The ‘Troubles’ may be over but the North of Ireland’s sectarian divides are deepening.

A peace process with no peace

 

 

The recent tragic death of Lyra McKee in the Creggan area of Derry City has raised fears that the peace in Northern Ireland is now under threat. Dissident republicans, calling themselves the ‘New IRA’ have admitted to causing her death while attacking the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

McKee came to prominence in 2015 when her blog went viral. It was a letter to her 14-year-old self who was suffering with the fact of being gay in Northern Ireland. It was later made into a short film. Her much-anticipated book, The Lost Boys, is an exploration of eight young men and boys who disappeared during the ‘Troubles’.

The sprawling Creggan Estate on the outskirts of Derry is one of the poorest working-class estates in the UK. Crime, vandalism, carjacking, joyriding, drugs, punishment shootings and heavily armed police raids against dissidents are commonplace. Because of this, the estate has become something of an attraction for journalists and filmmakers. Former BBC presenter Reggie Yates was in the area on the day McKee was shot, making a documentary for MTV about extreme and unusual places. Sinead O’Shea’s 2018 documentary A Mother Brings Her Son to Be Shot is set in the Creggan. It follows the life of the O’Donnell family after the mother voluntarily brings her son for a punishment shooting because he was dealing drugs.

Depictions of the Creggan paint a depressing picture of a community left behind by the peace dividend that was supposed to follow the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Commenting on police raids around this time last year, local independent councillor Gary Donnelly told Derry Now that the PSNI are ‘unreformed from the Royal Ulster Constabulary’ – the police force that was officially disbanded in 2001 as part of the peace process. ‘Their role remains the same, as they enforce British rule in Ireland’, he said. The fact that operations are ‘carried out by heavily armed officers, backed up by armoured vehicles and air support, bears testimony to this’. ‘The PSNI clearly mark themselves out in working-class republican areas as an oppressive occupying force far removed from the smiles and PR spin of their hollow “community neighbourhood policing” facade’, he added.

What, then, will the future hold for working-class nationalist communities like the Creggan, which were once a bedrock of support in the struggle for a united Ireland? Do those who are condemning the New IRA as ‘robbers and murderers who draw strength from a revolution the Irish refuse to let lie’ understand the residual tensions in Northern Ireland? Did the communities there endure all the repression and privation of the war years only to be abandoned by their own political leaders?

It was the New IRA who pulled the trigger on the PSNI and McKee. But Sinn Féin, the once-republican party, is to blame for much of the current mess and chaos in the Creggan. It sold the people a lie that the peace process would achieve a united Ireland. In truth, the GFA was nothing more than a coded ratification of the republican movement’s defeat. While there is still significant support for Sinn Féin in those communities, bitterness and disillusionment are increasingly apparent.

The dissidents of the New IRA are a symptom of Sinn Féin’s failure on many fronts. The party has also failed to address the social and economic deprivation that blights places like the Creggan, preferring to highlight issues like the Irish language, gay rights and abortion rights. It doesn’t focus on these issues just to goad Unionists. Sinn Féin believes that by concentrating on identity politics, its politicians can leave their nationalist/republican pasts behind and become ‘respectable’ political players.

Sinn Féin’s references to a united Ireland are increasingly muted, mentioned mostly at election time to retain their support in working-class communities – but only ever as a dream for a far-off future. In fact, the party might be about to take a step that would be unprecedented for an Irish republican party. Speaking at the recent Easter Rising commemoration in Belfast, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that in the continued absence of a power-sharing administration, ‘a new British-Irish partnership, a joint authority’, was needed in Northern Ireland.

In other words, Sinn Féin are openly willing to participate directly with the British government in maintaining the status quo in Northern Ireland. This can only further contribute to the bitterness felt in working-class nationalist communities, inspiring further support for dissident republicans like the New IRA. But the dissidents’ campaign is futile. There is no appetite for a renewed fight for Irish independence in the wider nationalist community. Their activity can only invite more repression for their communities and certain imprisonment for the young men who join them.

Responding to Lyra Mckee’s killing in a joint statement, party leaders said: ‘It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere.’

But what does this 20 years of progress amount to? A digital mapping project by Dr Matthew Doherty published in 2017, using government census data between 1971 and 2011, reveals that the geographical split between Catholics and Protestants remains pretty much as it was in 1971. There is little or no cross-community integration that might indicate any softening of identities. In the supposedly vital arena of education, it is evident that the integrated-schools movement has lost momentum, enrolling under seven per cent of students in 2017. Outside Belfast City Hall, tour guides and buses wait to take the tourists to see the famous Peace Walls – or ‘interface barriers’, as they are euphemistically called – which crisscross many working-class areas of the city. In 2014, the government set a target of 10 years for the removal of all barriers – there are still 60 across Northern Ireland. There has actually been an increase in wall-building since the GFA in 1998. This suggests that relations between the two communities, notwithstanding the fact that the war is long over, are deteriorating. Any optimism about the future is in short supply.

The most recent edition of the Irish Pages, a Belfast literary publication, surveyed 42 of the leading intellectuals, poets and writers on the subject of the GFA. The heading for leading literary critic Edna Longley’s contribution summed up the survey: ‘The Belfast Agreement and Other Oxymorons.’ Novelist Glen Patterson voted Yes for the GFA, but now thinks he ‘can’t overlook the fact that almost from the get-go our politicians, and therefore the electorate who voted them in, did their best to fuck the whole thing up’.

More recently, Unionist poet Jean Bleakney complained of being assailed by ‘Brexit-bashers, republicans, civic nationalists, DUP-haters, academics, rights activists, journos’, arguing that ‘more than ever, somehow, everything was the fault of the Brits’. During the 1970s and 1980s, when the war in Ireland was raging, Unionists felt that the British government and state would always be on their side – and it was. Following Brexit, many feel that their position is no longer so secure.

Historian and leading architect of the GFA Paul Bew argues that ‘the people at the top of the UK government are paralysed by imperial guilt’. This is apparent among the British intellectual and political elites, where there is a desire to escape the embarrassment of Britain’s colonial and imperial past – a past to which Unionists are wedded. This is particularly evident in the attitude of many Remain voters in the Brexit referendum. They disparage any form of British nationalism or sovereignty as racist or fascistic and prefer to look to a new European identity for salvation.

The GFA’s core principle – that all the people of Northern Ireland can by birthright identify as ‘Irish or British or both as they may so choose’ ” is now cast in a different light as Britishness (and particularly the Unionist version of it) is now considered problematic. This identity crisis, combined with the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing assembly, Brexit, and the DUP’s role in shoring up Theresa May’s government, means that Ulster Unionists and their political culture has come under a new and fearful scrutiny. Their stance on issues such as gay rights, gay marriage and abortion have been condemned, and there is a growing sense that they are an embarrassment to much of the political elite in Britain.

It’s not just the political elite who are losing interest in Unionism. A few statistics from the ongoing Future of England survey reveal that 83 per cent of Leave voters believe that the collapse of the Irish peace process is a price worth paying for Brexit. Only 25 per cent of Leave voters believe that ‘revenue raised from taxpayers in England should also be distributed to Northern Ireland to help Northern Irish public services’. The Spectator has traditionally been one of the most pro-Unionist publications in Britain, but in one of its recent podcasts, the editor Fraser Nelson discussed how the DUP’s insistence that Britain and Northern Ireland remain fully aligned had tied the British into a Soft Brexit. They chose to play out the discussion with a tune by Paul McCartney called ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’ – a song banned from UK airwaves in 1972. As the Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole worriedly pointed out, there is now a sentiment in the Tory circles which wishes that the ‘Irish (including the DUP) should bugger off and leave us to our own grand project of national liberation’.

So how is all this playing out in Unionist communities in NI? Journalist and Unionist commentator Newton Emerson summed it up when he wrote the following in the Irish Times:

‘Unionism’s largest party has consigned the UK to a zombie government, keeping Labour out of office but the Tories barely in power. The British public, having been forced to notice the DUP, has had every nationalist trope of Unionism’s awful “un-Britishness” seemingly confirmed. The same public has demonstrated its indifference, certainly at the ballot box, to the Labour leadership’s past sympathies with the IRA.’

Unionist fears are further compounded by the demographic clock. Dublin economist David McWilliams, who famously predicted the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, married into a Unionist family. His observation reveals something of the change in Northern Ireland:

‘I’ve been travelling around Ulster recently, taking in the views from rural Markethill in South Armagh to the prosperous King’s Road, Belmont and Stormont suburbs of east Belfast, and from coastal fishing villages of the Ards Peninsula to the council estates of Cookstown in Tyrone. I have seen Union Jacks and even UVF flags where I never saw them before. The anxiety of Unionism about the ticking demographic clock is captured by this “backs-to-the-wall” display of extravagant loyalist pageantry on the streets. On present trends, Catholics will be in the majority in Northern Ireland by the end of the next decade.’

Is there a future for a united Ireland? Would the Irish political class allow a referendum on it? And, more importantly, would they respect the democratic decision? Taking up his role as the spokesman for the southern Irish political elite, Fintan O’Toole thinks it will not stand: ‘The simplistic notion that a quick transition to Irish unity will solve the problem is utterly unconstitutional. The Constitution requires a profound reconciliation between diverse identities. That in turn requires people to be secure and confident in their sense of belonging.’

O’Toole is trying to put a legal cover on the reality of current political trends. The southern Irish elites did not respect the democratic decisions of their people in two referendums on EU treaties. Their British counterparts have shown the same attitude in refusing to respect the Brexit vote. Even if a border poll was demanded by the public, a united Ireland by democratic means seems an unlikely prospect.

The tide of history is turning in the United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland. Both nationalism and Unionism are now equally despised. The attempt to articulate a new political dispensation through culture and identity, which is central to the peace process, is producing not reconciliation, but a deeper and more dangerous personal enmity. Ireland needs a vision for a future that can prevent this slide into a repressed misanthropy.

With many thanks to: Spiked and Denis Russell for the original story

Denis Russell is a former history teacher.

 

Westminister paedophile ring: Top Tory MP ‘murdered girl at vile orgy’ claims new witness

The new witness has told police a FOURTH youngster this time a girl of 15 – may have been murdered by a VIP abuse ring which included politicians and a TV comedy star

(Image: Sunday Mirror)

A victim of a VIP paedophile ring believes a girl of 15 was killed at a vile orgy.

The new witness has told police he watched the teenager being taken into a ­terrifying “medical room” by a senior Tory MP – and never saw her again.

The sickening events are said to have taken place at London’s notorious Dolphin Square flats in the 1990s, the Sunday People can reveal.

He fears the teenager may have been killed by a brutal sadist acting out his horrific fantasies.

It would make her the fourth reported murder victim of a Westminster-based pervert ring, some of them household names.

The witness told the investigative website Exaro that he was himself abused while in his teens by prominent politicians and a famous comedian at the now notorious Dolphin Square complex in central London.

We are calling the man Darren, ­although that is not his real name ­because he lives in hiding, fearing for his own life. He is the third alleged victim of the gang to come forward.

Darren told us: “I would never have gone to those parties willingly. It was fear that led me to Dolphin Square.”

Dolphin Square in South West London Horrors: Dolphin Square in London (Image: Sunday Mirror)

Recalling the night in 1993 he ­believes a girl died, he said: “I ­witnessed a senior Tory politician go into the medical room with a girl who I know was 15.

“This was a bedroom containing a hospital-type bed with shackles, gimp masks and a tiled, washable floor.

“She was 15 and in care. I didn’t know her name but had been bumping into her for years at paedophile parties. I had been trafficked for sex since I was a young boy, initially by my father.

“She had a smashing smile and wore braces on her teeth.

“I never saw her leave that room, in fact I never saw her again. I fear she may have been killed.”

Darren has identified the exact apartment in the luxury Dolphin Square complex where he claims abuse parties were held while he was a teenager.

He says he was taken to up to 20 orgies, which were ­attended by around 30 VIPs, and has described ordeals – ­including beatings with a cane – to Scotland Yard detectives investigating a string of historic sex abuse claims.

VICTIM: Darren was used by VIPs

A former Tory cabinet minister ­already named to police by another alleged abuse victim, a Labour minister, and the famous TV comedy actor are among well-known faces he says were at Dolphin Square in the 1990s.

Darren claims he was driven to sex parties by the notorious paedophile Peter Righton, a former government adviser who had been recently fined for having indecent images of boys.

Righton would collect Darren and other boys from children’s homes in Suffolk and drive them to London in a luxury car, complete with leather seats and electric windows.

At Dolphin Square they would go to a four-bedroom serviced flat that had been rented out.

He recalled: “Guests would be standing around, chatting and drinking. There would be women there but they would leave before any sex took place.

“The attitude seemed to be that they would leave early so the boys could have their fun.”

Darren said that there were “very powerful” people at the gatherings. He went on: “They stood out a mile. I saw a former Labour minister at one party.

“They were very protective of their jackets. I think they were worried the boys would steal their wallets.”

Leading the way: The Sunday People has broken the story of the police inquiry RAGOUT Sunday People 02 11 2014 PAGES 8 & 9

Darren claimed violation and ­humiliation inflicted on youngsters at Dolphin Square ­became a familiar routine to him.

He said: “This Tory ­cabinet minister always insisted I should be presented to him with ladies’ underwear on beneath my clothes.

“The game he liked to play was that he would pretend he had spotted that I was wearing the lingerie.

“He would tell me I was a naughty boy for turning him on and take me into a bedroom and punish me.

“I was spanked with a bamboo cane that he brought with him, which was painful. I was then sexually abused.

“He liked boys to dress up in lacy women’s underwear. He would make a game of it.

“The minister would be accompanied by a minder who stayed outside while I was abused.”

The Dolphin Square apartment had three rooms ­specially fitted out and decorated to cater for the tastes of party guests, Darren said.

He claimed the spanking ex-minister preferred a ­bedroom known as the “leopard room” because it had a leopard skin rug.

Another was known as the “gay room” because it was “flowery and ­effeminate”.

Darren claimed that in this room he was forced to give oral sex to the famous comedian. He said: “At first he was an interested spectator at the parties but then decided to take part.

“He was much kinder and more considerate than the others but it was still unpleasant.”

The worst of the three rooms was the so-called “medical room”.

Peter Right on trafficked Darren to abuse ‘parties’ (Image: PA)

Darren said: “This was the bedroom you did not want to be taken into. Fortunately, I was never taken in there but I remember one boy who did.

“He had been dressed up in tight leather shorts and went in with a senior Tory politician and some other men.

“I met him afterwards and he told me he had suffered humiliation too vile to describe and was then beaten up.”

Darren said the brutalised boy was under 16 at the time.

He recalled that traumatised children would gather in the kitchen at Dolphin Square to ­comfort each other after their ordeals. He admitted he was given £50 each time he attended a child abuse party.

But he insisted he only went because evil Righton forced him to. He said: “I would never have gone to those parties willingly – it was fear of Righton.

“One occasion when he attacked me stands out. It happened after I was taken into a bedroom with the famous TV personality and Peter was driving us back to Suffolk.

“I kept saying the name of the comic character played by the actor and saying that he was at the party. Peter kept saying, ‘No he wasn’t.’

“Then he suddenly swung a tremendous punch, while still keeping control of the car. It hit me flush on the chin and I may have passed out. It was a warning to keep my mouth shut.”

Darren was interviewed over three days by Met Police detectives and named his abusers.

Sunday People paedophile cover ring Exclusive: Another witness, Nick, described the Dolphin Square depravity

His account bears chilling similarities to allegations by a victim known as Nick, who claims three abused boys were killed in the 1980s.

His evidence is being investigated by Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland.

Officers have spoken to the families of two lads, Martin Allen and Vishal Mehrotra, who vanished in London.

Among those named by Darren is the recently convicted paedophile Charles Napier.

Darren says Napier abused him when he was 15 at Righton’s home. Righton ­ordered Darren to give Napier oral sex and when the horrified lad refused he was beaten until he complied.

He added: “I was kicked and punched in front of Napier, who stood there smirking. I had no choice and so I did as I was told. I was ordered to have sex with Napier on two other occasions.”

Napier, 67, is the half-brother of Conservative MP John Whittingdale.

The former treasurer of the Paedophile Information Exchange, Napier was jailed last month after pleading guilty to 31 counts of indecent assault against boys as young as eight at a school where he worked.

Trafficker: Establishment paedophile Charles Napier (Image: Rex)

Darren continued: “Peter abused me repeatedly when I was 15, as well as forcing me to have sex with other men.

“By the age of 16, I was no longer to his taste, he liked younger boys. But he still trafficked me around.

“I was 17 when Peter began taking me with other teenagers to Dolphin Square. I am sure he was making a mint organising paedophile sex parties.

“We were all aged ­between 14 and 17.”

Righton, who died in 2007, was one of Britain’s leading specialists in child care – but was also a founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Darren’s testimony directly supports a claim made in Parliament by Labour MP Tom Watson, which linked Righton to a VIP paedophile ring.

And it adds to a picture of abuse at Dolphin Square first revealed by Exaro last July.

Scandal: Tom Watson (top left), Dolphin Square (bottom left) and whistleblower Nick (right)

People leads the way in the paedophile investigation
The Sunday People has led the way on smashing the high-powered network of VIP paedophiles since the story broke more than two years ago.

In October 2012, campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson stood up in the Commons and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate a paedophile network with “links to the heart of the UK establishment – including 10 Downing Street”.

Since then, this newspaper has worked tirelessly to get to the truth.

Last year, we revealed the explosive testimony of the witness known as ‘Nick’. He went to police with claims about three possible murders linked to the VIP paedophile ring.

A survivor of abuse at the now notorious Dolphin Square apartments in central London, he alleges he saw three deaths between 1979 and 1982.

One of his accounts details a murder he claims to have witnessed at a London townhouse in 1980.

Two other men have since bravely told their tales, including Darren today.

There are many similarities between their memories and since we published our story, Scotland Yard has stepped up its investigation. It called a high-profile Press conference to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

Officers are re-examining 200 case files relating to children who went missing during the period.

With many thanks to the: DailyMirror for the original story

The North of Ireland police accused of concealing data on loyalist murders

Watchdog widens inquiry after RUC/PSNI ‘failure to disclose’ information on 1992 mass murder at Belfast betting shop

The North of Ireland’s police recently released information on the 1992 murder of Catholics at a Belfast betting shop

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is facing a barrage of criticism and questions for failing to disclose to a police watchdog “significant” information about loyalist paramilitary murders during the Troubles.

The head of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Michael Maguire, on Wednesday asked the Department of Justice for an independent review into why the force did not share information about a mass shooting of five Catholics at a betting shop in Belfast on 5 February 1992.

The PSNI has apologised and blamed human error, citing “complex challenges associated with voluminous material”. It denied deliberately withholding information.

The release of the information has prompted the ombudsman to pursue new lines of inquiry into about 20 loyalist murders across Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in the 1980s and 1990s. Ombudsman reports into those killings, which were expected in coming weeks, have been delayed.

“It would seem information which police told us did not exist has now been found,” said Maguire.

The ombudsman’s office learned of the information when police prepared to disclose it to relatives of those killed in the 1992 attack as part of civil proceedings.

“Following a request from this office police released this material to us which helped identify significant evidence relevant to a number of our investigations,” said Maguire. “Following on from this police have now also identified a computer system which they say had not been properly searched when responding to previous requests for information.”

The Good Friday agreement is 20 – and Britain can’t afford to forget it

The ombudsman called for an independent review in the interests of “public confidence” into a force set up after the 1998 Good Friday agreement, in the hope the force would win more support from Catholics and nationalists than its predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The PSNI responded swiftly on Wednesday with an apology and promise to overhaul the way it disclosed information.

“We deeply regret that the researchers responding to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland’s request were unable to find and disclose it,” said the deputy chief constable, Stephen Martin. The varying levels of experience and knowledge of researchers accounted for the ombudsman receiving incomplete information but ombudsman staff would now receive “full and unfettered access” to material relating to the crimes, he said.

But groups representing victims expressed dismay and said the incident revived concerns about police collusion with loyalist paramilitaries. The Committee on the Administration of Justice said: “[It] is deeply shocking and the claim that it is due to human error simply insults our intelligence.”

Another group, Relatives for Justice, said there was a systemic problem in disclosure of details about killings involving collusion. It said the independent review should start as a matter of urgency.

Tommy Duffin, whose father, Jack, was one of those killed in the attack at the Sean Graham betting shop, on Ormeau Road, told the BBC that relatives were frustrated by the decades’ long quest to uncover details about the massacre. “All we have got is knock-back after knock-back, and this has nearly broken the camel’s back.”

Sinn Féin requested an urgent meeting with police chiefs to discuss what it termed an “appalling and unacceptable” failure.

With many thanks to: The Guardian for the original story

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”.