Court victory for Raymond McCord against NI SoS over Border Poll


Raymond McCord (right) with his solicitor (left) Ciaran O’Hare of McIvor Farrell Solicitors.

A victims campaigner has won High Court permission to pursue legal action over the holding of a border poll in Northern Ireland.

Raymond McCord was granted leave to seek a judicial review of the British government’s alleged failure to implement a policy for calling a referendum on Irish unity.

A judge ruled he has established an arguable case that the current discretionary arrangements are unlawful.

With his challenge now advancing to a full hearing later this year, Mr McCord insisted he wanted to remove any possible political abuse of the constitutional issue.

He said: “It’s about taking the green and orange out of the decision, and that’s how it should be.”

The staunch unionist is mounting separate challenges in Belfast and Dublin over the current provisions for going to the public.

His case against the British administration questions the legality and transparency of the provisions for holding a border poll.

Under the 1998 Good Friday Agrement a referendum can be called if the secretary of state believes a majority of people in Nothern Ireland no longer want to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Mr McCord, an outspoken critic of loyalist paramilitaries since a UVF gang beat his son Raymond Jr to death in 1997, is not pressing for such a poll.

But the Belfast man believes authority for calling such a significant ballot should not rest with one individual.

He claims the current criteria is too vague and undermines the Agreement.

It was confirmed in court that the British government’s position remains the same since Karen Bradley took over from James Brokenshire as secretary of state.

No opposition was raised to Mr McCord being permitted to continue his challenge to the alleged lack of policy.

The judge, Sir Paul Girvan, held: “I’m persuaded there are legal arguments there which justify the granting of leave.”

The verdict means Mr McCord has now secured the legal right to press ahead with cases in both jurisdictions.

He has already been granted leave at the High Court in Dublin to take proceedings against the Irish State, Taoiseach, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Attorney General.

Following the latest determination in Belfast he described the holding of a border poll as the biggest decision since Northern Ireland’s formation.

“As it stands it’s left at the discretion of one person, a politician who doesn’t live here,” Mr McCord said.

“It’s open to abuse and we need a policy set in stone so that it can’t be abused by any political parties for political gain.”

His solicitor, Ciaran O’Hare of McIvor Farrell law firm, also called for clarity and transparency.

“At this juncture, it appears that the decision whether or not to hold a poll is at the whim of one person and the public have no insight whatsoever into the decision making process,” Mr O’Hare said.

“My client is looking forward to the full hearing of his case, which will be one of the most important constitutional cases that have ever come before the court.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.

Amazing photo says it all really – What Britain is doing in Yemen – British War Crimes

Amazing photo says it all. A 100,000 Dollar missile, sold by Theresa may to the Saudis, launched by a 20 million-dollar plane that flies at a cost of 6000 dollar an hour to kill people who live on less than $1 a day in Yemen……..

British Prime Minister Theresa May “licking some balls” with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Theresa May is complisite in the ‘war crimes’ carried out in Yemen by supplying British arms to Saudi Arabia.
One of 48 $20m war planes supplied by Britain. The Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

Armed Forces Covenant in Northern Ireland – Commons Library briefing – UK Parliament

Father of IRA victim pursues perjury charges against Freddie (Stakeknife) Scappaticci

Freddie Scappaticci has publicly denied being the IRA agent known as Stakeknife

A decision not to bring perjury charges against a west Belfast man for denying his role as the top British agent Stakeknife was flawed, the High Court heard today.

Lawyers for the father of an IRA murder victim claim there was enough evidence to meet the test for having Freddie Scappaticci face criminal proceedings.

Frank Mulhern is challenging the Public Prosecution Service over its alleged failure to bring a case against the 72-year-old.

Judgment was reserved in his application for leave to seek a judicial review.

The case centres on an affidavit sworn by Scappaticci in 2003 during his own failed attempt to force the British government to state publicly that he was not the highest-ranking spy inside the IRA.

Mr Mulhern’s legal team contend that the PPS acted unlawfully when it originally decided in 2006 not to prosecute on the basis of that statement.

Even though that decision was later set aside, they argue that the continued failure to charge Scappaticci with perjury cannot be justified.

Hugh Southey QC told the court: “It does appear on the face of it there’s sufficient evidence to potentially meet the evidential threshold under the (prosecutors’) code.

“Its accepted now that the original decision not to prosecute, which was originally challenged in these proceedings, was flawed.”

Counsel questioned how the alleged agent could mount a defence to any charge by relying on a claim of acting out of necessity based on fears for his life.

Earlier this year Scappaticci was reportedly arrested, questioned and released on police bail as part of a major and ongoing investigation into Stakeknife’s activities.

Codenamed Operation Kenova, the probe headed up by Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher is examining dozens of IRA murders linked to the undercover agent – including the killing of Mr Mulhern’s son in 1993.

Joseph Mulhern (23) was abducted, interrogated and shot by the IRA, who accused him of being a police informer.

His body was dumped on a remote hillside near Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

Scappaticci left Nothern Ireland in 2003 after he was named in the media as Stakeknife.

Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the spy while in charge of the IRA’s internal security team, the so-called ‘Nutting Squad’.

Focusing on the issue of any alleged perjury, Mr Southey claimed the failure to bring charges was difficult to justify.

“When looking at a decision of this nature and whether it’s in the public interest, public confidence in the independence of the prosecution service and it’s willingness to hold other public authorities to account is obviously very important.”

During exchanges, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said there was “no doubt” Mr Mulhern and other bereaved relatives are regarded as victims of the murders allegedly committed by Stakeknife.

But he questioned whether they have the same status when it came to consultation about any decisions on suspected perjury.

Mr Southey responded that his client and the other families should “absolutely” be characterised as victims.

“They have a real interest in knowing (about the alleged perjury),” he insisted.

Counsel for PPS previously confirmed the legal challenge was being resisted due to Operation Kenova’s continuing inquiries.

He argued that the proceedings were an attempt to compel the Director of Public Prosecutions to take a decision before an investigation which is examining the perjury claims is completed.

Sir Declan, who heard the case with Mrs Justice Keegan, is expected to deliver judgment within weeks.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.

Fred Scappaticci (SteakKnie) denies he was a British Army agent within the PIRA

Steakknife: Fred Scappaticci arrested over murders

A man alleged to have been the Army’s most high-ranking agent in the IRA has been arrested and is being questioned about allegations that he was involved in dozens of murders.

The agent codenamed Stakeknife has been named as Fred Scappaticci from west Belfast.

An investigation into his alleged activities, codenamed Operation Kenova, was launched in June 2016.

The investigation team confirmed that a 72-year-old man had been arrested.

The BBC understands the man being questioned is Fred Scappaticci and that he was arrested in England.

The investigation team said the arrest was “in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture”.

A statement from the investigation team added: “He is currently in custody at an undisclosed location and will be interviewed in relation to the investigation. No further details of the place of arrest or where he is being held will be released due to security reasons.”

Who is Stakeknife?
Fred Scappaticci is alleged to have been the most high-ranking British agent within the Provisional IRA, who was given the codename ‘Stakeknife’.

He was the grandson of an Italian immigrant who came to Northern Ireland in search of work.

Image caption
Mr Scappaticci left Northern Ireland when identified by the media as Stakeknife in 2003
He has admitted, in the past, to being a republican but denies claims that he was an IRA informer.

He is believed to have led the IRA’s internal security unit, known as ‘the nutting squad’, which was responsible for identifying and interrogating suspected informers.

Mr Scappaticci left Northern Ireland when identified by the media as Stakeknife in 2003.

Operation Kenova is being led by Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, from Bedfordshire Police.

It is examining the activities of current and former police officers, members of the Army and MI5 and former members of the IRA.

The operation involves a team of 48 detectives.

A statement by Operation Kenova said it had so far spoken to more than 40 families and generated 1,500 lines of enquiry.

Follow these links to find out more:

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the origional story

There can be no amnesty for British troops, speaker tells Bloody Sunday event

The annual Bloody Sunday march in Derry

An amnesty for soldiers will not be accepted by the families of those who died in the Ballymurphy Massacre, a Bloody Sunday commemoration has heard.

A special Mass dedicated to the memory of the 14 people who died after Paratroopers opened fire on civilians in Derry’s Bogside on January 31, 1972, was celebrated at St Mary’s Church, Creggan, on Friday.

Wreaths were laid at the Bloody Sunday Memorial in Rossville Street following a prayer service attended by the relatives of those killed.

Several hundred people took part in a March for Justice organised by the Bloody Sunday March Committee.

This culminated at Free Derry Corner where Eileen McKeown whose father, Joseph Corr, was shot dead by paratroopers in the Ballymurphy massacre in August 1971, addressed the crowd.

She said that after 46 years the Ballymurphy families were now preparing for the inquests in September into the deaths of 10 of those killed in Ballymurphy, and warned they would reject any proposal to introduce an amnesty for soldiers.

Ms McKeown said: “In September, at last, the inquests into the deaths of 10 of our loved ones get under way.

“This is another significant achievement that took a long time to come but finally, direct result of many years of hard work from families, we will have our day in court.

“It will provide us with a legal process to uncover the facts about how our loved ones died.

“The attempts by the British Government to introduce an amnesty for British soldiers is totally unacceptable to the Ballymurphy families.

“This Thursday a delegation of Ballymurphy families went to Westminster to make our views known about this and we told the Chairperson of the Defence Select Committee, Julian Lewis, that an amnesty in any guise will never be acceptable to the families of the Ballymurphy Massacre.

“This is yet another attempt by the British state to stand in the way of truth and justice. And for what? To win a few votes.”

A recent defence committee report favoured a controversial statue of limitations for members of the Armed Forces, coupled with a truth-recovery process to help families bereaved during the Troubles.

However, the report, published last month, stopped short of recommending the proposal for all sides during the Troubles as it “would be for the next government to decide”.

The concept of an amnesty has gained traction among a number of Westminster backbenchers, who claim recent prosecutions of former British soldiers were tantamount to a “witch-hunt”. However, prosecutors and police in Northern Ireland insist such allegations simply do not stand up to scrutiny, with a breakdown of figures showing no disproportionate focus on ex-security force members.

Meanwhile, the Museum of Free Derry this week hosts a poignant exhibition of shoes, called In Their Footsteps. John Kelly, whose brother Michael was among those who lost their lives 46 years ago during the Bloody Sunday Civil Rights march, said: “These shoes were gathered during the island-wide In Their Footsteps campaign for truth, with over 200 pairs donated by families bereaved in the conflict and exhibited in Dublin, London and Belfast. This year we relaunch In Their Footsteps with a call for families to contribute to this ever-growing display, highlighting the lack of progress in historic cases.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the origional story