18 January 2006
IRISH REPUBLICAN INFORMATION SERVICE (no. 50)
Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 18 Eanáir / January 2006
Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom
Irish Republican Information Service
THE body styling itself 'Limerick Republican Information Service' is not connected with the Irish Republican Information Service (IRIS), 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, email email@example.com and has not been authorised either by IRIS or by the body that sponsors IRIS, Republican Sinn Fein. Therefore it is totally unauthorised and should be regarded as such.
In this issue:
1. Provos set to join RUC/PSNI
2. Angry families relieved at scrapping of legislation
3. Spy-post set to go
4. Ex-police officer breaks silence on sectarianism
5. Finucane family in plea over murder inquiry
6. Republican prisoner 'denied' human rights
7. Secret 26-County defence agreements with US
8. Irish Examiner does an Irish Ferries
9. Basque refugee Aitor Elorza found dead at home
1. PROVOS SET TO JOIN RUC/PSNI
IN A statement on January 16 the PRO of Comhairle Uladh, Republican Sinn Féin said:
"After years of British State murder, RUC-backed death squads, collusion, RUC assassinations of Republicans and nationalists and the continuing intimidation, harassment and security war being fought by the British colonial police, the Provos are saying that with a few cosmetic changes they will be ready to support the forces of British occupation.
"Just this week Republicans in Armagh were dragged out of their homes by this force, held and interrogated for days on end. One of the men was held for eight months last year and the trumped-up charges against him later dropped. His car was lifted for forensic examination when he was arrested but when the charges were dropped it was never returned to him.
"His solicitor has tried everything to have it returned but to no avail and after buying another car he was lifted on January 11, his clothes and footwear confiscated and his new car stolen by the RUC, who raided his house wearing balaclavas. They arrested him and locked his wife in the livingroom while they ransacked the house, leaving his eight-year-old son who was in bed with the flu scared out off his wits while the masked PSNI/RUC wrecked the youngster's room.
"How can Gerry Kelly tell people that they should support this alien force? Could Kelly tell these people that with a few changes these criminals would be acceptable? He would be chased from the door .The PSNI is nothing more than the RUC repackaged, and it is as hell-bent as ever on destroying Republicanism and maintaining the British state. This Force will never be acceptable to Irish Republicans and those who do accept it are not Republican but British lapdogs.
My reply to the Provos and their new friends the RUC/PSNI is that while Ireland has sons and daughters there will always be those who will not bend the knee to British Crown Forces, but who will instead take up the Cause of the 32-County Irish Republic and shoulder arms in its defence. It is a shame on the Provos for even thinking off joining the RUC !
On January 12 RSF National Publicity Officer Ruairí Óg Ó Brádaigh said that Republican Sinn Féin condemned the arrests of three Cumann members in the Armagh city area in raids by the RUC/PSNI the previous night as "the latest incidence in the continual harassment of Republicans by British Crown Forces. In previous cases this British State harassment has led to spurious charges against members of the organisation which were later dropped."
2. ANGRY FAMILIES RELIEVED AT SCRAPPING OF LEGISLATION
HUNDREDS of nationalist families across the Six-Counties reacted angrily when the British government revealed its plan to block the future prosecution of British Crown forces involved in the murder of civilians.
Several of those families speaking on January 12 to express their relief at the announcement by British Six-County Secretary Peter Hain in the British House of Commons that the controversial legislation was to be shelved. The Provisionals had initially supported the legislation, only reversing this position following an outcry from the families of victims of British state violence.
John Loughran's uncle, also John, was one of six men gunned down in north Belfast in 1973.
The nephew said: "This was about providing immunity to British state forces. It was a duplicitous move on behalf of the British.
"The British have never acknowledged that they were involved in a dirty war in Ireland. What they need to do as a first step is acknowledge the part they had to play in that. The British government was not a neutral in this but a main protagonist."
Róisín Maguire's father Tommy Ward was gunned down on south Belfast's Ormeau Road. To this day, his family does not know who was responsible.
"I don't know who killed my father and this is what we would like to find out. If there was collusion, we would like the British government to acknowledge that. All we want is the truth.
"After he was killed, we were left with no answers and nobody has ever come to us. There was never any investigation and we have been left on our own for 30 years.
"If this legislation had gone through, we could have given up all hope of ever knowing what happened," said Róisín Maguire.
Belfast man Mark Sykes survived the 1992 Sean Graham bookmaker's massacre despite being shot several times. The Ormeau Road man said the five men killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters that day deserved justice. Mark Sykes' brother-in-law Peter Magee was killed in the attack.
Referring to the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, Mark Sykes said: "This was a move by the British government and the securocrats that would only have benefited them had it gone through. It was a bad piece of legislation. If you read the Cory report in the murder of Pat Finucane, there are paragraphs blacked out that deal with the weapons used in the bookie's murders. The British government know the truth of what happened that day and the rest of us deserve to know."
Anne Kelly's father Bobby Clarke was killed by the UFF in west Belfast in 1973.
"I believe the British government hijacked the legislation to protect British state forces who murdered civilians.
"If this legislation had gone through, then these people would have gotten away with murder. Now at least we still have an opportunity to pursue the truth.
"It's the same for others, the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
"They deserve the same opportunity to know the truth. We all deserve to know the truth."
3. SPY-POST SET TO GO
THE watchtower at Woodbourne British army barracks is set to be dismantled. Work to dismantle the spy post is set to begin in the next few weeks and it is expected that the work will be completed by March.
The news follows reports that British army accommodation was removed from the site. Two Portacabins used by the British army as accommodation were removed from the site early in January.
4. EX-POLICE OFFICER BREAKS SILENCE ON SECTARIANISM
A FORMER RUC member who came from the nationalist community has broken his silence on the sectarianism within the force in south Armagh at the height of the Troubles. The man, who does not want to be identified, said he felt compelled to come forward after a murderous 24-hour period three decades ago was highlighted in the media. The ex-RUC man was also based in Co Down in the early seventies - and was one of the few Catholics in the predominantly Protestant RUC.
"The first thing I saw when I got to south Armagh were all the young constables, only 19, 21, 22, 23, with no experience of policing. There were no 'seasoned' police officers, " he said. "I often look back, thinking of the hundreds killed in the explosions and shootings, we were used as cannon fodder."
With the RUC/PSNI under scrutiny over ever-emerging allegations of British Crown force collusion with loyalist death squads - more recently a number of UVF killings - the former RUC man gives a unique insight into his time within the force.
While stationed in south Armagh the man now in his fifties, went out on night operations with someone whom he called the 'mystery man', as he was never told who he was.
"I am convinced he was not military but an MI5 agent. He had a plummy English accent. I realised they were trying to gather information on people," he said.
"The houses he went to, they were all homes of Protestants. I noticed pictures, platoons of [the disbanded] B Specials." On January 6 1976, the UVF murdered two brothers and fatally wounded another at their south Armagh home. Ten minutes later another nationalist home near Gilford was targeted, killing three. Allegations of collusion in both cases are to be probed.
Although these murders - the IRA retaliating just hours later killing 10 Protestants at Kingsmill - occurred just as he had tendered his resignation, he had already been highly suspicious of the actions of some of his colleagues years earlier.
"I don't think there was any investigation [into these murders]," he said. "Something very, very sinister was taking place because information was being leaked to organisations like the UDA or UVF. We have not even scratched the surface of what was going on. It was so deep and widespread.
"There were a few military regiments present at that time, the Royal Marine Commando and the notorious Parachute Regiment. They were very aggressive to say the least.
"I used to meet a lot of serving UDR soldiers... many were deeply bigoted. Even police constables would make comments. I remember a policewoman saying to me 'this is a Protestant country'.
"When I finished training we were presented with bibles. As I was the only Catholic, I was given a red bible. Several remarked 'I never knew you were a Catholic'. It was if I had two heads."
5. FINUCANE FAMILY IN PLEA OVER MURDER INQUIRY
THE FAMILY of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane repeated their call for the British government to reveal the full truth about his death on January 11.
Pat Finucane's widow Geraldine and family members were meeting with political party leaders in Dublin in their campaign for an independent statutory inquiry into the 1989 murder.
"We are meeting the party leaders to ask them to persuade the Taoiseach (Sic) [Bertie Ahern] to put pressure on the British government to reveal full details of Pat's murder," Pat Finucane said.
The family also met Green Party leader Trevor Sargent, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Progressive Democrat leader, Mary Harney.
The Finucanes are concerned that any inquiry into Mr Finucane's death under the British Inquiries Act 2005 will gag witnesses and restrict information.
"We don't believe the truth will come out at all with the Inquiries Act," Geraldine Finucane added.
Geraldine Finucane and family members recently met Ulster Unionist Party leader Reg Empey with Church of Ireland Archbishop Robin Eames, as part of a series of meetings across the political divide throughout Ireland.
6. REPUBLICAN PRISONER 'DENIED' HUMAN RIGHTS
A REPUBLICAN prisoner has accused the British government of denying him his human rights.
Tommy Hamill was arrested before Christmas and is being held on weapons charges.
He is being held on remand at Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim.
During the Christmas period, relatives of the Co Tyrone man travelled to the jail to visit him but were turned away after being examined by sniffer dogs.
Tommy Hamill has still not been visited by his family. He denied the charges against him but been refused bail. A spokesman for the Irish Republican Prisoners Action Group accused the British government of denying Tommy Hamill his basic human rights.
"Tommy was refused bail and it is obviously the intention of the Crown to make his remand a long one.
"Some Irish republicans were held on remand for nearly three years before their cases fell apart at trial.
"These tactics are a form of internment. The prisoner is shipped off to Maghaberry prisoner-of-war camp, where conditions are poor.
"There are no education facilities, no freedom of association, and rigourous security measures make life in Maghaberry a miserable one," the spokesperson said.
The charges Tommy Hamill faces are connected to the discovery of a cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in 2004.
After arresting the accused on December 23 last year, the PSNI claimed that the items had been found on Tommy Hamill's property and with his fingerprints.
In follow-up raids after the arrest, the RUC\PSNI wrecked Tommy Hamill's home. The front and back doors of his house were broken down, stud walls were ripped out, and furniture was broken and overturned.
Another Dungannon Republican has complained of having his home wrecked during RUC/PSNI raids on the same day.
The man, who did wish to be identified, was at work when he received a phone call informing him his house in the Dunavon estate was being searched.
He said that, by the time he returned, the RUCPSNI had seized "anything that was not nailed down", including personal items and Christmas presents.
7. SECRET 26-COUNTY DEFENCE AGREEMENTS WITH US
TWENTY Six-County Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern admitted in Leinster House on January 12 that two agreements between the 26-County state and the US on Defence matters should have been put before Leinster House. This followed a question put by Michael D Higgins of the 26-County Labour party, which drew attention to the hitherto unpublicised agreements. Dermot Ahern sent copies to Michael D Higgins and other Opposition spokesmen and the media.
Michael D Higgins wrote to 26-County Premier Bertie Ahern asking why these agreements, referred to on the US State Department's website, had neither been laid before Leinster House nor put on the published list of treaties signed by the 26-County administration with other states.
The first agreement details procedures to be adopted to permit the sharing of classified information between the US and EU. This can be used by the 26-County state not to release information relating to its co-operation with the US. The second refers to procedures for logistical support between the 26-County army and the US army.
This latest revelation raises serious concerns particularly when viewed against the backdrop of the ongoing illegal war in Iraq as well as the use of Shannon by US warplanes and reports of the transportation on political prisoners through the airport by the CIA.
8. IRISH EXAMINER DOES AN IRISH FERRIES
THE public were assured during the Irish Ferries saga that it could only happen because it was a maritime industry and land-bound Irish jobs were safe. Many newspapers editorialised against escalation and for reasoned negotiation etc. The Irish Examiner was no different.
But a story absent by and large from the Irish media has been the Examiner Group's move to shed its print workers and replace them with lower paid workers in a 'new company' which will print its various newpapers on contract. Under the new arrangement workers in Ballina and Cork city were invited to agree redundancy, redeployment or a transfer to the 'new firm' - under new conditions of course. Out of a staff of almost 90 only eleven are transferring to the 'new' company.
Many who took redundancy and then applied for work at the new plant discovered that trained printers were unwanted and were given short shrift. Instead the 'new' company, Web Concepts, is looking for print technicians and is proposing to pay them in the region of €19,000 per year, quite a drop from the €40,000 average of the old workforce.
Redeployment of workers is something of a joke as the qualified printers are unlikely to easily adjust to answering phones all day or training as reporters. In fact the Examiner had no intention of doing so and discouraged any such illusions. Relocation to the new company was also discouraged and the few who did will find a very new working regime and conditions.
Redundancy conditions are extremely good with five weeks per year served plus another two from the State. Good jobs with good conditions have again been lost and that the next generation of print workers will have to fight long and hard to get anywhere near this situation again.
The Examiner of course does very well out of this. They get a new printing works with cheaper labour, they have sold their city centre property for millions to developer Owen O'Callaghan and they are rid of a highly unionised and effective group of workers. The future looks bright for Irish Examiner publications as long as you are not a worker.
9. BASQUE REFUGEE AITOR ELORZA FOUND DEAD AT HOME
IT was reported on January that the association working for prisoners' rights Askatasuna (Freedom) had confirmed that the Basque refugee Aitor Elorza had been found dead at home in Baiona (Bayonne). However, the causes of his death was not yet revealed.. His corpse was in the Baiona (Bayonne) morgue and will be cremated within the next few days, as he wished.
Elorza was from the coastal town of Algorta, in the province of Bizkaia, and had been on the run since the 80s, as Askatasuna has affirmed in a statement. Askatasuna extended condolences to the relatives of the refugee. Furthermore, it called for several demonstrations to take place within the next few days.