The solicitor representing survivors and relatives of murdered group members said he has been told material on vetting and training Ulster Defence Regiment recruits linked to the atrocity would have been scrapped more than a decade ago – if it ever existed.
Michael Flanigan also confirmed both the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and PSNI are seeking to stop the disclosure of some intelligence files on public interest immunity grounds.
Victims of the attack are suing both the MoD and PSNI over alleged collaboration between serving soldiers and the paramilitary killers.
Three members of the popular band were taken from their tour bus and shot dead on a country road after a gig in Banbridge, County Down in July 1975.
With many thanks to: Them’uns for the origional posting.
A 32-year-old Co Down man is to stand trial in Belfast later this year on terrorist offences linked to the UDA.
David Coleman has been charged with, and denies, belonging to the proscribed loyalist paramilitary organisation on dates between November 6, 2016 and October 18, 2017.
From The Green, in Holywood, Coleman is also set to face a charge of possessing a document – namely an oath of membership of the Ulster Defence Association – which contained information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism
He appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Thursday, where both charges were put to him. When asked to enter a plea, Coleman replied “not guilty” to both offences, which fall under the Terrorism Act 2000.
A Crown prosecutor told Judge Paul Ramsey that the non-jury trial is likely to last for around one week.
A trial date of September 24 was set, and the case will be reviewed again prior to the commencement of the hearing. Coleman was remanded back into custody.
Although no details emerged during today’s brief hearing, it was alleged by a detective sergeant during a bail hearing that Coleman was a “high-ranking member” of the UDA. This has been denied by Coleman, who when charged with membership, told police “Absolutely not, I don’t belong to nothing”.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the origional story.
The ambassador of the United Kingdom (UK) to Libya, Frank Baker has confirmed that only few MPs at the British House of Commons, mainly representing Northern Ireland, are the ones who spoke of using Libya’s frozen assets to compensate victims of the Irish Republican Army (IRA.)
This statement came as Baker met with the Head of the High Council of State (HCS) Khalid Al-Mishri in Tripoli where both officials reviewed the issue of the frozen funds among other talks, HCS media office reported.
“Those MPs are few and it is difficult for such a decision to pass at the House of Commons. The Gaddafi-backed IRA attacks’ victims were compensated before his death through the United States.” Baker said.
He added that the UK did not decide upon this matter and the rumors surrounding the UK’s stance of it are false, pointing out that such an issue could be resolved with the Presidential Council Head and Foreign Minister, away from the “media’s provocation.”
“We do reject using Libya’s frozen assets in that way and we do confirm that the case has been solved at the time of Gaddafi’s regime. The funds are for all Libyans and are frozen by a UN Security Council resolution.” Al-Mishri said.
He also reviewed the free economic zone in Sirte and was backed by Baker that such a project is very vital for both countries.
UK House of Commons was set to vote for allowing the government to use Libya’s frozen assets in Britain to compensate IRA victims.
With many thanks to: The Libya Observer and Abdulkader Assad for the origional posting.
A judge has thrown out the case of a Co Tyrone convicted terrorist who had been accused of involvement in the murder of prison officer David Black.
Prosecutors in the case of Damien Joseph McLaughlin have been given until tomorrow to decide whether to challenge the decision of Mr Justice Colton.
Yesterday, the judge ruled that it would be both unsafe and unreliable to convict the 41-year-old who has always denied any involvement in the M1 drive-by shooting of 54-year-old father-of-two Mr Black on November 1, 2012.
The case against McLaughlin, from Kilmascally Road near Ardboe, rested solely on the evidence of Co Leitrim man Stephen Brady, who was interviewed by specialist Garda officers from Dublin in the wake of the “horrific shooting”.
During the interviews, which the judge described as “oppressive, aggressive, hectoring and bullying”, Mr Brady allegedly identified McLaughlin as the man who moved a Toyota Camry car later used by the gunmen in the ambush.
But yesterday, Mr Justice Colton said that having viewed the video-taped interviews, “he could not believe that it was contemplated that the interviews with Brady would be relied upon in any criminal prosecution”.
Earlier he said “the court was not impressed with the conduct and manner of these interviews”.
While he repeatedly and continually complained about their aggressive nature, he also chose to extensively quote from the interviews, using the same profanities as the Garda.
Mr Justice Colton said the court was “not naive” about the nature of such interviews, “not meant to be friendly conversations over a cup of tea”, and that the use of “profane and oppressive language, however unnecessary or unjustified, does not in itself preclude” them as evidence.
However, the Belfast Crown Court judge said that even one of the Garda detectives involved “was correct when he accepted he did not ever envisage that the contents of the interviews would be scrutinised in a court of law and that he understood why a court would have concerns about the contents of the interviews”.
Mr Justice Colton said he had formed the impression “the true purpose of the interviews was to seek information from Brady other than obtain evidence for the purposes of a criminal prosecution”.
The judge said he was “not satisfied it would be in the interests of justice” to admit Brady’s hearsay evidence due to the “particular circumstances in which it was obtained”.
He went further in declaring that not only should it not be admitted but also “that a trial depending on it should not be allowed to proceed because any conviction based on that evidence would be unsafe”.
He added that given the “high and obvious risk of unreliability” of the statements, in his view it would be “unfair and unsafe for the defendant to be convicted on the basis of such evidence in circumstances where he is not in a position to challenge or test the accuser”.
Mr Justice Colton said the evidence provided in Brady’s statements was “so unconvincing that considering its importance to the case against the defendant I would acquit the defendant on the grounds that his conviction for the offences would be unsafe”.
Brady’s interviews could not have been used in a criminal prosecution against himself, said the judge, who added: “It seems to me inconceivable that they would be admitted against the defendant McLaughlin.”
Earlier, the judge said Brady’s was “the sole and decisive evidence in the case” and there “is no other evidence” purporting to link the defendant to the car used in the murder of Mr Black.
He added that the prosecution had also failed to take all possible steps to ensure Brady’s attendance in court. They could have applied to the High Court in Dublin for him to give evidence there, or arranged for a live link to enable him to give evidence outside the Republic.
At the end of the ruling, the prosecuting QC said he would ask for time to consider whether to apply to the court directly, or to the Court of Appeal, to challenge its findings. It was agreed the parties would return to court tomorrow.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the origional story.
Hertfordshire man jailed for having explosives, weapons and ammunition
He was previously found guilty of having an explosive substance
A man has been jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of having explosives, weapons and ammunition in his possesion.
Warren Snedden, 45, of Longfort Lane, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire was also given an additional five years’ on extended licence at Woolwich Crown Court today (Friday, June 15).
A search warrant was carried out at his home on the 27 September last year.
Police were initially alerted to a suspicious transaction where chemicals associated to the production of the explosive TATP were bought.
They found chemicals and tilt switches, which are used in the production of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Police also discovered a firearm, an air rifle and over 200 rounds of ammunition.
All of these items Snedden was prohibited of possessing as he was convicted of armed robbery in 2001.
His digital devices were also recovered and examined, with detectives finding terrorist-related manuals detailing how to make home-made ammunition, weapons and explosives.
A small number of cannabis plants were also found in his garden.
On Tuesday, 27 March, Snedden was previously found guilty of having an explosive substance.
He also pleaded guilt to a number of other offences including the possession of documents containing information likely to be useful for terrorist purposes.
Commander Clarke Jarrett, Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Snedden never gave a full explanation as to what he was planning to do with the array of chemicals, weaponry and ammunition he had stockpiled. What is clear is that what he was doing was putting both himself, his neighbours and the public in great danger.
“This was a joint investigation between the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and colleagues from Hertfordshire Constabulary, as well officers from ERSOU’s counter terrorism policing unit. The excellent work across all three has led to a number of dangerous components and weapons being taken out of circulation.
“The case is also a further reminder of the need to be ever-vigilant and I would urge anyone who sees any suspicious activity or behaviour to ACT and report it to police.”
Detective Superintendent Rob Bartlett, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing for ERSOU, said: “Although we may never understand why Snedden stockpiled these items and was viewing such material, there is no doubt that he posed a very real threat to society.
“This case was a great example of agencies working together in order to prevent someone from causing harm, and removing dangerous weapons and chemicals from circulation.
“The Action Counters Terrorism campaign urges people to be vigilant to suspicious activity such as the ordering of illegal firearms or the gathering of chemical materials so this is a timely reminder for people to be alert and report anything they find concerning.”
Snedden was convicted of the following offences:
Two counts of having an explosive substance; two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon; two counts of possession of a firearm without a certificate; possession of ammunition without a certificate; possession of ammunition when prohibited; possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of crime; three counts of possession of a document containing information useful for terrorist purposes; production of cannabis.
With many thanks to the: Hertfordshire Mercury for the origional story.
The Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors are planning to protest during the visit to Pope Francis to Ireland next August, founder member Paul Redmond has said.
“The fact of the matter is that the whole adoption machine was run by the church over the years and they cared little or nothing for the law of the land. As far as they were concerned they were doing God’s work, canon law superseded everything and they played hard and fast with the rules across the board,” he told a press conference in Dublin on Tuesday.
On Monday the survivors’ group met Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone who “promised action and legislation by this autumn,” he said.
They would like to see “a Garda unit, properly resourced, proactively going after what evidence is left of the criminal behaviour that was involved, baby trafficking, child abduction, and all the rest of it in this country for generations. These were crimes, serious crimes,” he said.
He accused the religious congregations involved of “basically extorting, bullying and blackmailing government by refusing to hand over their records until they receive a legal indemnity for past crimes and the Government should simply not be giving these indemnities” as “it means they are able to wash their hands like Pontius Pilate and walk away from years of crimes and that is absolutely outrageous”.
He noted the nuns involved in running the Magdalene laundries were asked for a contribution to the redress scheme covering those institutions but “they just turned around and went ‘No. We’ve got our tens of millions’.”
He added: “The Bons Secours who ran Tuam [mother and baby home] are one of the biggest providers of private health care in this country and won’t put their hands in their pockets, won’t help in any way.”
Mr Redmond said the survivors’ group “had several meetings with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and his response has been appalling”. They had “officially applied for a meeting with the Pope. He [the Archbishop] hasn’t even the manners to answer us.”
In addition, Archbishop Martin “was sent a report in 2013 about all these matters, an 8,500 word report about three mother and baby homes which was signed for at his front door and marked private and confidential and personal, and he claims he never got that. His vice chancellor was sent a copy by ordinary post. He claims that was lost in the post. We’re sick of dealing with these people.”
Mr Redmond said “for all the focus here today on what the Government is or is not doing, the church are getting away with this scot free… We are letting them away with it”.
In a statement to The Irish Times, the Dublin Archdiocese said: “Archbishop Martin has been consistent in calling for a thorough investigation of the history of adoption in Ireland over the years.
“The Archdiocese has provided information from the Diocesan archives to the Commission of investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, some of which is relevant to adoptions.
“There have been hundreds of letters of request to meet Pope Francis – these have been referred to the World Meeting of Families’ for consideration and response.”
Mr Redmond said his was “a dying community”, and he appealed to the Government to “face up to all these issues now and do the right thing by our community. Ireland’s history needs to be cleaned up and we need to do it now.”
The press conference was also attended by Sharon Lawless of TV3’s Adoption Stories and Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly, who hosted it.
Ms Daly said that, in the context, “a limited scoping exercise will not be sufficent” where illegal adoption in Ireland was concerned. The practice had been “widespread and too many people need answers and that is the least that can be done for the people who have had their families separated and their identies stolen,” she said.
With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the origional posting.