27 May 2006

Aiden Hulme Repatriation Picket

Indymedia.ie

by Paul Doyle - New Republican Forum
May 27, 2006 18:00

Irish prisioner Aiden Hulme has been subject to shocking medical neglect since his imprisonment in England and will loose his leg if immediate action is not taken. Join the protest!

A picket calling for the immediate repatriation of Irish prisoner Aiden Hulme will be held outside the General Post Office in Dublin on 17th of June 2006 from 2-3pm.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAiden, 27, was imprisoned for alleged involvement in the 2000/2001 ‘Real’ IRA bombing campaign in London. Prior to his arrest and imprisonment he was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a severely injured leg. After the accident Aiden was receiving treatment in Belfast and his condition was improving. However, upon imprisonment in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Special Secure Unit (SSU), Aiden’s medical condition began to deteriorate at an alarming rate. After long delays the Belmarsh authorities reluctantly acquired the services of a specialist to examine Aiden’s injured leg but after a brief examination the Belmarsh-appointed specialist informed him that the injured leg should be amputated. Aiden’s family and friends, disturbed by and suspicious of this opinion, immediately sought a second opinion.

After intensive and prolonged political lobbying by the Irish Political Status Committee and other groups an independent specialist was permitted to examine Aiden. After the examination the independent specialist deemed the limb “saveable” – contrary to the opinion of the prison-appointed specialist. However, the independent specialist insisted it was essential that Aiden receive appropriate medical treatment, warning he “feared the worst” if it was not forthcoming. Aiden underwent surgery, but due to continuing medical neglect he is now once again facing amputation. Several operations aimed at saving Aiden’s leg have also been cancelled by the prison authorities.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has contacted the British Home Office and the Department of Justice requesting that Aiden’s repatriation application be processed without delay. Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin has also called on the Irish Government to intervene immediately. He said: “Aiden Hulme’s application for repatriation to an Irish prison has been with Michael McDowell in the Irish Department of Justice since last September (2005). I call on Mr McDowell to process this application immediately so that Aiden Hulme can come back where he will be close to his family and receive the much needed medical attention that he is entitled to.”

Aiden, who is on 23-hour lock down, has instructed his legal team to initiate proceedings against HMP Full Sutton on account of the treatment meted out to him.

Various other political and humantarian groups have spoken out about this case and an online petition has been lauched: >>here.

For information visit www.ia-pl.org or www.newrepublicanforum.ie

Email: pauldoyle2006@hotmail.com

Phone: 0851048298

Write to:

The New Republican Forum,
PO Box 10,
Dundalk Sorting Office,
Dundalk,
Co Louth,
Ireland.

Davitt remembered by Mayo Labour

Indymedia.ie

By Cllr Keith Martin
May 27, 2006 18:25

A wreath was laid at the foot of the monument which marks the 2nd meeting of what would become the Land League, which took place there in 1879. It was at this meeting that Davitt and Parnell first addressed the public together.

>>Photo: Cllr Keith Martin, Dail Candidate Harry Barrett and Cllr Johnny Mee laying the wreath

Cllrs Johnny Mee and Keith Martin, Dail Candidate Harry Barrett and officers and members of Mayo’s Labour Party Branches gathered on the Newport Road on Saturday to honour Michael Davitt in this week which marks the 90th anniversary of his death.

A wreath was laid at the foot of the monument which marks the 2nd meeting of what would become the Land League, which took place there in 1879. It was at this meeting that Davitt and Parnell first addressed the public together.

Speaking at the ceremony, Westport Branch Chairman, John Tiernan, said “It is only fitting that we remember Michael Davitt here in Westport today. Davitt was a visionary who saw that there was a better way and who devoted his life to achieving social change and better conditions for the farmer and for the worker. It is only appropriate that as we approach the 90th anniversary of his death we remember him and his work.”

Labour’s Dail Candidate Harry Barrett spoke of how “the crossroads on the Newport Road and the Golf Course Road in Westport are the site of a pivotal and often overlooked piece of national history. It was at this crossing that the second meeting of what would become the Land League which took place on the 8 June 1879.”

“From the success of this massive meeting Davitt and Parnell went on to found the Land League of Mayo, in August 1879. It was at the Westport meeting that the farmers of Ireland were told to ‘keep a firm grip on your homesteads and lands’ by Parnell but today we must also keep a firm grip on our quality of life and the equality of opportunity for land ownership. In Mayo and all through Ireland there are too many young people who stand no chance of owning their own home. This must change” concluded Mr Barrett.

Cllr Keith Martin said land ownership was still an issue today and pointed out that before the Labour Party was established there was a Labour movement lead by men like Michael Davitt. “Michael Davitt was a labour leader in Ireland and Britain, and established a weekly paper, 'Labour World' to highlight the plight and views of the workers of the two islands. We should remember all aspects of the man's life on the 90th anniversary of his death” he said.

Ever the twain

Sunday Tribune

**Via Newshound

Suzanne Breen
21 May 2006

HE'S THE chattering classes' favourite former paramilitary.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usGerry Adams might look more statesmanlike, Martin McGuinness might pen poetry, but invariably, it's David Ervine who is hailed as a beacon of hope in a society of bigots.

You'd never guess he was the political representative of an organisation which refuses decommissioning, is up to its neck in criminality, and continues shooting, beating and targeting nationalists and ethnic minorities, as last month's IMC report points out.

The PUP leader is rarely even asked about this. Gerry and Martin must wonder how he pulls it off.

An Ulster Unionist politician in Ervine's east-Belfast constituency remarks enviously: "Some people in the staunchly loyalist areas see him as a traitor, but the ladies on the (middleclass) Belmont Road love him. He's 'the thinking woman's thug'."

That's unfair. Ervine's flowery metaphors do grate . . . he's known as 'Dictionary Dave' on the Shankill . . . but he's widely regarded as a nice guy who carries little clout with the UVF. He stepped out of the shadows after the 1994 ceasefires and became the first loyalist to be liked outside his own community. He smoked a pipe (and unlike Gerry Adams, still occasionally does) and enjoyed a bowl of Irish stew and a pint of Guinness.

The only marching he ever did in Dublin was to the Abbey for Frank McGuinness's Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme. His is a modern, anti-sectarian unionist "free from the Pope, the Queen and King Billy."

Despite family objections that it was "a Fenian name", he called his son Owen after the protagonist in his favourite book, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.

"That's probably the only book Davy's ever read, " jokes a friend. "He's not really into literature, he does a bit of bluffing. Liverpool Football Club and horse racing are his passions."

He admires the Taoiseach's political skills but is more impressed by the meatier approach of ex-SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon. "He could take somebody's scrotum, slice off their balls . . . it would be over in a second and they wouldn't know it was done, " Ervine has said, disclosing that, as a man with a vasectomy, he knows what he's talking about.

He can be breathtakingly non-PC.

Explaining why marrying Jeannette at 18 was the best thing he'd ever done, he said:

"We got to be chums and we're that good chums, she now washes my socks." But his heart's in the right place. When the Assembly debated abortion, he was the only politician to speak in favour of a woman's right to choose. Northern society, he says, treats women "like something it walked in on its heel". He's no stranger to social problems. His grandson Mark, hanged himself two years ago at the age of 14. "It nearly destroyed Davy, " says a friend.

Ervine was reared, the youngest of five, in a two-up, two-down house. "No garden, oilcloth on the floor, an outside bog, and your Da's coat over the bed at night, " he says, keen to show not all Protestants lived in luxury pre-Troubles.

His father supported the civil rights movement and the Northern Ireland Labour Party. His mother was more reactionary and still keeps Ervine on his toes.

"She never ceases to remind me I'm getting showers put in for elderly people by the Housing Executive, but I'm a lazy bastard and haven't done it for her."

As a child, wandering into a tin bath of hot water permanently scarred his back.

He didn't shine academically at Orangefield Boys' School, where pupils included Van Morrison and former Beirut hostage Brian Keenan.

Aged 19, Ervine joined the UVF after Bloody Friday . . . when 22 IRA bombs killed nine people. Two years later, he was arrested with a car bomb. He has appeared uncomfortable talking about it, declining to name the intended target, a Catholic pub.

He served six years in Long Kesh. UVF commander Gusty Spence encouraged him to think politically. There was mischief too. He learned enough Irish to cause havoc among IRA prisoners during drill practice, shouting 'about turn' through the wire, reducing republican ranks to chaos.

Last week, the chaos was in the UUP ranks. Its only MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, was "deeply distressed" by Ervine's admission to the Assembly group. Councillor Ronnie Crawford said UUP members were now tainted with paramilitarism.

Despite the popularity of Ervine's move among some . . . as a poke in the eye to Paisley . . . it may have seriously weakened the UUP leadership. As this Assembly is unlikely to ever elect an Executive, the extra UUP ministerial seat is theoretical anyway. "Pain without gain, " complain the grassroots. Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, is as relentless as the McCartney sisters in his justice campaign. He'll now hound Empey and Ervine.

It's surprising that, after years denouncing 'fur-coat' unionism, Ervine joined the party most embodying it. UK Unionist leader, Bob McCartney, doesn't rate Ervine, who to him sounds "like an amalgamation of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and the local probation officer".

Some see Ervine as a fraud, a carefully manufactured personality. He dismisses claims he's MI5.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness says Ervine is "a little verbose, but very talented, and one of the few unionists in whose company I feel comfortable." The DUP's Sammy Wilson says: "After committee meetings, he won't join the rest of us for a cup of tea and a yarn. He's affable but aloof. He's not flash but he's fallen into a position whereby he gains status promoting himself as a philosopher."

Outside politics, it's different. After a few pints, Ervine thinks he's Frank Sinatra. "He sings a very bad 'My Way', " a friend says.

"Davy never shuts up. He does pontificate on things he knows nothing about and he's a man for a grand vision, not fine detail. He laughs at himself for being pompous."

His generosity is legendary, a loyalist friend says: "His bet came in and he went to split the winnings even though it had nothing to do with me. He'll buy drink all night and you'll have to tell him to let these other f*****s pay for rounds. Once, we were at a policing conference in New York, and he was heading home early. He knew I was short of money. He slipped a few hundred dollars into my pocket, saying 'get something for the wife'. You couldn't find a better friend."

C.V.

Occupation: Leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, the UVF's political wing
Born: Belfast, 1953
Educated: Orangefield Boys' School, Belfast
Married to: Jeanette. Two sons
In the news: Has decidedly altered the balance of power in the North by joining the Ulster Unionist Assembly group at Stormont

Adams angered at museum snub

BN.ie

27/05/2006 - 17:11:31

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams tonight claimed he had been snubbed by a prestigious British museum.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe 57-year-old, who has been welcomed in the White House, No 10 Downing Street and the home of Nelson Mandela, said the Victoria and Albert Museum in London had refused to invite him to its Che Guevara exhibition.

He hit out at the museum for claiming that his presence would be neither relevant or appropriate on the launch night.

“I think its stance is especially absurd given that this particular exhibition is about an iconic revolutionary figure, with family connections to Ireland, who fought against injustice and oppression both in Cuba and in South America.”

Mr Adams had been invited to the opening of the Che Guevara exhibition in the V&A next month by its curator, Trisha Ziff. She had previously worked with him on a Mexican-Irish art exhibition and an exhibition of photos about the shooting of unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

According to Mr Adams, Ms Ziff was told that all her invite list was approved "except Gerry Adams who is neither relevant or appropriate for this occasion".

The exhibition, which will run from June 5 until August 28, centres on the iconic photograph of Che Guevara taken by Alberto Díaz Korda in 1960. It contains photography, posters, film, fine art and clothing inspired by the image from more than 30 countries.

When Ms Ziff queried the Museum’s refusal to invite Mr Adams, she was told by another member of staff that there would be 1960’s fashion show and a display of 1960’s graphics running alongside the exhibition, with models, actresses and fashion journalists expected to attend. The staff member said that the presence of Mr Adams might not be appropriate because of this joint event and offered to arrange a private viewing for him.

Ms Ziff was later told that the Museum had a policy of not inviting people affiliated to any specific party but that she could bring Mr Adams as a personal guest.

Mr Adams, who has consistently denied allegations that he is a member of the IRA’s army council, said one possible reason for the Museum’s decision was that it was OK to struggle against injustice, but not against British injustice.

“On the basis of the current ’reason’ offered by the Victoria & Albert Museum, of refusing to invite politicians, it would appear that if Che was still alive he would be barred from his own exhibition. The British Establishment works in wondrous ways.”

However, even if the invite had been issued, Mr Adams would have been unable to attend. He is due to travel to Spain next month to meet Basque political parties in the wake of the ETA ceasefire.

A spokeswoman for the V&A Museum was contacting senior staff for comment.

Galloway says murder of Blair would be 'justified'

Belfast Telegraph

26 May 2006

The Respect MP George Galloway has said it would be morally justified for a suicide bomber to murder Tony Blair.

In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"

Mr Galloway replied: "Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it - but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq - as Blair did."

The Labour MP Stephen Pound, a persistent critic of Mr Galloway during previous controversies, told The Sun that the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London was "disgraceful and truly twisted".

He said: "These comments take my breath away. Every time you think he can't sink any lower he goes and stuns you again. It's reprehensible to say it would be justified for a suicide bomber to assassinate anyone."

The Stop the War Coalition criticised Mr Galloway: "We don't agree with Tony Blair's actions, but neither do we agree with suicide bombers or assassinations."

Just hours after four bomb attacks killed 52 people on London's transport system last July, Mr Galloway said the city had "paid the price" for Mr Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Ten thousand Osama bin Ladens have been created at least by the events of the last two years," he told MPs in the Commons that day.

Mr Pound said at the time: "I thought George had sunk to the depths of sickness in the past but this exceeds anything he has done before." The Armed Forces minister, Adam Ingram, accused the Respect MP of "dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood".

Mr Galloway yesterday made a surprise appearance on Cuban television with the Caribbean island's Communist dictator, Fidel Castro - whom he defended as a "lion" in a political world populated by "monkeys".

Mr Galloway shocked panellists on a live television discussion show in Havana by emerging on set mid-transmission to offer passionate support for Castro. Looking approvingly into each others' eyes, the pair embraced.

Shoukri brothers under pressure

Belfast Telegraph

By Debra Douglas
27 May 2006

The security forces were step ping up patrols in north Belfast last night over fears of a bloody UDA feud.

The fate of the Shoukri brothers was under the spotlight once again as they met their supporters in the city.

With the UDA Inner Council set to declare its decision on the future of Andre and Ihab within the organisation early next week, last-minute crunch talks were taking place last night.

An 'investigation' into the alleged criminal activities of paramilitary leaders in north Belfast - including Andre and Ihab Shoukri ended about two weeks ago but the brothers are still waiting to hear the outcome.

The inquiry followed allegations that 28-year-old Andre, whose brother Ihab is the UDA's North Belfast brigadier, gambled more than £860,000 over a two-year period.

During it, churchmen and community workers in north Belfast told the 'inner council' that crime and drug-dealing in the area had been substantially reduced over the last 18 months.

And businessmen in the area also told how they have been forced to hand over large sums of cash to the Shoukris.

The decision whether or not to expel the brothers is seen as the biggest test of the UDA's authority since it expelled its Shankill leader Johnny Adair and his associate John White.

The UDA wants to deal with the issue peacefully, but fears a 'last stand' by the Shoukris could spill over into a bloody feud.

Senior figures on the inner council - and in the linked Ulster Political Research Group - want to expel the Shoukris and their associates.

There is also concern in some camps that if the brothers are not expelled, it could lead to friction with other UDA leaders.

But others fear attempts to force the north Belfast leadership to back down could result in a bloody split.

Analysis: UDA's bosses vote to expel north Belfast boss from 'inner council'

Belfast Telegraph

Brian Rowan
27 May 2006

The UDA command - its 'inner council' - has moved to dismiss Ihab Shoukri from its leadership.

The organisation's most senior leaders met in the city on Thursday to discuss their recent investigation into the alleged criminal activities of the Shoukri brothers, Andre and Ihab, and their closest associate.

Its decision was immediately delivered to the paramilitary organisation in north Belfast.

A clear majority of UDA 'brigadiers' are no longer prepared to share a leadership table with the Shoukris.

They have in effect expelled Ihab Shoukri from the inner council and distanced the rest of the organisation from the three most senior members of the north Belfast leadership.

The North Belfast UDA was understood to be meeting last night to discuss the implications of Thursday's meeting.

One source said every member was 'summoned'. A statement from the inner council is expected to do so soon.

It first wants to hear the reaction of the UDA membership in the north of the city.

If those members want to be represented at a leadership level within the UDA, then they will first have to remove Ihab Shoukri, his brother Andre and a third loyalist from their leadership positions.

That third loyalist is a one-time close associate of Johnny Adair.

If the three are removed, then according to one source, 'it's business as usual'.

The UDA has six so-called 'brigade' areas ? each represented on the inner council. Ihab Shoukri is the north Belfast 'brigadier' but has been excluded from meetings of the leadership for many weeks, and he will have been further isolated by Thursday's decision.

Four of the other five UDA brigadiers are no longer prepared to recognise his leadership, but the position of the organisation in south east Antrim is still not clear. Its leader did not attend the Shoukri investigation but sent a representative.

If the UDA in south east Antrim sides with the organisation in south, east and west Belfast and in north Antrim/Derry, then it will be the end of the Shoukris and their closest associate inside the paramilitary organisation.

The question is, can it be achieved peacefully and without a major split within the UDA.

The position of all parts of the organisation should be known by next week.

Report reveals around 400 children are homeless in Dublin

BN.ie

27/05/2006 - 11:08:25

A new report on homelessness has revealed that 400 children are experiencing the problem in Dublin.

The report by the state-run Homeless Agency revealed a decrease in the numbers of young people accessing homeless services and emergency shelters.

But support groups say there has been a rise in hidden and unreported child homelessness and say there is notable Government inaction in this area.

Minister for Housing Noel Ahern says that current strategies to combat homelessness are under review.

“We are working on a new strategy in which all the voluntary bodies and the service providers have been involved. This is very much a collaborative operation,” he said.

Former IRA member turned back at the border

CBC News

26 May 2006 23:38:11 EDT

A former member of the Irish Republican Army was sent back to Ireland this week while en route to Fort Augustus, P.E.I., for Irish heritage celebrations.

Pat Treanor, the mayor of County Monaghan in Ireland, had been to Canada twice in the past year. But when he flew into St. John's on Wednesday, border security officials asked him whether he had a record.

He told them he was convicted once — for being a member of the IRA. He was refused admittance to Canada and sent back home.

"I'm disappointed and I would like to be part of the celebrations on Prince Edward Island," he told CBC News in an interview from his hometown.

But he expects he'll get this travel problem straightened out. "I do believe it was just some kind of a cock-up at the airport, seeing that I got in twice before. I will be meeting with the Canadian ambassador and I'm fairly confident we'll resolve whatever difficulties there are there."

The IRA officially ended its armed struggle against British rule in July 2005.

Treanor said he was a member for a few years in the 1970s, but that he's never committed any crime. He remains a member of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing.

The Canada Border Services Agency won't talk about the case. But spokeswoman Jennifer Morrison said people can be turned away for a number of reasons, such as having a criminal record or belonging to a terrorist group.

Treanor was travelling with three other members of the Monaghan county council, who were able to continue on to Fort Augustus.

RTE to mark McCabe killing with documentary

BN.ie

26/05/2006 - 23:00:19

The 10th anniversary of the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe will be marked with a new RTE documentary.

True Lives – Jerry McCabe: Murder on Main Street – will retell the story of the bungled post office robbery in Adare, Co Limerick, and the hunt for his killers.

The 52-year-old detective was gunned down by an IRA gang in June 1996.

It will also focus on the effect his death has had on his family and the political consequences of the entire affair.

The programme, to be screened on RTE One on Tuesday, June 6, is part of the station’s summer schedule unveiled today.

26 May 2006

Diarmuid O'Neill

Troops Out Movement

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Irishman Diarmuid O'Neill was born and raised in West London, England.

Six weeks prior to his murder he was put under intensive police surveillance due to his alleged involvement with an IRA active service unit.

Besides producing intensive video documentation, the police bugged Diarmuid O'Neill's hostel room and searched it on at least one occasion. The surveillance operation resulted in extensive video footage that reportedly covered the whole six weeks except for the night of the raid on the hostel itself.

On 23rd September 1996, Diarmuid O'Neill was shot dead by two officers from Scotland Yard's tactical firearms group, SO19.

The British Police unit shot the almost naked, defenceless, unarmed man six times whilst he was attempting to surrender.

When the police opened fire on Diarmuid O'Neill, he had already showed both his hands clearly through the door of the hostel room and his friend Patrick Kelly had shouted "We give up - we are unarmed”. The other occupants of the room recall the police shouting "Shoot the fucker" as Diarmiud opened the door.

One police officer was seen standing with his foot on Diarmuid's head as he lay dying.

He was dragged bleeding and mortally wounded down six concrete steps like a rag doll, the blood from his wounds marking each step.

He was denied immediate medical treatment.

The initial police briefings justified the killing as the result of a gun battle and said that a bomb factory had been discovered in the hostel.

An audio tape of the raid by the police exposed the police version of events as a lie and lead only to the conclusion that Diarmuid O'Neill was murdered.

Throughout the tape Diarmuid O'Neill was clearly complying with all police requests, and was seen by the police to be unarmed and yet was still shot six times.

The murder and subsequent inhumane treatment of Diarmuid O'Neill has been the subject of a Police Complaints Authority investigation.

Despite all the evidence presented to them, the Crown Prosecution Service failed to bring charges against any police officer involved in the murder.

The trial of Brian McHugh and Patrick Kelly, arrested at the same address in Hammersmith, ended in December 1997. The disclosures and evidence presented at that trial clearly exposed Diarmuid O'Neill's killing as murder.

The policeman who shot Diarmuid O'Neill (who was named only as ‘officer Kilo' at the trial) gave contradictory evidence in court and should now be made to stand to account for his actions.

The Justice for Diarmund O'Neill Campaign believes that the responsibility for Diarmuid's death goes beyond the actions of the man who pulled the trigger.

The police, security forces and Home Office must also be held accountable.

Only an Independent, International, Public, Judicial Inquiry can ensure that justice is seen to be done for the family of Diarmuid O'Neill.

Join the Troops Out Movement in demanding an independent public inquiry into the murder of Diarmuid O'Neill.

The Disputed Killing of Diarmuid O'Neill

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL - United Kingdom

During a police raid on 23 September 1996 unarmed Diarmuid O'Neill, aged 27, was shot and killed in a hotel by an armed police unit. On suspicion of involvement in the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Diarmuid O'Neill had been under intensive police surveillance during the six weeks preceding his death. The observation, carried out by the Metropolitan Police of London, was supposed to culminate in the arrest of Diarmuid O'Neill and his two companions Brian McHugh and Patrick Kelly. In the immediate aftermath of the raid the media suggested on the basis of unattributable briefings that there had been armed violent resistance to arrest by the three. However, evidence, which emerged later, indicated that the three suspects complied with all the police's demands during the raid. More importantly, in contrast to the media's version of events, it was revealed that none of them was in possession of firearms or explosives at the time of the raid. A subsequent investigation into the incident was supervised by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and conducted by the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Metropolitan Police. After almost two years of investigating, however, it resulted in a report which concluded that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the police officers involved in the killing.

Diarmuid O'Neill was born and raised in West London. Six weeks prior to his killing he was put under intensive police surveillance due to his alleged involvement with an IRA active service unit. Commander John Grieve, then the head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, stated that the extent of that operation exceeded that of others carried out in Britain by far. Besides producing intensive video documentation, the police bugged Diarmuid O'Neill's hotel room and searched it on at least one occasion. The surveillance operation resulted in extensive video footage that reportedly covered the whole six weeks except the night of the raid on the hotel itself.

It was decided that the arrest should be conducted as an armed raid on the hotel, where Diarmuid O'Neill was staying with Brian McHugh and Patrick Kelly at that time, on 23 September 1996. In preparation for the raid the participating officers – members of the Metropolitan Police's firearms squad SO19 – were shown video footage of the aftermath of the IRA's Canary Wharf bombing in February of the same year.(1) The officers were informed that the men in the hotel room may possess and make use of hand grenades, explosives and weapons. Furthermore, the officers were allowed to carry 'Rip' with them, the most potent form of CS gas available ''which had required prior Home Office approval for its use''.(2) Although officers in court claimed that CS gas was only brought to be used in an emergency, the excessive use of the substance during the raid raises some issues.(3) Amnesty International is concerned that the substance had not been tested appropriately and thus the extent of its effects were not perfectly clear. Thus, the officers involved did not take into account the ways in which the actions of the suspects in the room would be affected, nor did they appear to have drawn conclusions about state of well-being of the suspects, considering the fact that they themselves were incapacitated by the gas seeping into the corridor.

On 23 September at 4.30 a.m. SO19 arrived at the hotel and apparently things went wrong from the start. To get access to the premises, where Diarmuid O'Neill was staying with his companions, and catch the three suspects by surprise the police had been supplied with an electric power key by MI5, which had previously been used on several occasions when police had entered and searched the room. However, that night the key would not fit the lock, leaving the officers unable to open the door. The new situation prompted them to make use of an enforcer. This spring-loaded battering ram, that should have broken down the whole door, merely hit a hole in it. At the same time, the decision was taken to make use of 'Rip', which was fired through the rear window into the room.(4) Not only were the suspects affected by the gas, but also the officers were forced to flee the scene to be sick outside as the gas started seeping through the hole in the door into the corridor. Police stated later that it had been left as a voluntary matter as to whether individuals chose to bring gas masks or not. Only two of the officers returned to continue the operation; one of them, who was code-named 'Kilo' during the trial against Brian McHugh and Patrick Kelly, would later fire the fatal shots at Diarmuid O'Neill. The officer in charge of the raid, however, stayed outside.

Obviously, by the time the battering ram had been used the suspects were well aware of the presence of the police. The recording device, which had been installed in the suspects' room, helped to reconstruct what happened. From the beginning the suspects made clear that they were unarmed and would surrender. In the police's official transcript of the tape one of the persons in the room – supposedly Diarmuid O'Neill – can be heard shouting ''We give up!'', ''We're unarmed!'', ''Okay, we're down, we're down!'' and ''They're up, we're on the deck!'' in response to the police officers' demands. According to the tape, the officers ordered Diarmuid O'Neill to open the door, after they had made sure that Brian McHugh and Patrick Kelly were down on the floor. Diarmuid O'Neill complied with the officer's demands, confirmed that they were unarmed several times and tried to opened the door as he was ordered to do. It would not open straight away, though, reportedly because it had been battered and broken by the enforcer. However, Diarmuid O'Neill would continue to try and thus follow the police's instructions up to the time when officer 'Kilo' shot him three times in the abdomen and lower chest, hitting his spine and causing him to fall to the ground. He was shot another three times as he was falling. The officers then entered the room. The post-mortem examination of Diarmuid O'Neill's body would later reveal a ''patterned'' bruise on his scalp which according to the Home Office's pathologist might have resulted from ''an individual treading on his head''.(5) Heavily bleeding and severely injured, he was then dragged down the steps and outside the building where he was denied vital medical care for 25 minutes despite the presence of an ambulance. He subsequently died in hospital. Patrick Kelly and Brian McHugh were arrested. Directly before the first burst of shots was fired one of the police officers was recorded shouting something, which according to Brian McHugh was a command to shoot; one of the officers commented on the sight of severely injured Diarmuid O'Neill: ''Dead as a fucking rat!''.(6)

Immediately after the incident the media published wrong information regarding the incident on the basis of unattributable briefings. This included the raid having involved a gun battle, explosives being found on the premises and witnesses that talked of exchange of gun fire and cries of ''Put down your guns!''. Although these stories were denied and withdrawn within one day, the British public had been led to believe the previously published lies and – helped by the crude media coverage of the corrections – was thus unaware of the controversies surrounding the killing.

In the aftermath of the above events, the PCA supervised an investigation conducted by the Metropolitan Police. Despite the evidence that was available, including the official recording of the event by the bugging device and the results of the post-mortem examination, after two years of investigation the PCA handed over a report to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which stated that ''there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the police officer''.(7) They reasoned that

''[t]he officer who shot Diarmuid O'Neill has said that he did so in the belief that he was acting in self-defence. [...] There is no evidence to show that the Police Officer's account is false or that his belief about the danger he thought he faced was not honestly held.''(8)
However, the outcome of the investigation is not convincing at all. Several arguments can be put forward to challenge its validity. Firstly, the investigation was conducted by Metropolitan Police officers, initially by one officer, who retired during the investigation, and then another officer, from the same force that had taken part in the raid. Secondly, the officer who shot Diarmuid O'Neill was not interviewed until some 23 months had passed.(9) Thirdly, the report, which was only finished after two years of investigation, thereby exceeding the maximum length of 120 days as stated in the PCA's own charter, was never made available to the public. Fourthly, the PCA initially appointed an investigating officer who was about to retire. Questioned about the decision to do so by a representative of the Justice for Diarmuid O'Neill Campaign, Alan Potts of the PCA argued that it was convenient as the officer (i.e. of the Metropolitan Police) was nearby and also known as a ''capable and good chap''.(10) The report was finally handed over to the CPS in April 1999. They decided, after six months of consideration, that no further action should be taken and no charges were to be filed against any police officer involved in the raid. Amnesty International considers that the PCA report should now be made public.

In October 1999, Hammersmith coroner Dr John Burton requested that Paul Boateng MP, deputy Home Secretary and Minister of State for Home Affairs, consider setting up a public inquiry into the murder of Diarmuid O'Neill. Moreover, a spokesperson for the coroner confirmed that notice had also been given to Home Secretary Jack Straw, who together with the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, would have to decide whether the inquest should go ahead. However, in a subsequent letter to Diarmuid O'Neill's relatives, junior Home Office minister Charles Clarke stressed that the minister was ''not persuaded that the circumstances justify a judicial inquiry''.(11)

Amnesty International is concerned about the circumstances in which Diarmuid O'Neill, an unarmed man, was shot dead while reportedly fully complying with police orders to surrender. The organization is also concerned about the use of very potent CS gas 'Rip' which incapacitated everyone at the scene; the denial of vital medical care to a severely injured man, despite an ambulance being close by; and about the misleading information about the incident given to the media. Amnesty International is also concerned that the authorities failed to carry out an independent, prompt and impartial investigation into the full circumstances of the incident.

Amnesty International therefore urges the authorities to initiate an independent and impartial inquiry into the full circumstances surrounding the killing of Diarmuid O'Neill to clarify these disputed circumstances and establish whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in this incident.(12)

KEYWORDS: POSSIBLE EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTION1 / USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE1 / POLICE / INVESTIGATION OF ABUSES / IMPUNITY / NON-GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES AS VICTIMS /
****

(1) This refers to the Canary Wharf bombing of 9 February 1996. The bombing resulted in a number of casualties and two deaths at the scene.
(2) Tracey Davanna: “Why Was Diarmuid O’Neill Killed ?” in Fortnight, November 1999, p. 12
(3) Patrick Kelly, Brian McHugh and two others were charged with and tried for conspiring to cause explosions and with possessing explosives. It was during this trial that the officers involved in the raid were questioned about the incident in the hotel.
(4) The pathologist carrying out the post-mortem examination of Diarmuid O’Neill’s body even found wounds on the back “that could be the result by the impact of CS gas rounds against the back of the deceased” [cf. footnote 5]
(5) The post-mortem examination was conducted by Dr Iain Eric West at Guy’s Hospital, London. The quotes are taken from his report which was written on 25 September 1996.
(6) Although the latter of these quotations appears in the police`s official transcript of the recording of the incident, the first one caused some controversy during the trial mentioned in footnote 3. According to the police transcript the words said are an order to shut up (“Shut the fuck up!”). Brian McHugh, however, claimed that the words in question were a command to kill (“Shoot the fucker!”).
(7) This quote is taken from the report of the PCA, handed over to the CPS on 11 April 1999.
(8) Ibid.
(9) After Paul Philippou of the Justice for Diarmuid O’Neill Campaign had met the PCA to discuss the report, he summarized their argument to delay the interview with ‘Kilo’ as follows: ”They [the PCA] said it was standard procedure to talk to all the other officers first and then to question him [Officer ‘Kilo’]. That sounds very reasonable but only if the time period is quite short—not if it is two years.” [Tracey Davanna: “Why Was Diarmuid O’Neill Killed ?” in Fortnight, November 1999, p. 13]
(10) Tracey Davanna: “Why Was Diarmuid O’Neill Killed ?” in Fortnight, November 1999, p. 12
(11) “Minister Rejects Inquiry Pleas” in The Irish Democrat, December 1999 / January 2000
(12) Amnesty International has already expressed its concerns in earlier publications: Amnesty International, News Service 170/96, 26 September 1996: “United Kingdom: Killing of Diarmuid O’Neill Raises Serious Questions”, AI Index: EUR 45/12/96; and Amnesty International, 30 September 1996: “United Kingdom: Killing of Diarmuid O’Neill”, AI Index: EUR 45/14/96.


AI Index: EUR 45/014/2000 1 January 2000

Lessons of history

Irish Democrat

THE YEAR 2006 is one of important reflection. Irish people in Britain, Ireland and around the world will commemorate the anniversaries of the 1981 hunger strike against Britain's criminalisation policy and the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland.

Many will also be remembering 27-year-old IRA volunteer Diarmuid O'Neill, a native of west London, shot dead by the London Metropolitan police in disputed circumstances ten years ago this September.

Diarmuid O'Neill's death demonstrated that the will of the British establishment to execute Irish insurgents remained implacable, 80 years after they executed the leaders of 1916.

In the cases of 1981 and 1916, the sacrifices of Irish insurgents created an emotional dynamic and delivered a political context where the republican social revolution of achieving a free Ireland could be driven forward. They served to reveal the true nature of colonial rule in Ireland.

In the case of Diarmuid O'Neill, the sacrifice of the last IRA volunteer to be killed on active service, created anger at another 'shoot-to-kill' incident, but revealed as much about the nature of the republican leadership's Tuas document - the so-called Tactical Use of Armed Struggle - as it did about London's duplicitous role in Ireland. The two, many would argue, were at this stage inextricably linked. The tuas strategy had no tactical use in terms of political objectives other than of placating a militant armed constituency, while manoeuvring tit into into a position of working with what became the Good Friday agreement and the unionist "principle of consent". Two years after Diarmuid O'Neill's death and after assurances of a "no return to Stormont" and "no decommissioning", the agreement was signed.

Although there were logical reasons for going down the constitutional path taken by republican leaders, the role of British military intelligence in this process remains a disconcerting thought in the minds of many republicans in Britain and Ireland. This has undoubtedly been exacerbated by the means of manipulating the revolutionary collectivism of the movement employed by Sinn Fein leaders to pursue the peace strategy. Many will be remembering Diarmuid O'Neill with this in mind.

No one would attempt to seriously deny a merging of Sinn Fein short-term political strategy and British intelligence objectives took place during the period leading up to the agreement, mediated by British 'agents of influence' and high-level informers within IRA departments.

Evidence for this is emerging bit by bit. Although there is no evidence to suggest that Sinn Fein leaders were complicit in this coalescence it would seem beneficial for them to address the issue, particularly after the public support shown for the agent Alfredo Scappaticci.

In commemorating the past we must also seek to learn the lessons of history, so that mistakes made in the past are not repeated. While Britain and many unionists have perennially failed in this respect, republicans too must avoid doing the same. Our problem today is: how can we do so when so much of our recent history is shrouded in self-imposed secrecy? How can we build a British-based campaign to transcend a partitionist arrangement in Ireland when we are denied the facts concerning its historical precedents?

In this year of commemorating our dead, the fact is that the secretary of state for Northern Ireland Peter Hain and Irish taioseach Bertie Ahern have capitulated to DUP demands to form an institutionalised political vacuum in the north, allowing New Labour to further pursue its agenda of imposing neo-liberal reforms.

The social infrastructure of schools, hospitals - and with the introduction of business rates this month, even its private-sector industries - are being destroyed. Irish republicans can do little to strop it.

How did we reach this point? What roles did Alfredo Scappaticci and Denis Donaldson play in it? The two men were debriefed by republicans. A way of disclosing this information would not only be useful in addressing republican concerns and de-mystify the struggle between Britain and Irish republicans, it would be in Sinn Fein's best interests. If such information was to be disclosed selectively by those hostile to the peace process, the consequences for the party would be significant.

In the wake of Mr Donaldson's violent death in Donegal and the murky circumstances surrounding it, the need for disclosure has become even more apparent. The current situation, in the absence of armed conflict does offer real, positive opportunities for pursuing a radical programme towards Irish unity and, may be, democratic socialism in Ireland. The war is over and to the benefit of society in Britain and Ireland today. A new range of political opportunities have opened up.

However, it would be foolish to think that agents are not still affecting republican policy objectives in Ireland, and not only within Sinn Fein. Other Irish parties, the civil service, police and military have never been below the sights of British intelligence when recruiting agents.

There is as much need to protect the national integrity of Irish democratic institutions as there is to protect the integrity of a political movement. The exposure of informers is a welcome development. And in commemorating the death of Diarmuid O'Neill, it would be fitting for us to know more.

Local GP recalls Bloody Sunday evidence 'distress'


Derry Journal


26 May 2006

DR. RAYMOND McClean - who attended most of the post mortem examinations of those shot dead on Bloody Sunday - has spoken for the first time of the "emotional distress" he experienced while giving evidence to the Saville Inquiry.

The retired Derry GP claims he was "unfairly treated" during his testimony to the probe in December 2001.
Speaking to the 'Journal' this week, Dr. McClean - who told the Saville tribunal that some of the Bloody Sunday dead may have been shot by deliberately tampered 'dum dum' bullets - claimed his credibility as a witness had been called into question during his evidence.
"On an emotional basis," he said, "I left the witness box distressed and totally fatigued.
"I felt that, for the first time in my professional career, my personal integrity had been very seriously attacked. I also felt that I had been left with no adequate means of reply or redress."
During his evidence, claims Dr. McClean, he endured a particularly "lengthy and arduous cross examination" from Edwin Glasgow QC - senior counsel for most of the British soldiers at the Inquiry.
This cross-examination, says the GP, left him "physically exhausted."
This, he says, was in direct contrast to his testimony to the Cameron, Himsworth and Scarman probes which took place in the late 1960s.
"In each of these investigations I felt entirely comfortable, in that I was allowed to give my evidence without hindrance and was treated with respect at all times.
"My experience in giving evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry was entirely different."
Dr. McClean - who had no personal legal representation at the Inquiry - believes he received no "protection" during his evidence to the tribunal.
He added: "My experience at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry is probably best explained by focusing on its logical and emotional aspects.
"Turning to the logical experience, I left the witness box frustrated and with the clear understanding that I had not been given the opportunity to put forward evidence which had come to my attention since I had submitted my original written statement to the tribunal."
Emotionally, he says, he was treated unfairly with the "major emphasis" being to question his credibility as a witness.
Tribunal chairman, Lord Saville, however, expressed the opinion that the doctor had not been 'unfairly treated."
Dr. McClean says he has since written to the Inquiry seeking an apology.
"No apology has, as yet been received," he said. "However, I shall continue to live in hope."

Memorial planned for teenage bomb victims

BN.ie

26/05/2006 - 14:56:17

A memorial for two teenage victims of a loyalist car bomb is to be built in a small Cavan town, it emerged today.

were killed instantly when the no-warning car bomb exploded in Belturbet on December 28, 1972.
Geraldine O’Reilly, 14, and Patrick Stanley, 16
The Remembrance Commission, which is funding the construction of the memorial with Cavan County Council, said the death of the two teenagers had deeply affected their families.

“As the years have passed there has been no dilution of the grief they have endured and Christmas and the New Year are times of sadness for them and a constant reminder of their loss,” said a spokesman.

Patrick Stanley, from Clara, County Offaly, was working with a gas delivery lorry and was due to leave Belturbet that day. But he had to stay overnight due to bad weather conditions and he was calling his family from a phone box to tell them this when the car bomb went off.

He played as a goalkeeper in soccer, gaelic football and hurling and had been nominated for an under-21 GAA All-Star award before he died.

Geraldine O’Reilly lived two miles outside Belturbet and was travelling to the town to get a bag of chips at the time of the bomb. She was a keen Irish dancer and her mother left her dancing costume and school uniform hanging on her bedroom door for years afterwards.

The new memorial in Belturbet will show the teenagers sitting back to back on a pile of books, with Patrick holding a football and Geraldine a pair of dancing shoes.

It will be designed by the artist, Mel French.

“The memorial will be placed in a central location in the town so that it will serve as a reminder to the community and visitors to Belturbet of the two young people who lost their lives on that awful evening in 1972,” said the Remembrance Commission spokesman.

The Belturbet bombing was one of several investigated on by Judge Henry Barron, who found that loyalists were the most likely culprits. However, no-one was ever charged in connection with the bombing.

The families of Geraldine O’Reilly and Patrick Stanley both gave moving evidence about the effect of the bombing to the Oireachtas sub-committee on Justice in January last year.

His sister Gretta Farrell told how her parents had learnt about the bombing through a television newsflash.

“As it was Christmas, they were all up quite late at home. Mam and dad said to them, “We will say the Rosary now, before we go to bed, for those two people.”

After learning that it was his son involved, her father mounted a 30-year campaign to get justice without success.

“Over the years he has written to every Minister for Justice but has never received any help or any indication of why it happened. One Minister for Justice told him to forget it, that it had happened a long time ago and to move on,” said Mrs Farrell.

The sister of Geraldine O’Reilly, Frances McCann, told the committee how her family had never been able to enjoy Christmas since the December 28 bombing.

“Geraldine was a very happy young girl of 15. Occasionally she would be allowed to go to a dance with a sister or a couple of friends. She had lovely friends and was very happy at school and had everything to live for.”

Man admits banned UDA membership

BBC - Scotland

An automatic pistol and live ammunition have been found at the Fife home of a member of the banned loyalist paramilitary organisation, the UDA.


Moffat pleaded guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh

Steven Moffat, 45, from Buckhaven, pleaded guilty to belonging to "a proscribed organisation", within the meaning of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Moffat admitted a further breach of the Terrorism Act by possessing handgun ammunition, clothing and other items.

He was remanded in custody until his sentence next month.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Ulster Defence Association paraphernalia was found in Moffat's flat.

First offender Moffat originally denied membership of the banned organisation but when detectives drew attention to the UDA tattoo on his arm he admitted he had been asked to join in a Belfast pub three years earlier.

The charge said that the discovery of the handgun gave rise to suspicion that it was for the purpose of preparing or instigating an act of terrorism.

Moffat also pleaded guilty to two Firearms Act charges relating to the 9mm Browning pistol and two magazines of 9mm ammunition found during the search of his flat on 10 February.

Solicitor advocate Gordon Martin, defending, said jobless Moffat had family connections in Northern Ireland and had been a long-standing member of the Orange Order and sympathetic to the notion that Northern Ireland should remain within the UK.

He said: "He appears to have been a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland to visit family, in particular his son, and met individuals in licensed premises and became involved in conversations with those individuals.

Remanded in custody

"Perhaps in drink and in bravado he was persuaded to join that particular organisation."

Mr Martin said once a member, the UDA was not the kind or organisation one could easily leave.

"He involved himself in something way over his head," the lawyer added.

Advocate depute Adrian Cottam, prosecuting, said that in a football boot bag under the mattress they found the Browning wrapped in cling film.

Firearms experts said it was in full working order.

Moffat claimed he had been given the bag to keep for someone else.

British may put Assembly on hold

BN.ie

26/05/2006 - 12:23:28

The British government is believed to be planning to put the work of the Stormont Assembly on hold just two weeks after recalling the body as part of efforts to restore devolved government.

The move comes amid fears that the SDLP may decide to join Sinn Féin in boycotting debates at the Assembly.

Sinn Féin is refusing to take part in the debates because it claims the Assembly has been established without any real powers to make decisions on the items brought before it.

Pictures of empty nationalist benches are not the message the British government wants the world to see and northern secretary Peter Hain is believed to have planned no business for the Assembly next week.

Letters may shortly be sent to assembly members telling them the body will be on hold for the foreseeable future.

Irish prisoners’ repatriation call

Daily Ireland

Inmate is transferred from England to Portlaoise

By Connla Young
26/05/2006

Campaigners have called for the speedy repatriation of all Irish prisoners serving time in English jails after a Co Louth republican was transferred to Portlaoise this week.
Dundalk man Jim McCormack was flown from England on Tuesday and will now serve the remainder of a 22-year sentence in Ireland.
McCormack was jailed for 22 years in 2003 for causing explosion in England and is one of seven republicans who have applied to be returned to Ireland to see out their jail terms.
In recent months the case of Co Louth man Aidan Hulme has been highlighted by campaigners. The 27-year-old has been told he requires surgery to remove a leg damaged in a motor cycle accident several years ago. Campaigners accused justice minister, Michael McDowell, of stalling on the Louth man’s transfer request.
Michael Holden from the Irish Political Status Committee said his group is concerned about the welfare of the remaining six prisoners serving time in British prisons. The campaigner says the case of Fermanagh man Noel Maguire, who was the target of a murder bid behind bars last year, is of deep concern.
“We are concerned about the case of Noel Maguire who originally had his transfer request turned down. His circumstances have now changed and he has reapplied. His application is well behind the others though and this concerns us.
“Two prisoners are currently facing attempted murder charges after they tried to stab him last year and if he is left on his own in an English prison he will be in great danger.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which oversees the transfer of prisoners back to Ireland, said the department does not comment on individual cases.

Council backs motion on famine

Daily Ireland

25/05/2006

Moves to designate an annual memorial day for victims of Ireland’s famine received a boost yesterday.
Dublin City Council has unanimously approved a Labour Party motion to officially mark the potato famine — also known as the Great Hunger — of the 1840s. One million people died and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to emigrate at that time.
In 1860, the Young Irelander John Mitchel wrote: “The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine.”
Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has also tabled a parliamentary question on the issue. Arts minister John O’Donoghue will take the question in the Dáil next week.
Councillor Dermot Lacey, who proposed the motion to the city council, said: “Every household in Ireland has ancestors who died in the famine and the memorial day is a fitting tribute to them all.”
The Committee for the Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims is to lead its annual procession from Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square to the famine memorial on Custom House Quay this Sunday. The group is calling on people in all parts of Ireland as well as Irish people living abroad to observe a minute’s silence at 2pm on that day.
Committee chairman Michael Blanch said: “The famine only happened three generations ago and the victims were both Catholic and Protestant, so any commemoration can build bridges between the two communities.”
The committee envisages that the memorial day would also be a gesture of solidarity towards all those around the world who have suffered in famines.
In the Dáil in May last year, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern suggested that the famine could be incorporated into the National Day of Commemoration, an annual ceremony to mark Ireland’s war dead.
The committee said this occasion specifically remembered dead Irish military personnel and not civilians.

Exhibition marks volunteers’ death

Daily Ireland

Updated roll of honour DVD to be launched by MLA

by Eamonn Houston
26/05/2006

The deaths of two IRA volunteers killed 25 years ago by the SAS during the height of the 1981 hunger strike will be marked this weekend with the unveiling of an exhibition.
Charles “Pop” Maguire (20) and George McBrearty (24) were shot dead as they approached a car on the Lone Moor Road in Derry. The car contained undercover SAS members.
The British army’s version of events has consistently been disputed by republicans, who claim that up to two SAS teams may have been involved in the killings.
Both men died after the encounter with undercover British soldiers on the edge of the Creggan estate.
The Derry 1981 Committee will mark the anniversary with the launch of an exhibition compiled by the local republican Charlie McMenamin.
The Derry republican youth group Toirsire has commissioned an updated version of the Derry Brigade Roll of Honour DVD to be launched alongside the exhibition at the Gasyard Centre.
The British army said volunteers McBrearty and Maguire had been killed by a lone British soldier during an exchange of gunfire after the volunteers had stopped the soldier’s car.
Other members of the IRA unit who survived the incident have always claimed to have come under fire from a number of different locations.
Five years ago, this account was given weight by the discovery of a hole from a high-velocity bullet below the position of the car that had held the British soldier at the centre of the shooting.
The bullet hole was lodged in the wall of an elderly man’s house who lives close to the scene of the shooting. He pointed out the strike mark on the 20th anniversary of the deaths.
Joanne McDaid, spokeswoman for the 1981 committee, said: “The deaths of George McBrearty and Charles Maguire sent shock waves through the republican community in Derry.
“At the time, Patsy O’Hara had just been buried. The eyes of the town, the country and indeed the world were focused on the H-blocks of Long Kesh and the hunger strike.
“Despite the upheaval on the outside, the last thing people were expecting in the republican community was a tragedy such as this.
“It numbed the entire community, particularly in Creggan, where two men lived with their families and were well known and very popular,” Ms McDaid said.
The exhibition will document events that took place in Derry at the time.
It is largely a collection of personal photos of local people, who donated them for the exhibition.
It also contains details of other Derry people killed over this period by the British army, street protests and the 1981 hunger strikers.
Sinn Féin assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin will launch the exhibition and updated DVD.
He said: “This is no doubt one of the most significant periods in Irish history that has been collated from a local perspective and through the eyes and memories of those who played a part in it.
“Ordinary people responded in extraordinary ways to attempts by the British to break the republican struggle. It galvanised the nation and produced a new, highly politicised and committed generation of republicans.” The exhibition will be unveiled at the Gasyard Centre on Lecky Road at 7.30pm on Sunday.

McAleese to launch peace-line plan

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes
26/05/2006

A strategy document promoting good relations along north Belfast’s peace lines is to be launched by Martin McAleese today.
The Irish president’s husband will be the main speaker at the North Belfast Interface Network event at Cliftonville community centre on Manor Street.
Formed in 2002, the network works to prevent sectarian clashes along the area’s peace lines. There are 17 interfaces in Belfast, 14 being in the north of the city.
Since the outbreak of the Troubles, north Belfast has seen a disproportionate level of violence. A quarter of all Troubles-related killings occurred in the area.
A spokesman for the network said: “The rationale for the project is to carry out community-relations activity on two levels. The first level deals with community relations on a localised-area basis, implementing strategies that are tailor-made to fit the particular needs of each community.
“On the second level, the emphasis is placed on developing collaborative strategies which promote conflict transformation, peace building and reconciliation throughout north Belfast and further afield.”

Celtic cross in memory of five shot by loyalists

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes
26/05/2006

A monument is to be unveiled tomorrow in memory of five people murdered by loyalists in the townland of Bleary, Co Armagh.
The Celtic cross will carry the names of Gerard and Rory Cairns, John Marks, Joseph Toland and Joseph Toman who were shot dead by an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang – riddled with RUC informers – that operated in the area.
The gang, led by British agents Robin Jackson and Billy Wright, murdered a total of 11 Catholics from Bleary between 1975 and 1993.
The monument in honour of the dead has been erected in the grounds of St Colman’s church in the parish of Tullylish.
Saturday’s unveiling takes place at 2pm, speakers at the event include campaigning priest Fr Des Wilson and Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd.
Eamonn Cairns, whose sons Gerard and Rory were murdered in 1993, said the memorial was a tribute to the spirit of the community.
He said: “This community has suffered terribly at the hands of loyalist gangs. The UVF men involved in butchering people in this area were working closely with the security services.
“Despite this, they never broke the spirit of the nationalist population of Bleary. This memorial is a tribute to that spirit and to those who were murdered.”

NY-based rights group condemns ‘sectarian’ parades

Daily Ireland

by Ciaran O’Neill
25/05/2006

A US-based organisation which monitors parades in the North has described Orange Order marches as ‘anti-Catholic’ and ‘anti-Irish’.
The Irish Parades Emergency Committee (Ipec) yesterday called on Orange Order leaders and the PSNI to ensure that future parades are free from sectarian trappings.
Ipec’s latest report on parades in Belfast last summer has been forwarded to the Irish, British and US governments, as well as political parties in the North.
The report, which was released yesterday, deals with Orange Order parades in the north and east of the city in July.
Among the incidents included in the report were participants in Orange Order parades dressing up as Catholic nuns.
Sean Cahill, a spokesman for Ipec, which was formed in 1997 to monitor Orange Order parades in nationalist areas in the North, described the parades as ‘anti-Catholic political theatre’.
“Once again we documented brazen displays of support for loyalist paramilitary groups in Orange parades through or past Catholic, nationalist communities in Belfast,” he said.
“These displays clearly violate Parades Commission guidelines, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and other laws.
“The British and Irish governments must uphold the Good Friday Agreement’s basic guarantee of freedom from sectarian harassment.”
Mr Cahill said in past years his organisation had been careful to portray the marches as ‘Orange parades with loyalist participation’.
“But the brazen promotion of loyalist terror groups in parades past the Short Strand and through Ardoyne has become so pervasive that we have taken to calling these Orange/loyalist parades.”
Ipec praised the restraint shown by nationalist residents, the PSNI and some Orange Order stewards during last summer’s parades,
It stressed that more needed to be done to tackle the problems associated with Orange Order parades.
“We call on the PSNI to uphold the rule of law and enforce the ban on sectarian displays at Orange/loyalist parades,” said Mr Cahill.
“We also call on Orange and unionist leaders to end loyalist and anti-Catholic displays at Orange Order parades through nationalist and Catholic areas. This is, after all, the 21st century,” he said.

Family of murdered councillor relaunch campaign

Daily Ireland

**From yesterday

25/05/2006

The family of murdered Sinn Féin Donegal county councillor Eddie Fullerton will mark his 15th anniversary today with the relaunch of a campaign for truth and justice about the killing.
Eddie Fullerton was killed by an Ulster Defence Association death squad that broke into his Buncrana home early on May 25, 1991.
The Fullerton family have consistently demanded a public inquiry into collusion and cover-up by the British and Irish authorities in relation to the killing.
Councils across Ireland have supported the family’s demands. Dublin City Council voiced its support on Monday night. Tragically, the Fullerton family’s spokesman — Eddie’s son Albert — was killed in a road accident on March 8 this year, aged 45.
However, the family are using today’s 15th anniversary to relaunch their justice campaign. Albert’s sister Amanda, who has taken over as the family’s spokesperson, last night told Daily Ireland that the truth about the case had been hidden for long enough.
“It is a year since Michael McDowell, the minster for justice, has given anyone any feedback about the case and even then it was only [after] significant pressure from Sinn Féin TDs,” she said.
“We’re now saying enough is enough. Fifteen years down the road, we’re not going to wait any longer. Yet the questions about the handling of the case by authorities on both sides of the border continue to mount.
“We will be demanding a meeting with McDowell to get answers about the actions of the Irish authorities. We will also be pushing the Irish government to get some sound and solid attempt at an investigation in the North and will be looking for evidence of McDowell’s commitment in relation to that.”
The Fullerton family also hope that a meeting can be arranged with Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan in the coming months.
Calling for continued cross-party support for the Fullerton family’s campaign, Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said today’s relaunch would send a strong message to those involved in covering up the 1991 murder.
“One of the key things about the relaunch is to demonstrate that the campaign will continue until the demands that Albert and the rest of the family have pursued over the last 15 years are achieved,” he said.
He described Albert’s untimely death as “a tragic blow” and added: “It is appropriate now after a period of grieving and reflection that the campaign focuses once again on the need for truth and justice about Eddie’s murder in 1991.
“The immediate objective will be to obtain the final report from the Garda reinvestigation, which was supposed to have been completed in 2004.
“There will be significant pressure on Michael McDowell to explain the delay and clarify the co-operation he received from the British authorities.”
Mr Mac Lochlainn said a range of other strategies would be employed to strengthen the campaign.
The campaign relaunch is at 11.30am today in Muff, Co Donegal.

Irish authorities actively covered up loyalist death squad actions

Daily Ireland

Brother of Martin Doherty, who was killed in a 1994 gun and bomb attack on the Widow Scallan’s pub in Dublin, calls for full disclosure
Jarlath Kearney

25/05/2006

Irish government authorities have actively covered up the actions of loyalist death squads that operated in the 26 Counties during the 1990s, a Daily Ireland probe today reveals.
The objective of the persistent, top-level cover-ups has been to protect well-placed RUC/PSNI and British intelligence agents operating in both the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Volunteer Force.
The conduct of the Irish authorities raises serious legal, constitutional and human-rights questions for Irish citizens affected by the attacks.
Among the incidents that involved British agents were high-profile attacks such as the UDA’s May 1991 murder of Co Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Eddie Fullerton at his Buncrana home and the UVF’s March 1997 bomb attack on the Sinn Féin office in Monaghan town.
Daily Ireland can also reveal that a UVF attack on Sinn Féin’s Dublin headquarters was aborted in early 1997 after a death squad conducting a so-called “dry run” encountered an abnormally high Garda presence saturating the vicinity of the target.
It has been established that the aborted 1997 attack in Dublin involved at least one RUC Special Branch agent connected with the UVF’s notorious Mount Vernon unit from north Belfast.
Nuala O’Loan, the North’s Police Ombudsman, was informed about that aborted UVF attack as part of her major investigation into collusion between the RUC and UVF.
That investigation is to be published soon.
Although senior RUC/PSNI members — both serving and former — have been implicated to varying degrees by the investigation, there are profound ramifications for the Irish authorities who acquiesced in loyalist attacks by British agents in the South.
Daily Ireland has also uncovered serious unanswered questions about the May 1994 gun and bomb attack on the Widow Scallan’s pub in Dublin, during which the doorman Martin Doherty was shot dead.
Notably, strong similarities have been established between that UVF bombing and the organisation’s Monaghan bombing three years later, as well as startling “coincidences” in the explanations of the Irish authorities after both events. Martin Doherty’s brother Ben yesterday called for full disclosure from the Irish government about the circumstances and the investigation relating to his brother’s murder.
Sinn Féin justice spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh yesterday announced that he would be demanding detailed answers from the Department of Justice about the affair.
It is understood that the 1997 aborted UVF attack against Sinn Féin’s offices in Dublin took place at around the same time as the failed bomb attack on the party’s Monaghan constitutency office.
It was first reported last year that the Monaghan incident involved a bomb that had been treated to ensure it would not detonate. The bomb was found on the morning of March 3, 1997.
That claim was verified by former RUC Criminal Investigation Department detective Trevor McIlwrath on the BBC’s Spotlight programme this week.
Mr McIlwrath confirmed the attack was connected with the UVF Mount Vernon unit, which had been infiltrated by Special Branch agents.
However, as well as confirming the RUC’s foreknowledge, the Monaghan attack also clearly implicates the Irish authorities.
The Monaghan bomb — which RUC Special Branch had already tampered with — consisted of around 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) of Powergel commercial explosives and was contained in a holdall.
Initially the Garda claimed in media briefings that the bomb had failed to fully explode because bystanders — who allegedly moved the holdall — had dislodged the detonator. The detonator’s explosion indicated that, while the main explosive charge had been “treated”, the bomb was technically viable.
Despite Special Branch’s foreknowledge, the then RUC chief constable Ronnie Flanagan told The Irish Times on March 18, 1997: “Nobody should be under any illusion that this [attack] is part of a phoney war.”
Whether the Irish authorities were notified beforehand that RUC Special Branch knew of an imminent attack in Monaghan cannot be established.
At very least, forensic tests after the incident would clearly have revealed that the main explosive element had been “treated” so as not to explode.
In that circumstance, the failure of the Irish authorities to actively pursue the issue of direct British collusion with loyalist death squads raises very profound questions.
Not least, it means that the Irish authorities acquiesced in covering up an attack (“phoney” or otherwise) that was mounted — with the assistance of a foreign government — against a legal political party in Irish territorial jurisdiction.
A Daily Ireland probe into pre-1997 loyalist attacks in the South has uncovered striking similarities between the Monaghan bomb and the 1994 Widow Scallan’s bomb.
A litany of unanswered questions also persists in relation to the Garda handling of the attack that resulted in Martin Doherty’s murder.
Mr Doherty was shot several times by a UVF gunman as he confronted the death squad outside the Widow Scallan’s pub on May 21, 1994 — 12 years ago this week.
Another doorman, Patrick Burke, was shot and wounded.
The UVF gang left a holdall containing a bomb outside the pub after Mr Doherty had prevented them gaining entry.
Hundreds of republicans were gathered in the pub for a republican function. The actions of Martin Doherty undoubtedly saved lives.
Three days after the Widow Scallan’s attack, on May 24, 1994, Albert Reynolds, the then taoiseach, told The Irish Times: “We were aware of the possibility of such an attack.”
The following month, June 1994, the then justice minister Máire Geoghan Quinn told the Dáil that the Irish government would seek the extradition of anyone thought to be involved in the attack. She said the RUC had set up a “special unit” to investigate the bomb attack.
Despite the high-profile nature of Mr Doherty’s 1994 killing, an inquest was not held in Dublin until November 2004, a decade later.
However, the comparisons between the Widow Scallan’s bombing and the Monaghan bombing are striking.
Just like the bomb in Monaghan, the Widow Scallan’s bomb consisted of 25 to 30 pounds (11.3 to 13.6 kilograms) of Powergel explosives in a holdall. As in Monaghan, only the detonator exploded, while the main device failed to go off. Just like in Monaghan, the explosion of the detonator indicated that the bomb was technically viable but that, for unexplained reasons, the main explosives had malfunctioned. Just like the Monaghan case, the Garda subsequently claimed in media briefings that a bystander — who apparently had moved the holdall — must have caused the bomb to malfunction by dislodging the detonator.
And just like the case of the Monaghan bombing, the Garda have never released details about the forensic examination of the Widow Scallan’s bomb.
If, as with the Monaghan bomb, the UVF’s main charge of Powergel explosives had been “treated” beforehand, that would explain the failure to explode.
Daily Ireland also understands that, despite some reports linking the mid-Ulster UVF with the actual attack on the Widow Scallan’s, both the 1994 and 1997 bombs were prepared by the UVF in Belfast.
Other aspects of the Garda actions on the night Martin Doherty was killed in 1994 have never been adequately accounted for.
For instance, the Northern-registered gold-coloured Triumph Acclaim car used by the bombers was checked by gardaí in Gardiner Street in the hour before the attack but was allowed to proceed because it had not been reported stolen.
Moreover, two Garda Special Branch cars that were sitting outside the Widow Scallan’s disappeared at about 10pm, some 50 minutes before the loyalists struck.
Questioned about this aspect of events during Mr Doherty’s inquest in November 2004, a Garda superintendent refused to comment on the operations of the Special Detective Unit. The superintendent failed to provide any details about the UVF bomb, except to repeat that it had failed to fully explode.
He also refused to comment on the identity of those responsible for the attack on the grounds that the investigation was ongoing.
“We still have an unsolved murder and the file remains open. To date, no one has been made amenable,” he said.
Even ten years after the event, the Garda refuse to disclose basic details about their investigation.
Martin Doherty’s family are convinced that the Irish authorities are withholding key information about the case.
Photofits were issued of the UVF gang in the immediate aftermath of the attack but, although the RUC arranged an identification parade in April 1995, only two teenage eyewitnesses were taken from Dublin to Belfast. One source has described the witnesses as “vulnerable”. Both witnesses failed to identify any of the loyalists involved.
It was also reported subsequently that the weapon used to shoot Martin Doherty was the same gun that killed the UDA boss Jim Craig in an internal loyalist assassination. This led to speculation that the UDA — also inflitrated at the highest level with British agents — had assisted the UVF gang in the atttack.
No one has ever been apprehended by the RUC/PSNI for involvement in either the Widow Scallan’s or the Monaghan bomb attacks.
No warrants have ever been issued within the 26 Counties for the arrest of any loyalist or Special Branch handler in relation to either incident.
The Irish authorities have never instigated any kind of extradition proceedings to apprehend suspects in either case, despite new European Union legal measures to make the apprehension of serious crime suspects from another EU member state virtually routine.
Ben Doherty told Daily Ireland last night that his family were demanding answers from the Irish government about his brother’s murder.
“There are serious unanswered questions about this entire affair,” he said.
“Our mother died the year before the inquest and it remains a deep hurt for all of us that she was unable to get closure on the circumstances in which Martin was killed.
“Other than going through the motions at the time, the Garda have never kept us informed of any developments up until the inquest in 2004. Even then, they didn’t tell us anything new. It would be nice if we could now get answers.
“If Irish authorities had prior knowledge or subsequent indications that there was even a hint of collusion, then that is a very serious issue,” Mr Doherty said.
Supporting the Doherty family’s demands for truth, Sinn Féin justice spokesman Aengus Ó Snodaigh pledged to pursue the Irish government.
“Clearly the Irish government has very serious questions to answer about the ability of unionist death squads, led frequently by British agents, to attack and target Irish citizens with apparent impunity in this jurisdiction.
“The Doherty family have been forced to come through the last 12 years with virtually no support from the state and no answers about Martin’s murder. Sinn Féin will be raising this affair directly with the minister for justice in the time ahead,” Mr Ó Snodaigh said.
While much focus will rightly fall on collusion north of the border after the publication of Nuala O’Loan’s report in the coming months, the approach of successive Irish authorities to the assassination of Irish citizens in the 26 Counties remains the big untold scandal of the peace process.
If anyone thought the collusion scandal behind the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974 was ancient history, they need only look at loyalist attacks in the same locations during the mid-1990s to know the spectre of state collusion still haunts the senior ranks of the British and Irish security establishments on this island.

Passports row: FIFA tells IFA to go British

Belfast Telegraph

By Geraldine Mulholland
25 May 2006

FIFA, governing body of world football, today insisted that footballers playing for Northern Ireland must carry British passports, the Telegraph can reveal.

A political storm erupted since it emerged last month that the Irish Football Association (IFA) advised internationals to carry British identification to ensure eligibility, with SDLP Assemblyman for Foyle, Pat Ramsey, threatening legal action and the Northern Ireland team this week receiving an angry reception when they arrived at GAA grounds in Chicago for an official engagement.

Mr Ramsey said the demand was contrary to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

IFA chief Howard Wells sought clarification from FIFA after facing criticism from nationalist leaders.

But FIFA has made a ruling which, it claimed today, is based solely on "practical sporting reasons", although it said it is aware of Northern Ireland's "unique" situation.

A spokesman said: "FIFA has sent a letter to the Football Association of Northern Ireland yesterday on the subject.

"As you know, the nationality of a player is the first and foremost criterion to establish whether he or she is eligible to represent a football association.

"Consequently, it is the match commissioner's duty to ensure that each and every player on the pitch meets this requirement. In order to do so, the match commissioner is dependent on an official document that proves the nationality of the player.

"The situation of players born in Northern Ireland is, indeed, rather unique, since these players can, as a general rule, be entitled to represent various associations, namely the four British and the Irish Republic.

"FIFA is aware of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

"However, the mere fact that a person is a holder of an Irish Republic passport does not constitute a conclusive evidence for a match commissioner to know that this player is entitled to represent Northern Ireland.

"Consequently, FIFA requires players to hold the passport of the association that they are wishing to represent, in order to allow the match commissioner to verify their eligibility."

Mr Wells said he has received notification of the ruling.

Globe-trotting police chief clocks up 178 days away over two years

Belfast Telegraph

Orde on the world beat ...

26 May 2006

The life of a modern day Chief Constable is bound to be a high-profile jet-setting existence.

However, information released to the Belfast Telegraph under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed just how much our own Chief Constable gets around.

In the last two years Sir Hugh Orde has been on duty for an impressive 604 days.

However the figures released to this paper show that he was working outside Northern Ireland on 178 of those days.

Last year alone Sir Hugh spent one third of his working days outside the province - he was away 99 days out of 296.

His globe-trotting has taken him to many parts of the world.

In 2004 and 2005 he spent 36 days in the US. Business there included White House receptions, speaking at the FBI Academy and meeting the House of Representatives.

He has also represented the police at events in Australia, Dubai and Iraq. In Dubai he spoke at a conference on Policing and Security and he visited Iraq with other Chief Constables to assess the policing situation.

The former senior Metropolitan Police officer was in England for more than 100 days on duty in 2004 and 2005.

Many of the Chief Constable's trips outside Northern Ireland relate to his work as a director of the Police National Assessment Centre, speaking engagements, training courses and seminars, meetings with other senior police officers, politicians and officials and the usual range of media interviews.

However, on five occasions he has also represented the PSNI at rugby internationals at Lansdowne Road in Dublin. In the past two years he has watched Ireland play South Africa, Argentina, England, New Zealand and Australia while on duty.

Similarly he also travelled to Dublin in September to represent the PSNI at the All-Ireland football final between Tyrone and Kerry.

Other events which have caused the Chief Constable to leave Northern Ireland have included meetings with Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, engagements at Scotland Yard and with the Stevens team and reports to the House of Commons and the Dail.

He was also in London last December at Buckingham Palace for his investiture.

In response to the Belfast Telegraph Freedom of Information request, police stated that on all the days when Sir Hugh is outside Northern Ireland on duty he is representing the PSNI.

They added: "He also has national responsibilities, including an important role as Director of the Police National Assessment Centre (PNAC) which devise, develop and run procedures designed to identify and select future police leaders."

When the Chief Constable is away the PSNI is commanded by his deputy, Paul Leighton.

He was on duty for 556 days during 2004 and 2005. He was working outside Northern Ireland on 57 of these days.

His list of trips is less expansive, although he did attend a five day FBI course in Norway in September 2004 and a four day police exchange trip to the US last year.

Immigration bill passed by US senate

RTÉ

26 May 2006 11:45

The US Senate has passed an immigration bill that would give millions of illegal immigrants a chance to become American citizens.

The senate voted 62-32 for a bill that couples a guest worker programme with border security and enforcement.

It is potentially the most far-reaching reform of US immigration law in two decades.

It now has to be merged with a vastly different House bill that calls for tougher enforcement measures, including the criminalisation and deportation of illegal immigrants.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, has welcomed the news.

He said: 'I am very pleased that Senators have passed a comprehensive bill on immigration reform.

'Crucially, this bill contains provisions that would enable the vast majority of our undocumented citizens in the US to regularise their status, including a path to permanent residency.'

McCreesh and O'Hara die on the same day

An Phoblacht

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Photo: Raymond McCreesh mural unveiled in Camlough by Raymond's former comrades Dan McGuinness and Paddy Quinn who were arrested and imprisoned with him.

Remembering 1981: Four men dead as crisis escalates

Thursday 21 May 1981 witnessed the deaths of two more Hunger Strikers. Raymond McCreesh passed away at 2.30am. Later that evening Patsy O'Hara died.

A Mass had been celebrated at Raymond McCreesh's bedside on Wednesday evening by his brother Fr Brian McCreesh. He was semi-conscious and appeared to show some sign of recognition but died just a few hours later. His remains were returned to his beloved Camlough in South Armagh for the funeral the following Saturday.

Leaving the family home in St Malachy's Terrace, the cortege stopped briefly at the lane outside the house where it was joined by a honour guard of IRA Volunteers, Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Éireann. Led by a lone piper, the cortege paused to allow Raymond McCreesh's comrades fire a final salute over the Tricolour-draped coffin.

At St Malachy's church loudspeakers broadcast the Mass to a huge crowd of mourners. Mass was concelebrated by five priests led by Raymond's brother Brian. In his sermon Fr Wolsey criticised the British for selectively quoting from the Pope's 1979 Drogheda speech: "Violent means must not be used, the Pope says, to change injustices. But neither must violent means be used to keep injustices. The Pope has said so. The first passage has been over quoted; the second one rarely heard."

After the Mass, the funeral procession made it's way the short distance to the cemetery where, in sight of the family home the coffin was lowered into the grave. Chairing the graveside ceremonies was South Armagh republican, Joe McElhaw. Defying a British exclusion order Sinn Féin President Ruairí Ó Brádaigh delivered the oration. Paying tribute to McCreesh he said: "We are gathered here to perform a last, sad but proud duty for that great Irishman and human being, Raymond McCreesh." He detailed McCreesh's progression from Na Fianna Éireann to the IRA and his capture in 1976 after a gunbattle with the British army. He had fought imperialism, which was the "enemy of mankind"

Ó Brádaigh outlined the area's proud history of resistance to British rule. He accused the British Government of callously murdering McCreesh and his comrades but added that British policy was now in ribbons. "Where now is their Ulsterisation? Where now was their normalisation? Where now is their criminalisation?", he asked.

"These hungry and starving men in their beds of pain, by superior moral strength, have pushed the British government to the wall and have shamed them in the eyes of the world", said Ó Brádaigh.

Comparing the Hunger Strikers to Terrence McSweeney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who died on Hunger Strike in 1921, he pledged republicans would continue their resistance to British rule.

Patsy O'Hara

Patsy O'Hara passed away at 11.39pm. By his bedside were his father James, his sister Elizabeth and family friend James Daly. Speaking of his final moments his sister said: "My Father called Patsy! And he sort of, as if he recognised the voice, sort of just tried to move his head, just one last time. And then he died. And as he was dying his face just changed, he had a very, very distinct smile on his face which I will never forget. I said you're free Patsy. You have won your fight and you're free. And he was cold then."

Former leader of INLA prisoners in the H-Blocks, O'Hara came from a staunchly republican family and was much respected in his native Derry. The night of his death saw sustained rioting on the streets of Derry. The RUC replied with volleys of plastic bullets, murdering 45-year-old Harry Duffy in the process. Two days earlier they had murdered 12-year-old Carol Ann Kelly in Twinbrook..

Repeating their actions with the Francis Hughes cortege, the RUC hijacked O'Hara's remains. Long Kesh Governor, Stanley Hilditch had informed the family that the remains had been taken to Omagh where they could be collected. About 4.30am the RUC phoned Derry with a message. "If you want to collect this thing you had better do it before daylight". They were determined to prevent a daytime cortege. In a sickening development it emerged, after the body was finally retrieved by the grieving family, that the RUC ghouls had mutilated the body.

The funeral, the biggest in the city since the Bloody Sunday funerals, was addressed by a number of people. Chairing the proceedings was James Daly, husband of murdered anti-H-Block activist Miriam Daly. He offered his condolences to the family before introducing a member of the INLA leadership who read out a statement. Patsy's brother Seán then addressed the mourners. He compared Charles Haughey to Pontius Pilate and said the Hunger Strikes were an important victory for the cause of Irish freedom as the whole world could now see the callousness of the British.

Gerry Roche of the IRSP detailed the harsh experiences, North and South, endured by O'Hara during his short life. Commending his revolutionary spirit Roche said the attempt to criminalise the prisoners was an attempt to criminalise the entire struggle. O'Hara had recognised this and had resisted courageously. "He believed that it is no crime to fight the British occupation forces, but the duty of every Irish man and Irish woman", Roche said.

An INLA firing party fired a volley of shots over the coffin in a final salute to their dead comrade.

The deaths of McCreesh and O'Hara in the H-Blocks took place against an increasingly violent backdrop outside the prison. The IRA was mounting increasingly effective military operations against the British army with five British soldiers killed in an ambush at Altnaveigh, South Armagh.

Crown forces attempted to crush rising nationalist anger. In addition to the plastic bullet deaths of Carol Ann Kelly and Harry Duffy, there was a wave of indiscriminate plastic bullet attacks leaving hundreds injured, many of them seriously, including Paul Lavelle (15) from Ardoyne who was left in a coma.

The Hunger Strike was causing a huge outcry in the 26 Counties and Taoiseach Charles Haughey was forced to give the impression of doing something, particularly in light of an impending election on 11 June. He promoted as a serious initiative an intervention by the European Commission on Human Rights which amounted to nothing.

Just two days before her brother died, Haughey met with Patsy O'Hara's sister Elizabeth, during which he gave the impression that a development involving Europe was imminent and asked her for a contact number at which she could be reached. The following morning she got a call summoning her to Government Buildings. Haughey was still pushing the Commission angle but told Elizabeth that Patsy would have to come off the Hunger Strike to give time for a complaint to be made to the Commission. It was clear at this point that the Commission was just a diversion. Elizabeth O'Hara broke off all contact with Haughey.

There was mounting anger on the streets in the 26 Counties. Although the H-Block committee was determinedly non-violent as a matter of strategy, there was a wave of incidents across the state such as the 23 May torching of a bus belonging to English fishermen in Ballinamore, County Leitrim. In a vain attempt to distract from the real issue a Government summit was called with much fanfare to discuss "escalating violence".

A statement from the Catholic Cardinal, Tomás O Fiach said: "Raymond McCreesh was born in a community that has always proclaimed that it is Irish, not British. When the northern troubles began he was barely 12, a very impressionable age at which to learn discrimination. Those who protested against it were harassed and intimidated. Then followed Burntollet, The Bogside, Bombay Street and Bloody Sunday in Derry all before he was 15." The Cardinal went on to say that McCreesh would never have been in jail had it not been for the abnormal political situation. "Who was entitled to judge him?", he asked.

The 20 May local elections in the Six Counties saw a number of H-Block candidates elected. Amongst them was Raymond McCreesh's brother, Oliver.

International support for the Hunger Strikers soared. There were daily demonstrations in the United States. Thousands marched in protest through New York on the Saturday after the deaths of McCreesh and O'Hara. Amongst the countries that saw demonstrations, many of them large, were Australia, Norway, Greece, France and Portugal.

The deaths of Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O'Hara, who had started the strike on the same day, died on the same day and were born within a fortnight of each other in February 1957, marked a critical escalation in prison struggle as well as the struggle outside the prisons walls.

Despite the constant rain and a blustery wind that dogged their steps on the road from Newry to Camlough thousands of republicans marched on Sunday 21 May, 2006 to remember IRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh who died in 1981 after 61 days on hunger strike.

The march was lead by a colour party of former republican POWs from the South Armagh area. At the head of the flag bearers was Paddy Quinn and Dan McGuinness.

Both men were captured with Raymond McCreesh in 1976 as they mounted an operation against an undercover British army unit near Sturgan Road not far from Camlough, Raymond's home village. Quinn was later to follow his friend and comrade on hunger strike.

A colour party from South Armagh Ógra Shinn Féin marched in formation behind the main colour party.

Sunday's march was the culmination of a weekend of events organised in South Armagh to remember Raymond McCreesh's sacrifice and celebrate his life and commitment to the republican cause.

On Friday a mural was unveiled on Raymond McCreesh's House and a well attended discussion on the legacy of the Hunger Strike was held on Saturday night.

Panellists included Bik McFarlane, O/C of the H-Block prisoners during the Hunger Strike and former Sinn Féin Publicity Director Danny Morrison.

As the march set off from Newry the rain tried hard to dampen spirits but with every mile walked more people joined the procession.

Banners carried bore the names of towns and villages throughout South Down and South Armagh- Camlough, Silverbridge, Belleek, Bessbrook, Crossmaglen, Cullyhanna, Mullaghbawn. Newry was well represented with three banners named in honour of fallen IRA Volunteers from the area.

Monaghan, Armagh's neighbour to the south, sent a contingent while the Harford/Bell Republican Flute Band from Dublin also attended.

In the crowd were members of the Hughes and McElwee families from Bellaghy. Bridie Lynch from Dungiven was there indicating the bond that exists among the families of the H-Block martyrs.

A commemoration was held at the Republican Plot in Camlough cemetery where Raymond McCreesh is buried. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams gave the main oration. Acknowledging the courage and commitment of Raymond McCreesh he said it reflected the courage and commitment of the IRA in South Armagh in the way it fought the British army to a standstill in the area.

Adams went on to commend the work of republicans in South Armagh who had embraced the republican peace strategy and were working hard to fulfil the vision of the united Ireland for which Raymond McCreesh had died.

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