10th December 2013
up with the TOM Latest News on Twitter:
Tóibín wants to rejoin Sinn Féin
Peadar Tóibín, the Sinn Féin TD who is suspended from the party after he voted against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill last summer has said he is not joining Fianna Fáil.
He told RTÉ’s News at One programme that he was quite shocked at reports that he planned to do so.
Deputy Tóibín said that aside from his stance on the abortion issue there was no other issue in Sinn Féin that he disagrees with.
He said there is no doubt that
he wants to rejoin Sinn Féin and that his home is with that
offer to get the truth about our past is on the table
Proposals offering immunity from prosecution in return for information on Troubles murders are to be considered at all-party Haass talks in Belfast this week.
A paper outlining four models of immunity had been circulated to the parties by academics Dr Kieran McEvoy and Dr Louise Mallinder.
The options range from a unilateral end to prosecutions – as suggested by the Attorney General John Larkin – to targeted immunity for selected individuals in return for information.
It is understood that some form of truth investigation which had the power to offer limited immunity from prosecution is the most likely model to attract support.
At a Press conference yesterday, Dr Haass was asked directly if the issue of immunity from prosecution was under consideration.
He said: "Dealing with the past presents a very detailed and intricate set of issues. There is a multiple consideration from the personal to the human, to the legal to the historical."
He added: "Balancing it and trying to get as full a picture of what really happened is obviously in everyone's interest. What sort of incentives or mechanisms we might use, again will be on the table this week."
Alliance MP Naomi Long has already given her backing to a limited immunity model.
She said: "I have already gone on the record in the past to talk about issues around limited immunities and how that has worked in previous phases of this process and how it might be able to be used in future phases, but I think that everything is still to be discussed."
Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP said: "We have made it clear both in public and in private that we are opposed to amnesties for terrorist murder."
However, he added "limited immunity is a separate concept".
Last month Attorney General Mr Larkin suggested that all inquests, investigations and prosecutions for events before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 should be set aside. However, his suggestion was instantly dismissed by many politicians and victims.
But since then some have told the Belfast Telegraph that it was the manner and detail of Mr Larkin's proposal which had been rejected, along with the sweeping immunity he proposed.
All the parties have met Professor McEvoy and Dr Mallinder to discuss the proposals and, Dr Mallinder said, "so far the parties have been putting fairly detailed and technical questions to us about how it would work. They are not rejecting the ideas out of hand, and that is why we prepared this latest paper for them".
Limited immunity has already been granted here before. For instance, IRA members giving information on the location of the bodies of the Disappeared were given immunity.
When paramilitary weapons were being decommissioned members of terrorist groups were given permits to move them which guaranteed them freedom from arrest, and the authorities undertook not to prosecute anyone on the basis of clues left on the weapons themselves.
Yesterday Dr Haass told parties to prepare for "an intense two weeks of deliberations and negotiations".
He will meet each of the five Executive parties three times this week, once on each of the topics he has to consider, and also intends working through the weekend.
Legal guarantees aren't a new idea
The issue of immunity from prosecution in return for information is not a new one.
We have seen it used at the Bloody Sunday Tribunal, when witnesses were legally guaranteed that they could not be prosecuted on the basis of their own evidence provided it was truthful. It was used to help gather information on the location of the bodies of the Disappeared and it was used to help get loyalist and republican weapons put beyond use.
The most interesting precedent is a little older – the Cameron Commisison. It was set up by Terence O'Neill, a unionist Prime Minister at Stormont, in 1969. Its remit was to probe the causes of the violence which hit the streets of Northern Ireland after October 1968, the very start of the Troubles.
It guaranteed that "no statement made to the Commission of Enquiry, whether orally or in writing, will be used as the basis of a prosecution against the maker of the statement or for the purpose of prosecution of any person or body of persons".
This went further than the Saville Inquiry, which offered immunity only to the person making the statement. This led some witnesses to refuse to answer some questions for fear of incriminating others. For instance Martin McGuinness, now the Deputy First Minister, refused to give the locations of IRA arms dumps.
Under this option the tribunal would be able to target those to whom it offered immunity. This happened in the more recent inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel worker, after a beating from British troops.
When we start to look at precedents
like the Cameron and Baha Mousa inquiries, objections to the idea
of amnesty may weaken. It could be replaced by a system in which immunity
could be offered in a focused and targeted way.
Almost 2,000 vehicles have been stopped at checkpoints designed to thwart dissident republicans in Belfast, police said.
Anti-peace process extremists have launched a wave of attacks, attempting to bomb a city centre car park close to one of Northern Ireland's main police stations and its central courts complex.
They have also sent letter bombs to senior police commanders and shot at patrols during a pre-Christmas surge in the number of attempts to kill.
Police have established more than 300 checkpoints during the busy pre-Christmas season but traders said signs were promising for a profitable festive period.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum said: "Our vehicle checkpoints are much more sporadic (than during the Troubles) but it is also unpredictable.
"The checkpoints are much shorter in length but they also have a significant deterrent effect so we achieve a greater balance between public reassurance and protection."
Shots were fired at police patrols in north and west Belfast over recent days. Vehicles and equipment were sprayed with 10 bullets from a military-grade weapon as they passed the Ardoyne area.
Recently a driver was forced to transport an explosive device to Victoria Square shopping centre car park in Belfast. The detonator exploded but failed to set off the main bomb.
Police have organised 323 checkpoints, where cars may be stopped and their contents and drivers screened.
A total of 1,784 vehicles have been stopped between November 25 and December 10.
Mr McCrum said that had not impacted on the commercial life of the city.
Senior commanders have said the threat from dissidents remains severe. They have killed two police officers, two soldiers and a prison officer in recent years.
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "There is a threat coming from dissident republican groups to the city centre and wider provincial towns.
"The only aim of terrorism
is to cause disruption."
alert in Belfast city centre
There is a security alert in Belfast city centre.
Donegal Square West, Wellington Street and Upper Queen Street have been closed to traffic and pedestrians following reports of a suspicious object on Tuesday morning.
It is understood the alert is taking place close to Danske Bank, near City Hall - where part of the Christmas Market has been evacuated.
Police and army bomb squad officers are attending the scene.
A statement from the PSNI said: "Upper Queen Street and Donegall Square West has been closed to traffic and pedestrians. Wellington Street has also been closed to pedestrians, while the Donegall Square West side of the Christmas market has been evacuated.
"There are no further details at this stage."
West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood has described those behind the scare as being "anti-citizen, anti-Belfast and anti-democratic".
The SDLP man continued: "This latest bomb scare in the heart of Belfast next to the Northern Bank in Donegal Square is the latest in a series of similar security alerts.
"The fact that this bomb
scare has occurred at the very heart of Belfast City Centre at lunchtime,
two weeks before Christmas is a very graphic representation of how
anti-citizen, anti-Belfast and anti-democracy those behind this are."
of Rights will help reconciliation process – Jennifer McCann
Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has called for the immediate implementation of a Bill of Rights and said it will help the reconciliation process.
Commenting on the annual statement from the Human Rights Commission the West Belfast MLA said:
“We still live in a divided and largely segregated society and if we are to move forward we need to challenge all forms of discrimination and prejudice.
“If sectarianism and segregation go unchallenged we will only copper-fasten the bigotry and intolerance that keeps our communities divided.
“By implementing a Bill of Rights we can assure that all our citizens have their rights protected.
“It is only through the principals of mutual respect, equality and tolerance for all that we can hope to move to the society, which most of us want to live in.
“We have an opportunity
to drive forward a meaningful reconciliation process where all citizens
but particularly our young people can live free from all forms of
talks: Human rights 'central to resolution'
Human rights must be central to any resolution coming out of the Haass talks, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has said.
Racist and sectarian attacks and so-called punishment beatings of children had no place in a society committed to human rights, the commission said.
In its annual statement, the commission said violations by the state continued.
It said the way nursing home residents and people on welfare were treated was a measure of a government's commitment.
The commission said its annual statement was a record of how the United Kingdom government and the Northern Ireland Executive are discharging their human rights duties.
"The commission recognises that the challenges for this society have not lessened in 2013," it said.
"The rule of law is the foundation for the enjoyment of all human rights.
"Violations by the state and abuses by non-state actors of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights continue.
"The issues facing us are diverse. They reflect both our past and our present."
The commission said that as the deadline approached for Dr Haass and the all-party talks, addressing sources of community divisions and dealing with the past was critical.
It called upon those engaged in dialogue "to consider the significant role that a bill of rights for Northern Ireland could contribute".
US diplomat Dr Richard Haass was asked to chair a series of discussions Northern Ireland's political parties and voluntary and community groups in a bid to find a solution to issues involving flags, parades and the past.
He served as US envoy to Northern
Ireland from 2001 to 2003. He was chosen to chair the discussions
by the first and deputy first ministers.
Orange Order parade postponed
An Orange Order parade which was scheduled to take place in Belfast city centre on Saturday has been postponed by its organisers.
Sandy Row District LOL No 5 organised the parade in support of the Ligoniel lodges and bands, who were prevented from marching their traditional north Belfast route during the summer.
The annual Twelfth of July Ardoyne parade has been marred by serious violence in recent years and restrictions were placed by the Parades' Commission.
A statement released by the Orange Order on Monday night said: "This decision was taken after listening to city centre traders and the local community; and in light of the heightened level of security due to Republican terrorism.
"We believe a further parade at this time through the city centre would not be in the interests of our fellow citizens and therefore as an act of goodwill in this Christmas season we have decided to postpone the parade until early in the New Year.
"The Parades Commission again
sought to criminalise Unionists by their determination; however, we
will not fall into their trap. When we next notify to parade the current
Commission will thankfully be gone."
must follow Irish example on collusion
It appears the evidence of alleged Garda collusion with the IRA, presented in private by the PSNI to the Smithwick tribunal, was the key factor in the findings presented by Judge Peter Smithwick.
This evidence, on the killings of RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, was gathered by MI5. This raises the question: why was MI5 so co-operative with Smithwick, but not in regard to the many victims of British state collusion? No evidence on British state collusion was presented from MI5 after 33 innocent civilians were blown to pieces on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974. Or when 11 innocent civilians were shot dead by British soldiers in Ballymurphy in 1972.
Now that the Irish state has commissioned, investigated and published the findings of the Smithwick report, is it not now imperative for the Stevens inquiry on British state collusion to be released in full?
The Republic's minister for justice, Alan Shatter, and Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, must press the British Government to apply the same standards of openness and disclosure.
Truth and justice cannot be compromised.
In spite of three separate inquiries on collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British state security forces headed up by London's Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, only 19 pages from the 3,000-page final report have been made public by the Government.
Fein TD set to quit over Gerry Adams' comments
Sinn Fein looks set to lose one of its most promising politicians after he slammed Gerry Adams' comments about two RUC officers murdered by the IRA being lax about their security.
Peadar Toibin rejected outright Mr Adams's claim that Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan displayed a "laissez faire" approach to their safety prior to their murder in 1989.
Now the Meath West TD has told his supporters that he is likely to quit the party in the new year.
In a clear indication of his dissatisfaction with the Sinn Fein leader, Mr Toibin last night directly contradicted Mr Adams's comments about the deaths after the Smithwich Inquiry report into collusion in the Republic.
"I don't believe it's ever correct to say that two police officers were murdered because of their own actions," he said.
"These men's deaths were not determined by their own actions but the actions of the IRA. The IRA is responsible for the murder of these two men, not the officers themselves."
Mr Toibin's rebuke came as sources in Meath West confirmed that he was preparing to leave the party. While he did not want to comment on the matter last night, well-placed sources said he had already held talks with members of other parties.
The news of Mr Toibin's expected defection will prove to be a major blow for Mr Adams, who is due to travel to South Africa to attend memorial events for Nelson Mandela.
While Mr Adams has received the backing of some TDs, others, such as deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, did not respond to a request for comment last night.
Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis refused to support the use of the phrase "laissez faire" by Mr Adams, but said the two officers had been "lax" in relation to their security.
"I know the area and you don't get away with that, even the Brits themselves wouldn't travel like that," he said.
Padraig McLoughlin, Caoimhghin O Caolain, Brian Stanley, Jonathan O'Brien, Martin Ferris and Sean Crowe all said they supported their leader.
Mr Toibin, one of the Dail's youngest TDs, was suspended by Sinn Fein in July after voting against contentious abortion measures. Sinn Fein believed he would return in the new year.
But it has emerged that Mr Toibin has engaged in serious discussions with senior Fianna Fail figures about a potential move to Micheal Martin's party.
Sources in Meath West have said
Mr Toibin is likely to vote against Sinn Fein again over two private
members' bills on the issue of abortion. A source said: "Peadar
is prepared to vote in line with his conscience. That will mean he
will defy the party again."
'flouted the law at St Patrick's Chapel in north Belfast'
A flute band played music outside a Catholic church in a concerted act of defiance at parading restrictions, a court has heard.
Fists were pumped in the air as the Pride of Ardoyne band passed St Patrick's Chapel in north Belfast, prosecutors said.
A judge was told of the demeanour and behaviour of some as two drummers denied a charge of knowingly flouting a Parades Commission condition.
Michael Cosby and Richard Dunn insisted they were unaware only a single drum beat was to be played on the stretch of their route along Donegall Street. Eyesight and reading limitations formed part of the defence case.
Cosby (51), of Wheatfield Drive, and Dunn (26), from Alliance Road, are jointly accused of failing to comply with the determination in August last year.
The alleged breach occurred during the annual Royal Black Institution parade.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard police had put signs along the route warning of the restriction.
District Judge Amanda Henderson
refused a defence attempt to have the case thrown out.
escalates over bid to oust north Belfast 'brigadier' John Bunting
Rogue UDA members want to install a double killer and extortionist as the group's leader in north Belfast, it's been claimed.
Serious rifts have been developing within the paramilitary organisation in recent weeks, sparking fears of another loyalist feud.
Among those under threat is north Belfast 'brigadier' John Bunting.
Threatening graffiti telling Bunting to get out of north Belfast was daubed on the walls of his office a fortnight ago.
Then around 40 people gathered at the home of John Howcroft, a close associate of Bunting.
Expelled members are said to be intent on ousting Bunting and installing Robert Molyneaux (46) as leader.
Molyneaux was once a close friend of Howcroft's.
Sources within the UDA say Bunting
is despised by maverick loyalists because of his tough stance on drug
Adams to travel to South Africa
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD will travel to South Africa this week to attend events marking the passing of Nelson Mandela.
Mr. Adams was invited to attend the public memorial service in Johannesburg tomorrow but is unable to travel until Wednesday due to prior engagements in Ireland.
The Sinn Féin President will depart on Wednesday and has been invited by the ANC to attend a special memorial service on Saturday.
The event will take place at the Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling party will bid Madiba farewell.
Speaking today Mr Adams said:
“We in Sinn Féin are very proud of the decades old relationship we have with our friends in the ANC. It is a great honour to be asked by the ANC to attend their service of remembrance on Saturday where they will bid Madiba farewell."
Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness,
in his capacity as deputy First Minister in the North, will also travel
to South Africa and will be in attendance at the public memorial service
in Johannesburg tomorrow when he will join tens of thousands of South
Africans paying tribute to their former President.
Mandela once considered a terrorist by many Irish political leaders
By Patrick Roberts
The crush to jump on the Nelson Mandela bandwagon in Ireland and elsewhere is truly remarkable.
Every two-bit political leader from Belfast to the Balkans is proclaiming their love for the great man in deeply emotional terms.
It was not always so. In Ireland for instance, the three main political parties, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour refused to support the Dunnes Stores strikers in the 1980s when they refused to handle South African produce.
Only Sinn Fein, the Communist Party and various other left wing groups came out and picketed for the women, who lost their jobs at the giant retailer when they refused to handle South African produce as per their union’s instructions.
Now the women are on their way to Mandela’s funeral and the main political parties in Ireland are acting as if Mandela was always their hero and South African apartheid their sworn enemy for ever.
Likewise in Northern Ireland. When John Hume was put forward for the Freedom of Derry it was noted that Nelson Mandela had been put forward for the same award in 1986, but only Sinn Fein voted for it.
The SDLP and Ulster Unionist parties all voted against it.
In Britain, the Federation of Conservative Students – attached to the ruling party – circulated “Hang Mandela” posters in the 1980s.
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan attempted “constructive engagement” policies with the white government in Pretoria. Current UK PM David Cameron went on a fact-finding mission at the invite of South Africa's all white government.
All of which goes to show that politics make strange bedfellows when expediency intervenes. Among the hundreds of dignitaries who will attend Mandela’s funeral will be many who regarded him as a terrorist not so long ago.
Mandela will not be the first
or last to be considered a freedom fighter conveniently by leaders
who thought otherwise a few years ago.
talks:' Sense of urgency' ahead of intense negotiations
Richard Haass has said there is "a sense of urgency" in talks aimed at resolving disputes over flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles.
The US diplomat has returned to Northern Ireland for what he said would be an "intense two weeks of deliberations and negotiations".
He is to hold three separate meetings on the three issues with each of the five of the biggest political parties.
He said making progress on the issues was both "do-able" and "necessary".
"What we expect is people to come to these meetings, prepared to address these meetings in detail. I want to leave you with a sense of urgency," Dr Haas told a Belfast news conference.
"Our goal has been, and our goal remains, to reach a meaningful agreement before Christmas," he said.
"We continue to believe that, with commitment from our five parties in the Executive here, this goal remains do-able," Dr Haass added.
"I've heard some say that I am optimistic, others have described us as ambitious. I can live with both of these descriptions, but to them I would add realistic.
"Meghan O'Sullivan and I would not have taken on these talks and these responsibilities if we judge that a meaningful agreement would out of reach," he said.
Dr Haass told reporters that to date, he and talks vice-chair Ms O'Sullivan had held more than 100 meetings and spoken to 500 people during the negotiations.
They have also received more than
600 submissions from individuals and groups who put forward ideas
on how to resolve disputes over flags, parades and the past.
flag on City Hall Xmas card
Belfast City Council has apologised for using a photograph of City Hall with the flag airbrushed out on its Christmas card.
Some unionist politicians raised concerns after it emerged that an old image of the building, which also included the big wheel, had been edited for the cards.
A spokesperson for the council said a current picture "should have been used".
He went on: "The photograph used is an older stock image and the only festive one we had that included both snow and the Christmas signage.
"The original also included the big wheel. It was an honest mistake to airbrush the photograph to reflect the current view of the City Hall.
"An authentic image of City Hall without the flag and big wheel should have been used. We have already apologised to the DUP leadership on the council and the explanation was accepted."
The council voted last year to change the flag-flying policy at City Hall to designated days, prompting widespread protests across Northern Ireland.
It is unclear at this stage if
the airbrushed cards will be sent out in their current format.
words as DUP propose poppy fields
A war of words broke out at Craigavon Council after a DUP motion to buy poppy seeds from B&Q and plant them throughout the borough in commemoration of World War One.
The Notice of Motion proposed that council support the Royal British Legion Centenary Poppy campaign by buying poppy seeds from Flanders from the local B&Q to plant on an area of land within the Civic Centre boundary.
Discussions will then take place with the Legion in Lurgan, Portadown and Donaghcloney to select an area of land which is council owned in each and sprinkle the poppy seeds.
“Funds raised will go towards the £1.6m the RBL spends each week on vital care and support for the whole Armed Forces community. This campaign will see the UK awash with poppies during the centenary period in commemoration of all those who lost their lives in the First World War,” the motion stated.
The notice also proposed that the council forms a 2014 World War 1 Commemoration Committee given that 2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the The Great War. The committee will be made up of council members, officers and the chairpersons of Lurgan, Portadown and Donaghcloney RBL and will be responsible for organising events. The group will have a budget from council funds.
Proposed by Cllr Carla Lockhart, and seconded by Cllr Robert Smith, it was supported by unionists.
Sinn Fein’s Gemma McKenna said her party had proposed setting up a committee to deal with the decade of centenaries, as had been done in Belfast, but the DUP were not interested.
“They are only looking at one side,” said Ms McKenna. “Enough is enough. We have a shared history. This only looks at one side. It is divisive and shows no respect.”
SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said while he and his party had no problems with the motion in essence, he said the majority of Irish men went to war in the belief that they would return to a united Ireland, but that didn’t happen. Mr Nelson also had issues about raising revenue and was concerned about consultation with local communities.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Ken Twyble said he would support it as he would hope to support other items in this decade of anniversaries.
Sinn Fein Cllr Mark O’Dowd aid the motion is ‘unfortunate’. “It is nothing but a British fest, an armed forces fest. I don’t care if they were Catholic soldiers or Protestant soldiers. We just know what they did to our country.”
The motion was carried with 12
voting for six against and the two SDLP abstaining.
did not repeat mistake of Sunningdale’
Forty years ago today the short-lived Sunningdale Agreement was signed after days of intensive negotiations, and against a backdrop of IRA violence.
But the uneasy agreement on a power-sharing executive to govern Northern Ireland – initiated when Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath held talks with the Irish government and the UUP, SDLP and Alliance – did not satisfy unionists due to the guaranteed role it gave Dublin in the affairs of the Province.
It was criticised strongly by hard-line unionists, including the late Harry West, Ian Paisley and the late William Craig, who did not participate in the negotiations at Sunningdale.
Prominent members in the short-lived power-sharing administration included the SDLP’s Paddy Devlin and Eddie McGrady, Ulster Unionists Roy Bradford and Herbert Kirk and Alliance leader at the time, Oliver Napier.
The day after it was announced a coalition of loyalist paramilitary groups, including the UDA and UVF, formed to oppose the agreement, which was feared as a step closer to a united Ireland.
The power-sharing arrangement lasted five months, before collapsing on May 28, 1974, after the loyalist workers’ strike – something which crippled life in the Province for several weeks.
It resulted in the Conservative government re-imposing direct rule, an arrangement that would remain in place for 26 years.
Lord Kilclooney [John Taylor], a former UUP MP and a minister in the last Stormont government of the 1970s, said the Sunningdale Agreement was “one of the great disasters”.
“It gave the Dublin government executive powers of internal affairs in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“That made it totally offensive to most people in Northern Ireland and that is simply why it was rejected.
“It was passed because Dublin and London agreed it. It wasn’t passed with the approval of the Northern Ireland politicians.
“There are people who say the Belfast Agreement is similar to the Sunningdale Agreement.
“But the Belfast Agreement specifically excludes the Republic from any role in the internal affairs of Northern Ireland.
“That’s why the Belfast Agreement has been a success.
“We learned from the mistakes predecessors had made.”
Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey, a Young Unionist at the time and who was not involved in negotiations, said: “There are two component parts to the agreement, the power-sharing side and the Council of Ireland issue.
“I think to be blunt if it had just been the power-sharing issue it would have survived, but what brought it down at the end of the day was the Council of Ireland.
“The history of the Council of Ireland was to bring about a single Irish parliament outside the UK.
“I think people saw history repeating itself.
“I got the impression they went too far, too fast and links with the Republic were deemed to be heading in a particular direction. That was what scuppered it.
“There was no mandate from
the people for doing it.”
Allister hits out at BBC 'uncritical Nelson Mandela coverage'
Nelson Mandela "left a trail of victims" and backed a terrorist campaign overseen by the ANC, the leader of the TUV has said.
The former South African president who fought apartheid "had the luxury of living to an old age and dying of natural causes, the victims of the terrorist acts at the hands of the ANC were not given such privilege," Jim Allister said.
As the world mourns South Africa's first black president, Mr Allister has criticised media coverage of the late statesman's death.
"I think the uncritical hysteria following the death is verging on propaganda," he said.
After the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, the ANC switched from passive protest to sabotage, targeting government institutions like power plants.
"I was particularly struck by the uncritical coverage by the BBC, ignoring part of the story which they clearly do not want to be seen," said Mr Allister.
"They've fallen over themselves to see the positivity, with one view, but not highlighting the pursuit and endorsement of terrorism which left a trail of victims."
Posting on his Facebook page on Friday, Mr Allister voiced his concerns by comparing the footage to that of Margaret Thatcher's death.
"When Baroness Thatcher died the BBC fell over itself to show balance; Mandela dies and BBC eschews anything approaching balance. And we've another week of this to go!"
The North Antrim MLA said when Mrs Thatcher died the BBC made space for her critics.
"Yes Mandela was fighting against apartheid but other movements had used peaceful methods. Ghandi fought by exclusively peaceful means using publicity and awareness, whereas Mandela chose to endorse terrorism.
"Mandela lived the luxury
of living to an old age and dying of natural causes, the victims of
the terrorist acts at the hands of the ANC were not given the chance
to have such a privilege."
plans put forward to deal with Troubles crimes
Parties involved in the Haass talks are considering four possible models for setting aside prosecutions for Troubles-era offences, the Belfast Telegraph has learnt.
This is the despite the almost universal rejection of proposals from John Larkin, the Attorney general, to halt prosecutions.
Last month Mr Larkin used a Belfast Telegraph interview to suggest halting all prosecutions, inquests and inquiries into Troubles-linked attacks carried out before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.
Unionists and the SDLP reacted with anger to the suggestion.
The models now being looked at were prepared by Professor Kieran McEvoy of Queen's University Belfast and Dr Louise Mallinder, a reader in International Law at the University of Ulster.
Mr Larkin's idea, Stay On Prosecutions, is the first model examined in the 27-page paper.
The second is A Truth Commission And Amnesty, broadly based on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Sinn Fein favours this.
The third, Truth, Investigation and Use Immunity would compel witnesses to give evidence in return for an undertaking that anything they said could not be used against them.
A fourth proposes witnesses could be open to prosecution.
Dr Mallinder said: "Professor McEvoy and I have, between us, had meetings with all the parties to the talks. We have been asked very detailed questions and this suggests that the ideas are being considered, not dismissed out of hand. If something along these lines is adopted I doubt that the word amnesty will be used."
Jeffrey Donaldson, a Haass negotiator for the DUP, which rejected Mr Larkin's proposals, said: "We have met with Kieran McEvoy and his colleagues and listened to what they have to say. We have made it clear both in public and in private that we are opposed to amnesties for terrorist murder."
However he added "limited immunity is a separate concept".
There have been objections that giving immunity from prosecution might contravene the UK's duties under the Europe and (sic – European) Convention of Human Rights and other international obligations.
The document examines international case law and concludes that granting immunity from prosecution is legally feasible for all models if properly drafted.
It says: "Based on our experience as academics with significant familiarity of working on these issues locally and internationally, it is our view that it is possible to devise a bespoke method of truth recovery which is both technically robust (in terms of maximising the potential for truth) and legally compliant with international and domestic law in the United Kingdom and the Republic."
The project on which the document
is based is backed by QUB School of Law, the Transitional Justice
Institute at the University of Ulster and group Healing Through Remembering.
Haass back in Northern Ireland for more talks
The man chairing political talks in Northern Ireland is due to return to Belfast on Monday.
Dr Richard Haass is expected to make a final push towards a deal on flags, parades and the past.
The US diplomat is determined to bring the talks to a head by the end of the year, and ideally before Christmas.
He recently asked negotiators from the five main Stormont parties for their views on a series of detailed issues, including a potential new flag for NI.
It was not a firm suggestion from Dr Haass - he just asked a question about it.
But it prompted a negative response from unionists, with some viewing it as an attempt to dilute Northern Ireland's Britishness.
BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said: "The recent furore over the attorney general's proposed end to Troubles-era prosecutions and the fall-out from the Smithwick report into the IRA murder of two RUC officers have not made it any easier for the politicians to find common ground when it comes to dealing with the past.
"The outgoing chair of the Parades Commission told the BBC on Sunday that bad leadership is to blame for young people being prosecuted over marching disputes.
"So there are plenty of obstacles ahead during the next crucial fortnight for the talks."
Dr Haass began his talks with political parties and voluntary and community groups in September.
So far, he and his team have held 100 meetings, met 500 individuals and received 600 submissions.
He is being assisted in his task by Harvard professor Meghan O'Sullivan, who is vice-chair of the talks.
Dr Haass served as US envoy to
Northern Ireland from 2001 to 2003. He was chosen to chair the discussions
by the first and deputy first ministers.
don't use my family to attack me
In a profile of Eilis McDermott (Saturday Review, November 23), Alex Kane quotes approvingly the words of another journalist who makes various claims regarding my appearance as a prosecution witness at the initial trial of Liam Adams in Belfast.
These quotes include claims that I was "decisively pinned down" and an implication that I engaged in "waffle about the peace process" and "phoney sentiment" and, further, that the trial witnessed "the unravelling of Gerry Adams".
I completely reject these inaccurate, misleading and offensive statements.
Later in the same article, Mr Kane quotes selected passages of a lengthy cross-examination in which I was restricted by the court in what I could say, as is evident from the transcript of my cross-examination, which, in itself, is not the full context of the case.
Mr Kane completely ignores the rest of the detailed evidence I gave in court.
His presentation is both disingenuous and misleading.
For the record and for the benefit of your readers who were not there, I was a prosecution witness at the trial and answered a range of questions put to me by Liam Adams's defence team, acting under instructions from their client.
I answered all questions put to me in court. I co-operated fully with all of the law agencies involved in the case and any decisions I took in respect of statements I made were taken with legal advice.
I find it deeply offensive that a number of journalists, commentators and political opponents – Alex Kane, former director of communications for the UUP among them – have sought, in a most cynical manner, to use what has been family tragedy to attack me.
They have misrepresented and twisted the facts to suit their own narrow agendas and have shown no concern for my wider family.
At all times, I sought to support the victim in this case. Liam Adams has now been convicted and sentenced and Aine has been vindicated. That is what is important.
Alex Kane's sleveen effort to squeeze another article out of my family's tragedy is inaccurate, offensive and pathetic.
Gerry Adams TD
challenges party leaders to debate on Past
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has challenged other political leaders to a debate about the past which rises above contrived outrage of the Irish establishment parties in recent days.
Mr Adams said:
“The issue of legitimacy is at the core of establishment outrage.
"Other political leaders refuse to accept the legitimacy of the recent phase of armed struggle which ended with the cessation of 1997.
"Although I disagree with it I accept that this view is entirely valid.
"The problem for its main apologists is their inconsistency.
"If the right to armed actions is illegitimate for one generation then it is illegitimate for other generations.
"The a la carte approach of establishment parties which praises the Volunteers of 1916, or of the Tan war; applauding Michael Collins or De Valera or Terrence MacSwiney while condemning Bobby Sands, Kieran Doherty or other Volunteers, is an entirely inconsistent position.
"All war is horrific. All
deaths are regrettable. War is the result of the failure of politics,
in the case of the Irish conflict this includes the failure of partition.
A debate on all these issues is overdue.”
fired at police in Belfast for second night in a row
Police have come under gun attack in Belfast for the second night in a row.
Officers escaped injury when they were fired at in west Belfast on Friday evening.
Police said two shots struck a PSNI Land Rover on patrol on the Suffolk Road between the Stewartstown and Glen Roads at 23:45 GMT.
On Thursday evening, shots were fired at police vehicles in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.
No-one was injured in either incident.
The PSNI's West Belfast District Commander Ch Supt George Clarke condemned those behind the attack.
"For the second night in a row, dedicated community police officers have found themselves under attack from terrorists," he said.
"It is fortunate that we are not dealing with fatalities this morning and those responsible are to be utterly condemned for their evil and reckless actions.
"These officers go out each day to serve this community and they should be free to do so without the threat of attack."
Police have appealed for anyone with information on the attack to contact them.
SDLP MLA for West Belfast Alex Attwood described the attacks as a "worrying trend".
He called on those engaged in violence to stop and recognise the hurt they were causing the community.
"This attack on the PSNI on patrol in west Belfast could have resulted in lose of life," he said.
"I condemn this attempt to kill police officers.
"Those engaged in this type of reckless violence are not advancing any political ideal, they are hurting the community they claim to represent."
DUP councillor Brian Kingston also condemned the attack.
"The intention, here, obviously was to kill or to seriously maim police officers carrying out their duties," he said.
"They are trying to drag
society back into bloodshed that the vast majority of people do not
wish to see."
attend Derry Lundy parade
Up to 3,000 people have taken part in the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry parade.
The annual Lundy's Day event commemorates the 17th century siege of the city.
It featured 31 bands this year, an increase of 10 bands from last December's parade.
The parade passed off without incident and has been described as a huge success by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin said: "Today has been a really positive day for the city.
"We tried to make sure we got our policing style right today and have actually pulled back and made this as normal a policing day for shoppers and everybody in the city.
"I'm pleased to say that the partnership we've had with the organisers of the parade, the traders and the City Centre Initiative has worked really well."
The marchers made their way through the city centre before attending a service of thanksgiving at St Columb's Cathedral.
In keeping with tradition, an effigy of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Lundy - the man known as Lundy the Traitor - was burned in Bishop Street.
Governor of the Apprentice Boys
Jim Brownlee said he believed the city had made significant strides
in promoting respect.
of former police chief defends Hermon
The widow of former RUC Chief Constable Sir Jack Hermon has firmly defended him from “highly offensive” claims that he failed to probe the murder of his two officers.
Independent MP for North Down, Lady Sylvia Hermon, made the defence yesterday in the wake of publication of findings of the Smithwick Tribunal, which this week concluded that a leak from Dundalk Garda station had been involved in the IRA murders of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan in March 1989.
Speaking after the double IRA murders, Sir Jack agreed with senior Gardai assertions that there had been no leak, saying: “There was no mole and we would ask that this be discounted very firmly and very quickly.”
Criticism had been directed towards Sir Jack’s assessment this week in the wake of Judge Smithwick’s findings.
But his widow yesterday said her late husband had no evidence of any such mole in 1989 and if he had he would have “acted on it immediately”.
She said: “Whatever the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal, the overriding fact remains that two fine RUC officers were brutally murdered by the IRA in March 1989.”
She said the pain and sense of loss for their families must be “immense” and added that she was “very sorry indeed” that their lives were cut short by “a gang of IRA murderers”.
Her husband had been “deeply angry” about the murders and was “intensely loyal” to his officers.
If he had had “a shred of
real evidence of collusion he would have said so and acted on it immediately”.
However, there wasn’t that evidence and she finds it “highly
offensive” to hear him accused after his death of having failed
to properly investigate the murders. “My husband would never
have done that,” she added.
Special Branch unit revealed
Ballistics tests on the gun used to kill pensioner Roseann Mallon were done by RUC Special Branch officers who might not have been properly qualified, an inquest has heard.
The Czech-bought assault rifle, now linked to 11 other murders and two attempted murders, was first examined at the Weapons and Explosives Research Centre (Werc) - a previously unheard of unit located within the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory, the court was told.
Judge Mr Justice Weir, who is hearing the long-awaited inquest, said: "This is the first time it has ever come to my attention that there was a forensic system within a forensic system."
Ms Mallon, 76, was gunned down as she watched television at a house near Dungannon, Co Tyrone on 8 May, 1994.
The spinster, who had been staying with relatives because she felt vulnerable, was unable to escape when two loyalist gunmen indiscriminately opened fire on the bungalow at Cullenramer Road.
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) said its mid-Ulster brigade had been responsible and were targeting two of her nephews Christopher Mallon, who was not home at the time, and Martin Mallon, who lived half a mile away.
In the wake of the shooting, Army spying equipment was found in a nearby field sparking claims of security force collusion.
Last week, it emerged that the Historical Enquiries Team - a specialist unit set up to re-examine Troubles-related cold cases - had linked the murder weapon to the UVF killings of Charles and Theresa Fox at The Moy in 1992, as well as the murders of John Quinn, Dwayne O'Donnell, Malcolm Nugent and Tommy Armstrong outside a bar in Cappagh, Co Tyrone in 1991.
But, Barry MacDonald QC, who is representing the Mallon family, said the rifle was now known to have been involved in at least eight incidents that resulted in 11 murders and two attempted killings.
He also claimed inaccurate information - that the gun had no previous history - was fed into the system by Special Branch.
Mr MacDonald said: "The practice seems to have been when cartridge cases were collected, they were forwarded to the Forensic Science Laboratory of Northern Ireland - but it was the Werc who conducted their investigations and provided a steer.
"The upshot is that these incorrect conclusions have been made by a section of Special Branch in circumstances where the object of this entire exercise - that's this inquest -- is to allay suspicion and rumour about the involvement of Special Branch."
Judge Weir told the court he had never heard of Werc despite a lengthy career as a defence barrister and judge.
He also expressed concern that they were not ballistics experts and said he would be demanding a full explanation on how they operated and who took the decision to conceal their existence.
"If their work is to be of any value, they are to be people of skill. You cannot learn on the job to be a ballistics examiner. This is not a milk round these people are doing," the judge said.
Martin Mallon said the family had been left bemused by the latest revelations.
He said: "We have had Special Branch hiding behind screens, we have heard evidence about burning notebooks and items being destroyed. We have consistently heard about Special Branch being a force within a force and now it appears that Werc was a unit within a unit.
"Roseanne was a 76-year-old pensioner who was murdered in her home. People have attempted to mislead facts, cover-up the truth. We simply want the truth and accountability."
Notorious killer Billy Wright and two other loyalists were arrested and questioned about Ms Mallon's murder but no-one has ever been convicted.
Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch, who sits on the Stormont justice committee and is a friend of the Mallon family, said: "It is obvious that the British state is covering up, delaying and prevaricating on vital evidence - particularly around ballistics."
Relatives of the Fox’s and those killed at Cappagh joined the Mallon family in the public gallery, supported by the victims' group Relatives for Justice.
Solicitor Niall Murphy, who represents the Fox family and next of kin of two Cappagh victims, said: "We are very concerned at the slow-drip nature of this discovery.
"It is very distressful for these family members to hear this information in this way and our clients fear that there is a wider conspiracy and that the State are involved in a cover-up."
The inquest has been adjourned
until next May to allow the HET to complete its investigation into
24 murders in the east Tyrone area between 1988 and 1994 - including
Ms Mallon's death.
Proctor murder: Seamus Kearney sentenced to 20 years
A man has been sentenced to at least 20 years for the "appalling" killing of a policeman in Northern Ireland in 1981.
John Proctor, 25, was murdered by the IRA in the grounds of Magherafelt hospital, County Londonderry, after visiting his newborn son.
Seamus Kearney, 57, of Gorteade Road, Maghera, had denied murder and possessing an Armalite AR15 rifle.
Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Kearney will serve about two years.
The killing happened in September 1981, and after a review by the Historical Enquiries Team, Kearney was charged with murder.
Judge David McFarland told a court in Belfast on Friday: "This has to be one of the most appalling murders committed during that period in our history that has become known as the Troubles.
"The passage of 30 years has in no way diminished the brutality of this murder.
"That a man can be targeted when he is attending a hospital to visit his wife and newly born son continues to appal all right-minded members of society."
The judge said that Mr Proctor's son, John, bears the name of his father "no doubt with pride, but it is a constant reminder for him and the rest of the family of the cruel nature of his father's death".
Last month, Kearney was convicted of the policeman's murder.
A judge told him he was "either the gunman, the driver of the Ford Escort RS200 or was an occupant of the car being present to provide support for the killing".
Kearney had denied the murder of Mr Proctor and possessing the Armalite AR15 assault rifle, used to shoot him dead minutes after visiting his wife June and newborn son at the Magherafelt Hospital.
Kearney had been jailed for attempting
to murder UDR soldiers in December 1984.
Mandela and Gerry Adams
I was just trying to point out to Miriam O’Callaghan that the one-eyed view in the south of things northern might have been connected to the fact that southern mainstream media consistently paint a picture of the northern conflict as bloody murder by a group of psychopaths (i.e., the IRA), when news broke on mid-Prime Time that Nelson Mandela had died. Immediately and quite rightly, the two guests in the Dublin studio, who had been lambasting Gerry Adams for using the term “laissez faire” in describing the RUC attitude towards their own security, switched to commending the greatness of Nelson Mandela. It was something that was fitting – you only had to see the man, let alone listen to him, to know he was a man who knew about forgiveness and a passion for peace.
So while I joined the others in commending the great man, I made a terrible mistake. I mentioned that Mandela was in prison because the authorities saw him as linked to the ANC, which engaged in what the authorities of the time deemed to be terrorism. Why was Mandela in prison for so long? Because he refused to disassociate himself from the ANC, who were deemed by the authorities to be vile murderers. When he was finally released, Mandela devoted himself to making peace with his former enemies.
I also said that while I wasn’t suggesting Gerry Adams was a man of the stature of Nelson Mandela, there were parallels, in that both had been involved in a bloody and sometimes brutal conflict and that both men had led their supporters to a peaceful alternative.
No, no, no, no. Both Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan and Irish Independent columnist Martina Devlin wouldn’t hear of any possible parallel between the two. Gerry Adams was a man linked with murder, Nelson Mandela linked with peace.
Which brings me back to the point I was making when the news broke. The southern population have been fed a steady diet by the media – a diet which presents the IRA as the problem in the north. Coupled with that they present Gerry Adams as an insensitive oaf who blames Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan for their own deaths. No context: no consideration that there was a state which ruled for fifty years by gerrymander and discrimination, no mention of civil rights marchers being bludgeoned off the streets, no mention of acts by the British army or British agents acting through loyalist gangs which killed dozens of innocent Catholics.
If the job of the media is to
provide a full picture of the present and the past, then the southern
media have confined themselves to one corner of the canvas. The people
of Ireland, north and south, deserve better.
Sunday family member hits out at PSNI investigation
A relative of two victim’s of Bloody Sunday has hit out at the PSNI’s handling of an investigation that may lead to the prosecution of Parachute Regiment soldiers who fired at civilians on January 30, 1972.
Kate Nash, whose teenage brother William was shot dead and father Alex was wounded whilst trying to reach his son on Rossville Street made her comments following a meeting between family members and the police investigative team in the City Hotel on Wednesday night (December 4, 2013).
In essence Kate Nash has accused the PSNI of delaying tactics with regard into the actions of nine soldiers pinpointed in the Saville Report as having carried out the shootings almost 41 years ago in the Bogside.
After attending Wednesday night’s meeting Kate said: “This process seems to be incredibly slow. We never seem to get any satisfactory answers. This now seems to be veering towards the PSNI reinterviewing over 900 civilian witnesses before they get around to questioning the soldiers. They apparently have whittled this down to just over 900 from 1,400 people but on top of this they say then plan to re-examine over 400 statements from soldiers.”
Kate Nash said that family representatives at the meeting strongly challenged the procedures being used by the PSNI with regard to this. She said: “Why not just question the nine soldiers identified as having been the ones who fired on Bloody Sunday. A recent Sunday Times article quoting the Ministry of Defence said that these men were to be questioned imminently and the PSNI gave a statement in that article. However, this appears to have changed again. Why is that?”
Any potential murder investigation is based on the premise that an investigating police team cannot use statements given and recorded within the findings of the Bloody Sunday inquiry because it is a criminal investigation.
Whilst, Kate Nash is aware of that she said: “What is the need to re-interview in excess of 900 civilian witnesses. The inquiry had the power of a high court and this evidence was tested at a very high level by the best in the legal profession for both the families and the British Army. It will result in further delays and a lot more public money being spent.”
Asked why she thought the process appears to be being delayed again Kate Nash said: “I think it’s a case of high level political interference. Neither do I believe that the comments recently made by the Attorney General were a coincidence. Basically, I think they are hoping that relatives all die and that the soldiers will die. The notion appears to be that the soldiers will be the last to get questioned.
“This is about justice being served and to be seen being done. We aren’t necessarily looking for soldiers to go to jail. All prosecutions do not result in people going to jail, but what we want to see is them being made accountable in a court of law for their actions were the world would see their faces.”
In response to questions from the Sentinel a spokesperson for the PSNI said: “Senior detectives from the PSNI met a number of families who lost loved ones in Derry on 30 January 1972 in the city last night (Wednesday, December 4). Officers provided an update on the progress of an investigation and the complex processes involved. For the investigation to be a comprehensive and effective as possible, police are required to take statements from witnesses who gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry. This is because police are precluded from using Saville testimony in a criminal investigation.”
Meanwhile it has been confirmed
that 12 full-time police personnel, understood to be from forces across
the UK are to join the 12 part-time officers already part of the investigation
team on Bloody Sunday. It is believed the full-time officers will
join the team on January 6, 2014.
gun attack: Lucky escape for police after dissidents open fire on
police convoy in north Belfast
Officers escaped injury last night after dissident republicans aimed a volley of automatic fire at three PSNI vehicles in north Belfast.
The shooting on the Crumlin Road near Brompton Park occurred at 6.45pm. Up to 15 shots were fired at moving police vehicles from what was described as an automatic high-velocity rifle.
Three police Land Rovers were struck but there were no reports of any injuries.
A burnt-out car was attended to by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service a short time later in nearby Butler Place.
Loyalist protesters had just started to gather at their protest camp at Twaddell Avenue.
District Commander, Chief Superintendent George Clarke, condemned those responsible. He said: "Police are treating this attack as attempted murder of officers as they were providing a service to the community of north Belfast. It is to be utterly condemned by all right-minded members of society and I urge anyone with any information to contact police immediately.
"How do you advance any cause by trying to kill police officers?"
The shooting is the latest event in an escalation of dissident activity.
The nearby loyalist camp thought it was coming under fire last night and scenes of panic ensued.
Around 20 demonstrators were gathered when the sound of gunfire rang out.
Eight women fled from the scene.
Mother-of-three Elizabeth Clarke (44) told of her terrifying experience.
"We were just chatting when we heard the gunfire.
"Someone shouted 'run', and we ran. We were taking no risks or chances and had to get away.
"It was frightening, we were literally running for our lives.
"We are supposed to be safe, we are supposed to be in peace."
It's believed two shots were fired toward the camp itself.
One badly shaken protester told the Belfast Telegraph she thought she was "going to die".
West Belfast UPRG representative Isaac Andrews said it was "terrifying".
"We were in the camp when we heard the shots. Two came overhead.
"Both men and women were physically shaking. We were just thankful no one was hurt."
Twaddell Avenue protest camp spokesman Gerald Solinas blamed dissident republicans for the attack.
"I was a soldier and had taken fire before, and I knew what it was and they had obviously used high-velocity weapons. I'd say a 7.62 AK47 rifle."
He added: "It's just another unscrupulous attack from yesterday's men."
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds condemned the attack.
He said there appeared to be a growing dissident threat within Ardoyne.
"This would obviously appear to be the work of dissident republicans and I would hope that the community in Ardoyne will stand against those responsible and with the police as they carry out their investigations.
"There does appear to be a growing dissident threat within Ardoyne and we have seen the intent and capability of these terrorists in Belfast all too clearly in recent weeks.
"This was a clear attempt
to murder police officers with shots fired from Ardoyne at the Land
Rovers. Thankfully no one was injured in this attack but it is vital
that those responsible are identified and brought to justice,"
said Mr Dodds.
hit police vehicles in Ardoyne
Dissidents are being blamed after three police vehicles were struck by a number of shots in north Belfast.
The gun attack happened as officers were travelling along the Crumlin Road near Brompton Park at around 7.10pm on Thursday.
There have been no reports of any injuries.
Police said their investigations into the incident at the Ardoyne interface are at an early stage but it is being treated as attempted murder.
A burnt car was also found in the area.
Chief Superintendant George Clarke has condemned what happened.
In a statement he said: "Police are treating this attack as attempted murder of officers as they were providing a service to the community of north Belfast.
"It is to be utterly condemned by all right-minded members of society."
Anyone with information has been asked to come forward.
Local DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: "This was a clear attempt to murder police officers with shots fired from Ardoyne at the Land Rovers. Thankfully no one was injured in this attack but it is vital that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.
"This would obviously appear to be the work of dissident republicans.
"I would hope that the community in Ardoyne will stand against those responsible and with the police as they carry out their investigations."
Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said: "This attack on the PSNI was reckless and has endanger the local community in Ardoyne.
"Anyone could have been in the vicinity of Holy Cross Chapel at this time which was the direction in which the shots were fired. Fortunately nobody was injured in this attack.
"Whoever was behind this attack need to come forward to this community and explain there actions. To date they have failed to do so and act solely on their own behalf."
Alliance councillor John Blair said: "The majority of the public are opposed to the actions of those behind this shooting. People do not want to return to the dark days of the Troubles.
"I would urge anybody with
any information about this shooting to contact the police."
By Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams
Eight years after it was established the report of the Smithwick Tribunal was finally published on Tuesday evening.
I want to commend Justice Smithwick for his hard work of many years. I am very mindful that at the heart of the Smithwick Inquiry there are two bereaved families and I hope the report helps bring some measure of closure for them.
I also want to commend the Irish government for fulfilling its obligation under the Weston Park Agreement. The onus is now on the British government to move speedily to holding the promised inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.
The Smithwick Tribunal was established as a result of an agreement in the negotiations in Weston Park in 2001 between the British and Irish governments.
Canadian Judge Peter Cory was asked to look at the killing of Pat Finucane; Robert Hamill; Rosemary Nelson; Billy Wright; Judge Gibson and his wife; and RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan.
Cory worked diligently and in 2003 he handed his reports over to the two governments. The Canadian Judge concluded that there was no basis for an inquiry into the deaths of the Gibsons. He proposed that there was a basis for inquiries into all of the others, including the killing of the two RUC officers.
The Irish government published Cory’s recommendations in December 2003 and announced that it would set up an inquiry, but the British stalled until April 2004 before publishing his reports to them.
Ten years later of the six cases investigated by Judge Cory only the Pat Finucane Inquiry has yet to commence. It is clear that the British government is deeply worried by the enormous political implications of the Finucane case which is known to involve substantial institutional collusion between British state forces and the UDA.
This concern was evident in the introduction by the British government in June 2005 of the Inquiries Act 2005. This legislation deliberately limits the scope of the inquiries proposed by Cory who criticised the British move saying it "...would make a meaningful inquiry impossible."
In June 2006 I met with Justice Smithwick at his request. He asked if I could help. I explained to him that in 2005 the IRA put its weapons beyond use and stood down its structures. The IRA had left the stage. However, after some effort three former IRA volunteers agreed to give evidence to the Tribunal.
A process was put in place to facilitate this. When this was achieved Sinn Féin stepped back and the process moved forward. This was a significant and unprecedented development. For the first time former members of the IRA gave evidence to an inquiry into an IRA action. Clearly this would not have been possible if the Tribunal had not created the context to allow it.
The decision by three former members of the IRA to voluntarily give evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal was an important development. This was the first time former members of the IRA have ever given evidence to an inquiry into an IRA action. The engagement between the three former volunteers and Smithwick is historically unparalleled.
Justice Smithwick accepts much of the evidence given by the former IRA volunteers, for example describing their witness account as a ‘valuable resource for the Tribunal.’ At other points in his report he acknowledges that their evidence in respect of the movement of the RUC car is ‘fully consistent’ with information logged in the journal of RUC Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
Justice Smithwick’s conclusion is contradictory. On the one hand he concludes that the Tribunal ‘has not uncovered direct evidence of collusion’.
But then, in a clear contradiction of this and on the basis of circumstantial and untested intelligence Justice Smithwick then goes on to say that ‘on balance of probability’ some form of collusion occurred.
What Justice Smithwick defines as collusion is very different in form and scale from the collusion that occurred in the north. During 30 years of war the British state was responsible for structured, institutionalised and co-ordinated state run collusion and unionist death squads which led to the deaths of hundreds of citizens, including those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan and Dundalk bomb attacks.
The British government arrogantly disregards the unanimous all-party Oireachtas motion calling on it to provide vital information about these bomb attacks. The Pat Finucane Inquiry is now the only inquiry agreed to at Weston Park that has not been held. The British government is in clear breach of its commitments.
The Irish government now needs to assertively lobby the British government, including at an international level, to honour its commitment and to set up the promised public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
Sinn Féin supported these inquires on the basis that families had the right to full disclosure of all relevant information. Sinn Féin believes that there needs to be an effective truth process for dealing with all legacy issues.
We have repeatedly called on the British and Irish governments to invite in a reputable and independent international body to establish an Independent International Truth Commission which would be independent of any state, combatant groups, political parties, civil society and economic interests and would have a remit to inquire into the extent and pattern of the conflict as well as their causes and consequences.
I helped to facilitate the engagement between the former IRA volunteers and the Smithwick Tribunal because I believe there is a responsibility to assist families bereaved in the conflict, though this may not be possible in all cases.
Republicans are very conscious of the hurt and suffering which has been caused through conflict in our country. Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on the British and Irish governments to invite in a reputable and independent international body to establish an Independent International Truth Commission which would be independent of any state, combatant groups, political parties, civil society and economic interests.
It should have a remit to inquire
into the extent and pattern of past violations as well as their causes
and consequences and would be dependent on the full co-operation of
all the relevant parties.
denies ‘blaming’ RUC officers for their own murders
Sinn Féin TD says regular border crossings left men open to attack but deaths a tragedy
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has moved to distance himself from earlier remarks in which he suggested a casual approach to security by two RUC officers shot dead by the IRA in 1989 had contributed to their murders.
“It is nonsense to suggest that I was blaming the two RUC officers for their own deaths,” Mr Adams said this afternoon.
“Everyone knows the IRA was responsible. That was never in question.”
He added the Smithwick Tribunal, which examined Garda collusion in the murders, had outlined a large number of examples where security measures around trips across the border into the Republic by RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan could have been stronger.
These included Supt Buchanan crossing the border up to 10 times per month, often in his own car which was easily identifiable. Offers of a Garda escort to and from the border had also been refused despite RUC members being warned they were a target of the IRA when crossing the border.
Mr Adams said: “Clearly, the decision to continue to travel as frequently as they did across the border, without escort, left the RUC officers open to the real possibility of attack.
“None of this distracts from the tragedy and loss of life.”
He was “very conscious” that two bereaved families were at the centre of the events examined by the tribunal, which has concluded there was Garda collusion in the murders of men on their way from a meeting with gardai at Dundalk station.
“I am concerned… not to say anything which detracts from that or which causes any further hurt. That was never my intention.
“What I said reflects what is recorded by Justice Smithwick. So those who attack me are at odds with what is contained in the Smithwick report.”
The contentious remarks were made in an interview with the Newstalk radio station after the publication on Tuesday of the final report of the tribunal into Garda collusion in the March 1989 murders.
Mr Adams said the men had taken a “laissez faire disregard” for their own safety when traveling south into the Republic for meetings with garda in Dundalk station.
He added the men “seemed to think that they were immune to attack by the IRA”.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter described the remarks as “nauseating”, adding Mr Adams was appearing at meetings with hooded men around the period of the March 1989 killings in south Armagh and likely knew who the killers were.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Mr Adams appeared to be blaming the men for their own murders and called for the remarks to be withdrawn.
Mr Adams dismissed Mr Shatter’s
remarks as “pompous” and Mr Martin’s as a “contrived
at loyalist paramilitary split
Chief Constable Matt Baggott has warned of a potentially volatile situation emerging among loyalist paramilitaries.
His latest security assessment was delivered at a meeting of the Policing Board on Thursday, and comes just after a major split within the UDA in Belfast.
Matt Baggott confirmed that members of that organisation were behind a number of recent paramilitary shootings in north Antrim.
He also said that members of the UVF in east Belfast were responsible for shooting of 24-year-old Gemma McGrath in September.
The Chief Constable explained: "At present we are concerned about developments within loyalist paramilitary groups. Our assessment is that they are fragmenting or have been fragmenting and we have seen a number of competing agendas."
On the shooting of Gemma McGrath, who was hit as many as five times when she was attacked at Lord Street Mews in east Belfast, Mr Baggott continued: "Our intelligence indicates it was individuals linked to the east Belfast UVF who were responsible.
"There are no indications that this was sanctioned by the overall UVF leadership and it is believed to be carried out by individuals linked to a single unit acting on its own accord."
On paramilitary activity in north Antrim, he said: "They are attributable to the UDA in the north Antrim area. Once again there is no reporting to indicate that those attacks were sanctioned by the overall leadership of the UDA."
Matt Baggott stressed that the PSNI will continue its investigations into catching the "parasites" involved in bringing this sort of crime to Northern Ireland's streets.
He said: "We will continue
to relentlessly pursue people who break the law and bring crime to
our streets - there is absolutely no going soft on these groups and
my view is that those who bring crime to the streets are parasites
who will be brought before the courts."
shot Jemma McGrath, says Matt Baggott
Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force shot a 24-year-old woman in east Belfast, the chief constable has said.
Jemma McGrath was shot a number of times at her home, in September.
Matt Baggott confirmed for the first time on Thursday that police believed members of the loyalist paramilitary group were behind the attack.
He told the Policing Board it was thought "individuals linked to the east Belfast UVF" were to blame, but it had not been sanctioned by its leadership.
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said: "The question everyone will be asking is why this took so long and why confuse the situation by saying that it may have been without sanction?"
Miss McGrath was shot in the lower abdomen, hips and knees in the attack at her home off Beersbridge Road.
In 2007, the UVF declared that it was renouncing violence.
After police revisited the scene of the shooting last week, Alliance MP Naomi Long echoed comments by Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly and Police Federation chairman Terry Spence that the UVF was no longer on ceasefire.
Last month, the police said elements
of the UVF, particularly in east Belfast, had been involved in a range
of criminal activity.
loyalist parade organiser to be prosecuted
The organiser of a loyalist protest march in Belfast last Saturday is to be prosecuted, the Policing Board has been told.
Hundreds of loyalists took part in the march, which came days before the first anniversary of a council decision to limit the flying of the union flag.
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said the unnamed organiser of the parade had been spoken to by police.
He said he would be prosecuted for breaching a Parades Commission ruling.
Two police officers were injured at the junction of Tennent Street and Crumlin Road in north Belfast as they blocked demonstrators who left the designated route.
The march began an hour late, breaching a Parades Commission ruling that had instructed the protesters to leave the city hall area by noon.
The parade organisers had expected up to 5,000 people to take part.
But on the day an estimated 1,500 demonstrators took to the streets in what became an unlawful parade, due to the delayed start of the march.
It is believed the same person organised a similar march through Belfast city centre on 21 September.
More than 3,000 protesters took
part in the September march, which also breached a Parades Commission
asks police to probe undercover Army unit
Northern Ireland police are investigating claims soldiers attached to an undercover unit in Belfast in the 1970s killed unarmed civilians.
Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris revealed the news to the Policing Board.
He said a previous investigation into the Military Reaction Force (MRF) had spoken to 350 witnesses and saw several soldiers questioned under caution.
Files had been sent to the then Director of Public Prosecutions.
He said following a Panorama programme last month, detectives were looking at the broadcast and reviewing the "very extensive" case papers.
The outcome would then be sent to the Public Prosecution Service for advice on any further steps.
"This is the start of the reinvestigation of this case," Mr Harris said.
Panorama was told the MRF was tasked with "hunting down" IRA members in Belfast.
Three former MRF soldiers, who were speaking publicly for the first time, said that on some occasions they opened fire on targets in the streets of Belfast without actually seeing the person they shot holding a weapon.
Meanwhile, Assistant Chief Constable
Will Kerr told the Policing Board the unnamed organiser of last Saturday's
flags parade in Belfast city centre has been spoken to by police and
will be prosecuted for breaches of the parades commission determination.
Féin says Smithwick Tribunal findings 'contradictory'
Sinn Féin Justice Spokesman Pádraig MacLochlainn has said the Smithwick Report which concluded there was collusion between gardaí and the IRA in the murder of two RUC officers is "contradictory" in its findings.
Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush near the border after leaving a meeting at Dundalk Garda Station in 1989.
A tribunal of inquiry chaired by Mr Judge Peter Smithwick concluded that Tribunal evidence pointed to collusion between unknown members of the Garda Síochána and the IRA in targeting the two men.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr MacLochlainn said: "It's for anybody to look at this report. There is no direct evidence of collusion.
"Judge Smithwick made his conclusion, which he's entitled to, but it is a very contradictory report.
"What I would say is you could reach the same conclusion that the amount of times they travelled across a republican heartland could have led to the circumstances of their death," said the Donegal North-East TD.
A senior police representative in Northern Ireland says the Smithwick Tribunal's findings are stark, shocking and would be challenging to many readers.
Also on Morning Ireland, the president of the Superintendents' Association of Northern Ireland said the report was welcome as a step forward in revealing more about the murders 24 years ago.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said he did not ignore the finding that the Garda and RUC at the time had ruled collusion between gardaí and the IRA in the murders.
He did not accept remarks made by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams that the two officers had taken a "laissez-faire attitude to their personal safety" which he said were insensitive and insulting to the families of the two men.
Chief Superintendent Grimshaw said everyone needed to be careful that the voices of the families of those who were killed were the voices that were ultimately heard.
Mr MacLochlainn defended the comments made by Mr Adams and declined to say if he should withdraw them.
He insisted that the Sinn Féin party leader was entitled to point out that in his view the findings of the report were contradictory.
He said that the "laissez-faire" phrase was used in the report and that Gerry Adams was quoting from its text.
Mr MacLochlainn also said that he believed the IRA evidence to the Tribunal to be truthful, even though Judge Smithwick did not.
"This is a disputed report
and Gerry Adams was giving an analysis of that," he argued.
raised over other border killings
Unionist politicians last night agreed that there were much wider questions of Irish state collusion with the IRA which now need to be explored.
DUP Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said there are still “serious questions” to be addressed regarding the IRA murder of Lord and Lady Gibson on the border two years before the murder of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan.
“We now also believe there was evidence of collusion in the murder of Louth farmer Tom Oliver,” he said.
“And there was evidence of failure on the part of the Garda to help the RUC investigation into the Narrow Water bombing – not direct collusion in the bomb but a lot more could have been done to apprehend those responsible and they failed to do it. Also, consideration must be given to extradition issues at that time.”
Parliamentary research by DUP MP David Simpson found that 93 per cent of extradition requests for terror suspects were refused by the Republic during the Troubles.
“The Republic of Ireland has as much to answer for as any other player in this situation,” Mr Donaldson said.
“Another aspect is the failing of senior gardai to deal with reports about a number of individual officers accused of collusion.”
He referred specifically to claims made to the inquiry by retired Garda chief superintendent Tom Curran, who said he took information about collusion in person to Garda assistant commissioner Eugene Crowley.
Mr Curran told the tribunal that the now deceased Mr Crowley did not acknowledge the information and instead changed the subject to ask him how things were in Monaghan, where Mr Curran was based.
Mr Donaldson added: “In reviewing the report and addressing the conclusions, the current Garda commissioner needs to explain why there was a failure to deal with these accusations of collusion.”
Newry and Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin called for other murder cases in the border area around Newry and south Armagh to be reopened in light of the Smithwick findings.
“I recall the murder of four young RUC officers at Killeen in 1985, blown up as they provided security for a cash in transit van crossing the border.
“The murders of Lord Chief Justice Gibson and his wife in 1987 whilst crossing the border at Killeen which was already the subject of the Cory Report into collusion.
“The Hanna family blown up at Killeen in 1986, apparently in a case of mistaken identity, and the abduction and murder of RUC Constable Louis Robinson, again whilst crossing the border at Killeen in 1990.
“These are just a few of the cases that need to be looked into as a matter of urgency so as to establish if their personal details, including vehicles and travel plans, had in fact been passed to the Garda at Dundalk in advance.”
Newry and Mourne UKIP councillor Henry Reilly added: “Other killings that created suspicion include Justice and Lady Gibson.
“There are many accounts over the years of Garda tip-offs on raids.
“Many security staff here
privately suggest that the lack of arrests at fuel laundering plants
is still because of Garda tip-offs.”
report strengthens case for inquiry into Finucane killing, says Gilmore
Adams criticised for saying murdered RUC officers laissez-faire about security
Completion of the Smithwick Tribunal will strengthen the Government’s hand with the British authorities in seeking an inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
He was speaking yesterday during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil following the publication of the Smithwick report into the shooting dead of RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan after they left a meeting at Dundalk Garda station in 1989. The report concluded there was collusion between someone in the Garda and the IRA, which led to the deaths.
During questions Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to withdraw remarks he made on Newstalk radio that the two officers displayed a laissez-faire disregard for their own security. He said it was insulting to the families and “it almost blames by implication the officers themselves” for their deaths.
But Mr Adams said his remarks reflected statements given to the Smithwick Tribunal by the RUC, gardaí and former IRA volunteers.
He said he did not need reminders from the Fianna Fáil leader that there were two bereaved families at the heart of the tribunal. He claimed there was a contradiction in the report’s conclusions. On the one hand Judge Smithwick said the tribunal had not uncovered direct evidence of collusion but he went on to accept on the balance of probability that some form of collusion occurred involving an unidentified member or members of the Garda.
The Tánaiste told him, however, “this is not a day for self-justification by anybody or any political party. It is not a day for muddying the waters, pulling the report apart or finding a flaw in it. Nor is it a day for rewriting history.” He said he could not get out of his mind the image of one of these men “who when injured outside his car and waving his white handkerchief, was shot in the head by an IRA activist”.
Mr Gilmore said he was “appalled and saddened” by the report’s finding.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Ireland I apologise without reservation to the Breen and Buchanan families for any failings identified in the report on the part of the State or any of its agencies. I am truly sorry for the loss and suffering that both families have endured.”
Mr Gilmore agreed to a full Dáil
debate on the report and pledged that the Government would pursue
inquiries into allegations of collusion in other killings.
He will meet the North’s Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI shortly to discuss the report.
“We need to see completion of all the work that was committed to at Weston Park,” he said.
Mr Gilmore said he had previously
been in contact with his British counterpart about the need for an
inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
split as east and south Belfast 'brigades' ally with north
Ulster Defence Association units show solidarity with colleagues in north Belfast who have recently come under attack
Loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association is once again facing a potentially dangerous split, it has been confirmed.
The UDA's so-called "brigades" in east and south Belfast issued a statement on Wednesday in solidarity with colleagues in the north of the city who have recently come under attack.
They said they gave their colleagues in north Belfast "full and unequivocal support" in the face of attempts to depose its leadership in the area.
The UDA units accused those of being behind the attacks of drug dealing and criminality.
"These threats and attacks have come from a loose collection of individuals, containing amongst them a core group of expelled members, bolstered by criminal and drug-dealing elements and young men that had never been a part of our organisation," the UDA statement said.
The accusation is pointed at a group of former UDA members from its west Belfast "brigade" who were also claimed to be behind an arson attack on the house of an anti-drugs campaigner on the Shankill Road. Tracey Coulter's house was set ablaze at the start of this week in what she claimed was a revenge attack for her giving evidence against convicted UDA man William "Mo" Courtney.
Confirming the split with its former west Belfast comrades, the UDA in the east and south of the city said: "All areas state very clearly that we will not stand with those that have been expelled from the organisation for criminality, drug dealing or other antisocial activity against unionist/loyalist communities and who are now trying to undermine the leadership of north Belfast and the wider organisation."
Under the leadership of Jackie McDonald the UDA in most areas has tried to transform from an active paramilitary organisation into a community group with roots in working-class loyalism. However, a number of UDA units have used its muscle and manpower to enrich themselves through drug dealing and other criminal activities such as extortion and blackmail.
In the first decade of this century the UDA was beset by feuding between rival factions as well as with the other loyalist terror group, the Ulster Volunteer Force.
The south, east and north Belfast
"brigades" of the UDA were instrumental in deposing UDA
Shankill chief Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair and his supporters
during the last internal war within the organisation.
Corey appeal rejected by London court
Co Armagh republican sought bail to challenge decision to revoke his licence
An appeal by a former republican life sentence prisoner to seek bail to challenge a decision by a former Northern Ireland secretary of state to revoke his licence has been rejected by a court in London.
Lawyers for Martin Corey (63), a republican from Lurgan, Co Armagh, who has been in jail without charge for over three years, took the case to the Supreme Court.
He was first sentenced to life imprisonment in 1973 for the murders of two RUC officers and was then freed on licence in 1992.
But in April 2010, the then Northern Ireland secretary of state Shaun Woodward ordered that he be sent back to prison amid claims, later examined by parole commissioners, he was a leading member of the Continuity IRA, and posed a risk of serious harm to the public.
In an open judgement, the commissioners stated that Corey had become involved with the CIRA from early 2005 and was in a position of leadership in the organisation from 2008 until his recall to prison.
In July last year the Court of Appeal in Belfast decided the High Court did not have the power to grant bail — a decision unanimously upheld as “academic” by a Supreme Court ruling announced today.
Arguing for his release, Corey’s legal team, led by senior barrister Karen Quinlivan QC, described his detention as arbitrary and a breach of his human rights and was based on classified information.
The case was heard by four senior judges in October, who unanimously dismissed the appeal.
Supporters have previously taken
to the streets of Belfast and Lurgan to demand Martin Corey’s
release. They have also launched a social media campaign opposing
his continuing detention.
Withdraw 'insulting' words Martin tells Gerry Adams
The leader of Fianna Fáil has called on Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams to withdraw his remarks about the murders of two Northern Ireland policemen.
Mr Adams told a radio station in the Republic of Ireland that the two senior RUC men had shown a "laissez-faire" attitude to their own security.
Micheál Martin said Mr Adams' comment was "incredible".
But Mr Adams defended his words saying they reflected the Smithwick report.
Judge Peter Smithwick found that there was Irish police collusion in the murders in 1989.
Ch Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were shot dead in an IRA ambush in March 1989 in south Armagh. The attack happened as they crossed the border into Northern Ireland after a meeting in Dundalk Garda station.
The Smithwick Tribunal was set up by the Irish government in 2005 to investigate claims that officers based in Dundalk Garda (police) station had assisted the IRA gang who ambushed the two officers on 20 March 1989.
In the report of his inquiry published on Tuesday, Peter Smithwick said he was "satisfied there was collusion in the murders".
Mr Adams said the evidence provided to the tribunal suggested that the senior RUC men seemed to think they were immune to attack.
But FF leader Mr Martin condemned the remarks.
"I think it is insulting to the families concerned, it should be withdrawn," he told the Irish parliament, the Dáil, on Wednesday.
"I think it essentially almost blames by implication the officers themselves. We should be very clear in this house that this was premeditated murder."
Also speaking in the Dáil, Mr Adams defended the comments he had made in an earlier interview for Newstalk radio.
"What I said on Newstalk, for the record, reflects the Smithwick Report," he said.
"It reflects the statement given to the Smithwick inquiry by the RUC, by an Garda Síochána and by former IRA volunteers".
In that interview, Mr Adams said the officers - two of the most high-ranking killed in the Troubles and frequent visitors to the Republic of Ireland - had a laissez-faire disregard for their own security.
He accused them of thinking they were immune to an IRA attack.
"If you read the evidence (to tribunal lawyers) by the former IRA volunteers - and I say this with as much sensitivity as I can muster - these two very prominent RUC officers were sailing in and out of Dundalk Garda station, (and) were doing so in quite an open way," he said.
"The former IRA volunteers said that one of the officers was spotted coming from the station, that they then used a house overlooking the station to monitor comings and goings, that they were able to trace - I think there was also a pattern in terms of meetings.
"When you have that type of laissez-faire disregard for their own security, by both An Garda Síochána in relation to these two officers, and more importantly these officers themselves - here they were in the heart of south Armagh in the middle of a very, very severe conflict at that time, and seemed to think that they were immune from attack by the IRA, and, tragically, as it turned out for them that was not the case.
"When you have that type of failure to protect the RUC operatives in the middle of a war then what happened happens.
"I'm sure the same thing has happened with IRA volunteers who were killed, that it was not necessarily intelligence or inside information but simply that they made a mistake. This has happened tragically in all conflicts."
Irish justice minister Alan Shatter described Gerry Adams' comments as "nauseating".
DUP MLA Arlene Foster said Mr Adams' comments were "beneath contempt".
"This is not the first time where republicans have effectively blamed victims for their own murder, but rarely has it ever been as explicit as these comments," she said.
"Those responsible for this murder were the IRA gang who carried it out and those who assisted them with information."
Ms Foster said the vast majority
of people on both sides of the border were horrified at the findings
of Mr Justice Smithwick and by Mr Adams' "grossly offensive"
Frazer Belfast 'Push for Justice' restricted
Restrictions have been placed on a planned 'bed push' in north Belfast led by loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer later this month.
The 'Push for Justice' was part of a fundraising drive for victims to go to Libya to seek compensation for its backing of the IRA, Mr Frazer said.
Up to 40 victims and supporters are expected to take part.
The Parades Commission has ruled it must not pass the Ardoyne area or go into the city centre.
The proposed route of the Saturday, 14 December parade was from Ardoyne Road to the Crumlin Road to Woodvale, then on along the Shankill Road to city hall via North Street, Royal Avenue and Castle Place.
However, in its ruling the Parades Commission said the push was barred from the part of its route between the junction of Hesketh Road and Crumlin Road and the junction of Crumlin Road and Cambrai Street.
Effectively this means the parade must start on the part of the Crumlin Road past Cambrai Street, so it will not pass the Ardoyne area.
It has also been stopped from going into the city centre.
In making its determination, the commission noted the bed push "was not a traditional parade".
It said it had heard representations from Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association and Sinn Féin but was "disappointed that it did not receive any representations from the parade organiser".
It added that it was "aware of the cumulative impact of parades and protests on the commercial life of the city, especially on Saturday afternoons".
"The commission has been informed that this time of the year is traditionally one of the busiest times in the approach to Christmas and is crucial to help the survival of the already hard-pressed city centre traders," it said.
Mr Frazer, 53, from Markethill in County Armagh, is currently facing charges linked to union flag demonstrations in January.
In September he arrived at court
dressed as Muslim cleric Abu Hamza to protest at being charged under
legislation that, he claims, was brought in to deal with militant
claims murdered RUC officers ‘laissez-faire’ over safety
They were in the ‘heart of south Armagh in the middle of a severe conflict and seemed to think they were immune from attack’
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has claimed two RUC officers murdered in an IRA ambush following a tip-off from a terrorist mole in Dundalk Garda station disregarded their own safety.
Chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan were shot dead on March 20th, 1989 near the Border in south Armagh shortly after a meeting with gardai in Dundalk, Co Louth.
An eight-year tribunal into the murders found collusion between the IRA and someone in the Garda which led to the attack.
Mr Adams suggested the officers - two of the most high-ranking killed in the Troubles and frequent visitors to the Irish Republic - had a laissez-faire disregard for their own security.
He also accused them of thinking they were immune to an IRA attack.
“If you read the evidence (to tribunal lawyers) by the former IRA volunteers and I say this with as much sensitivity as I can muster - these two very prominent RUC officers were sailing in and out of Dundalk Garda station, (and) were doing so in quite an open way,” Mr Adams said.
“The former IRA volunteers said that one of the officers was spotted coming from the station, that they then used a house overlooking the station to monitor comings and goings, that they were able to trace - I think there was also a pattern in terms of meetings.”
Mr Adams said: “When you have that type of laissez-faire disregard for their own security, by both An Garda Siochana in relation to these two officers, and more importantly these officers themselves - here they were in the heart of south Armagh in the middle of a very, very severe conflict at that time, and seemed to think that they were immune from attack by the IRA, and tragically as it turned out for them that was not the case.
“When you have that type of failure to protect the RUC operatives in the middle of a war then what happened happens.
“I’m sure the same thing has happened with IRA volunteers who were killed, that it was not necessarily intelligence or inside information but simply that they made a mistake. This has happened tragically in all conflicts.”
In the interview on Newstalk radio Mr Adams said he was not aware of collusion involving the Garda force in IRA killings.
The Smithwick tribunal report, published last night found that there was collusion, bad policing practice and misguided loyalty in An Garda.
As well as confirming long-held suspicions of the IRA mole in Dundalk Garda station, Judge Peter Smithwick said there was collusion in the killings but was unable to point the finger at an individual and said he suspects there could have been another person passing information to the IRA.
He also accused current Garda senior management of trying to protect the reputation of the force by undermining a retired superintendent who testified that he passed intelligence on a death threat against Mr Buchanan to the highest ranks in the force the year before the attack.
The IRA is thought to have been tipped off about the RUC officers’ meeting in Dundalk at about 11.30am on the morning of the ambush.
The information came from inside Dundalk Garda station, the judge found.
Within about three hours the ambush had been set up and carried out, with Mr Breen shot as he tried to surrender and Mr Buchanan killed at the driver’s seat.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is expected to address the findings later today.
Jeffrey Donaldson, Democratic Unionist MP, said he believed collusion with the IRA was not restricted to one incident. He raised the killings of judge and his wife Sir Maurice and Lady Cecily Gibson in a roadside bomb as they drove home from holiday in 1987.
They were 800m from the Border in an area security forces regarded as no man’s land and had just personally thanked a Garda patrol which had escorted them from Dublin when the bomb was detonated.
Mr Donaldson also raised the case of Co Louth farmer Tom Oliver who was murdered by the IRA in 1991.
The terror group claimed he was an informer. “I do not think collusion was restricted to one instance,” Mr Donaldson told RTE Radio.
The DUP MP also said the Garda
force did not co-operate with the Smithwick tribunal in the way a
modern police force should.
'no right to police loyalist areas'
The UDA has been told it has "no right" to police loyalist communities after threatening vigilante action against young people involved in anti-social behaviour.
The South-East Antrim Brigade of the paramilitary group warned those responsible for "anti-social and criminal activity" in the Ballymena area "must be held accountable".
The UDA said it "would not stand idly by while our communities suffer".
The statement hit out at "mobs of underage drinkers", describing them as "hoods".
Declan O'Loan, a SDLP councillor in the Co Antrim town, said: "The UDA is a proscribed organisation and has no right, or mandate, to act as judge, jury and executioner."
Ballymena PSNI Commander Chief
Inspector Catherine Magee said nobody had the right to take the law
into their own hands and encouraged anybody with information on crime
to bring it to the attention of police.
granted bail over IRA charges
Two west Belfast women were among four past suspected PIRA members to appear before the city's Crown Court for arraignment on a number of charges including membership, intimidation and organising, arranging, or speaking at a terrorist meeting.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said a trial date had been fixed for early in the New Year, but felt it would be too optimistic to expect it to be met.
The charges allegedly concern several meetings held by the Provisionals in the late '90s, and 2000.
Facing the most charges was Briege Wright (56), from Glassmullin Gardens. She pleaded not guilty to charges, including being, or professing to being, a member of the Provisional IRA.
Agnes McCrory (63), from Dermott Hill Road, and James Gerard Seamus Finucane (56), of Hawthorn Hill, Hannahstown, denied five similar charges, namely PIRA membership and arranging or assisting in meeting between the same dates.
Martin Edward Morris (49), with an address in Wellback Road, London, has denied a single charge of membership of the Provisional IRA.
Padraic Conner Wilson (54), whose address was given as c/o Falls Road Sinn Fein Advice Centre, pleaded not guilty to charges of arranging or assisting two alleged PIRA meetings.
All five were freed on continuing bail.