27th April 2015
served on ex-British army general 42 years after killing
Damages are sought from Frank Kitson over 1973 Belfast blast in which Eugene Heenan died
Eugene Heenan was better known as Paddy to his friends. On February 1st, 1973, he and 14 other men were travelling to work in a minibus when a masked man, carrying a walking-stick, stepped in front of them on Kingsway Park in east Belfast.
“He was walking slowly and limping. There were two masked man on the other side of the road walking in single-file about five yards apart,” according to legal papers prepared by Belfast solicitors Kevin Winters.
One of the masked men tried to open the back door, but was stopped. Instead, the man broke a window and threw in a Mills 36M standard-issue British army hand grenade.
A couple of seconds later, the grenade exploded, its shrapnel killing Heenan (47), a father-of-five from Andersonstown in west Belfast, who had been working as a foreman at a Catholic school.
No inquest was ever held, though the autopsy report given to the family showed that Heenan – described by a fellow worker “as a peaceful kind of man” – could have lived if he had been given proper first aid.
Some 42 years on, his widow, Mary,
has served papers on the ministry of defence and the retired British
army general Frank Kitson, seeking aggravated and exemplary damages
for the death of her husband.
Albert “Ginger” Baker, a British soldier who had allegedly gone absent without leave to join the Ulster Defence Association, gave himself up to British police in Wiltshire six months after Heenan’s death.
Under questioning, Baker admitted to involvement in Heenan’s death, along with 11 armed robberies; but also in the killings of three Catholic men the year before Heenan died: James McCartan, Paul McCartan and Philip Faye.
Sentenced to life, Baker later gave evidence against UDA men in a 1974 trial in Belfast. However, the charges were dismissed when the judged ruled that Baker had given inconsistent testimony.
Two years after he was jailed, The Sunday World reported that Baker had claimed the cars used in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings had been driven from Belfast by UDA men.
Later, Baker’s family confirmed, according to the legal papers filed, that he had told them that he had delivered the explosives that were used in Dublin and Monaghan from Eglinton in Derry to Belfast.
He claimed that the explosives had come from a man “with a close association” to British intelligence, while one of the cars used in Dublin had been rented in Belfast by “a well-dressed Englishman”.
In July 1988, Labour’s Ken Livingstone interviewed Baker in Durham prison, where the latter claimed that he had “close links” with British intelligence and had been given two contacts by the UDA’s east Belfast “brigadier”, Tommy Herron.
The Irish government’s 2004 inquiry found that the Belfast car-hire had been made using a driving licence belonging to a “Joseph Fleming” from Derby, while a number of witnesses reported that the hirer had “a cultured, English accent”.
“Baker’s knowledge of these matter where there is strong suspicion of state involvement indicates that he was an undercover soldier in Northern Ireland,” the legal papers lodged by Mrs Heenan’s solicitors say.
Frank Kitson, the British army’s acknowledged expert on counterinsurgency, was sent to Belfast as a brigade commander from September 1970 to April 1972, responsible for Belfast and surrounding districts.
Now in his late 80s, Kitson has been named as a co-defendant in the legal action on the grounds that he and others had used agents knowing, or that they should have known that they would take part in criminal actions.
“Given that those agents were embedded with paramilitary groups and the nature of Northern Ireland at the time, it was reasonably foreseeable that activity could include murder.
“Frank Kitson was therefore negligent in creating the policy and the ministry of defence were negligent when allowing its implementation. The policy created the expectation that people working for the state would commit murder,” the papers say.
Claiming that Kitson is “liable personally for negligence and misfeasance in public office”, Heenan’s solicitors say that he had “at its lowest” been “reckless as to whether state agents would be involved in murder”.
The legal papers, which were served on the ministry of defence in London and, separately, on Kitson on Friday, are the first time when a British officer has been personally sued for alleged actions in NI during the Troubles.
The “heart of the claim” is that British army units, such as the Military Reaction Force (MRF), which was the subject of a 2013 investigation by the BBC’s Panorama, had been “involved with paramilitaries and took part in a number of murders.
Seeking damages, Heenan’s solicitors have now demanded disclosure of all the information the ministry of defence holds about Baker, but also the names of all those who served with the MRF or other undercover units.
In addition, the solicitors have sought from the ministry “the guidelines and guidance for any undercover soldiers or agents who were tasked to infiltrate paramilitaries in place at the time of Mr Heenan’s murder”.
Kitson now lives a quiet life, nearing 90. In the 1950s, he received a Military Cross and Bar for service during the Malaya conflict. Following his NI service, he rose to be commander-in-chief of the UK land forces from 1982 to 1985.
In the 1980s, he was aide-de-camp general to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom from 1983 to 1985 and served for a time as deputy lord lieutenant of Devon later in the decade.
Kitson has long rejected allegations that “low intensity operations” ever sanctioned illegal action, advocated “the suppression of legitimate dissent”, or amounted to an interference by the military in civilian life.
In Northern Ireland, the British army, he wrote in a foreword to 1991 edition of his book, had “the essential offensive task of neutralising the insurgents themselves”.
Backed by intelligence, he said
his system was “based on the assumption that, if found, insurgents
could be engaged in battle legally, or captured and convicted in court,
or detained under emergency legislation”.
Criminalisation of Republicans
Today, 25/4/15 I joined in with comrades protesting outside the British Embassy earlier on here in Dublin in solidarity with a republican who was arrested recently, and interned without trial to prison, for reading out a statement at an Easter Commemoration in Belfast.
Dee Fennel was sent to Maghaberry Gaol for reading out what has countlessly been read out before by the patriotic dead generations before us, his only crime was that his freedom of expression flew in the face for what passes as ‘democracy’ these days. But yet within the bowels of the visible xenophobic, racist, homophobic, and reactionary State, elements in society, the likes of Katie Hopkins and Jim Wells, are giving free reign and platforms to espouse their hatred and venom and still they walk around scot-free.
There just aren’t enough words in the known English vocabulary to describe the magnitude of injustice being served here, not only to Dee, but to the array of other republican prisoners incarcerated right across the country.
Whatever you think about the various sections of republicans and organisations out there today don’t let it cloud your judgement in the face of the ongoing human rights abuse we are seeing, as sadly has happened already all too often in the not too distant past.
Interment without trial is still
an ongoing occurrence in the six counties. It is still being utilised
by the State to silence the republican voice; don’t let them
go it alone, lend the prisoners your support, and help in bringing
to an end the cycle of intimidation, criminalisation and persecution
of Irish Republicans.
fears for residents’ spokesperson
Neither Sinn Fein nor the SDLP have commented on the development
A republican activist who has campaigned against sectarian parades in north Belfast has been arrested and charged in connection with a speech he made at Easter.
Dee Fennell, a spokesperson and chairperson of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), described armed struggle against British occupation as “legitimate” when speaking to republicans at a gathering to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising in Lurgan on Easter Sunday.
In his speech, he said the right to use force to oppose foreign occupation was “a fundamental principle that cannot and will not be abandoned by activists involved in our struggle”.
He also compared the British occupation in Ireland in 1916 to the plight of the Six Counties today.
He said: “The use of arms prior to 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms in Easter 1916 was legitimate. The use of arms after 1916 was totally legitimate.
“In the existing political context of partition, illegal occupation and the denial of national self-determination, armed struggle, in 2015, remains a legitimate act of resistance.”
Unionists immediately demanded that Mr Fennell be arrested, and last Monday the PSNI carried out heavy-handed raids at homes in Lurgan and Ardoyne, taking computers and mobile phones and seizing the 33-year-old in front of his young children. He was taken for questioning to Antrim interrogation centre and was subsequently charged with ‘encouraging terrorism’.
His arrest comes as his group is preparing for discussions surrounding the Protestant marching season and the attempts by the Orange Order to hold a sectarian parade through the nationalist Ardoyne and neighbouring areas of north Belfast. The march on July 12th, the anniversary of a Protestant victory in the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, has for many years been the most contentious of the marching season.
Mr Fennell’s supporters fear he has now been subjected to effective internment -- indefinite detention without trial. His arrest follows comments by PSNI Chief George Hamilton last week in which he boasted of his force’s ‘success’ in locking up the leadership of republican groups opposed to the powersharing administration at Stormont.
In his speech, Mr Fennell also accused the “unaccountable” PSNI and British military intelligence of deliberately seeking to target and intimidate republicans. He accused the British government of using miscarriage of justice victims Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton -- still imprisoned over a Continuity IRA attack in 2009 -- as ‘political hostages’.
Urging republicans to be more active, Mr Fennell quoted Sinn Fein deputy leader Maire Drumm, who was shot dead by loyalists in 1976. “It was Maire Drumm who stated: ‘It’s isn’t enough to shout up the IRA, the important thing is to join the IRA’,” he said.
“When you leave here today, ask yourself is it enough to support republicanism or could you be a more active republican. Are you willing to assist a movement that will bring us freedom?
“Let us cry out we will not accept British Rule, we will not accept native capitalist rule, we will not accept occupation or partition, we don’t accept your quisling assembly, armies or police force.”
On Tuesday, he was remanded without bail by a court in Craigavon. A crowd of men and women supporters, who had refused to stand as the judge entered the courtroom, erupted into applause and cheers as Fennell was taken out of the courtroom. Outside they unfurled a banner reading ‘End British Internment’. There were further protests in Belfast and in Dublin.
The Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association, which organised the Easter commemoration, said it viewed the raids and arrest of Mr Fennell as a “blatant example of the continuance of British political policing in the Six Counties”.
“Spurred on by Unionist and Loyalist hysteria and assisted by a pro-British media, the RUC/PSNI through its actions has attempted to silence a true and genuine Republican narrative by the use of force and intimidation. They will fail,” they said.
“The commemorative event on Easter Sunday in Lurgan was a fitting and honourable tribute to fallen IRA volunteers and no amount of British force and intimidation or Unionist/Loyalist interference should be allowed to shape how Republicans pay homage to those brave men and women who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.”
The Republican Network for Unity denounced the decision to charge Fennell as an “abhorrent case of political policing” and a “blatant capitulation” to unionists.
“Dee should be immediately returned to his family and all spurious charges dropped. Republicans must come together to oppose this draconian attempt at silencing an opinion that doesn’t fall in favour of the State.”
The 1916 Societies said it condemned the “draconian, politically-motivated arrest and detention of our friend and comrade”.
“We consider the imprisonment of any political activist, for expressing what are ultimately political sentiments, among the most repressive measures ever introduced in Ireland by the British government, who despite best efforts to legitimise their ongoing presence in the Six Counties remain in occupation of a part of our country against the wishes of the people who live here.”
Neither Sinn Fein nor the SDLP
have commented on the development.
war continues in the North
A crude propaganda exercise by the British Crown forces backfired this week when it emerged that damage to a vehicle exhibited at a press conference had been almost entirely faked by British Army operatives.
A blast device thrown at a PSNI patrol in the New Lodge area of north Belfast on Tuesday night caused no injuries and minimal damage. The attack was the first of its kind on the PSNI for several months.
However, pictures of a car taken at the press conference showed a large hole in the front windscreen. The car was put on display to journalists and photographers, but no mention was made of the real cause of the damage.
It later emerged that a picture taken shortly after the explosion showed several police officers standing beside a car which had only a very small hole in a windscreen cracked by shrapnel.
The PSNI was later forced to admit the vast majority of the damage was in fact caused by British operatives.
CIRA show of strength
Meanwhile, pictures have appeared online of Volunteers of the Continuity IRA on patrol on the streets of Lurgan, County Armagh, armed with assault rifles.
Comments on a Republican Sinn Fein web page described the men as being “on the lookout for England’s armed colonial police, the RUC/PSNI and undercover British soldiers”.
It described Lurgan as a stanchly Republican area “where there would be a lot of support for the Continuity IRA” and other militant organisations.
“Due to their support for these organizations and their rejection of Crown Occupation, the Lurgan community is forced to undergo continued harassment at the hands of the PSNI/RUC and the British Army, who daily target the area hovering over the houses in their police helicopters or military spotter planes.”
The claimed the Continuity IRA as “the only army in Ireland with unbroken continuity with the first and second Dail Eireann [Irish parliaments] and have never accepted partition, and are constituted as such with their Volunteers under oath of allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic.”
The problem in the North is not
violence, the statement read, the problem is the British presence
there: “Those who continue to resist that problem have every
right to do so. The same right the men, women and youth of 1916 had,
even tho they did not have the support of the people of Ireland at
soldier remanded on bail on charge of attempted murder in 1974
A former soldier has appeared at Omagh Magistrates Court charged with the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham in Benburb in 1974.
John Hutchings (71),of New Road, Cawsand, Torpoint, Cornwall, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, age and that he understood the charge against him during a brief hearing this morning.
He was remanded on his own bail of £500 on condition that he surrender his passport to his local police station, reside at his home address, inform the PSNI if he is leaving the country for more than seven days and that he does not contact witnesses directly or indirectly.
Hutchings was arrested on Tuesday and taken to Antrim Serious Crime suite for questioning.
A detective inspector told the court that he believed he could connect Hutchings to the charge.
An application by his defence solicitor, Stephen Clarke, to have a ban on reporting Hutchings’ name was rejected by District Judge, Nigel Broderick.
The application was made due to what the solicitor felt would be a “a real and immediate” risk to the life of the defendant due to the circumstances and what he described as the emotive issues involved in the case.
However, District Judge Broderick rejected the request when the solicitor was unable to provide any evidence to support the application. Judge Broderick said that at this stage there were no justifiable concerns which would preclude the naming of the defendant, adding that the principal of openness was a well-established one.
The case was adjourned to East Tyrone Magistrates Court on June next when Hutchings was excused from attending.
Described as a vulnerable adult, 27 year-old John Pat Cunningham was shot dead in a field outside Benburb by an army patrol from the Life Guards Regiment on June 15, 1974.
The arrest of Hutchings came after
the Public Prosecution Service instructed the PSNI’s Legacy
Investigation Branch to commence a fresh investigation.
of armed dissidents in Lurgan probed by PSNI
Internet photographs of masked men posing with guns in a Lurgan’s Kilwilkie estate have sparked political condemnation and a police investigation.
The images, which were posted on the Republican Sinn Fein Facebook page on Thursday evening, show two men in kneeling positions with what appear to be semi-automatic weapons.
A message alongside states: “Volunteers of the Continuity Irish Republican Army pictured during the week patrolling the streets of Lurgan,”
Police district commander for the area Superintendent David Moore said a “criminal investigation is already underway”.
Supt Moore said: “Whilst it is incredibly easy for anyone to manipulate social media platforms or other features of the internet to gain some measure of publicity, when it is done in this manner it can constitute a serious criminal offence, and we have already begun the work necessary to establish the facts, and bring those responsible for criminal acts to justice.”
He has appealed for anyone with information on this incident, or other social media posts of a similar nature, to contact them immediately.
He added: “The contempt in which these people hold everyone in our society, their well-documented recklessness and the futility of their actions, is not masked in any way by the posting of a photograph on Facebook. The community in Lurgan and across the whole of Northern Ireland should remember that our determination to keep people safe is greater than their determination to do people harm. We are more determined than ever to keep people safe by working with the community, and not, as in the case of those behind this stunt, against it.”
Upper Bann DUP candidate David Simpson has said it is important that the police investigate the appearance of so-called dissident republican ‘patrols’ in Lurgan.
“I would congratulate the police for the action taken against hate speech in the Lurgan area over Easter. It is clear that dissident republicans are attempting to exert some level of control within Lurgan, and posts on social media within the last 24 hours include pictures of armed and masked men purportedly ‘patrolling’ in Lurgan,” he said.
“The entire community must
take a stand against such organisations and their attempt to get a
grip on communities right across Northern Ireland. Unfortunately not
all political parties were able to clearly condemn the promotion and
hatred espoused in Lurgan on Easter Sunday,” Mr Simpson added.
regrets putting AK47 to Catholic’s head, says Allister
Jim Allister has said that the TUV election agent who has a criminal record “recognises the folly” of an incident where he put a deactivated gun to the head of a Catholic man and pretended to fire.
Gary McDonald, the election agent for Mid Ulster candidate Gareth Ferguson, spent a year in jail for his part in a roadblock involving masked men in Portglenone on July 12, 2003, where they pretended to shoot a Catholic driver.
The victim, Thomas O’Hara, told the Irish News that during the incident Mr McDonald had put the barrel of a deactivated AK47 to his head “and I heard them fire two shots at me”.
When asked about the issue by the News Letter, Mr Allister disputed that Mr McDonald had pulled the trigger, saying that he could not have done so because “it was, in fact, welded; it was incapable of firing”.
When Mr Allister was asked if Mr McDonald has apologised to his victim, he said: “It has emerged that when this person was a young man, I think he was 19 or maybe 20...he was involved in an incident at the protection of an Orange arch which apparently had previously been attacked and there was the use of what was a lawful weapon on his licence, a deactivated weapon.”
But he added: “The use it was put to was unlawful; he faced that in his plea; he paid his penalty for that in the eyes of the law, and I think that now – being much older, wiser and regretful for what he did – he’s [as] entitled to get on with his life as many other people.”
Mr Allister said that this stood in contrast to those who “have justified multiple murder in this Province and today walk the corridors of Stormont”.
When asked again if Mr McDonald had apologised to his victim, Mr Allister said: “I don’t know if he’s personally apologised to the victim. I know that in discussions with me since this came to light it’s very clear that he very much regrets the incident and has put his life to very good use ever since.”
But Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay
said: “The TUV cannot have it both ways. On the one hand [Mr
Allister] seeks to persecute republicans released from prison... yet
choose to turn a blind eye to the prosecution of one of his own party
members for taking part in illegal armed checkpoints and threateningly
pointing a weapon at the head of Catholic drivers.”
policing an enduring feature of society in Ireland today
The 1916 Societies condemn without reservation the draconian, politically-motivated arrest and detention of our friend and comrade Dee Fennell from Ardoyne and extend our full support to his family and loved one’s at this time.
We consider the imprisonment of any political activist, for expressing what are ultimately political sentiments, among the most repressive measures ever introduced in Ireland by the British government, who despite best efforts to legitimise their ongoing presence in the Six Counties remain in occupation of a part of our country against the wishes of the people who live here.
To protest that occupation is not only a right, it is a duty. For that Dee Fennell should be commended, rather than gaoled to suit MI5-based British policing and their need to stamp out an alternative narrative to that which claims for Britain a new-found right to remain in the North.
The 1916 Societies say she has no such right and should withdraw from Ireland, leaving her people in peace to determine their own future – as is their democratic entitlement.
This entire uncomely episode – with yet another young family victim to the machinations of illegal British ‘laws’ – their patriarch and breadwinner confined to a prison cell in Maghaberry Gaol – relays the truth of the so-called ‘new dispensation’ in Ireland. The truth is that when we scratch the surface nothing has changed, despite the presence of the ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’ at the heart of Stormont rule.
Those in question are conspicuous and indeed complicit by their silence – and not for the first time.
Asides from the fact Britain should have no power to make any law here to begin with, what we’re dealing with is the manipulation of law to achieve a political outcome, essentially to remove the right of free speech – a right protected under international law – and to criminalise dissenting voices to the new political narrative, crafted by Britain to maintain her undemocratic presence in Ireland.
Such an attack on the basic right to free speech is surely beyond acceptable in the mind of any right-thinking person, regardless of their opinion on the views expressed by Dee Fennell.
The case in question sets a dangerous precedent and should be a cause of concern for those who hold freedom of speech as integral to our civil and human rights. The right to form our own political opinions – most especially in a country like ours – given the extraordinary political circumstances that still exist here – should never be subject to the whims and diktats of the British government, to suit her security needs and uphold the partition of Ireland accordingly.
Again, we express our full support to Dee and his family and call for his immediate release – as that of all who remain incarcerated at the behest of British security policy in Ireland.
The time is now for Britain to
respect the popular will of the Irish people, to withdraw her sovereign
claim and allow all in Ireland, together and without external impediment,
to determine future constitutional arrangements in an Irish Republic
where political prisoners and repressive laws are finally a thing
of the past.
to challenge police decision
The widow of a nightclub doorman shot dead almost 20 years ago is to challenge a police decision not to re-interview the murder suspects.
Seamus Dillon, 45, was gunned down outside the Glengannon Hotel in Dungannon, Co Tyrone in December 1997.
The former paramilitary prisoner and father-of-three from Stewartstown, Co Tyrone was hit hours after LVF leader Billy Wright was shot dead in the Maze prison in what is believed to have been a revenge attack.
A preliminary inquiry in Belfast High Court was told that his widow, Martina was seeking a judicial review.
Barrister David Heraghty, representing Mrs Dillon, said: “Within a matter of days these proceedings will be lodged.”
Lawyer for the Coroners Service Gerry McAlinden said progress in the inquest may be delayed but that the outcome of the High Court case would also have an impact on other legacy-related deaths.
Mr McAlinden said: “The coroner has no powers to compel the PSNI to investigate.
“The coroner does not have his or her own team of investigators. That’s an issue which needs to be addressed.
“I think progress will really only be made as a result of the outcome of the judicial review.”
At a previous preliminary inquiry it was claimed that the suspects were unlikely to co-operate.
In a statement issued after the hearing, solicitor Kevin Winters said he believed Mrs Dillon’s human rights had been violated by the PSNI decision.
He said: “Mrs Dillon agreed for the long-awaited inquest into Mr Dillon’s death to be postponed so that the PSNI could re-interview the suspects as requested to do so by Mr Leckey on November 10, 2014.
“She was under a legitimate expectation that the suspects in her husband’s murder would be re-interviewed by the PSNI and this has not occurred. The reasons for refusing to comply with the senior coroner’s direction were irrational and unfair.
“It is for these reasons that I believe a judicial review would have a good chance of success.”
Meanwhile, the court also heard that the weapon and vehicle used in the murder of Mr Dillon might be linked to other attacks.
It was also revealed that a key witness, Andrew Kidd, had requested to be excused from giving evidence on medical grounds.
Mr Kidd’s car had been used to transport the killers and he had been the subject of a punishment shooting at the time of Mr Dillon’s murder, it was claimed.
Mr McAlinden said a decision should not be made until closer to the full hearing and that new, compelling medical evidence should be produced.
Coroner John Leckey said: “That
approach has been adopted in other inquests.”
councillor and daughter of UVF murder victim says she won't be silenced
after threats over flag move
Denise Mullen's father Dinny was killed by the Glenanne gang in 1975
A councillor whose father was murdered by the UVF says she has received "vile and disgusting" threats over a Union flag row.
SDLP councillor Denise Mullen said she has been targeted after Mid Ulster Council decided not to fly the flag over its headquaters.
She said threats of violence made against her will not deter her from the work of representing the people of Mid Ulster.
Cllr Mullen's father Dinny, an SDLP activist, was murdered by the UVF Glenanne gang in 1975.
She said: “I have seen a number of vile and disgusting threats directed at me online in response to the decision of Mid Ulster Council not to fly the Union Flag.
“Let me be absolutely clear to those seeking to intimidate me.
I will not be silenced. I will not be daunted. I will not be stopped from representing the people of Mid Ulster.
“This is not the first time I have been targeted. My family knows too well the pain that can be inflicted by those who seek to intimidate or commit violence to further their political objectives. We have not cowed down before and we will not cow down now.
“I have a mandate and a
job of work to do for the people of this community. I’ve only
just started and have no plans to stop now.”
not welcome’: Prince Charles faces protests on visit to Sligo
Republican and anti-war groups will be waiting to greet the Prince when he visits next month
Britain’s Prince Charles will not be receiving a warm welcome from everyone on this island when he arrives next month to visit Sligo with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Though politicians and dignitaries will, no doubt, be lining up to warmly greet him, republican and anti-war groups will also be waiting. Des Dalton, President of Republican Sinn Féin told TheJournal.ie that he hopes protests on a similar scale to those during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 2011 can be mobilised.
“We’ve made it clear that representatives of the British state are not welcome in Ireland and that statement continues,” he said, adding that he believes visits like this are part of the “normalisation process”.
Charles and Camilla are visiting Sligo because that is where his great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed.
Jim Roche of the anti-war movement said it is likely his group will also stage protests, as they did in Dublin when the Prince of Wale’s mother was in town.
“Prince Charles is a big fan of the Saudi Arabian regime,” Roche said, adding that the prince had been in the country in February last year at the same time as arms deals were being signed with British companies.
“We would want to bring attention to that,” he added.
Éirígí, which had the largest cohort of protesters during Queen Elizabeth’s 2011 visit, is waiting to see what kinds of events are planned for Prince Charles before deciding whether or not they will get involved.
“It’s not on the same level as, say, when you had the British Queen here because she was coming on a formal State visit as the head of State and chief of the British military,” spokesperson Brian Leeson said.
“A lot of this comes down to the nature of the trip,” he said adding that official events with government ministers would certainly draw protests from his group.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said yesterday he hopes the visit will be an occasion to promote reconciliation, respect and understanding.
“I am conscious that Prince Charles is the symbolic head of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment and the grievous wrong they have done including to the people of Derry and Ballymurphy where I grew up.
“However I am also conscious
that the British Royal family have also been directly affected by
the actions of republicans.”
Féin: Royal visit should promote reconciliation, respect and
Sinn Féin’s president has said he hopes Prince Charles’ visit to Ireland will promote “reconciliation, respect and understanding”.
Speaking of today’s announcement that the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla Parker-Bowles will visit Ireland next month, Gerry Adams recalled the visit of the Prince’s mother, Queen Elizabeth, four years ago.
“The visit by the British Queen to the Garden of Remembrance, her words of reconciliation and the subsequent meetings with Martin McGuinness demonstrated the potential of these events,” he said.
Mr Adams also spoke of the conflicted history between the two countries ahead of the visit, particularly of the military disagreements.
“I am conscious that Prince Charles is the symbolic head of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment and the grievous wrong they have done including to the people of Derry and Ballymurphy where I grew up.
“However I am also conscious that the British Royal family have also been directly affected by the actions of republicans.”
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will engage in a number of public engagements over their four day visit, in both the Republic and the North of Ireland.
It will be the Prince’s first visit to Ireland since 2002 and he is expected to visit Co. Sligo, where his great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten was killed in an IRA bombing in 1979.
The visit will commence on May 19 following a request from the British Government. The official itinerary will be announced in the coming days.
“I hope this visit will
be an occasion to promote reconciliation, respect and understanding,”
added Deputy Adams.
accuses police of abandoning him to die
Case of Marty McGartland, who says he survived two attempts on his life by republicans, is one of 20 being examined as part of ‘Stakeknife’ inquiry
The only informer ever to have survived an IRA execution squad has accused the police services in Northern Ireland of abandoning him to be killed. The allegations by Marty McGartland, who escaped an IRA interrogation in 1991 by jumping out of a window in west Belfast, will form part of a new inquiry by the police ombudsman into one of the most controversial episodes of the Troubles.
The inquiry will focus on the role of a double agent known as Stakeknife, who ran the republican movement’s so-called “nutting squad”, or counter-intelligence section. Around 20 cases will be examined where the security forces in Northern Ireland stand accused of failing to rescue “prisoners”.
McGartland’s claims that he believes two of theguards who interrogated him were a “protected species” – recruited to work for the security forces as double agents – will reinforce suggestions that the republican movement’s key departments were thoroughly penetrated by the intelligence services.
Speaking from a secret location outside Northern Ireland, McGartland said: “It’s my understanding that for 15 years, first the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and later the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI), sat on evidence that could have led to the arrest of both men. I have consistently said I would go as an eyewitness naming these two people as the ‘guards’ that held me in the flat in Twinbrook before I was to be tortured and then shot dead,” he said.
“I also know for a fact that for 15 years the RUC and then the PSNI failed to make it public that there was fingerprint and DNA evidence from that flat in Twinbrook which belonged to these two men. They even could have been arrested shortly after my escape, and yet nothing was done about them. This pair later took part in the interrogation of another IRA member accused of informing, also in west Belfast.”
McGartland was a former petty criminal whom Special Branch persuaded to infiltrate the IRA in the city. After he escaped the interrogation at which he belives he was to be killed, he went into hiding. He wrote an autobiography about the events, called 50 Dead Men Walking, which was later made into a film starring Jim Sturgess and Sir Ben Kingsley.
McGartland had a second narrow escape in 1999 when an IRA hit team tracked him down to his home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. During a confrontation with an IRA gunman, McGartland put his hands over the gun barrel and sustained injuries to prevent his attacker from firing into his upper body or head. He is currently taking legal action against MI5 over the security service’s alleged neglect in protecting him from the 1999 attack and for failing to provide him with medical help in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Speaking to the Guardian, McGartland said: “A very senior member of Special Branch, Ian Phoenix, in his posthumous memoirs – Phoenix: Policing the Shadows – revealed that undercover officers were watching and filming me on the day the IRA ‘arrested’ me. From the moment I entered the Sinn Fein office in Andersonstown to me being driven away by these two men for the interrogation in Twinbrook, I could have been rescued at any time, and yet they did nothing. I think it was a case of ‘Well, we’ve got four years out of Marty and now we need to recruit some new informers’ … or else protect other agents.”
McGartland’s claims form part of the inquiry into the role of Stakeknife, who has been identified as Freddie Scappaticci, a republican activist who fled Belfast more than a decade ago. Scappaticci has always denied working for British military intelligence and continues to deny being Stakeknife.
Relatives of those tortured and then killed for being state agents have told the police ombudsman that in some instances their loved ones were “set up” in order to protect the identity of higher-grade informers at the top of the IRA.
McGartland said he would be providing material related to his allegations to the police ombudsman, but had “little faith in anyone taking on the security machine”.
The two men McGartland has named as his guards before his planned execution are veteran republicans who at one time were part of a security team protecting the Sinn Féin president and former west Belfast MP Gerry Adams.
In 2003, when the Stakeknife story
broke, Michael Flanigan, a solicitor for Scappaticci, threatened legal
action over allegations that his client had operated as a spy at the
heart of the IRA. Scappaticci confirmed at the time that he had been
involved in the republican movement but had since left.
attack' on police patrol in North Belfast
Police believe a bomb was thrown or fired at a PSNI patrol in North Belfast last night.
A PSNI Land Rover was targeted at Victoria Parade in the New Lodge at 10.30pm.
There are no reports of any injuries.
Residents in Victoria Parade were moved from their homes overnight as a security operation got under way.
A community centre was opened for affected residents.
Chief Insp Anthony McNally said: "Our first priority is to ensure the area is thoroughly checked and that it is safe for local people."
The DUP's Nigel Dodds said he was deeply concerned by the attack.
He said: “PSNI officers reported a flash and loud bang occurring at around 10.30pm as they were investigating an attempted burglary at Queens Parade.
"Thankfully no officers were injured and at this stage there is no evidence of anything having struck any vehicle. The PSNI investigation into this incident is still at an early stage.
"Given previous dissident republican attacks against the police which have occurred in North Belfast, it is deeply concerning that this has the appearance of a further attempt to cause serious injury or death through some sort of improvised explosive device.
“Any such attack must be
condemned by all right thinking people. I urge the local community
to reject these reckless and murderous attacks and to pass on any
information which could assist the police to bring those responsible
remanded over terrorism charge
A high-profile dissident republican activist has been remanded into custody after appearing in court charged with encouraging acts of terrorism.
Damien "Dee" Fennell, 33, from Duneden Park in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, is also accused of inviting support for a proscribed organisation.
The charges are connected to a speech he gave during a 1916 commemoration event at St Colman's graveyard in Lurgan, Co Armagh on Easter Sunday.
In the address, which was recorded and posted online, Fennell described armed struggle against British rule as "legitimate".
There was a significant police presence both inside and outside as Fennell, who was wearing a grey hooded top and navy shorts, was taken in to the dock at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court.
He stood with his arms folded and spoke twice to confirm his identity and that he understood the charges against him.
Fennell, who is also a spokesman for the Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective which opposes Orange Order marches and Sinn Féin, appeared relaxed and waved at a crowd of about 40 supporters who had packed the public gallery for the brief hearing.
A detective sergeant told the court he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.
Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan said there was no application for bail but that one would be made at a later date.
He also claimed his client was in receipt of state benefits and made an application for legal aid.
Remanding Fennell into custody District Judge Mervyn Bates said: "You are remanded by this court, there being no application for bail."
The crowd of men and women supporters, who had refused to stand as the judge entered the courtroom, was ordered to be silent after they erupted into applause and cheers as Fennell was taken out of the courtroom.
One man shouted "All right Dee”.
Outside they unfurled a banner reading 'End British Internment'.
Fennell is due to appear in court
again via videolink on 1 May.
over fatal Army shooting in 1974
A man has been arrested in England by police investigating the death of a man who was shot by soldiers in Co Tyrone more than 40 years ago.
John Pat Cunningham died after members of an Army patrol opened fire in Benburb on 15 June 1974.
The 27-year-old Catholic, who had a mental age of between six and 10, was struck three times as he ran from the soldiers.
Last month, the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch reopened the case and on Tuesday, a 73-year-old man was detained in England.
He is to be brought to Northern Ireland for questioning at the Serious Crime Suite in Antrim.