Tory peers turn against PCCs over Ted Heath inquriry

Chief constable accused in parliament of having acted ‘deplorably’

Conservative peers have called for a review of the police governance system because of the investigation into Sir Edward Heath.

PCCs were a flagship Tory policy introduced in 2012.

Lord Patrick Cormack said the refusal of Wiltshire’s Angus McPherson to sanction an independent inquiry into the force’s handling of allegations against the former prime minister, as well as the appointment of Chief Constable Mike Veale as the new head of Cleveland Police, raise questions about the whole system.

A two-year £1.5 million inquiry by Wiltshire Police, called Operation Conifer, concluded that the late Sir Edward would have been questioned under caution over allegations that he raped children, if he were still alive.

Lord Cormack said: “Those of us who had concerns about the appointment of these commissioners are doubly concerned now because of the behaviour of the Wiltshire commissioner – and that of the Cleveland commissioner, who has sanctioned the appointment of the police chief who acted so deplorably and so manifestly unfairly.

“Can we not have a review of the whole system?”

His comments followed a question from fellow Tory Lord Stephen Sherbourne who said: “The police and crime commissioner [Angus McPherson] has the power, and some would say the duty, to commission an independent inquiry but, for reasons I do not understand, he has set his face against doing so.

“Does this not make a mockery of the policy that chief constables are accountable – and should be seen to be accountable – to their commissioner? There really is a need for an independent inquiry.”

Labour peer Dale Norman Campbell-Savours was also highly critical of the government and PCC arrangements.

But Home Office minister Baroness Susan Williams said any such inquiry is for a PCC to initiate.

“The police are operationally independent of government. On this matter it would be for the PCC, perhaps in conjunction with the chief constable, to commission an inquiry,” she said.

Wiltshire Police and its Conservative PCC Angus Macpherson have been approached for comment.

With many thanks to the: Police Oracle for the origional story.

Michelle O’Neill says ‘legacy deal’ still stands – according to Sinn Féin – Who do you beleive??

Several thousand people gathered in Belfast to call for action on legacy issues.

Sinn Féin’s northern leader has said an agreement with the government to release money for Troubles-related inquests still stands.

Michelle O’Neill said the funding would be forthcoming despite the collapse of power-sharing talks earlier this month.

Ms O’Neill was speaking at a march for survivors and relatives of those killed by loyalists and the security forces.

Meanwhile, the victims’ commissioner said a political deal was desirable but not necessary for progress on legacy.

Since the latest round of talks collapsed, the two main parties – Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – have blamed each other for the breakdown, saying there was disagreement over legislation for the Irish language.

While not in the so-called draft agreement, Sinn Féin said they had a separate “commitment” from the government to put inquest funding and other measures to deal with the past out to public consultation.

Victims’ commissioner Judith Thompson said there was not a big gap between the parties on legacy issues.

The legacy inquests include some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles, and Northern Ireland’s most senior judge previously asked for money to deal with the backlog of outstanding cases.

The DUP has said it was not aware of the deal between Sinn Féin and the government in the absence of an overall agreement.

The government has said that all its discussions were in the context of how it would respond to an overall deal.

On Sunday, Ms O’Neill said: “I am crystal clear that we have an agreement with the British government that they would release both the legacy inquest funding and a consultation on the legacy mechanisms.

“That position still stands – I met with Theresa May last week and I put that to her that they need to not play fast and loose with victims.”

‘Million miles’
Ms O’Neill was among several thousand people to turn out for a rally in Belfast city centre on Sunday.

Victims’ campaigner Raymond McCord, who was at the rally, said the event was a step in the right direction but legacy issues should not be politicised.

“I want to see an even bigger event. I want to see Royal Avenue flooded with victims and the general public,” he said.

“And victims from unionist and nationalist communities standing with each other.

“Sinn Féin is heavily involved here and I want to see an event with no political parties whatsoever for all victims.”

The march – under the banner Time for Truth – took place in Belfast city centre

Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson said the parties were “not a million miles apart” on how to deal with the past but any consultation must not be marred by political fighting.

“There are people marching in Belfast for truth,” she said.

“People who have waited four decades for inquests and investigations, and the same people exist in every constituency.

“It’s really important we deal with this stuff and an argument between our parties about a political context, which is clearly very difficult right now, must not get in the way of things they are broadly in agreement with.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the origional story

British UK charities warned after Oxfam Haiti prostitue claims

Penny Mordaunt said it was “despicable” that sexual exploitation and abuse existed in the aid sector

Charities doing overseas aid work will lose funding if they fail to cooperate over safeguarding issues, warned the international development secretary.

Penny Mordaunt said it was “despicable” that sexual exploitation and abuse still existed in the aid sector.

Her comments come after Oxfam workers were accused of using prostitutes in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

Oxfam said it was “dismayed by what happened” and would fully cooperate with authorities.

The UK-based charity said it had already set up a whistleblowing hotline to prevent sexual abuse and misconduct.

Oxfam received nearly £32m from the government in the last financial year.

Oxfam boss says charity is ashamed
Oxfam denies cover-up over ‘Haiti prostitutes’
Head of Oxfam in Haiti resigns amid inquiry
Ms Mordaunt said she was writing to all British charities that receive UK aid to insist they detail the steps they are taking to ensure safeguarding policies are fully in place.

“With regard to Oxfam and any other organisation that has safeguarding issues, we expect them to cooperate fully with such authorities, and we will cease to fund any organisation that does not,” she said.

“I am very clear: we will not work with any organisation that does not live up to the high standards on safeguarding and protection that we require.”

‘Horrific behaviour’
She said her “absolute priority” was to keep the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people safe from harm.

“In the 21st century, it is utterly despicable that sexual exploitation and abuse continues to exist in the aid sector,” she sad.

“The horrific behaviour by some members of Oxfam staff in Haiti in 2011 is an example of a wider issue on which DfID (Department for International Development) is already taking action, both at home and with the international community via the UN.”


“This is now an opportunity for everyone to make sure that there are very clear, not just guidelines, but action will be taken and money will be withdrawn as well, quite frankly, if there is inappropriate behaviour,” she said.

Oxfam has growing faced criticism over the way it handled the sexual misconduct claims against some staff in Haiti in 2011.

The aid workers were in Haiti as part of the relief effort following the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in 2010.

Its own investigation into the allegations led to four people being sacked and three others resigning.

Media captionOxfam former boss knew of sexual misconduct ‘in a lot of places’
On Saturday the Charity Commission said that while Oxfam told the regulator it was investigating inappropriate sexual behaviour, bullying, harassment and staff intimidation, the charity had not given the full details.

The Charity Commission took no further action but says it would have acted differently had it known all the facts.

Oxfam has denied any cover-up and has said the behaviour of some of its staff in Haiti had been “totally unacceptable”.

With many thanks to: BBC England for the origional story.

Boxing managemet company MTK Global to boycott Irish media

CEO Sandra Vaughan cites ‘witch-hunt’ of some stable fighters as reason for decision

Carl Frampton is among the fighters linked to MTK Global

Boxing management company MTK Global, which represents 29 Irish professionals, has announced that it is pulling out of Ireland because Irish media repeatedly slander and vilify the company and its stable of professional boxers.

In a statement released on Thursday, Sandra Vaughan the CEO and Sole Shareholder of MTK Global distanced herself and MTK Global from Daniel Kinahan, who was originally involved in setting up the company.

“Despite announcing MTK Global cutting all ties with Daniel Kinahan in February 2017, and announcing a full management buy-in by myself in October 2017, the Irish media have continued to vilify MTK Global in all and any mention of Irish boxing and MTK Global signed boxers,” said Vaughan in a written and video statement.

She added that it had left her with “no choice but for MTK Global to pull out of the Republic of Ireland for the immediate future”.

The company, headed by former Irish middleweight Mathew Macklin, currently represents well known names such as Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes, David Oliver Joyce and Jamie Conlan.

Vaughan cited a boxing event due to take place on Saturday February 3rd featuring five MTK boxers. But the show was cancelled when host Citywest Hotel pulled out. This, she said, came after “widespread media propaganda.”

In her statement Ms Vaughan distanced herself from Kinahan and said that there are absolutely no connections between MTK and crime.

“None of the new management team or owners, nor any of the Irish boxers signed with MTK Global, have any connection with crime, yet many Irish media continue to drag up past affiliations and sensationalise and slander MTK Global and their stable of boxers,” said Vaughan.

“As CEO I cannot and will not allow this to continue. How are we ever meant to move forward as an organisation when we keep being dragged into the past by media?

“Our legal team are now dealing with this matter and will be issuing legal letters to a number of Irish media houses today.”

MTK also accused the Irish media of lionising boxers, such as Barnes and Conlan, who both won Olympic and World Championship medals as amateurs and then, “turning their backs on them.” Conlan was world amateur champion prior to the Rio Olympic Games and Barnes won two Olympic bronze medals.

“Many of these fighters have won Olympic or world title medals at amateur level and are considered national heroes for their achievements. Yet the minute they turned professional, the Irish media turned their backs on them and instead have taken money out of their pockets by vilifying them in the press,” she said.

“This witch-hunt by Irish media has left me with no choice but for MTK Global to pull out of the Republic of Ireland for the immediate future. We will not host fight nights in Dublin nor will any MTK Global athletes fight on a Dublin card.”

Follow these links to find out more:

With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the origional story.

Every person receiving Personel Independence Payments (PIP) will have their payments reviewed, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.

The government made changes to Personal Independence Payments in 2017

A total of 1.6 million of the main disability benefit claims will be reviewed, with around 220,000 people expected to receive more money.

It comes after the DWP decided not to challenge a court ruling that said changes to PIP were unfair to people with mental health conditions.

The review could cost £3.7bn by 2023.

The minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, said the DWP was embarking on a “complex exercise and of considerable scale.”

She added: “Whilst we will be working at pace to complete this exercise it is important that we get it right.”

What is the row around PIPs all about?
U-turn in disability benefits row
Why I secretly taped my disability assessment
Ministers made changes to PIP in 2017 which limited the amount of support people with mental health conditions could receive.

As a result, people who were unable to travel independently on the grounds of psychological distress – as opposed to other conditions – were not entitled to the enhanced mobility rate of the benefit.

‘Vital support’
The government pressed ahead with the proposals, despite criticism from an independent tribunal in 2016.

But in December, a High Court judge ruled the alterations “blatantly discriminate” against people with psychiatric problems and were a breach of their human rights.

Last week, new Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey announced the government would not appeal against the judgement , despite not agreeing with certain aspects of it.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Sarah Abrahams said it was “shocking” that so many claims were having to be reviewed and expressed concern that a timetable for action was yet to be put forward.

“The government was wrong to cut PIP benefits in the first place, wrong to bring in the PIP regulations last year and it was wrong to repeatedly ignore the views of the courts,” she said.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said more had to be done to address all the issues with PIP.

“While it’s crucial that the government urgently identifies and pays the vast numbers of disabled people who lost out on this vital support, this will not address the root of the problem,” he said.

“The fundamentally flawed PIP assessment needs a radical overhaul so it accurately identifies the extra costs disabled people face.”

Philip Connolly, policy manager at Disability Rights UK, welcomed the review but expressed regret at “persistent failures” of the assessment process.

“Huge amounts of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on poor quality assessments which deny disabled people benefits that they qualify for.

“We urge all disabled people who are turned down for benefits they believe they should get to use the independent appeals process if their claim is turned down,” he said

With many thanks to: BBC England for the origional story

Gardaí bugged privite home, IRA membership trial of Kevin Hannaway, Eva Shannon, Edward O’Brien, Sean Hannaway and David Nooney hears

Kevin Hannaway, cousin of Gerry Adams and one of the origional ‘Hooded Men’

Gardai acting on confidential information used surveillance devices to listen to conversations at a private house, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

The trial opened of three people charged with membership of the IRA and two charged with assisting the IRA.

Prosecution counsel, Tara Burns SC, told the three-judge court that the evidence focuses on events at a private residence in Riverwood Park, Castleknock in Dublin on August 7th and 8th 2015.

She said they will hear evidence that the house had recently been vacated by its tenants and was being prepared for new tenants to move in. Someone asked the owner if he could have use of the house for his uncle and nephew for the weekend and the owner agreed.

Counsel said the court would hear of the comings and goings from that house over the two-day period where the five accused were observed by gardai and arrested on August 8th.

Kevin Hannaway (69) of Collin Mill, Belfast has pleaded not guilty to knowingly rendering assistance to an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, namely with Sean Hannaway, assisting in interviewing persons involved in IRA organised criminal activities, said interviews being directly or indirectly in the furtherance of an unlawful object, at Riverwood Park, Castleknock, Dublin 15 on August 7th and 8th, 2015.

His co-accused Eva Shannon (60) of Oakman Street, Belfast pleaded not guilty to the same offence on the same dates.

Edward O’Brien (42), of Hazelcroft Road, Finglas, Dublin 11, David Nooney (53) of Coultry Green, Ballymun, Dublin 11, and Seán Hannaway (48) of Linden Gardens, Belfast pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation within the State, namely an organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on August 8th, 2015.

The three Belfast-based accused, counsel said, stayed in the house overnight while the other two were seen visiting. Other people visited or were brought to the house.

Mr Nooney, she said, was seen in a car in the vicinity of the house and on August 7 he took items from the boot of his car and brought them in to the house.

Kevin Hannaway, Eva Shannon and Sean Hannaway were seen entering the house carrying bags.

Besides the observations of gardai, Ms Burns said the court would hear evidence of conversations recorded inside the house by surveillance devices placed there after gardai received confidential information. She said these would show that interviews were conducted in the house with two men for the purposes of the furtherance of an unlawful objective.

In relation to Mr Nooney, she said there would be evidence that he is associated with members of an unlawful organisation and in relation to the three charged with membership of the IRA there will be inferences drawn from answers they gave to gardai which amount to a refusal to answer.

A garda chief superintendent will also give evidence that he believes the three were members of an unlawful organisation.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Justice Isobel Kennedy, Justice Robert Haughton and Judge Gerard Griffin.

With many thanks to: Irish Republican Prisoner News

‘She was Bobby Sand’s mother, but few knew the real woman’

Bobby Sands’ sisters Marcella and Bernadette beside the coffin of their mother Rosaleen (95) at the funeral in St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan

SHE was one of the most famous mothers in the world, but none who depicted Rosaleen Sands in scores of films, documentaries and books knew the real woman, mourners at her funeral heard yesterday.

Mrs Sands, the mother of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, died last week aged 95, surrounded by her family.

Bobby’s former cellmate ‘Tomboy’ Loudon was among those who travelled from across Ireland to pay their last respects at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church at Blackrock, Co Louth.

Other mourners included former Newry Sinn Féin councillor Pat McGinn although there were no senior party members present.

His son Gerard, who maintains a low public profile, helped his uncle John and cousins carry Mrs Sands’s coffin to the church.

Her daughter Bernadette Sands-McKevitt said they “were an ordinary family, whose life was reshaped by extraordinary events”.

She was supported by her husband Michael McKevitt, who was released from prison in 2016 after completing a sentence for directing terrorism.

Gardai maintained a low-key presence outside the church.

“Many claimed to know Rosaleen Sands (and she) figured in many books, films and documentaries that were written and produced by people who never met her,” Mrs Sands-McKevitt said.

She told how her mother was born in the Markets area of south Belfast in 1922 and her father died when she was just 12 years old.

“She was a working class girl from a working class area and my mother never forgot her roots.

“She was a principled person who had times of trouble.”

The young Rosaleen Kelly was set to emigrate to New Zealand, with a job lined up at the other end of the long journey, when she met her husband John Sands.

The couple would go on to marry and raise four children.

None of the children were allowed to “leave the house without first saying our prayers blessing ourselves with holy water”.

When their son Bobby was jailed, “my parents never missed a visit” and when the hunger strikes began “set about doing all in their power to highlight” the protest.

“They suddenly found themselves thrown onto the world stage as they desperately tried to save their son.

“Heartbroken she pleaded with Bobby. He made one simple request to her – to stand with him and not against him.

A young boy carrys a picture of Bobby Sands at the funneral of Rosaleen Sands mother of Bobby Sands at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan

“It was a choice that no mother could contemplate, but it was one that she had to make.

“She left his life in God’s hands and placed her trust in others to bury her son.”

Mrs Sands-McKevitt, a founding member of the dissident republican 32 County Sovereignty Movement, then denounced her brother’s former comrades from the pulpit.

“It was a trust that was breached. We found out years later (through documents) that Bobby’s final burial wishes, which were not known to us at the time, were not followed.”

She said, that in the years that followed Mrs Sands “continued to support prisoners and their families” and was always there “when each of her children suffered”.

Bobby Sands’ sisters Marcella and Bernadette beside the coffin of their mother Rosaleen (95) at the funeral in St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan

“She was an inspiration to us all and set a fine example to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

She finished by reading a poem written by Bobby Sands for his mother; among the lines:

How you found strength I do not know

How you managed I’ll never know,

Struggling and striving without a break

Always there and never late.

You prayed for me and loved me more

How could I ask for anymore

And reared me up to be like you

But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.

Mrs Sands was buried privately afterwards at Belfast City Cemetery.

Mrs Sands is survived by her children Marcella, Bernadette and John.

The fuberal of Rosaleen Sands the mother of Bobby Sands at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan
Former Sinn Féin councillor and Mayor Pat McGinn (right) at the funneral of Rosealeen Sands the mother of Bobby Sands at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan
A wreath from the Republican prisoners in Portlaoise Prison at the funeral of Rosaleen Sands the mother of Bobby Sands takes place at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan
Michael McKevitt at the funeral of his mother-in-law Rosaleen Sands mother of Bobby Sands takes place at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan
The funeral of Rosaleen Sands the mother of Bobby Sands takes place at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan
Michael McKevitt at the funeral of his mother-in-law Rosaleen Sands mother of Bobby Sands takes place at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan
The funeral of Rosaleen Sands the mother of Bobby Sands takes place at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCan

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