A SOLDIER-turned-dissident-republican will serve the rest of his jail term in isolation after being removed from the separated landing in Maghaberry because of threats from ‘new IRA’ prisoners.
Gabriel Mackle (44), from Tandragee, Co Armagh, was jailed for eight years after pleading guilty in April 2014 to two charges of possessing explosive substances and possession of ammunition with intent. The charges related to dissident activity linked to the Continuity IRA. Mackle, a former RIR soldier, was riding a motorbike in Lurgan when he was stopped by police the previous Auguest. The materials, which included a quantity of mercury, were recovered from a rucksack. With time spent on remand and remission, Mackle is due for release this summer and has been previously granted periods of compassionate parole.
He had been serving his sentence on the wing known as Row 4, which is mainly occupied by prisoners linked to the ‘new IRA’ who are represented by the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA).
Republican Sinn Féin (RSF), which has links has links to the Continuity IRA (CIRA), released a statement this week claiming Mackle had been removed from the republican wing after threats from Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) -represented prisoners. Mackle refused to leave but was forcibly removed from the wing by prison staff over fears for his safety and placed in the isolation unit of the top-security jail. A Republican Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “These threats are coming from the very same group that purport to promote unity, they are showing the republican people their version of unity but it has to be on their terms.”
A former Director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service has been accused of “misleading” Stormont’s Justice Committee and “prostituting himself to the media” in an industrial tribunal.
The claims about Paul Cawkwell emerged during an industrial tribunal brought by the former Deputy Governor of Maghaberry Prison, Gary Alcock, against the Department of Justice.
Mr Alcock is alleging that he was treated unfairly because he was also the Chairman of the Prison Governors’ Association (PGA), subjected to “threatening” behaviour by Mr Cawkwell, and subsequently removed from his Maghaberry post.
On the first day of the case, it emerged that Mr Alcock had secretly recorded a meeting between himself and Mr Cawkwell on December 11, during which he claims he was threatened by Mr Alcock because of his trade union role.
On the second day of the hearing yesterday, Mr Alcock said the meeting he had secretly recorded had been “one of the most shocking I have had in my service.”
Mr Alcock referred to testimony which Mr Cawkwell gave to the Justice Committee on November 18, 2014, regarding the closure of a security grille at Maghaberry jail, which he claimed had been referred to on the secret recording but was not heard in court.
Mr Alcock claimed: “The Director of Operations admitted they were seeking to mislead the Justice Committee in relation to Roe 4 (a landing in a wing of Maghaberry). Which also houses IRA prisoners. He is admitting in the transcript to prostituting himself to the media.”
Regarding the decision to close a security grille on a landing in Maghaberry, Mr Alcock said that this decision was referred to the then-Director General of the Prison Service, Sue McAllister.
He denied a suggestion by counsel for the Department of Justice that it had been his decision and not Mrs McAllister’s.
“It was a decision far above me given the political and perhaps the community implications,” he said.
Mr Alcock alleges that an “unambiguous” threat was made to him by Mr Cawkwell in this meeting.
He said: “I refer to the transcript: ‘If you can’t separate Maghaberry business from your PGA role you cannot stay at Maghaberry.’ That to me is a very clear threat: either be quiet on Maghaberry issues or you’re moving on.”
When counsel for the DOJ put it to Mr Alcock that there was “tension” between the two roles, Mr Alcock replied that he didn’t believe there should be “friction, threats or tension between the two.”
Mr Alcock then claimed that he was “banished from the Prison Service” and moved to an office in Belfast City Centre “to ensure I was silenced and excluded from those who it was my right as a trade union representative to represent”.
Mr Alcock claimed that trade union members’ access to him as an official was “significantly restricted and intentionally so”.
A DOJ representative put it to Mr Alcock that secretly taping the meeting was a “breach of trust” and that he was “holding the recording as a threat”, which he denied.
Mr Alcock said it was a “protective measure by a senior trade union official who is being bullied, who had been threatened.”
Counsel for the DOJ then referred to a Criminal Justice Inspectorate report on Maghaberry, describing it as “damning.”
He said that the entire senior management team at Maghaberry, bar one person, had been removed because of the CJI report rather than because of union membership.
Mr Alcock contended that other members of the management team had been moved within the Prison Service, while he was “removed from the Prison Service”.
He said he had turned down alternative roles offered to him by the DOJ because he felt it was an attempt to have him “voluntarily remove myself from the Prison Service and my role in the PGA”.
Under cross-examination, Counsel for Mr Alcock asked Mr Cawkwell about the evidence he had given to Stormont’s Justice Committee regarding the locking of the security grille at Maghaberry.
Mr Cawkwell said he had been “absolutely torn” when giving evidence about the closure of the grille, as the drive within the Prison Service to “normalise the relationships in dissident republican sections” meant getting the grilles unlocked.
He stated: “If I had said anything to the Justice Committee about this it would have been selling out the Deputy Governor at that time.
“I knew Maghaberry was brittle, the staff were brittle.”
Mr Cawkwell said his testimony was also based on keeping “the balance between the perceived power of the prisoners” and that of the staff.
He said he had been “very surprised” at the decision to close the grille, but that “I understood why once it was taken so I supported it”.
Counsel for Mr Alcock suggested Mr Cawkwell had given “false testimony” to the Justice Committee, but he denied this.
“The decision had been made and if I was looking at the after effects we had got away with it but it was not a risk I would have taken,” he replied.
“The opinion I gave to the Justice Committee was after the decision had been taken and I was able to evaluate the reaction in person regarding the staff and prison and it seems we got away with it.
“There are no right or wrong decisions in prison.
“Was it a decision I would have taken? No.”
Counsel for Mr Alcock said Mr Cawkwell was “prepared to say whatever is expedient and give false testimony,” which he denied.
A prison officer is being treated in hospital after being attacked at Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim.
The woman, who is understood to be one of the newer officers, was taken to hospital after the incident involving a male inmate on Monday.
The prison officer is reported to have suffered a serious neck wound and was taken to the Ulster hospital.
Police have said her condition is not thought to be life-threatening.
It’s understood the woman was attacked with a weapon “made from a razor”.
The incident has been referred to the PSNI.
Adrian Smith from the Prison Officers Association (POA) told the Belfast Telegraph: “The woman has a three-inch gash below her left ear on the neck, it’s a pretty deep wound.
“Anybody knows the difficult and dangerous job that prison officers do and it’s getting more and more dangerous with cuts to prison service budget and staffing levels.
“Unfortunately things like this will happen more often.”
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “A prison officer has suffered a serious injury following an assault by a prisoner in Maghaberry this afternoon. The Prison Service utterly condemns this attack and has referred the incident to the PSNI.”
Chief Inspector Jonathan Wilson said: “At approximately 5:47 pm this evening police received reports of an incident during which a female prison officer was assaulted.
“The prison officer was taken to hospital where her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Enquiries are ongoing.”
Fiona McFadden facing charge of supplying a false alibi
AN UNEMPLOYED single mother from Co Armagh is to stand trial in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black.
Fiona McFadden (29), of Killough Gardens, Lurgan, appeared at Belfast Crown Court yesterday for a brief arraignment hearing. She pleaded NOT GUILTY to a single charge that she supplied a false alibi to a murder suspect on the day after Mr Black was killed.The charge alleges that on November 3 2012 she “did an act which had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice, namely, informed police officers investigating the murder of David Black that Sean McVeigh had been in her company at her address between 4pm and 9.30pm on the 31st day of October 2012”. The court heard her trial is expected to last a number of weeks. McFadden was released on continuing bail to await the fixing of a date for her trial later this year. Mr Black was shot dead on the M1 motorway in Co Armagh as he went to work (as a prison officer) at Maghaberry Prison in November 2012. The 52-year-old father-of-two was the first prison officer in the North of Ireland to be executed in almost 20 years. Sean McVeigh (33), of Victoria Road, Lurgan was charged at Craigavon Magistrates Court last February with the killing of Mr Black. He was further charged with possessing an assault rifle with the intent to endanger life. However, in July last year all the charges against him were dropped (Internment by Remand) he was not found guilty of any crime.
With many thanks to: The Irish News, for the orgional story.
Massive-Semtex-haul accused has case against him dropped.
A NORTH Belfast man accused of the largest Semtex in the last 10 years has had the case against him dropped.
Prosecutors said they were withdrawing a charge that Thomas Hughes possessed explosives with intent to endanger life. The decision, confirmed at Belfast Magistrates Court, follows a reveiew of all available forensic evedince in the case. Mr Hughes (47), of Maeve House in the New Lodge area, was arrested after police discovered 2.5kg of Semtex at the apartment complex in May. It had been cut into two blocks and wrapped in clingfilm and tinfoil. Laytex gloves and knife suspected of having been used to divide the explosives were seized. Mr Hughes, originally from Scotland, was not in the property when police raided it. At a previous court hearing his lawyer described him as coming from a republican background, being a strong supporter of the peace process and being vehemently opposed to any dissident republican acivity. Following confirmation of the prosecution position on Friday District Judge Fiona Bagnall ordered the charge against him to be withdrawn. Mr Hughe’s solicitor Michael Madden said his client should never have been before the courts. Mr Madden, of Madden and Finucane solicitors, said the hearing “marks the culmination of a sustained campaign of campaign of represtations at remand hearings for the Public Prosecution Service and the RUC/PSNI to serve evidence alleged to connect our client to the high explosives haul”. “This was a prosecution against Mr Hughes that should never have been brought,” he said. “We made strenuous objections both in Antrim Serious Crime Suite and our client’s first remand hearing as to the sufficiency and strength of the evidence said to properly ground this charge. “We are pleased that Mr Hughes can now look forward to putting this traumatic experience behind him and to getting back to his normal life.”
THE man once known as Shame Fein’s “chief executive” has settled a legal action against the former republican party.
The former hunger striker took the case on the grounds of discrimination for holding a political opinion, unfair dismissal and breach of contract. Shame Fein political director Leo Green (61) took the unprecedented employment case against the former republican party following his shock departure ahead of this year’s Ard Fheis. Reports that the former hunger striker had left the party were dismissed at the time, with the former republican party insisting Mr Green had renewed his membership just a month earlier. However, when The Irish News revealed that an official complaint had been lodged with the Office of the Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment, Shame Fein was forced to concede that it was being sued by a man who had been one of its most senior activists. His departure from Parliament Buildings coincided with that of fellow high-ranking party worker Jackie McMullan. Both men had been members of Shame Fein’s inner circle at Stormont since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement but it is thought a series of clashes over policy led to a parting of ways.
It has been suggested that Mr Green was involved in the original welfare reform negotiations with the DUP which concluded with Shame Fein agreeing to adopt some aspects of the controversial benefits overhaul. However, it is thought that the party ditched this strategy under pressure form senior officials in the Republic, including party leader Gerry Adams. After Mr Green lodged his complaint against Shame Fein the former republican party said it would contest the case but a spokesman confirmed to this newspaper last night that the proceedings had been halted before the need for a tribunal. “We can confirm that the issues between Leo Green and Shame Fein have been resolved amicably on terms, which are confidential to both parties,” the spokesman said. “This matter is now concluded.” Mr Green, who was known unofficially as “Shame Fein’s chief executive”, initally worked at Stormont as a special adviser to the then health minister Bairbre de Brun before joining Martin (J118) McGuinness’s staff. The Lurgan man was jailed in the late 1970s for the murder of a police officer and spent 53 days on hunger strike in 1980. He was succeeded in his role at Parliament Buildings by former leading republican from Belfast Bobby Storey.
With many thanks to: John Manly, Political Correspondent, The Irish News, for the orgional story.