Skilled journalists shine Spotlight on the darkest secrets of our sad past

THERE’S an old proverb about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. 

And friends of mine have occasionally tried to explain away unionism’s vice-like grip on the first 50 years of the North of Ireland by quoting it. They claim the unionist government which oversaw the North of Ireland always planned to do better, but never quite got there. There’s no doubt that in 1921 after the partition of Ireland was complete, unionist leaders had a chance to create a northern state where few Catholics would have opted to join the newly-formed 26 County Free State.

Rev Ian Paisley Leader of the DUP and Firebrand preacher

But religious bigotry at the heart of at the heart of the Stormont regime meant that opportunity was passed over. And instead unionism firmly pulled the shutters down tight. It viewed every Catholic citizen with suspicion. Unionist Party leaders ignored the parting advice of Sir Edward Carson – the public face of unionism – to be kind to the minority. And although not publicly acknowledged, some unionist establishment figures even gave the green light to loyalist gunmen to wage a war of attrition against Catholics. Pogroms were terrifying and real, with hundreds losing their lives as the contrived state of the North of Ireland became a political reality. A semi-secret plan was hatched where police officers like the infamous DI Nixon were allowed to run their own murder gangs. Their intention was to grind Catholics into submission and force them to accept that they now lived in a place where only those loyal to Britain ruled the roost. Rejecting unionist offers of top police jobs abroad. Nixon eventually quit the RUC to become an Independent Unionist MP.

EXPOSE

And until the day he died, he repeatedly threatened to expose fellow unionist politicians’ involvement in violence at the foundation of the state. Eventually many Catholics accepted their diminished status and kept their heads down. Occasional IRA attacks in the north and in England posed no threat to the northern state. But the 1947 Education Act – forced on unionist by the British government  – created an articulate Catholic middle class no longer willing to accept the status quo.

Martin McGuinness Deputy First Minister for the North of Ireland and OC Officer Commanding the IRA Derry Brigade

In 1967, along with other interested groups – including the remnants of the Irish Republican Movement – these people formed the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The organisation had the stated aim of replacing unionist discrimination in jobs, housing and voting rights with British liberal values. It was well received in Ireland and also in the rest of the UK, where people were shocked to learn that the North of Ireland citizens hadn’t the same rights as them. The North of Ireland Prime Minister Captain Terence O’Neill (who the unionist claimed was a Lundy) – steeped in the unionist landed gentry – knew in his heart that if the union was to survive, then things needed to change. But a rabble-rousing fundamentalist preacher called Ian Paisley – who led his own Free Presbyterian Church – had other ideas. He had an ability to tap into ancient Protestant fears and suspicions. And he helped form a series of new loyalist paramilitary organisations opposed to any reforms proposed by O’Neill. Paisley was following in the footsteps of his close friend and hero DI Nixon, a police officer turned politician who had terrorised Catholics at the foundation of the state. Much of Paisley’s involvement with the reconstituted Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was denied because the authorities feared the clergyman’s Svengali-like powers. But this week – in the first of a new seven part series of TV programmes to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Troubles – Paisley’s real role in the violence is exposed.

Martin McGuinness above and the Rev Ian Paisley

Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History goes out simultaneously on BBC Northern and BBC4 on Tuesday night. Using first-hand testimony of individuals who were around at the time, reporter Darragh McIntyre reveals how Ian Paisley personally financed the UVF bombing of a water pipe line at the Silent Valley Reservoir near Kilkeel in April 1969. Paisley and his cohorts attempted to give the impression that the explosion, coming as it did months before serious violence erupted on the streets of Derry and Belfast, was the work of the practically moribund IRA. But a retired senior British Army officer, drafted in to examine the aftermath of the bomb, told MacIntyre his suspensions were raised as soon as he saw the bomb site. “This just didn’t have the look of an IRA bomb,” he said. And he went on to claim that a senior RUC officer in Killkeel showed him intelligence reports which revealed the entire operation had been financed by Paisley.

A mural which appeared in Moygashel of the late Martin McGuinness

As Paisley’s UVF mates were bombing the place, a young butcher’s apprentice by the name of Martin McGuinness was about to quit his job to assume the role of 2nd in Command of the Provisional IRA in Derry.

Fottage of former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness overseeing a car bomb being loaded in Co Derry

In newly emerged footage, McGuinness is filmed overseeing an IRA bomb being loaded into the boot of a car. McGuinness sits in the passenger seat and, minutes later, it is transported to Derry city centre and detonated. And in another remarkable clip, McGuinness instructs children on how to load bullets into a revolver.

Martin McGuinness showing teenagers how to load a revolver in Derry city

It is almost beyond belief that 3,500 deaths later, these two men were sworn into office as the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in a new devolved administration at Stormont. But they also became close personal friends.

ASTONISHING 

In an astonishing revelation near the end of the first programme, MacIntyre reveals written details of a top secret report by Sir Michael Carver, the most senior officer in the British Army. In the report, Carver advises the British government to consider an alternative strategy which doesn’t demand maintaining the North of Ireland border by military means, (what Brexit will mean).I.e. British withdrawal.

A burial headstone commenting a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

Spotlight editor Jeremy Adams say he’s proud his talented team of investigative reporters consisting of McIntyre, Jennifer O’Leary and Mandy McAuley, have been able to uncover new findings relating to the history of the Troubles. “This past has shaped our present and it’s vitally important that truths continue to be told,” he said. I’m in no doubt that this body of work from the awarding-winning BBC Spotlight team will become the definitive television history of the Troubles. This series of programmes – which uncovers much previously unknown material  – is informative, revealing, shocking and at times very, very moving. It was an enormous undertaking for the reporters and filmmakers involved, but once again, BBC Spotlight comes through with flying colours. Don’t miss it.

 

With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Hugh Jordan for the original story 

 

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11313364

(2)-: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/latest-news/rev-ivan-foster-ian-paisley-is-unable-to-reply-to-these-slanderous-allegations-against-him-1-9063523

(3)-: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49348633

Montagh Road Belfast shooting leaves man in hospital with injury to leg

Emergency services were called on Friday night (Image: Stock)

A man has been rushed to hospital after a paramilitary-style shooting in Belfast this evening.

Emergency services were called to Monagh Road, in the west of the city , at 9.25pm on Friday night, September 6.

A 27-year-old man was shot in the leg and taken to hospital. His condition is not known at this time.

Inspector James Murphy said: “At approximately 9.25pm this evening, we received a report that a 27-year-old man had been shot in the leg. He has been taken to hospital.

“This is a cowardly, despicable act that was carried out in a built up area. The perpetrator, or perpetrators, do not care for either the victim or the people who live in close proximity to where this incident happened.

“I would appeal for anyone who witnessed this incident or anyone who has information to contact detectives at Musgrave on 101 quoting ref 2168 06/09/19.”

With many thanks to: Belfast Live and Sarah Scott for the original story 

Suspected ammunition seized in Continuity IRA (CIRA) searches

A quantity of suspected ammunition was seized on Thursday following police searches linked to the Continuity IRA.

Police searched properties in west Belfast and Newtownabbey as part of an ongoing investigation into violent dissident republican activity.

A 37-year-old man arrested in Newtownabbey on Thursday night under the Terrorism Act has been released unconditionally.

A 31-year-old man, arrested in Belfast earlier on Thursday remains in custody.

With many thanks to: BBC News NI for the original story 

 

Raymond McCord defies UVF death threats to continue court action against Mount Vernon UVF murder squad

Raymond McCord at a previous court hearing

High-profile victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord has been warned loyalist paramilitaries are plotting to kill him, he has revealed.

The Belfast man said police alerted him to the new threat against his life and advised him to review personal security arrangements.

But Mr McCord has vowed to press on with a planned High Court action against seven men in connection with the Ulster Volunteer Force murder of his son more than 21 years ago.

He insisted: “This will not stop me in my campaign for justice for young Raymond, or stop my private civil action. The fight continues.”

Raymond McCord Jnr, 22, was beaten to death before his body was dumped at a quarry outside north Belfast in November 1997.

Mural of Mount Vernon UVF in North Belfast

The killing was carried out by a UVF unit based in the Mount Vernon area of the city.

In 2007 a major Police Ombudsman investigation established Special Branch officers colluded with the gang behind the murder.

The victim’s father has been an outspoken critic of the loyalist paramilitaries involved, resulting in him receiving a number of threat messages over the years.

Mr McCord said he was contacted again by the police on Monday, and issued with the warning when he attended a PSNI station in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

“A sergeant told me simply they had received information that loyalist paramilitaries are planning to murder me by shooting me,” he disclosed.

The 65-year-old campaigner, who is recovering from surgery to remove his gallbladder, said he was given advice on his future movements.

He confirmed however, that a lawsuit seeking damages over his son’s murder will continue.

The case is being taken against the man he claims headed up the UVF, and six others allegedly associated with the terror grouping.

Police declined to confirm or deny whether any warning was made.

A PSNI spokesman said: “We do not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this.

“However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk, we will inform them accordingly.

Depending if you come from the Catholic minority are Protestant majority whether you receive a police warning or not!!!

“We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk.”

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Alan Erwin for the original story

Follow this link to find out more about the RUC/PSNI not informing Roman Catholics of immediate death threats in which one man was murdered: https://seachranaidhe1.blog/2019/05/13/transparency-of-ruc-psni-under-scrutiny-after-silence-over-one-third-of-murder-bids-revealed/

RUC/PSNI murder plot discussion apparently ‘recorded by MI5’

Colin Duffy, 51, is accused of directing terrorism and being a member of the IRA

An undercover MI5 agent has told a court of how recordings were made of three men allegedly discussing a failed murder attempt on police.

Colin Duffy, 51, Henry Fitzsimons, 50, and 57-year-old Alex McCrory are on trial at Belfast Crown Court.

They face a range of terrorist-related offences connected to a gun attack on the PSNI in 2013.

All three men deny preparing and directing terrorism and being in the IRA.

Mr Fitzsimons and Mr McCrory also deny attempting to murder police and possession of two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

The charges relate to a gun attack on a police convoy in the Crumlin Road area of Belfast on 5 December 2013.

On Tuesday, the court heard evidence from the MI5 officer, known as witness 9281, on video and audio surveillance carried out on three men in December 2013.

Harry Fitzsimmons, 50, is accused of attempting to murder members of the RUC/PSNI Image copyright © PACEMAKER

However, before the witness was sworn in, defence lawyers said they would be seeking to exclude three audio exhibits.

They said the exhibits were at the centre of the prosecution case.

Speaking from behind a curtain, the MI5 officer said he placed 15 audio devices at a park in Lurgan in December 2013.

The security service officer also confirmed he placed video recording equipment and that its images were transmitted directly to MI5.

‘Grounds of national security’
He was asked by a defence lawyer about a statement he made saying he replaced one of the audio devices.

However, in cross-examination, he said he placed all 15 audio devices at the same time.

When asked about the technical details of the devices and their recording capabilities, he replied a number of times: “I am not sure I can answer that on the grounds of national security.”

Alex McCorey, 57, is accused of attempting to murder members of the RUC/PSNI Image copyright © PACEMAKER

The judge, sitting without a jury in the Diplock-style trial, has heard the surveillance operation was carried out the day after the gun attack on a police convoy in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast, in which 14 shots were fired at a three-vehicle patrol by two gunmen.

At an earlier hearing, the prosecution claimed the accused can be identified from the covert video footage and from an hour-long audio recording of them as they talked in a public park in Lurgan, known as Demesne Park.

Prosecution case
It is the prosecution’s case that an analysis of the audio recordings by two voice recognition experts provided strong to moderately strong support that the defendants were those captured discussing how to go forward “in light of Ardoyne, and how the leadership were regrouping”.

The prosecution lawyer further alleged this was supported by the video recordings, as the clothing worn by the three suspects in the Demense Park were similar to that seized from the defendants following their arrests.

“The prosecution case is that the three men present and recorded talking in Demense Lane are Duffy, Fitzsimons and McCrory,” counsel claimed.

“The three defendants are close associates and have been seen together by police prior to the meeting and are also friends,” added the lawyer, who further claimed the men spoke using their first names.

Further proof
The voice analysis evidence of the conversation, which the prosecution alleged was not a “normal one” as it involved “an operation which had not gone to plan, and the failings and difficulties in arming a terrorist organisation”, was further proof of the men’s guilt.

The prosecution told the court the men’s discussions lasted almost an hour and “related almost exclusively to terrorism… there was no discussion about everyday issues”.

The trial continues.

With many thanks to: BBCNI and Dan Stanton for the original story

Donegal: Three arrested in organised crime investigation

Police have released photographs of cards and documents seized during the arrests Image copyright © GARDA SIOCHÁNA

 

Gardaí (Irish police) have arrested three men as part of an international investigation into an organised crime group from Romania.

They also seized documents relating to suspected fraud in Northern Ireland.

Three Romanian men – aged 24, 25 and 31 – were arrested at a house in Letterkenny, County Donegal.

The PSNI and the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, were involved in the investigation.

Telephones we’re seized during the raid at a house in Letterkenny Image copyright © GARDA SIOCHÁNA

 

In the raid on Tuesday morning, police seized a large amount of fraud paraphernalia including suspected cloned credit cards, bank account details, false Romanian identity documents, credit card machines, and suspected stolen Irish and UK passports.

Stolen driving licences were also seized, along with two cars bought on finance obtained on bank accounts opened in false names.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Two pipe bombs explode in Armagh and two found in Rasharkin

Police arrived in Rasharkin on Tuesday night Image copyright © KEVIN MCAULEY

 

Two pipe bombs have exploded in Armagh in an overnight attack, police have said.

Three people were in the house in Windmill Avenue when the explosion happened at 23:30 BST.

No-one was hurt but the front door of the house was damaged. Officers are working to establish a motive.

Two other pipe bombs were also found in a security alert overnight in Rasharkin, County Antrim.

Residents had to leave their homes in Moneyleck Park after the alarm was raised at about 22:00 BST on Tuesday.

A pipe bomb had been set on the windowsill outside a house and a second bomb was thrown through a front window, police said.

Two pipe bombs exploded at a house in Windmill Avenue in Armagh

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Insp Colin Ash said: “We received a report that a device had been left outside an address in the Moneyleck Park area of Rasharkin about 22:00 BST.”

He thanked the local community for its patience and appealed to anyone with information to contact police.

Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said more than 20 homes in Moneyleck Park and Finvoy Road had been evacuated.

The alert has ended and people have been allowed to return to their homes.

Image Copyright ©@mcguigan__philip@MCGUIGAN__PHILIP

Report

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story