Ex-Shame Fein councillor admitted child cruelty.

A DEFIANT Bridge Meehan left court with a suspended jail term yesterday for shocking cruelty to her 10-year-old stepdaughter. The former Shame Fein councillor, who knocked the young child unconscious and forced her to sleep in a wet bed, was allowed to walk free on the basis of her age, guilty pleas and low risk to the public.

ABUSE: Above Left, former Sinn Fein councillor leaves Belfast Crown Court yesterday after she was given a suspended sentente for child cruelty and assault against her stepdaughter Mary. Above left, Martin Meehan. Above right, Kevin Meehan speaks outside Belfast Crown Court yesterday on behalf of his sister Mary.
ABUSE: Above Left, former Sinn Fein councillor leaves Belfast Crown Court yesterday after she was given a suspended sentente for child cruelty and assault against her stepdaughter Mary. Above left, Martin Meehan. Above right, Kevin Meehan speaks outside Belfast Crown Court yesterday on behalf of his sister Mary.

The 66-year-old had admitted a charge of cruelty and two assaults against Mary Meehan more than 30 years ago while her father, North Belfast IRA chief Martin Meehan, was in prison. The former Newtownabbey councillor originally also faced seven charges of sexually abusing her stepdaughter but they were not proceeded with and were “left on the books”. Belfast Crown Court heard that at the time of the offences between July 1979 and October the following year, an eight-month pregnant Meehan had been left to look after the IRA leader’s three children. Judge Gordon Kerr told Meehan that given her clear record, the “circumstances in which she found herself” and the time taken over the case, “considerable discounts” in her sentence were proper. Suspending the nine-month jail term for two years, the judge said : “The defendant is 66 years of age. The offences were over 30 years ago. There is no evidence she presents any danger to children or anyone else. “There is a low risk of her offending. I do not consider it necessary that she should serve these sentences immediately and think it is proper to suspend them.”

The judge had earlier said that while a remorseful Meehan had “expressed shame at her loss of control”, reports indicated that she “has no empathy or emotional concern” for Mary and the position she found her self in as a youngster, with one parent dead and the other missing. The prosecution proceeded on the basis of an agreed set of facts about her ill-treatment and neglect of Mary and the assaults on her. The first charge of assault related to an incident when Mary was tidying up, but apparently not quickly enough for Meehan, who hit her over the head with a bag containing a glass bottle and knocked her unconscious. Her wound later required stiches. The second assault referred to the youngster being hit by a brush or a shoe which had been thrown at her. The prosecution also told the court how Mary suffered from instances of bed wetting but that her stepmother “forced her to sleep on the wet sheets”. On  another ooccasion, after being accused of smoking by Meehan, the 10-year-old was forced to smoke cigarettes by way of punishment or deterrence. Mary was eventually rescued by social services who placed her into care in October 1980. A medical examination at the time revealed 20 bruises sustained while being looked after by Meehan.

The offences were committed while she was the girlfriend of Martin Meehan, who was on remand in prison on IRA kidnapping charges for which he was eventually jailed for 12 years. Mr Meehan, who died in 2007, was the first person to be convicted of membership of the Provisional IRA (PIRA). Bridge Meehan herself went on to be elected as Newtownabbey’s first Sinn Fein councillor in 2001, being reelected in 2005. She was suspended after the allegations of abuse first surfaced in February 2009. Karen Quinlivan QC, defending, said the offences were committed against a background of widespread disapproval of her relationship with Martin Meehan. This resentment came not only from his family but also her own. A remorseful Meehan, she said, had been left to care for three young children “quite abruptly” filling the shies of their mother who had died from cancer. Ms Quinlivan said while it was a serious matter, the level of physical abuse was “at the lower end of the scale” and Meehan had been widely criticised in the media and her own community. Outside the court, Kevin Meehan read a statement on behalf of his sister Mary, in which she said that the crimes of her former stepmother had finally caught up with her. She said BBridge Meehan had terrorised and brutalised her as a youngster and displayed nothing but callous disregard for what happened, rejecting any suggestion that she had shown any regreat. Meehan, the statement said, had ddemonized her through a tangled web of lies and deceit despite her crimes being exposed by her own guilty pleas. However, while Mary said that the court case could help to bring closure to the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepmother, the 66-year-old had yet to offer her any apology. Meehan, for her part, would only tell reporters as she left the court : “No comment.”

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.

VICTIM: She shows total lack of remorse

THE VICTIM of Bridge Meehan last night expressed her disappointment at the sentence handed to the self-confessed child abuser – and her continuing refusal to apologise. Mary Meehan said her stepmother had shown a “total lack of remorse” for the harm inflicted on her, at a time when she was still grieving the loss of her mother from cancer.

Mary Meehan in tears outside Belfast Crown Court yesterday after her stepmother Bridge Meehan was sentenced for cruelty and assault against her when she was 10 years old.

The former Sinn Fein councillor, who once revelled in the notoriety gained from her marriage to the late Martin Meehan, barked “no comment” at reporters who asked yesterday if she would appoligise. She pushed the media out of her path and muttered expletives as she left the Laganside court complex. Neighbours in Addoyne who spoke to The Irish News back in 2010, when details of the case first came to light, described Mary prior to her mother’s death as happy, well cared-for child who could be seen with biws in her hair playing in the front garden of the family’s Northwick Drive home. However, after her mother’s death and imprisonment of her father, his new girlfriend Briege McLaughlin moved into the family home and took an immediate dislike to the little girl who so closely resembled her mother.

She had walked out on her husband to take up with newly widowed Martin Meehan and this resulted in her being shunned by many in the close-knit community of Ardoyne. Resentful of the affection in which the woman she replaced was held, she appeared to take her anger out on her namesake daughter. Neighbours reported hearing nightly screams from the little girl. Mary developed a stammer and was rarely seen out of her bedroom. On occasions she did attend Holy Cross Girls School she was dirty and unkempt. Social services received calls after she was seen on three seperate occasions with black eyes. Mary Meehan said despite her guilty plea, her late father’s widow has shown no remorse for her actions. “I only ever wanted Briege to admit what she had done to me after all these years,” she said. “She may have pleaded guilty but even then it seemed to be something she was doing to save herself from prison rather than to clear her conscience. “I was disappointed at the leniency of the sentence but more upset that she has never apoligised or even a shred of remorse. “I can only thank my family, friends and children who have supported me throughout this difficult process. “I just want to put it behind me now and move on with the rest of my life.”

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.


“There will be no critique that many, maybe even most, states have been initiated and legitimised in the smoke of gunpowder” – Denis Bradley.


NELSON Mandela was no pacifist. That is not in dispute. However, was Nelson Mandela a terrorist? Now that is a whole different ball game. Not that you would be alerted to that question from the tone and content of recent media reporting. He is portrayed as the nearest thing to a living saint, the saviour of his nation and an example and inspiration for politicians and statesmen throughout the world.

The imminence and reality of his death will augment and further embellish his saintliness while in certain corners of the world, including the North of Ireland, he will be seen by many as a terrorist. Recently we had a soupcon of that in an article in this august paper. I aacknowledge that this is one of the oldest and most clichéd of arguments but one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It still remains current and pertinent to our historical and moral disputes. When Mandela finally dies, Irish nationalist and republican leaders will hail and celebrate his life and achievements. Smuperlatives will cover pages of newsprint and flow from the mouths of the great anand the good of political life. I would wager that the glowing eulogy will be echoed in Catholic church‘s throughout the land.

There will be little if any critical analysis of his involvement in and support of violence, even if the gospel of that particular day has Christ delivering one of his many warnings against the use of violence as a response to any political or human grievance. Unionist politiicians and Protestant Church leaders will be more flustered. Against the cascade of tributes led by the British prime minister, it will feel churlish to be overly negative so the criticism will be couched in softer wording but there will be the reassertion that those who take up the gun against the legitimate state authority are terrorists in their hearts and in their actions. There will be no crtiquet that many, maybe even most, states have been initiated and legitimised in the smoke of gunpowder. Still less will there be reference to the reality that the greatest acts of terror against humankind have been executed by nation states. The pages of ancient and modern history are dotted with such incidents. The invasion of Iraq by America and Britain is a good exemplar as any of the terrorism of nation states.

I was once advised that the wrong question can be as misleading as the wrong answer. The issue of who is a terrorist is a case in point. During 40 years I saw enough violence emanating from both the state and paramilitary organisations to conclude that they were all terrorists. They all used violence to terrorise a certain constituency to achieve their desired outcome. The wrong question as to who is a terrorist and what constitutes terrorism obscures the important debate that still dominates the core of our political discourse. Irish republicans, particularly Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail, have never confronted the premise that all their violent campaigns to achieve Irish unity have achieved far less than what has been achieved through the democratic process.

Their efforts to morally or politically justify some violent campaigns as opposed to others have been at least limp and probably disingenuous. Fianna Fail says 1916 was good,  the modern Provisional campaign was bad. Sinn Fein claims the ‘Provo’ campaign was good, the dissident campaign is bad. The failure or refusal to admit that none of these campaigns achieved their goal and that all of them left deep scars on the Irish people leaves Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail partially neutered in confronting republican dissidents who continue the tradition of violence. Unionists love rotten apples. If I had a pound for every time I heard unionism disown the rotten apples that were in their barrels, I would have a healthy bank account. I have never once heard (in public) an admission that the state itself has strategically used violence. The state manifests itself through its army, in the North of Ireland, the UDR, RIC, RUC, the Black and Tan’s and the security service, MI5, MI6 and the Special Branch etc. Despite Saville, Stalker, Stephens, De Silva, to name just a few, unionism holds onto the myth that the British state was not a combatant in the 40 years of violence. The inability or refusal to face the reality leaves unionism nearly incapable of facing its own past and reaching out to reconcile with its equally flawed and violent neighbours.

With many thanks to : Denis Bradley, The Irish News.




The Druids and Erin go bragh Live with Free entry for all Celtic and Cliftonville fans !


Donal O’Meadhra


17th July at The Beehive, 193 Falls Road Belfast, Belfast’s largest Celtic Festival!

BBQ starts at 5:00 and drink specials all day.

Immediately after the match stay for live music featuring The Druids and Erin go bragh.

Free entry for all Celtic and Cliftonville fans!


THE Parades Commission is expected to delay issuing a determination on the controversial Ardoyne parade after it was reported last night a loyalist residents group is to make a statement that will pave the way for talks between the Orange Order and nationalists in North Belfast.


Talks have been ongoing between loyalist and the nationalist community represtatives for several weeks in a bid to reach a solution to the contested section of the Crumlin Road passed the Ardoyne shop fronts. The area has been the scene of violence in the past when nationalist youths clashed with police following the passing of parades by Ligionel Orange lodge along the Crumlin Road. Nationalist residents also staged a sit down protest on the road in 2011 in a bid to prevent the Orange Order from marching the contested section of the route. The Parades Commission were meant to issue a determination in relation to the Twelfth of July parade along the Crumlin Road this week.

Sinn Fein aligned residents group CARA selling out the rights of the Ardoyne people to accommodate unwanted Orange Order marches past their district. The Orange Order are unwanted by the community of Ardoyne.

However, it is now beleived they have delayed making a decision ahead of last minute moves to bring the Orange Order and members of the Shame Fein alligned residents group the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) togeather for face to face talks.The Loyalist Orders lifted their ban on direct talks with residents over a year ago.

It was reported last night that a statement from loyalist residents of Twaddell and Woodvale urging talks between Shame Fein alligned CARA and the Orange Order was imminent. If well received it would be the first time Orange lodges in North Belfast have talked to nationalists face to face in relation to what remains the North of Ireland‘s most volatile parading route.


THE Parades Commission has been criticised for its ruling to allow an Orange Order parade past St Matthew‘s Church in east Belfast on the Twelfth without major restrictions. Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said residents and parishioners felt “deep disappointment” at the determination.


The parade – involving 23 bands and more than 2,000 participants – will pass the Catholic Church on the Twelfth. The area has witnessed sectarian strife in the past. Last year a loyalist bandsman was pictured urinating at the frount gates of St Matthew’s during a march. The parades watchdog ruled yesterday that the march could peoceed past the church. It said there could be “no singing, chanting or loud drumming” but bands were permitted to play music. Mr O Donnghaile criticised the ruling, particularly since stricter rules applied at St Patrick‘s on Donegall Street near the city centre. “It is becoming increasingly clear that they have one approach when it comes to St Patrick’s Church yet an entirely different one when it comes to St Matthew’s,” Mr O Donnghaile said.

“The Orange Order has consistently shown utter contempt for St Matthew’s Church and indeed the community in the Short Strand and it is clear that they cannot be trusted to show respect to that community of thier own volitionShort Strand need your support. “I am conscioious that this parade is organised by the same organisation responsible for Monday’s ‘mini-Twelfth’ parade, where we saw breach after breach of the determination placed upon it. “It is evident that the Short Strand community and the parishioners of St Matthew’s can in no way rely on the Parade Commission, who year after year allow clear disrespect to go unchecked. “Short Strand residents continue to make genuine efforts to engage with the Orange Order which thus far have been ignored. “I would call on the Orange Order to show leadership, to show respect and to take a voluntary initiative that ensures courtesy and dignity – which up until this point has been severely lacking – are shown to St Matthew’s Church.” The Short Strand Residents Group will hold a protest to coincide with the passing of the parade.

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.