Justice Burgess ruled that
the bail application should be refused.
'big divisions' after talks
Big differences remain between Stormont parties over significant issues, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.
Theresa Villiers is due to submit a report on progress in the five-party negotiations to the Prime Minister at the end of this month.
This week dialogue focused on the legacy of Troubles violence, parading and potential reform of devolved political institutions.
Ms Villiers said: "Today's meetings have been positive and constructive.
"All parties continue to engage but there are still big differences of view between them on some very significant issues."
Earlier this month the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) warned the parties the cost of dealing with the past will rise inescapably if there is no agreement.
Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness has said securing a new financial package is a key talks objective which would help secure the future of the power sharing institutions.
The initiative set up by the UK Government last month is aimed at finding a resolution to disputes creating logjam at Stormont.
Thorny impasses left over from the peace process - concerning flags, parades and the legacy of the past - are on the agenda, as are wrangles over the workings and structures of the powersharing administration.
The failure of the Executive to implement the UK Government's welfare reforms - a stance that is costing millions of pounds in Treasury penalties - is also being discussed.
Most of the talks involve the parties meeting each other, Irish foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan and Ms Villiers for one-to-one encounters.
Ms Villiers and Mr Flanagan are
to produce an interim report on the progress of the talks for Prime
Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny by the end of the
‘must be open on the past’
Unionists have claimed that the Irish government must come clean about its role in the Troubles.
The DUP and UUP made the call yesterday as talks proceed between the main parties and UK and Irish governments on dealing with parades, flags, the past and budget spending.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP met yesterday with the Alliance Party, Secretary of State and the Irish Foreign Minister.
“We were mainly discussing issues relating to dealing with the past,” he said.
“The two governments presented us with a further paper on the issue which we will take time to consider.”
He added: “We have made it clear that the Irish government has to give account for its role in the Troubles, including the formation of the Provisional IRA and collusion.”
UUP MLA Tom Elliott agreed: “We’ve heard a lot in recent weeks about what the UK Government must do to help fund any mechanism for dealing with the past. It’s time we heard from the Irish government on what they will do to fulfil their obligations.
“It is important that if an investigatory process runs in Northern Ireland to investigate Troubles-related murders, a similar process is put in place in the Republic of Ireland to look at those murders with links to the jurisdiction.”
Alliance leader David Ford said parties “must grasp the opportunity”.
He added: “We have had positive meetings with both governments on a mechanism to deal with the legacy of the past. Both had a role in the past and there is a moral and financial responsibility on them to be involved.”
But Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said it was the British government which must be held to account.
“It is clear that Theresa Villiers and the British Government have been actively obstructing truth recovery when it comes to the activities of its forces and agents,” he said.
SDLP MLA Alex Attwood warned that we are “further forward than where we were this time last month but we still have a mountain to climb”.
He added: “This could be
the best opportunity for progress for a couple of years, ahead of
elections in 2015.”
commemoration plans ‘shambolic’ and symbolic of ‘cynical
indifference’ – Adams
Taoiseach tells SF leader 1916 Proclamation calls to ‘cherish all the children’ equally
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected Sinn Féin claims of “cynical indifference” by Government to the sacrifice of the men and women of 1916 in its centenary commemoration plans.
During sharp exchanges, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams described as “shambolic” and “deeply embarrassing” that Google Translate had been used for the Irish-language section of the State’s 1916 website, resulting in “gibberish”. This, he said, was symbolic of the Government’s attitude to the anniversary, the Proclamation and the Irish language.
Mr Adams said the Government produced a “glossy brochure devoid of historical substance or detail”. He called on Mr Kenny to explain “why the video that launches Ireland 2016 makes no mention of the Easter rising or the signatories of the Proclamation”.
Instead, he said, “we are treated to images of Facebook, Google, Bob Geldof, Bono, David Cameron and the English queen”.
Mr Adams claimed the brochure and video were “deeply disrespectful to the men and women of 1916 and betray a cynical indifference to their sacrifice, ideals, hopes and vision”.
Mr Kenny reminded Mr Adams that the “1916 Proclamation declares that we should cherish all the children of the nation equally, so we’re not going to have a situation in so far as we can, in which the children of the nation are not cherished equally”, in reference to allegations of child sexual abuse by republicans.
Mr Kenny said he was sure the 1916 Proclamation signatories would not stand for a situation where evidence or information might be known but they were afraid to own up because of what they stood for.
He listed a number of commemorative
events, including the 2016 parade led by relatives of Rising leaders,
a Dublin Castle commemorative event, the development of the military
archive in McKee Barracks, restoration of Kilmainham courthouse, and
an interpretative centre in the GPO.
record-keeping not good enough: top senior servant
The senior civil servant handling the On The Runs (OTRs) scheme for fugitive IRA members has said record-keeping was not good enough.
Sir Jonathan Phillips was permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) from 2005 to 2010.
The NIO ran a scheme formulated by the last Labour government at the request of Sinn Fein which saw about 200 letters sent to OTRs assuring them they were not being pursued by the UK authorities.
In one case a man charged with the Hyde Park bombing walked free after he was wrongly told he was not wanted.
Sir Jonathan said: “I accept the criticism that in some cases the record-keeping ... was not as good as it should have been.
“I am absolutely sure that it was not deliberate.”
He said he worked with a group of officials in dealing with this and many other strands of the peace process, and added they displayed the highest level of integrity.
A judge-led review of the letters scheme ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron and published in the summer found it was systematically flawed in operation but not unlawful in principle.
But Lady Justice Hallett, who conducted the probe, said a “catastrophic” error had been made in the case of John Downey, whose prosecution over the 1982 Hyde Park bombing was halted.
Sir Jonathan added: “I was disappointed by that criticism in the Hallett report but I did not take it as a criticism of the integrity of the officials, I took it as a criticism of the administrative efficiency of the office at a particular point.”
He denied that anybody in the NIO altered any letters drafted by lawyers in consultation with criminal justice agencies.
Former senior police officers have said they were not aware of the exact wording of the letters.
Sir Jonathan told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs: “It would have been much better from the outset of this process if it had been end to end and if the letters sent by the NIO had been copied to, amongst others, the PSNI.
“The process would have been better had letters been copied from the NIO to a range of other parties who would have treated them with the degree of sensitivity which was required.”
He said the messages were not secret and no doubts surrounded the integrity of the police.
The committee launched an investigation after Downey walked free from the Old Bailey earlier this year.
His prosecution over the murders of four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing was halted by a judge after he received one of the letters in error.
Household Cavalry Lieutenant Anthony
“Denis” Daly, 23, died in the explosion in Hyde Park on
July 20 1982 alongside Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, Lance Corporal Jeffrey
Young, 19, and 36-year-old Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright.
emerge of 'IRA' grenade launcher
Photographs have emerged of what is said to be the grenade launcher that was used to attack police in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast at the weekend.
An armoured police vehicle was targeted on Sunday night by an explosive device which a senior officer said was fired by "a male who came from the Brompton Park area".
While no one was injured PSNI Superintendent Muir Clark said that, in terms of the risk to life, it "doesn't get any closer".
He added that the attack was a "calculated attempt to kill police officers".
On Wednesday, the Irish News reported that it had received a statement in which a group calling itself "the IRA" admitted it was responsible.
The statement claimed that "volunteers" from the group's "Belfast brigade" had fired a home-made rocket launcher.
The group added that it would continue to attack state forces "at a time of our choosing".
The photos shows a man in a tracksuit, baseball cap and gloves, with his hood up and a scarf covering his face, aiming a crude launcher-type device.
In the wake of the attack, police said they were conducting a forensic examination of the scene and also examining CCTV footage of the man they believed to be responsible.
Superintendent Clark added that
the attack bore "the hallmarks of a dissident republican attack".
from Newry house 'show dissident tensions'
Secret MI5 recordings reveal disputes between rival factions of the Continuity IRA, a court has heard.
Tensions between its Belfast and Newry wings are captured in the recordings, a prosecution lawyer said.
He was opposing a bail application by one of seven men charged with terrorist offences after 70 hours of discussions were taped at a house in Newry.
Seamus Morgan, of Barcroft Park, Newry, is charged with membership of a proscribed organisation. Bail was refused.
Mr Morgan, 58, was one of 12 men arrested during a police raid last week of the house at Ardcarn Park that had been monitored since August. Five others were released pending reports.
A prosecution lawyer told Newry Magistrates Court that the recordings showed Mr Morgan was "clearly a key member" of the Continuity IRA in the city.
His defence lawyer said his client "strenuously denied" the charge.
The court was told that a total of eight meetings were recorded by MI5 prior to the police raid on 10 November.
Mr Morgan was present at two of those meetings and was referred to on five others, the prosecution lawyer told the court.
He said topics discussed at all eight meetings included:
The lawyer said the men also expressed annoyance that the Continuity IRA's name was apparently being used to "threaten children and we know nothing about it".
The lawyer said Morgan suggested using the newspapers to make clear that such a threat was not being made by the CIRA in Newry.
'Tip off suspects'
He said the state opposed bail on the grounds that, if released from Maghaberry, the accused could commit further offences, potentially abscond the jurisdiction, and interfere with witnesses or tip off other suspects.
Mr Morgan's defence lawyer said the bail hearing was "not an appropriate forum to conduct a trial".
The lawyer said Mr Morgan's presence at that meeting was entirely innocent as he had gone to meet a friend.
He said his client's case was "distinguishable" from the other six defendants as they were facing much more serious charges.
"It's a significantly different position he is in," he said.
The lawyer said it would be "foolhardy" to consider that his client would contemplate committing offences on bail given his knowledge that the security services were monitoring him.
"He knows MI5 have got him
on their radar," he said.
government obstruction of truth must end – Kelly
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said today the British government must accept its involvement in the conflict and for dealing with its legacy.
Speaking ahead of a trilateral meeting today with the British and Irish governments on the issue of the legacy of the conflict, the North Belfast MLA said;
“It is clear that Theresa Villiers and the British government have been actively obstructing truth recovery when it comes to the activities of its forces and agents.
“They have reneged on the commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane by British agents. The British government fears the outcome of any enquiry with the potential to expose British state collusion in political assassinations and their agent’s involvement in directing loyalist death squads – a policy which went to the very top of the Thatcher government.
“They continue to withhold information from the inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, shelved the inquiry into the murder of 14 people in Derry on Bloody Sunday and rejected a demand for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into the Ballymurphy Massacre of 11 civilians.
“They have blocked truth recovery through injunctions, destroying documents and evidence. They have also refused to disclose information requested by the coroners’ courts and the Ombudsman’s office and failed to back the Haass proposals.
“The British government
and their agents were active participants in the conflict. They must
accept their responsibility for state killings and the role of their
agents in loyalist death squads.”
talks to focus on Troubles legacy
Talks involving the five executive parties and the British and Irish governments are due to resume later.
Now in their sixth week, the Belfast talks are aimed at finding progress on a range of unresolved issues.
On Wednesday and Thursday, they will focus on the legacy of the Troubles, parading and potential reform of devolved political institutions.
The secretary of state said politicians would have to "make the hard choices necessary to get an agreement".
In a statement, Theresa Villiers said: "Nobody should underestimate how tough it will be to get an agreement. These are sensitive and highly divisive issues and there are a number of points on which it will be very difficult to reach consensus."
Ms Villiers, who convened the talks, said she believed there was a "genuine desire on the part of all to make progress".
"The UK government will play its full part, but ultimately it remains for the local politicians to make the hard choices necessary to get an agreement which will enable the executive to deliver the efficient and effective government that the people of Northern Ireland want and deserve," the secretary of state added.
Earlier this month, the Northern Ireland Office warned the parties the cost of dealing with the past will rise inescapably if there is no agreement.
Northern Ireland politicians argued that the government should recognise its responsibility for providing adequate funding for investigating Troubles killings.
Last week, Ms Villiers said there
had been a significant increase in the pace of the talks.
of new MLA expenses scandal at Stormont
Sinn Fein has been funnelling vast sums of taxpayers’ money into ‘front companies’ set up to disguise the fact that the party owns properties being paid for with public money, a BBC Spotlight investigation on Tuesday night alleged.
Senior Sinn Fein figures including Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have been paying tens of thousands of pounds of public money from their Assembly expenses to rent offices legally owned by so-called societies.
However, a trustee of one of the societies — in law, one of the landlords — said that he had never seen a penny of the rent claimed for the building.
Sinn Fein denied that the societies were merely acting on its behalf and insisted that its members had not broken the law. In the wake of the programme last night there were calls for an inquiry into the wider issue of how the £70,000 a year given to MLAs to run their constituency offices has been used by some politicians.
The programme also made detailed revelations about the financial arrangements of two senior DUP members — Ian Paisley Jr and Arlene Foster.
Mr Paisley is claiming rent from Westminster for his Ballymena office, despite rent also being claimed by two DUP MLAs for the same property in Church Street.
And Mrs Foster was revealed to have used two offices which had strong links to senior Orange figure David Madden.
Yet, until she was contacted by Spotlight, the DUP minister had not declared that he had signed her nomination papers.
The programme’s analysis showed that over the last decade the MLA who consistently had the lowest expense claims was the former Alliance Lagan Valley MLA Seamus Close.
Mr Close, who claimed about half of that to which he was entitled, said: “I know for a fact that there were those who thought I was insane because I didn’t spend it all.”
Two republican sources told the programme that Sinn Fein had set up societies “as fronts” to get financial benefits not available to political parties.
The programme found that Martin McGuinness, Francie Molloy, Mitchel McLaughlin and Daithi McKay all paid rent to societies.
Mr McGuinness has paid almost £100,000 from public funds to such bodies.
One of those, the South Derry Cultural and Heritage Society, owns Gulladuff Hall in Mid Ulster.
Despite being described by Sinn Fein’s newspaper as a Sinn Fein headquarters when it opened, the party denies that it owns the building.
But one of the building’s trustees, Mickey McMonagle, who has now left Sinn Fein, said that he had never received rent.
He told the programme that he had never heard of ‘South Derry Cultural and Heritage Society’.
Sinn Fein said it was “a worthy use of public funds” and that the party got no financial benefit from the hall.
Spotlight revealed that North Antrim Sinn Fein Daithi McKay, who has also rented from a society, was until recently paying £12,000 from public money to rent two offices in Dunloy which are almost within touching distance of each other.
Mr McKay told Spotlight that one was used as a private office and one was used as a public office.
The DUP’s Church Street office in Ballymena holds the record for rent from public funds — £57,000 which was claimed by Ian Paisley Jr and his father.
Revelations about the high rental figure and the fact that developer Seymour Sweeney helped to buy the office contributed to Mr Paisley having to resign as a Stormont junior minister in 2008.
Since then, the Assembly has re-evaluated the rent to £23,200, and a figure just short of that is claimed by North Antrim DUP MLAs Paul Frew and David McIlveen.
But Spotlight revealed that Ian Paisley Jr is claiming an additional £14,095 from Westminster, taking it above the Assembly’s valuation of what the rent should be.
The programme questioned who will ultimately own the building, which cost half a million pounds around seven years ago, when the mortgage is paid off.
When asked who the ultimate beneficiary was, Mr Paisley Jr said that the office was to be used into the future to provide a constituency service.
But DUP veteran Sam Hanna, the director of the company which owns the building, told the BBC that he was “just a side-kick” and that Mr Paisley had brought him in “to tide things over”.
He also alleged that Mr Paisley told him that “under no circumstances was he to answer any [BBC] questions”.
Later, in a statement issued through the DUP press office, Mr Hanna retracted some of what he had said and claimed that the ultimate beneficiary of the rent was “the bank”.