Policing Board must maintain authority

THE GUARDS have got themselves into a right mess. A controversy a day has resulted in the loss of two chief of police within a short time. The amount of commentary and advice coming from all quarters has ensured that there is probably less public clarity now than there ever was. As one of the advice givers, I need to confess to some niggling guilt.

I get asked to comment on the affairs of An Garda Síochána because I was on the first Policing Board for the PSNI. I have written a few articles and done some media about what should happen to the Guards and I think that my views are straightforward. To bring change and efficiency to as big and as powerful an organization as An Garda Síochána, it needs to be clear in law and in the public understanding as to who is responsible for what. That there should be clear operational responsibility and clear policy responsibility. That a strong oversight body (with political represention) is best placed to oversee the necessary change and bring about as much transparency and accountability as possible.

It was the same argument and recommendation as in the Patten Report that established the PSNI and the Policing Board here. The niggle is that every time I made the argument the question popped up in my head as to how well (or badly) the Policing Board here is doing. I am always slow to comment on something of which I was a part but it was so long ago (ten years) that I am long relegated to another Joe Soap who has no inside information but has a continuing interest in the subject. The niggle was that I was out arguing its role and merits and all the time there is a voice in the back of my head saying that I am far from sure how the Policing Board here is doing. 

When, out of interest, I make the odd inquiry from other Joe Soaps as to who is on the board and what it does, there is an increasing number of vacant stares and shoulders. 

Then I open this newspaper during the week to learn that the board is in limbo and can’t reappoint its human rights lawyer. It is reported as another example of the result of the present political impasse up at Stormont. But the truth is that the board has been in limbo long before the impasse. When, out of interest, I make the odd inquiry from other Joe Soaps as to who is on the board and what it does, there is an increasing number of vacant stares and shrugs of shoulders. It doesn’t appear to have a presence. I seldom hear of it except as an aside to something happening in the polcing world. I know it publishes annual reports. I know it sets targets and reports on the achievements and failures of the police and I presume that if I took the bother to go looking I would find such reports. But being Joe Soap, I am sometimes too lazy and sometimes too busy to be going looking. I would appreciate some of it in my face.

The board has many responsibilities, the primary one to hold the chief constable (the police) to account for their performance. It does that job on behalf of the public and so it is important that it keeps the public informed and interested. I don’t expect it and I don’t want it to be in the news every day but policing is never a completed, done job. There are so many issues that need ongoing analysis, debate, scrutiny; issues such as drugs, paramilitaries, domestic violence, community policing, to name just a few. And then, of course, is the question of the quality of the service that is being delivered, something that needs constant monitoring. I hear the police view on many matters but I can’t remember the last time I heard the board’s view. I there is a public meeting every month or so, but that is the board asking asking questions of the police – it is not the view of the board. I don’t know who the spokesperson is. I know how difficult or impossible it is to get a consensus view on anything and the present political impasse makes it even more difficult. But all the more reason for a strong, authoritative, challenging voice that gives the public some sense of comfort and security. I think the Policing Board had established that authority and had been given a lot of trust from the public. That trust is easily lost and extremely difficult to reestablish.

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

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.

Police probe online paramilitary images

POLICE are investigating after an image was posted online showing a masked man apparently firing shots in tribute to a Socialist Republican in west Belfast.

“The final salute to comrade Harry O’Hara” – IRSP.

Photographs posted on Facebook by the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) – the politicial wing of the Irish National Liberation Party (INLA) – show masked men posing on a street with a picture of Harry O’Hara. Mr O’Hara, from Norglen Drive in the Turf Lodge area, died on February 28th and was buried in the City Cemetery earlier this month following Requiem Mass at Holy Trinity Church. Among death notices expressing sympathy at Mr O’Hara’s passing was one from “Connor Hughes, Cogús Republican Prisoners” in Maghaberry Jail.

West Belfast – INLA

The IRSP’s Belfast branch posted photos on Facebook of a “final salute to comrade Harry O’Hara”. It said “Harry was a loyal republican socialist and he will always be remembered with honour and pride by the Republican Socialist Movement” (RSM). The images show masked men dressed in paramilitay-style uniform posing beside candles and a photo of Mr O’Hara (copy of picture above). In one, a member of the group raises a gun above his head in a firing motion.

The images have been condemned by SDLP councillor Tim Attwood, who represents the area on Belfast City Council. “These are scenes which belong in the past. There is no excuse for masked gunmen on the streets of our city, no matter what the context,” he said. “This was a reckless act and should be roundly condemned.” A RUC/PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police are aware of footage on social media showing shots apparently being fired by a masked man in west Belfast. An investigation is under way.”

With many thanks to: John Monaghan, The Irish News, for the origional story.

One of the secretaries to the Irish delegation at the 1921 Treaty talks described the excitement in Downing Street as Collins arrived.

“The paths were lined along the route with Irish exiles, including nuns and clergymen reciting the rosary, singing hymns, exclaiming good wishes… There were tri -colours, banners, flags lengths of cloth and cardboard with wishes and slogans in Gaelic.”

The Irish Independent described his send-off from Euston station after the talks in December: “Collins was a particular favourite of the women”.

“The police were powerless to check the wild stampede… and one young woman succeeded in embracing him and kissing him heartily on both cheeks. ‘God bless you Michael!’ were the last shouts of a few hundred of his women admirers.”

There were similar scenes in Dublin when he returned home. Collins was offered $25,000 – a vast sum at the time – to write his memoirs, but he died too early to take up the offer.

With many thanks to: Life And Times of the the “big Fella”.

The McMahon Family Massacre

The McMahon Family Massacare

On 23 March 1922, five members of the McMahon family and another man were murdered by the RIC in their family home in North Belfast.

At 1.20 am, masked men sledgehammered down the door of the three-storey house at 3 Kinnaird Terrace, rousing the occupants, who at first suspected a bomb had been put in the letterbox, from their beds.

The murderers quickly collected the women of the house and locked them in a back room. They then forced 50-year-old Owen McMahon and his five sons, ages 11 to 24, and a 25-year-old male boarder, into the living room. The leader of the assassins told the men and boys to avail of the few moments to pray for their souls. As they were praying, the gang opened fire.

Owen McMahon and three of his boys died instantly, as did boarder Ed McKinney. Another McMahon son, Bernard, died of his wounds a week later. Amazingly, the shots intended for 11-year-old John McMahon missed. The boy, shrieking with fright, ran round the dining-room table. Two more shots were fired at him as he ran, these ricocheted off the table into the wall. The boy managed to get under the sofa and lay there until the killers had fled. John McMahon later identified the killers as uniformed, but masked, police. He was absolutely categorical about the murderers’ identity in his statement to local clergy: “Four of the five men were dressed in the uniform of the RIC but, from their appearance, I know they are Specials, not regular RIC.”

An explosion of violence accompanied Britain’s 1920 partitioning of Ireland, the Irish Tan War, and the ensuing Irish Civil War. From July 1920 to July 1922, 453 died in Belfast alone. Over 60 percent were Catholics, who then made up a third of the population. The McMahons, a business family, were killed in reprisal for the IRA killing of two police auxiliaries the day before.

There is no doubt that some members of the B-Specials were present at the McMahon killings but it must be remembered that the ‘Specials’ were in fact mere ‘helpers’ to those who were involved in the planning and carrying out of such attacks and who were all members, and in most cases high rankings members, of the RIC. They were known as the Cromwell Club and were established in Belfast. These death squads were set up by the Unionist Party and attacked Catholics when the opportunity arose. Their sectarian purpose was to drive all the Catholics out of the newly formed Ulster State.

A chief Belfast death squad leader was Inspector John Nixon. The Stormont government eventually tried to dismiss him, but backed off when he threatened to publicly name senior police and unionist politicians who had helped in the murder gangs.

Nixon was elected five times to Britain’s Parliament and he was awarded an MBE by King George in 1923 for his “valuable service during the troubled period”.

After interviewinree Sinn Féiners (in their homes)… the only way to stop these cold-blooded murders.”

A week after the McMahon incident, in a deliberate attempt to wreck the Craig-Collins pact, lorry loads of RIC and Specials from Brown Square barracks perpetrated the “Arnon Street Massacre” of five Catholics.

Such was the weight of evidence against Nixon and named police for these murders that DI Lynn not only “investigated… the police for murder” but ordered the police suspects to parade for identification.

However, as Fr Laverty reported, they refused; and Craig resisted demands for an inquiry.

On Sunday 26 March 1922, the funeral of the Owen McMahon and his three sons, Frank, Patrick and Gerald, left St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street, en route for burial in Milltown Cemetery. Thousands lined the streets to show their abhorrence for the brutal killings.

One week later the RIC were renamed the RUC.

On 29 January 2003,the North Belfast News reported that, following a request from the DUP’s Ian Crozier, Belfast City Hall would ask the Department of Social Development for the former home of RUC Officer and Unionist MP John Nixon to be declared a national monument.

With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.

Christina ‘Dina’ Hunter was born in 1901. At the time the Hunter family were living in a one room tenement at number 7 McGuinness Court.

Her father was a coach painter, while her mother, Sarah was a house kepper. They already had a two-year-old son John. They would later move to number 25 Townsend Street, another one room tenement, and the family would expand to include Sarah, Liziebeth and Jane Frances.

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Christy and Dina Crothers nee Hunter

https://m.facebook.com/dakota29#!/groups/250140148442168?view=permalink&id=798365180286326&ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity

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Kathleen Lynn.
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The Funeral of Thomas Ashe.
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Sean Hunter (Johnny).

With many thanks to: Gillean Robertson Miller –
http:// https://m.facebook.com/groups/250140148442168?view=permalink&id=798365180286326&ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity#!/gillean.miller?fref=nf&ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity

1916 Easter Rising Historical Society.
http:// https://m.facebook.com/groups/250140148442168?view=permalink&id=798365180286326&ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity#!/groups/250140148442168?ref=m_notif&notif_t=group_activity

Arrest fears may keep son of INLA chief Dominic McGlinchey from funeral of brother – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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Declan and Dominic jnr McGlinchey

http://m.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/arrest-fears-may-keep-son-of-inla-chief-dominic-mcglinchey-from-funeral-of-brother-34164229.html

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Declan McGlinchey, lays a wreath at the Easter commemoration - Easter Saturday 2015.

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Sappers - Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar, murdered during the Massereene attack
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Declan McGlinchey - 38-year's-old.