Belfast truth campaigner says “information is today’s battlefield”

“Archives are the most faithful reflection of the history of a people and thus constitute the most explicit memory of nations”
-Antonio Gonzalez Quintana

Last month’s report by the Guardian that thousands of files related to some of the most contentious parts of British colonial history have gone missing from the National Archives seems to support the claim—long-held by campaigners for truth and accountability in Northern Ireland—that the British government has something to hide.

The National Archives’ response seemed to be to shrug its shoulders. Their own code of conduct shows that they endorse the International Council on Archives’ (ICA) Code of Ethics, yet the loss of Troubles-related documents suggests otherwise.

In 1997, Antonio Gonzalez Quintana produced a report for UNESCO on behalf of the ICA entitled Archives of the Security Services of Former Repressive Regimes. Its purpose was to highlight the importance of managing “documentary heritage” in post-conflict countries engaged in transition to democracy, as well as to propose a code of ethics with regard to the way historical documents are handled.

The National Archives (Via: Nick Cooper / Wiki)2
The National Archives (Via: Nick Cooper / Wiki)

Quintana, a Spanish archives expert critical of his own government’s archival policy, shines a light on the ways in which the security forces of repressive regimes worked on a daily basis to collect information on individuals. In fact, he argues that this was often the only way the regime was able to maintain its power. Police and intelligence archives in particular can shed light on these agencies’ motives and behavior during periods of conflict.

“In contrast to the public image which such regimes have tried to present, their real nature can be discovered in the files and indices of the security services,” asserts Gonzalez Quintana.

This is certainly the case in Northern Ireland, where the behavior of British security forces and the RUC during the Troubles as outlined in government files stand in such stark contrast to their public statements.

Ciarán MacAirt is no stranger to the struggle against British intransigence when it comes to confronting the legacy of the past. To say that MacAirt was not surprised about the most recent batch of missing files would be an understatement.

“Welcome to our world,” he wrote on Twitter.

MacAirt is the founder of Paper Trail, a family-led organization and social enterprise that works to uncover archival evidence in support of family-centered truth-recovery efforts in Northern Ireland. Paper Trail is an effort which grew out of MacAirt’s own pursuit of truth: his grandmother, Kathleen Irvine, was one of fifteen people killed in the bombing of McGurk’s Bar in Belfast in 1971.

The story of the bombing and the subsequent family-led campaign to clear the names of their loved ones is chronicled in a book MacAirt published in 2012, although the campaign is far from over.

“The police and the British state have been very consistent in their failure to investigate the mass murder of McGurk’s Bar,” says MacAirt.

“We created the charity, Paper Trail, to help other families target and retrieve information in public records so they would not have to feel the same despondency that our families may have felt when dealing with statutory bodies.”

He says he has been confronting the British state’s “monolith of lies” for most of his adult life, even taking the British Ministry of Defence, the National Archives, and the Information Commissioner’s Office to court over a specific file related to his grandmother’s murder. As it turned out, the missing file contained information about the placement of the bomb at McGurk’s bar, which contradicted the initial narrative of events put forth by the security forces. The court battle lasted three years, and resulted in a partial victory for MacAirt.

What’s become clear through the work of the McGurk’s campaign and Paper Trail is that authorities have not provided families, or even the courts, with all the available evidence related to their cases.

As recently as December, the McGurk’s Bar families learned in open court that former British agent and UVF commander, Gary Haggarty, passed along information related to the bombing to his police handlers. According to MacAirt, this was known to the PSNI and the Police Ombudsman’s office, yet unlike other families affected by Haggarty’s testimony, none of the McGurks families were contacted prior to court, nor was Haggarty’s information ever investigated or recorded in official reports.

Given their decades-long campaign for truth, this could hardly be an oversight. But regardless of whether this treatment is intentional, one thing is clear: the treatment of the families, even in the face of their ongoing suffering, is not a concern in the eyes of the British government. It simply doesn’t care if their actions or inactions compound the families’ pain.

MacAirt is steadfast in his belief that the most recent report of lost documents is further proof of a concerted effort on behalf of the British government to hide evidence of its role in human rights abuses, collusion, and cover ups.

“The efforts to disappear information recently reported are the tip of the information iceberg,” claims MacAirt. “I believe that the British state is still at war and information is today’s battlefield – but it is much more to do with British national shame than national security, as the British state scrambles to bury its war crimes.”

“In effect, a so-called first world western democracy killed its own citizens for its own political ends. So all of our families are still very much on the front line,” he says.

Indeed, what is often left out of news stories about lost documents or even political discussions about how best to deal with the legacy of the past is how each and every new turn of events affects the bereaved and the survivors of these atrocities.

“Every failed investigation, every court session does nothing but re-traumatize victims and survivors,” MacAirt points out. “We know the lengths to which the police and the state will go to hinder and obstruct families in their pursuit of truth so to see it reported that they are disappearing a few files is nothing in comparison to what they have done in the past or what they are hiding now.”

Imagine finding out that your loved ones were killed in a bombing from watching the news. This is exactly what happened in 1971 when the RUC failed to notify families in the aftermath of the McGurk’s Bar bombing.

Imagine then hearing the official explanation of the security forces–which was to blame the victims despite overwhelming evidence in their possession that contradicted this narrative. State authorities used this lie and subsequent campaign of disinformation in the immediate aftermath of the bombing to place the blame on the shoulders of those who died or were injured, implying that they were responsible at worst and guilty by association at best.

For more than 40 years, families in this case—just one of hundreds in which collusion is alleged—have fought to uncover what happened and why. They are still fighting.

Gonzalez Quintana believes that the strongest argument for the preservation of historical documents post-conflict lies in their use as documentary sources for the victims and survivors of repressive regimes. He also argues that they are essential for the exercise of individual rights in the new political situation, including amnesty, pensions, and general civil rights.

“Documents accumulated by the organs of repression are important for the memory of the people, and serve as an irreplaceable testimony,” wrote Gonzalez Quintana report.

What, if any, avenues exist to hold the National Archives responsible for protecting such sensitive material? Is there any recourse for families whose quest for truth in the killings of their loved ones continues?

It has been four months since British Secretary of State James Brokenshire pledged to launch yet another public consultation on legacy issues. The government claims it is still committed to the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, and that Brokenshire is waiting for the right time to begin the consultation.

These words remain empty in the absence of concerted action.

In the meantime, it is up to Paper Trail, campaigning families, and the groups that support them to continue their work of holding the British government to account.

With many thanks to the: Irish.Central and Ciarán MacAirt for the origional story.

‘Frankenstein Justice’ remark truer than Doug Beattie thinks.

This following letter was posted in The Irish News today May 1st 2017.

DOUB Beattie believes Crown Force members, who committed murders should face murder charges.

He believes in British justice, Courts and Judges. When British inquests and investigations threaten to uncover proof to charge British Forces in British Courts, Beattie shouts ‘Frankenstein Justice’ outside Belfast City Hall. Mr Beattie’s reference may be truer than he thinks. Frankenstein, of course, was a fictional character, destroyed by the monster he himself created. The British created monstrous injustices to legalise murders over decades of conflict. If inquests, criminal trials and investigations fought for by victims’ families go ahead, the truth about these monstrous injustices may destroy decades of lies at the heart of British rule.

How does an inquest into the ‘Ballymurphy massacre‘ or an inquest into the British State ‘Murder of Pat Finnucane’ fit Beattie’s ‘Frankenstein Justice’ ? 

Along with Saoradh, the Ballymurphy Massacre families took to Belfast’s streets on Good Friday, perhaps wondering why Mr Beattie thinks their loved ones unworthy of a legal inquest. Anyone who understands these families knows they have not campaigned for nearly 46 years, because of some far sighted political plot or Irish fondness for inquests. These families contend that 11 of their loved ones, were murdered openly by British troops in August 1971. The dead including a Catholic priest and 45-year-old mother, were unarmed. Some shot as many as 14 times. British Royal Military Police then declared British Paratroopers innocent and branded their loved ones guilty.

Eyewitness were not allowed to dispute the British account, nor ask why no British casualties were inflicted, or weapons recovered from so many dead IRA gunmen. British military strategists, like Brigadier General Frank Kitson, were writing how “Law should be used just another weapon in the government’s arsenal….. little more than propaganda cover for disposal of unwanted members of the public.” (Low Intensity Operations) Such policies required an undeclared immunity for troopers disposing permanently of unwanted members of the public. It worked so well in Ballymurphy that the British decided to do a replay five months later in Deery  (Bloody Sunday). There British Troopers, who Mr Beattie boasts defend our right to protest, defended us by shooting down protesters, with the troublesome mistake of too many witnesses on Bloody Sunday.

Adams/Blair British State Collusion

The Ballymurphy Massacare families are entitled to put their sworn testimony to an inquest where, unlike Beattie, they need not fear the truth. Many vitims’ families have that right. There is no mystery here. The British created and rubber-stamped monstrous injustices like Ballymurphy and many many more you won’t have heard of as a matter of policy. They hide behind the DUP, or empty words like ‘imbalance’ and ‘pernicious counter-narratives’. ‘Frankenstein Justice’ just means they fear seeing their lies being destroyed by the monster they created.

With many thanks to: Martin Galvin, New York, The Irish News. 

‘On-the-runs’ deal negotiated with Shame Féin and the British government ‘made amnesty for British Soldiers inevitable’.

This story appeared in The Irish News today Saturday April 29th 2017.

TONY Blair’s ‘backroom deal with Shame Féin in relation to an ‘amnesty for members of the IRA’ which has become known by the so-called of ‘ontheruns‘ made an amnesty for former British Soldiers an “inevitability” a member of the Westminster defence committee has said. Earlier this week the powerful Commons committee backed calls for a ‘statue of limitations’ stopping investigation or prosecution of all former British Soldiers for Trouble’s related offences.

The committee stopped short of recommending a ‘statute of limitations‘ for unsolved paramilitary killings saying that “would be for the next government to decide”. In February The Irish News reported that 200 soldiers linked to unsolved Troubles killings are set to benefit from a de facto amnesty, with the British government seeking to introduce special legislation which would place a “line in the sand” on further prosecutions involving some  ‘high level’ Shame Féin MLA’s from further prosecutions. 

Sir Gearld Howarth, the outgoing Conservative MP for Aldershot said at the time that there were discussions taking place at the highest level to protect former members of the British military from prosecution.

Gerry Kelly who shot dead a prison officer in the H-Block great escape received one of the comfort pardon’s.

“The soldiers and their families I speak to feel very let down”, he said. Three former members of the British military are charged with offences relating to their time on duty in the North of Ireland. In December last year two retired members of the Parachute Regiment were told they were to be prosecuted for the murder (execution ) of O.I.R.A (Official Irish Republican Army), Commander Joe McCann in 1972.
Another former British Soldier, Dennis Hutchings, who is in his in seventies and from Cornwall, has been charged with the attempted murder of John Paul Cunningham (27). who had learning  difficulties, was shot dead  (shot in the back) by a brave British Soldier in Co Tyrone in 1974. Prosecutors are also considering files on the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings (mass murders) were 14 innocent civilians were murdered by British Soldiers in Co Derry.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson, an Orangeman and qualified solicitor

(pictured above) who sits on the Westminster defence committee said this government had a “long way to go to undo the disgraceful deals of the past”. “The current government are not going to be able to right the wrongs of the past, there were some quite disgraceful secret deals done and people were understandably outraged.

“The ‘on-the-run’ issue created a completely unbalanced situation and it is absolutely right that there are now steps taken to address that imbalance. “The IRA did not leave written records of the murders they carried out and in fact when pressed have continued to observe the IRA’s code of silence. “This was very evident in Martin McGuinness” evidence during the Saville inquiry. “These recommendations are not set in stone and they could be rejected, but I would hope the current government (Vote Labour) will give serious consideration to the report and the very understandable public anger.”
With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News, for the original story.

RUC/PSNI officer said he was not aware of murders in blighted gang area

Sergeant failed to log gun find saying he had not linked discovery to paramilitaries.

Police officer was unaware of murders in area where 40 people were murdered.

An RUC/PSNI officer told ombudsman investigators he was not aware of murders in an area of Co Tyrone where more than 40 people were murdered over four years in the 1990s. An investigation found that the RUC/PSNI officer wrongly recorded the discovery of a gun, ammunition and manuals near Dungannon last year as ‘property found’ rather than an ‘arms find’. The items were uncovered by workmen at a house at Tamnamore in June and brought to a police station. When asked by The Irish News about the find, the RUC/PSNI initially said it had “No knowledge” before later confirming that a weapon had been found. A complaint was made by Relatives for Justice and Anthony Fox, whose parents Charlie and Tess were murdered by the UVF near Moy in 1992. The ombudsmen concluded that by logging the arms discovery as ‘property found’ it was not properly flagged up to senior officers and the police press office. The duty sergeant involved stated that he “was not aware of any murders back in the 1990s in the area and he had no thoughts of starting an investigation into this gun being linked to paramilitaries”.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the original story.

An RUC/PSNI officer told the Police Ombudsman he did not think of starting an investigation into possible paramilitary links to a gun find as he was not aware of any murders in an area which saw dozens of Trouble’s murders. 
The duty sergeant was speaking to investigators examining the police response to the discovery of a gun, various calibre’s of ammunition and manuals at a house at Tamnamore near Dungannon last June. The owner of the house is understood to have had no knowledge of the weapon, which was found by workmen and brought to Dungannon RUC/PSNI station. When asked about the discovery by The Irish News last year, the RUC/PSNI initially said it had “no knowledge” before later confirming that a weapon had been found. The duty sergeant, referred to as ‘Officer 1’, told the ombusman’s office that the “manuals were in very bad condition” and were later “disposed of”. The investigation concluded that by logging the weapon as ‘property found’ instead of an arms find, it meant it was not properly flagged up to senior officers and when police press officers searched for details, it did not show up. 

Charlie and Tess Fox were shot dead in 1992. A weapon was discovered within a few miles of several attacks by the sectarian gang known as the ‘Glenanne Gang’, which included members of the UVF, UDR and RUC and was responsible for dozens of murders in the 1970s. The gun, handed into police by workmen, was logged by police as ‘property found’ and not as a weapons find.

The weapon was discovered within a few miles of several attacks by the sectarian gang known as the ‘Glenanne Gang’, which included members of the UVF, UDR and RUC and was responsible for dozens of sectarian murders carried out in Mid-Ulster in the 1970s. A car used in the sectarian murder of a Catholic man in 1974 is believed to have been burnt out close to where it was found. Between 1990 and 1994 more than 40 people were killed in Trouble’s-related incidents in the East Tyrone area.

“We find it incredulous that any serving police officer would not be aware of sectarian murders in mid-Ulster in the 1990s” – Anthony Fox.

A joint complaint was made to the ombusman about the initial denial of the discovery by Relatives for Justice and Anthony Fox, whose parents Charlie and Tess were gunned down by the UVF at their home near the Moy in September 1992. The report revealed that investigators “challenged Officer 1 that they way in which the incident was recorded on police information systems would have merely suggested that this was a case of ‘property found’ rather  than an ‘arms find’.” “He stated that he was not aware of murders back in the 1990s in the area and he had no thoughts of starting an investigation into this gun being linked to paramilitaries, as he was not aware of any links or suggestions of this,” it said. “He was adamant that he did not try to hide weapons with possible links to paramilitaries.” Another officer, referred to as ‘Officer 2’, later confirmed he was “quite happy” with how the first officer had logged the incident.

However, the ombusman said the complaint had been substantiated and “appropriate disciplinary sanctions were recommended” and have been “acted upon”. It added that the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch is now dealing with the gun, with ballistics testing understood to have been completed. Last month Mid-Ulster SDLP councillor Denise Mullen, whose father Denis Mullen was murdered by the ‘Glenanne Gang’ in September 1975, criticised the time taken to complete forensic tests. Charlie and Tess Fox’s son Anthony Fox last night slammed the police investigation, a quarter of a century after the murder of his parents. “We find it incredulous that any serving police officer would not be aware of sectarian murders in mid-Ulster area in the 1990s. Mike Richie, pictured at the top of the page , from Relatives for Justice also said the officer’s claim “lacks credibility”. Police said last night: “The recommendations made in the Police Ombudsman’s report have been actioned by PSNI.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News for the original story.

Follow up link:

No Credibility to ‘Witch Hunt’ Claims

Collusion is not an illusion.

This letter was written in The Irish News today Monday 24th April – How come our very well paid (by us) politations did not open their eyes to This?

British Army veterans triumphantly celebrated the release of one of their former colleagues for a cold-hearted murder.

CLAIMS of a legal ‘witch hut’ against former British soldiers who served during the Trouble’s have been made during a rally of British army veterans in Belfast (April 15th).
The former soldiers claim there is a prosecutorial bias against former British soldiers over murders during the Trouble’s. Secretary of State James Brokenshire also claims investigations into killings during the Trouble’s are disproportionately focusing on members of the police and army. This claim is without a shred of evidence or credibility. Available evidence suggests that the British government shelving of the in-depth investigations and report by John Stalker and Colin Sampson on British shoot-to-kill policy and the Stevens Report on British security forces collusion with loyalists which resulted in countless killings, in fact shielded British soldiers and police from prosecution. Further evidence of protecting British security forces from prosecution is the continuing withholding of files pertaining to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Does Mr Brokenshire need reminding that British soldiers and police were and are acting on behalf of the British State and are a constitutional arm of ‘the UK government and recognised so internationally in law’?

With many thanks to: Tom Cooper Chairperson, Irish National Congress, Dublin 7.

On this day 2nd April my dear father Óglach Lauarence Marley was murdered.

Óglach Lauarence Marley – Murdered on this day 2nd April.

On this day 2nd April my dear father Óglach Lauarence Marley by a Loyalist Death Squad who had working in Collusion with RUC Special Branch, British Military Intelligence and A Informant.

You will Never be Forgotten you were taken from us after a year and a half and after serving 14 years in the H Blocks for Irish Freedom your legacy will live on in our hearts you never be Forgotton. And the fight will continue for Justice for you and many others.

With many thanks to: Mearthaile Ó Séan.

Máire Drumm Officer in Command (OC) of Cummann na mBan murdered by loyalists 28th November 1976 – RIP

On the 28th November 1976, Máire Drumm Vice President of Sinn Féin and a commanding officer in Cumann na mBan, was assassinated by loyalists while recovering in Belfast’s Mater Hospital in North Belfast.

Máire Drumm - Vice President Sinn Féin - Officer in Command Cumann na mBan.!/story.php?story_fbid=513465588832157&id=100005061609162



With many thanks to: Stephen Codd – https: