Sunday-Thursday, 12-16 June, 2011
1. 100 DAYS OF DITHERING
2. Cancer victim tortured at Maghaberry
3. Unprecedented harassment of republicans
4. Police Ombudsman damned in new report
5. Sectarian tension linked to marching season
6. Bloody Sunday prosecutions still awaited one year on
7. Feature: Bloody Sunday, the ongoing cover-up
8. Analysis: An independent international truth commission
>>>>>> 100 DAYS OF DITHERING
Faced with intense criticism over their failure to deal with the deep
economic crisis in its first 100 days of office, the 26-County
coalition leaders this week issued renewed promises to ‘burn the
bondholders’ of two of the state’s nationalised banks, while vowing to
maintain current social welfare and income tax levels.
“I say that because it is fundamental to the Programme for Government
and because it is necessary, in difficult times, it’s important that
people have some planning to be able to put into their lives.
“For that reason, that element of the Programme for Government is one
that we will adhere to very strictly and very clearly,” the Taoiseach
said. Mr Kenny’s guarantee follows warnings from Minister for Finance
Michael Noonan that he could not rule out tax increases or reductions
in future budgets.
On Wednesday, Mr Noonan surprised commentators when he declared he
would seek to share losses in the collapsed Anglo-Irish Bank and Irish
Nationwide Building Society with the bondholders, the international
investors who funded the institutions’ reckless lending.
Since the election, plans to impose burden-sharing on the bondholders
were shelved as it emerged that the European Central Bank had required
full remuneration of virtually all bank bondholders as a condition of
its participation in the state’s 85 billion euro bailout loan deal late
The ECB last night said it had no knowledge of Noonan’s new proposal,
raising a question mark over the Finance Minister’s sincerity in making
his declaration, which received worldwide publicity.
Frankfurt has not changed its resistance to any measures to impose
losses on senior bonds, according to reports.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams TD said that the first 100 days of the
Fine Gael-Labour coalition government has been littered with broken
promises and u-turns.
He said that: “The most serious u-turns were the decisions by the
government to continue with the EU/IMF bailout and to hand billions of
taxpayers’ money over to the banks.
“There is an understandable suspicion that yesterday’s u-turn on
imposing burden sharing on senior bondholders: to burn these
bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide is a stunt to mark
the 100 days of this government.
“But there are dozens more damaging u-turns in health provision and
education, the introduction of water and household charges, and more,”
“They have failed to protect the most vulnerable, cut essential
services and been at the beck and call of the EU/IMF.
“The government has demonstrated no leadership out of the crisis which
is destroying the lives of working people.
“In just 100 days it is clear that the people deserve better than what
this administration has to offer,” he added.
“We still have the Universal Social Charge; water and household charges
are now firmly on the cards; the reintroduction of student fees is back
on the agenda.
“The health service has been cut back to dangerous levels. The number
of Special Needs Assistants has been cut back while taxpayers continue
to subsidise private schools.
“Senior citizens too have been hit by the Government’s decision this
week to raise the pension age to 68.
“This Government promised to stand up for ordinary people. They did the
“Labour and Fine Gael have sold out the electorate and are simply
continuing with the policies of Fianna Fail which they criticised for
so long while in opposition.
“The people deserve better than that.”
>>>>>> Cancer victim tortured at Maghaberry
A republican prisoner who is undergoing cancer treatment has been
brutally strip-searched en route to the hospital.
Although prisoner Brendan Conway sought to avoid the appointment in fear
of the search, prison warders told him that he had ‘no choice in the
matter’ and he was physically dragged by a riot squad down to a holding
area where he was assaulted, stripped and violated before being
transported to hospital.
Throughout his medical treatment last week, he was escorted in handcuffs
by two warders. Although the doctor intervened and requested that the
warders leave the room for patient-doctor confidentiality purposes
(including an intimate examination of Mr Conway) they refused to leave.
The consultation was cancelled as a result.
Mr Conway was then returned to Maghaberry where he was again forcibly
strip searched before being returned to his cell. He has now sought
advice to attempt to uphold his legal right to refuse any medical
treatment or appointments which would incur a brutal forced strip search
and possible subsequent injury.
Four other prisoners were also subjected to violent assaults this week
in the course of strip searches to and from court. The prisoners
stripped were Sean O’Reilly, Tony Rooney, Rab O’Neill and Stephen
McAllister, all from Belfast.
It is understood two of these had been severely beaten in the recent
hand-to- hand fighting between protesting prisoners and a riot squad in
the recreation area two weeks ago.
Despite increasing protests, the Six-County Justice Minister has said he
will continue to implement the strip search regime, but claimed that,
technically, an agreement last August to dispense with the procedures
had not been reneged upon.
“The agreement did cover a reduction in full body searching within the
prison and that has been implemented, but the rules across the UK are
absolutely the same. There has to be a full body search on entering and
leaving the prison,” he said.
He also accused dissidents of breaking the agreement.
“There are still threats being made against prison officers on some
dissident republican websites and that’s clearly a breach of that
agreement,” he added, without specifying which website.
Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney said he deplored the impasse. “There’s
been good will on both sides and I think this type of threat from the
outside, in my opinion, only gets in the way,” he said, in reference to
the alleged threat.
“There is no room for threat in this. This is all about trying to bring
about humane and dignify conditions within Maghaberry prison.
“The minister needs to watch, perhaps, taking fixed positions in this.”
Meanwhile, a teenage prisoner who committed suicide at a Hydebank Wood
Prison and Young Offenders Centre in Belfast last year was locked in his
cell for around 22 hours a day because of short-staffing, it has
He was at an increased risk of suicide with a history of substance abuse
and self-harm but was left locked up because warders were off sick,
according to a report published by Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe.
Mr McCartney called for immediate action on the flaws in prison
administration identified in the report.
“Failings within the prison system, including at Hydebank have been
consistently exposed and highlighted by several, knowledgeable agencies
including previous Prison Ombudsman’s Reports, the Coroners service, the
Human Rights Commission, the Criminal Justice Inspectorate, and the
Independent Monitoring Board, yet recommendations remain mostly
unimplemented, warnings ignored and vulnerable prisoners die as a
“This latest tragedy must act as an urgent catalyst for the Justice
Minister to expedite Prison reform.”
>>>>>> Unprecedented harassment of republicans
The brother of a man shot dead by British soldiers in County Armagh is
to take legal action after he was followed by British intelligence
officers on holiday all the way to Dubai.
Peter McCaughey is a brother of Martin McCaughey who was shot dead along
with Dessie Grew near Loughgall in October 1990.
He said he had been forced to flee the United Arab Emirates after being
threatened by two men who identified themselves as senior British
The approach, which Mr McCaughey described as being “like a 007 film”,
is to be reported to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.
The Dungannon man said two men with “posh public school British accents’
had confronted him a few days into his hip to Dubai this week.
He said one had been carrying a computer containing aerial pictures of
Mr McCaughey’s house, car and children’s school.
“The man said his name was Nick and he wanted to take me to Afghanistan
to debrief me for two days, that no-one would ever have to know any
thing about it,” Mr McCaughey said.
“He said if I didn’t go I’d be ‘left at the side of the road’ and they
would see I was put in prison and my children would suffer.
“He followed me and when I tried to report him to hotel security he said
that he would have the local police arrest me and throw me in jail for
“I was that terrified I went straight to my room and packed and headed
for the airport.”
Mr McCaughey said by the time he reached the airport the two men were
already waiting for him. He got the first flight out, which was to
“I feared for my life and just wanted out of Dubai,” he said. “I really
thought I was going to be disappeared by them boys, they were so
On arrival in Birmingham, Mr McCaughey said immigration police had taken
him aside and placed him in an interrogation room where a man who also
identified himself as British intelligence was waiting.
“He started on me again saying Nick was sorry he couldn’t be there, only
I’d left Dubai in such a hurry,” Mr McCaughey said.
Last month the Supreme Court extended the scope of an inquest into the
killing of Mr McCaughey’s brother. He said he thought this ruling might
have prompted the approach. “I’ve been afraid to leave the house. These
men knew every detail of my life.” he said.
“I can only think the recent ruling regarding Martin’s inquest has in
some way provoked them into targeting me.”
Fearghal Shiels of Madden and Finucane Solicitors said a complaint would
“This is an unprecedented and extremely sinister level of harassment
against Mr McCaughey,” he said.
“We will be lodging a detailed complaint with the Investigatory Powers
Tribunal about the outrageous and oppressive conduct of British
intelligence personnel towards our client.”
A Ballymena man was also urged to become an informer by PSNI
Paddy Dunlop said two men came to his door last week and after gaining
entry to his home refused to leave for over an hour, offering him money
for information on two named individuals.
He said they had threatened him over custody arrangements in relation to
his young daughter.
“I’ve been subject to police harassment before but this was something
else,” Mr Dunlop said.
“They said they would give me money for the mortgage on a house for
“I’m already being treated for anxiety and this is just adding to that.”
The County Antrim man’s solicitor Padraig O Muirigh said it was a very
“The fact that they refused to leave his home and were there on false
pretences as well as threatening to use this man’s young daughter as a
pawn is something I will be asking the ombudsman’s office to
investigate,” the lawyer said.
Also this week, the former IRA prisoner Alex McCrory said he had been
harassed by a man claiming to work for MI5.
Mr McCrory said the man had threatened him and offered inducements for
him to become an informer. “The level of harassment being dealt out to
former prisoners by these people is ridiculous and needs to be
highlighted,” he said.
Eirigi’s Padraic Mac Coitir said it was time to challenge British state
forces in the Six Counties about the harassment they are doling out to
Mac Coitir was speaking as eirigi announced the details of a protest on
the issue that is to be held in Belfast this week.
This coming Saturday [June 18], people are being asked to gather at
Belfast’s Grosvenor Road barracks at 1pm to demonstrate against the
mistreatment republicans are receiving on a daily basis at the hands of
MI5 and the PSNI.
Mac Coitir said: “The harassment of republicans, particularly republican
ex-prisoners, seems to have gone into overdrive in recent weeks.
“The PSNI, using the 2007 Justice and Security Act, and British
intelligence agencies, using the most ham-fisted of approaches, have
been targeting people across the Six Counties.
“This harassment has included physical assaults, arrests, house
searches, threats and intimidation and the traumatising of children. On
an even more sinister level, British intelligence agencies are regularly
attempting to pressurise republicans into becoming informers and
threatening these people when they refuse. All the while, respectable
society has turned a blind eye and carried on with the farcical pretence
of the ‘new Northern Ireland’.”
Mac Coitir added: “The state making a misery of the lives of republican
activists and their families was wrong in the past and it is wrong now.
“In the past number of weeks, I have been told of PSNI officers dragging
crying children from their parents’ cars, of the same officers
attempting to search toddlers and of republicans being followed and
harassed while abroad on holiday.
“It is time for all of us to take a stand against this disgraceful state
of affairs. We need to send a message out to the British government and
its agencies of repression that we will not allow members of our
community to be isolated and intimidated.
“From here on in, republicans will regard the harassment of one as the
harassment of all.”
>>>>>> Police Ombudsman damned in new report
The Police Ombudsman’s Office is heavily criticised in a new report into
The office was established in 2000 and was intended to be a key building
block in the peace process and was aimed at securing nationalist
confidence in policing.
But a review by human rights group the Committee on the Administration
of Justice (CAJ) has catalogued serious concerns over the independence
and effectiveness of the office and the appointment Canadian Al
Hutchinson following the retirement of Nuala O’Loan.
CAJ said its investigation uncovered irregularities in appointment
procedures to the office and called into question the body’s
independence from the PSNI and from the British government’s Northern
The oversight body was accused of failing to hold the PSNI/RUC police to
account for historic cases in the conflict, while also failing to draw
up a definition of what qualifies as “collusion” in criminal activity,
so as to help identify potential police wrongdoing.
“CAJ began analysis of the work of the police ombudsman last summer,
following growing unease amongst families, victims, legal
representatives and human rights groups about the approach of the Police
Ombudsman’s Office to historic cases,” Mick Beyers, policing programme
officer at CAJ said.
“The research has raised serious concerns in relation to the failure of
the office to define and apply the term ‘collusion’ in a consistent
manner across all investigations and a failure to hold the police to
account in relation to historic cases.
“It also identifies serious concerns about the length of time it takes
for the office to investigate and report on a case, particularly in
light of the quality of the reports.”
The report also revealed “a range of irregularities” in the recruitment
process which led to Mr Hutchinson taking the top post ahead of two
other senior figures.
Mr Beyers said the appointment had “a significant impact on the
independence of and interference in the Office of the Police Ombudsman.”
CAJ deputy director Aideen Gilmore said the report uncovered “very
serious concerns” that “lead us to question whether the office is fit
An official investigation is already said to be underway into the recent
resignation of the chief executive turned whistleblower of the so-called
Sam Pollock revealed the independence of the Police Ombudsman’s office
had been undermined by interference from senior civil servants at the
Stormont Department of Justice, a number of whom have links to the NIO.
The latest report comes as that controversy continues.
>>>>>> Sectarian tension linked to marching season
The controversial Whiterock parade by the Protestant Orange Order in
Belfast later this month will go ahead, despite the opposition of local
As last year, fifty Orangemen will be allowed to pass through the
security gate at Workman Avenue, with the remaining members and
accompanying bands passing through the former Mackies site on the
The parade, which will take place on Saturday June 25, has passed off
relatively quietly in recent years, with nationalist protests remaining
However, loyalists this week daubed sectarian graffiti across walls at a
nearby Catholic school. Several laptops were also stolen during the
attack on Little Flower Girls’ School on the Somerton Road in north
Sinn Fein culture minister Caral ni Chuilin — a past pupil of the
school — said it was ‘distressing’.
“Schools are at the heart of the community and can be an easy target
when it comes to vandalism and offensive, vile graffiti like this.”
Meanwhile, an Orange hall in Dunloy, County Antrim, was sprayed with
graffiti at the weekend. The hall, which is situated in a republican
area, had the words ‘No 3rd Warning Stay Out’ sprayed on it, an apparent
reference to tensions over attempts by the Orange Order to hold an
anti-Catholic march in the village.
Elswehere, an Asda store has faced complaints for a second time about
the loyalist song, ‘The Sash’. The supermarket is at the centre of a
fresh row after a loyalist bandsman provocatively played ‘The Sash’ in
front of customers at the weekend.
Several members of a flute band were in Asda on the Shore Road in
Belfast on Saturday evening when one produced an instrument and began to
march up and down the aisles playing the Orange anthem. A store
spokeswoman said the incident was beyond its control.
The store, which is owned by Walmart, previously grabbed headlines for
anti-Catholic behaviour. One staff member, infamous for killing two
Catholic brothers in a double sectarian murder, was allowed to continue
working at the store despite intimidating Catholic shoppers during last
year’s marching season.
Meanwhile, Limavady’s new Sinn Fein mayor was forced to adjourn the
first council meetings he chaired after a unionist councillor attempted
to disrupt proceedings by erecting union jack flags.
Extreme unionist councillor Boyd Douglas of Jim Allister’s ‘Traditional
Unionist Voice’ party refused to remove a union jack he set up in the
Sean McGlinchey, a former political prisoner, was elected mayor
following council elections last month.
At the first meeting, Douglas put out the flag and refused to remove it,
despite Mr McGlinchey’s repeated pleas.
“If a commander of the IRA can sit on this council I shall be keeping
the flag up,” he said, while unionists fired insults at Mr McGlinchey.
Before leaving the meeting, Mr McGlinchey said he felt the council should
close until a “better working relationship” among councillors could be
“It’s getting to the stage where everybody in this council is a waste of
rate payers money. I am not going to take on people’s remarks,” he said.
On Tuesday night, a second meeting was again suspended but resumed after
Douglas took the flag down.
He said if he had “been asked in a reasonable manner” to remove the flag
last week he would have done but still reserved the right to display it
at any time.
In Lisburn, County Antrim, hundreds of loyalists gathered on Sunday for
the unveiling of a controversial memorial to the British Army’s
locally-recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).
The 19ft statue depicting a UDR man and a female soldier manning a
roadblock stands in the centre of the town.
Nationalists on Lisburn council had opposed the statue and in particular
its central location in a busy shopping area, describing it as
“insensitive and intimidating” to the town’s Catholic population.
The Ulster Defence Regiment, a paramilitary-style regiment whose
membership overlapped with those of loyalist death squads, infamously
terrorised and murdered nationalists during the conflict.
Sinn Fein councillor Angela Nelson said the party’s constituency office
had received a lot of calls from people expressing anger.
“People in the Protestant community may wish to thank the UDR but it has
been looked on as a bigoted force by nationalists, which was proven in
the killings of Catholics by members of the UDR,” she said.
>>>>>> Bloody Sunday prosecutions still awaited one year on
A decision on the prosecution of British paratroopers over the Bloody
Sunday killings is expected before the end of the summer.
A number of events took place on Wednesday this week to mark the first
anniversary of the publication of the Saville report.
Saville’s findings, published on June 15 last year, included that all 14
victims were killed unlawfully in 1972. The publication of the report
was accompanied by public apology by British prime minister David
John Kelly, a brother of Bloody Sunday victim Michael, said the
publication of Saville and its content has brought a huge change to his
life and had a huge impact throughout the north. But he warned that it
was not a case of “job done”.
“We’re still waiting on the prosecutions,” he said.
The majority of the Bloody Sunday families are keen that the
paratroopers are brought before a judge after nearly four decades of
campaigning for justice.
“I look at it like this — my brother Michael was murdered. Anywhere
else the person who did it would be prosecuted,” Mr Kelly said.
>>>>>> Feature: Bloody Sunday, the ongoing cover-up
By Eamonn McCann (for Counterpunch)
June 15 marks the first anniversary of the publication of the report by
Lord Saville into the killing in 1972 of 13 civil rights marchers in
Derry by members of the Parachute Regiment. The report acknowledged the
innocence of all of the dead and of the 13 wounded. In a speech
introducing the report in the House of Commons, David Cameron, just a
month in office, accepted that the killings had been “unjustified and
unjustifiable” and apologised to the families of the victims.
The unequivocal terms of the apology were greeted with euphoria in
Derry. The report, Cameron’s speech and reaction to the speech have
since been seen as a key stage in a process of “reconciliation” and
“healing” in Ireland. But this may not be the whole story, according to
Eamonn McCann, chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust, which coordinated
the campaign for the establishment of Saville’s inquiry.
The Saville Report’s recognition that all of the 13 Bloody Sunday dead
and 13 wounded had been innocent sparked an eruption of joy in Derry.
The sea of shining faces gathered in Guildhall Square for the release of
the report on June 15, 2010 could have lit up a continent. This was the
acknowledgement the Bloody Sunday families had craved through the long
years of their trek towards the truth, and it was sufficient unto the
A year later, it should be possible also to acknowledge that the report
was far from flawless. Saville convicts the lower ranks of the Parachute
Regiment while exculpating the higher military command and dismissing
any suggestion of political leaders having been complicit in the events.
The paras who fired the shots which killed or wounded are damned in the
report. Additionally, Lt. Col. Derek Wilford, commander of the First
Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, is singled out for criticism. It
was his disobedience, says Saville, which put the shooters into position
to carry out the killings: specifically, it was Wilford’s failure to
follow the plan drawn up by more senior officers, and not the plan
itself, which led to the massacre. The report’s conclusion is that one
undisciplined middle-rank officer and a small squad of kill-crazy
foot-soldiers did it all.
In this respect, the report, brilliant for the families, is not a bad
result for the British military and political elite either.
Saville’s endorsement of the role of the most senior figures involved
was important for Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech in the House of
Commons on the day of publication in which he conceded that the killings
and woundings had been “unjustified and unjustifiable”. Cameron would
have found it difficult to use such forthright language had Saville
included in his list of culprits Major General Robert Ford, Commander of
Land Forces, Northern Ireland, at the time, or General Sir Michael
Jackson, second-in-command to Wilford on the day, later army Chief of
Staff, Britain’s number one soldier.
Saville’s case against Wilford is that he breached orders by sending his
men into the Bogside to arrest rioters despite the fact that the youths
concerned were mingled into a much larger number of peaceful civil
rights marchers; by sending in two companies of paras when the
operational plan had authorised only one; by sending one of the
companies in armoured personnel carriers rather than, as ordered, on
foot; and by allowing “a running battle down Rossville Street” to
develop, when orders had been specific that the paras were not to go
deeply into the area. According to Saville, these derelictions of duty,
taken together with the readiness to kill of a number of those under
Wilford’s command, provide as full an account of the reason for Bloody
Sunday as it is possible to assemble.
If these are the only proximate causes of the killings, Bloody Sunday
holds few lessons, none of them profound, for the conduct of State
forces involved in internal conflicts, whether in Britain or elsewhere:
see to it that orders are obeyed, that rioting elements are separated
from others before sending in arrest squads and so on.
It is appropriate to consider whether there might be more to Bloody
Sunday than Saville allows and deeper lessons to be learnt.
It was Ford, second in seniority in the North only to the General
Officer Commanding, who commissioned the Bloody Sunday battle plan,
Operation Forecast, and organised with the army’s Belfast commander,
Brigadier Frank Kitson, that1 Para would be “loaned” to Derry for the
day to take the lead in implementing the plan.
In the weeks before Bloody Sunday Ford had made plain his frustration at
the failure of Derry-based regiments to bring the Bogside no-go area to
heel. In a document published by the Inquiry dated January 7, 1972, he
declared himself “disturbed” by what he regarded as the soft attitude of
army and police chiefs in Derry to the Bogside, and added: “I am coming
to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a
restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ringleaders amongst
the DYH (Derry Young Hooligans).”
Six days before Bloody Sunday, Ford overruled objections to the proposed
use of the paras by Derry commander Brigadier Pat MacLellan and local
police chief Frank Lagan. He remained firm as other senior Derry-based
officers expressed similar alarm at the likely result of bringing in the
paras to “scoop up” youths involved in any riot which might follow the
civil rights march. One officer felt so strongly that he phoned a
military contact in London to try to get a message to the Chief of the
General Staff, Sir Michael Carver, asking him to intervene.
On the day, although with no operational role, Ford travelled to Derry
and took up position at the edge of the Bogside, shouting “Go on the
paras!” as they charged through a barbed-wire barricade towards what was
to become the Rossville Street killing ground. Ford was, of course, the
most senior officer present.
The possibility that Ford’s decisions in advance and comportment on the
day might have played a part in the way matters developed is dismissed
by Saville: Ford “neither knew nor had reason to know at any stage that
his decision would or was likely to result in soldiers firing
unjustifiably on that day.”
In the same chapter, Saville insulates political and military leaders
generally from blame: “It was also submitted that in dealing with the
security situation in Northern Ireland generally, the authorities (the
United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Governments and the Army) tolerated
if not encouraged the use of unjustified lethal force; and that this was
the cause or a contributory cause of what happened on Bloody Sunday. We
found no evidence of such toleration or encouragement.”
Numerous incidents over the previous year might have suggested
toleration if not encouragement of unjustified force. The most egregious
had happened six months before Bloody Sunday when the Paras were
involved in killing 11unarmed civilians over three days in Ballymurphy
in west Belfast.
Newspapers of the period, particularly Nationalist newspapers, were
carrying regular complaints and editorial condemnations of unjustified
violence by soldiers against civilians. Toleration of this behaviour
might have been inferred from, for example, the fact that no inquiry had
been held into the Ballymurphy massacre nor any soldier disciplined or
any statement issued by the authorities expressing sorrow or regret.
Saville’s conclusion that there was no evidence of a “culture of
tolerance” would be unremarkable if by “evidence” he meant testimony to
the Inquiry. But he had declined at an early stage to examine prior
events in the North on the ground – in itself not unreasonable – that to
subject the Ballymurphy incident, for example, to the same level of
scrutiny as Bloody Sunday would have made the Tribunal’s task
impossible. This makes the statement that “We found no evidence…”
puzzling: the Tribunal had decided not to seek such evidence.
Ford should have had vivid memory of the paras’ involvement in the
Ballymurphy killings. He had arrived in the North to take up his post as
army no. two in the first week of August 1971 – a few days before the
introduction of internment without trial sparked the protests that led
to the Ballymurphy events. The killings were his baptism of fire which
it is difficult to believe he could have forgotten six months later. But
Saville finds that he neither knew nor had reason to know that the
soldiers of the same regiment whom he sent into the Bogside to deal with
the aftermath of an anti-internment march might open fire without
It is puzzling, too, that Saville accepted Jackson’s explanation of the
role he had played in compiling a “shot-list” which was to form the
basis of the account of Bloody Sunday offered in the aftermath by
British military and political leaders.
Jackson testified in London in April 2003 that, although he had been in
the Bogside and in the vicinity of the shooting, he had seen little of
the relevant events. He made no mention of compiling a list of the shots
fired or of writing any other description of the day.
A different version began to emerge the following month during evidence
from Major Ted Loden. He described how, late in the afternoon of Bloody
Sunday, he had taken statements from the shooters and plotted map
references showing in each case the location of the shooter and of his
target and had noted the soldier’s account of why he had fired – his
target had appeared to be armed with a gun or a nail or petrol bomb or
whatever. Loden explained that he had interviewed the soldiers as he sat
in the back of an armoured vehicle at Clarence Avenue a few hundred
yards from Rossville Street, with the map spread out on his lap and by
the light of a battery-powered lamp. He listed 14 “engagements”.
However, when a number of documents including the original of “the Loden
shot-list” were produced, they turned out to be not in Loden’s
handwriting but in the handwriting of the now Chief of Staff, Michael
Jackson. How could this have come about?, Loden was asked. “Well, I
cannot answer that question,” he replied.
None of the shots described in the list conformed to any of the shots
which evidence told had actually been fired. Some of the trajectories
described took bullets through buildings to find their targets.
The other documents in Jackson’s hand were personal accounts of the
day’s events by Wilford, three para company commanders and the battalion
intelligence officer. None of these mentioned in evidence the debriefing
sessions which this must have entailed – just as Jackson had made no
mention of the exercise in his April evidence.
Recalled to the stand in October, Jackson explained that he had
forgotten about the documents when first giving evidence but had
recovered a “vague memory” after learning that they had been produced to
the Inquiry and put to Loden.
Under questioning, Jackson seemed hampered by poor memory, on more than
20 occasions using phrases along the lines, “I cannot remember,” “I do
not recall,” “I have only a very vague memory.”
Saville resolves one contradiction by accepting both Loden’s original
claim that he had written out the shot-list and Jackson’s subsequent
explanation that he must have copied Loden’s script verbatim, although
he could offer no explanation why he might have done this or recall the
circumstances in which had happened. Loden’s own list has never been
Saville rejects suggestions that “the list played some part in a
cover-up to conceal the emerging truth that some innocent civilians had
been shot and killed by soldiers of 1 PARA. It is not explained exactly
how this conspiracy is said to have worked.”
Having declared that it was not clear how a cover-up based on the
documents might have worked, Saville continues that, “the list did play
a role in the Army’s explanations of what occurred on the day.” He cites
an interview on BBC radio at one am on the day after Bloody Sunday in
which the army’s head of information policy in the North, Maurice
Tugwell, used the list as his basis for explaining the “shooting
engagements”. Elsewhere, Saville finds that “information from the list
was used by Lord Balniel, the Minister of State for Defence, in the
House of Commons on 1st February 1972, when he defended the actions of
(The shot-list was also distributed to British diplomatic missions
around the world as a guide for answering questions on the killings.)
Saville avoided a conclusion that here we had not just evidence of a
conspiracy to cover up the truth of the killings but clear sight of the
conspiracy in action, with Michael Jackson at the heart of it.
Had this been among Saville’s conclusions, Jackson would have been found
to have concocted a series of lies to cover up unjustified and
unjustifiable killings. In that circumstance, Cameron would not have
been able to make the Commons speech which was to be hailed as a major
contribution to reconciliation and healing in Ireland. For the speech to
be made, the truth had to be twisted.
The response of the families to Saville’s resounding vindication of
their murdered loved ones was thrillingly and properly euphoric. Whether
other findings of the Tribunal stand the test of time as well is less
>>>>>> Analysis: An independent international truth commission
By Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (for Belfast Media)
The legacy of the past is one of the big issues which remains to be
resolved in the outworking of the peace process. This includes the truth
about formal and informal collusion and the wider desire of many victims
and families for an effective truth recovery process.
Ten years ago, in 2001, the British and Irish Governments committed, at
peace process talks at Weston Park, to adopt the recommendations of an
International Judge in relation to a number of specific cases of
Canadian Judge Peter Cory was asked to look at the killing of Pat
Finucane; Robert Hamill; Rosemary Nelson; Billy Wright; Judge Gibson and
his wife; and RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC
Superintendent Robert Buchanan.
Cory worked diligently and in 2003 he handed his reports over to the two
governments. The Canadian Judge concluded that there was no basis for an
inquiry into the deaths of the Gibsons. He proposed that one should be
held into the killing of the two RUC officers.
The Irish government published Cory’s recommendations in December 03 and
announced that it would set up an inquiry, but the British stalled until
April 04 before publishing his reports to them.
Seven years later of all the six cases investigated by Judge Cory only
the Pat Finucane Inquiry has yet to commence. It is the opinion of this
blog that the British government is deeply worried by the enormous
political implications of the Finucane case which is known to involve
substantial institutional collusion between British state forces and the
This concern was evident in the introduction by the British government
in June 2005 of the Inquiries Act 2005. This legislation deliberately
limits the scope of the inquiries proposed by Cory who criticised the
British move saying it “…would make a meaningful inquiry impossible.”
Meanwhile, the Smithwick Tribunal was established by Resolutions passed
by Dail and Seanad on the 23rd and 24th March 2005. It allows for
immunity for witnesses.
Its purpose is to inquire “into suggestions that members of An Garda
Siochana or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings
of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert
Buchanan on the 20th March, 1989.”
In May 2006 I was asked to meet the Smithwick Tribunal. This meeting
took place a few weeks later in June.
The Tribunal asked if Sinn Fein could facilitate an engagement with the
IRA about the killing of the two RUC men and claims that this action was
possible because of collusion took place with members of the Gardai.
We undertook to do our best. But we were mindful that the situation had
changed significantly as a consequence of the IRA’s July 2005 statement
in which the IRA leadership had “formally ordered an end to the armed
campaign” and said that “all IRA units have been ordered to dump arms.
All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely
political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means.”
The IRA restated its goal of achieving a united Ireland and in its
statement it acknowledged that it believed that “there is now an
alternative way to achieve this and to end British rule in our country.
It is the responsibility of all Volunteers to show leadership,
determination and courage.”
The consequence of this was that the IRA had left the stage and there
could be no engagement with it. However, we were advised that former
volunteers might be prepared to engage with the Smithwick Tribunal on a
The Sinn Fein leadership spent some time putting in place a process
which would facilitate this. When this was achieved Sinn Fein stepped
back and the process moved forward.
This week the Smithwick Tribunal opened for its first substantive public
hearings. In her opening remarks Maura Laverty SC, a member of the
Tribunal’s legal team, revealed that the Tribunal had met with former
She described it as a ‘very significant development’ and as an
‘unprecedented development’ and described how three members of the
Tribunal’s legal team had met with three former members of the IRA. She
said: “Those former members included former leadership at both national
and local (south Armagh) level. One of the three former personnel had
first-hand knowledge of the IRA operation of March 20th, 1989, and had a
command role in that operation. The former personnel gave a detailed
account of the events leading to the deaths of Chief Supt Breen and Supt
Buchanan and replied to questions posed by the three members of the
Tribunal’s legal team.”
The Sinn Fein leadership helped to facilitate this engagement because we
sincerely believe there is a responsibility to assist families bereaved
in the conflict if and when we can, though this may not be possible in
Republicans are very conscious of the hurt and suffering which has been
caused through conflict in our country.
Sinn Fein believes that there needs to be an effective process for
dealing with all legacy issues. Weston Park only dealt with six cases.
But there are many more families who seek truth and closure.
Therefore, the British and Irish governments should invite a reputable
and independent international body to establish an Independent
International Truth Commission.
Sinn Fein has been consistent on this issue. Our proposition would be
independent of any state, combatant groups, political parties, civil
society and economic interests.
It should have a remit to inquire into the extent and pattern of past
violations as well as their causes and consequences and would be
dependent on the full co-operation of all the relevant parties.
Of course, such a process would not be easy. There are vested interests
who do not want the truth and who will oppose the creation of a
meaningful truth recovery process.
It will also be a difficult and painful process and experience,
particularly for bereaved families. It must therefore be conducted in a
sensitive and generous way. And there can be no hierarchy of victims.
All victims must be treated on the basis of equality.
The closure which victims, victim’s families and survivors deserve,
demands that those who contributed to the conflict have to pledge
ourselves to tell and to listen to the truth about the past. Over time
this will contribute to genuine national reconciliation and an inclusive
For my part I would actively encourage republicans to co-operate with
such a process.
Building a united harmonious society demands that these difficult issues
are dealt with in an inclusive way as a necessary part of putting the
past behind us. Looking after victims and victims’ families and
survivors is a significant and important part of this.
POSTED BY SEACHRANAIDHE1: A FULL COPY OF THE REPUBLICAN NEWS