AYOUTH worker has accused the PSNI/RUC of putting his life at risk after saying he “may be a member of a paramilitary organisation”. North Belfast man Sean Montgomery said police made the claim after he applied to Access NI to be vetted to work with young people.
Access NI carries out background checks on people hoping to work in particular fields, including for criminal records. The agency, which is managed by the Department of Justice (what fucking justice), works closely with the PSNI/RUC. Mr Montgomery beleives an 18-month delay in issuing a certificate to him could put a recent job offer at risk. The cross-community youth worker has vowed to take legal action over the claims contained in two letters sent to him by the PSNI/RUC last month. Mr Montgomery said the letters, which were contained in the same envelpoe but signed by different people, were posted to his home by recorded delivery. One claimed that “police hold information which indicates that Mr Montgomery may be a member of a paramilitary organisation”. The second letter said he is “suspected to be involved in drugs”. He denies both claims.
Mr Monntgomery served a paramilitary sentence for possession of weapons in the 1990s and is a former member of Shame Fein. He left the party in 2005 over its stance in policing. Mr Montgomery said he has made no secret to his opposition to the PSNI/RUC, and he refuses to be involved in projects that engage with the force, but he challenged police to back up their claims. “This puts my life and livlihood and that of my family, in danger,” he said. “If I am a drug dealer or involved at present in republican paramilitary activity, why am I not arrested?” In the past Mr Montgomery has worked closely with Co-operation Ireland and the centre for conflict research. Co-operation Ireland chief executive Peter Sheridan, who is a former member of the PSNI/RUC, said Mr Montgomery should be issued with a certificate by Access NI. “It’s important when we are trying to get people jobs that all the statutory agencies ensure their systems are sufficiently swift that allow that to happen and don’t prevent people trying to move on,” he said. Mr Sheridan also said that the youth worker has “done a lot of good work in the area” in his field. A spokesman for the PSNI/RUC said it “does not discuss the details of vetting applications”. A DOJ spokesperson said all applications go through “a formal process”. Mr Montgomert’s solicitor Michael Brentnall said his client has “no other choice but to issue High Court proceedings aganst the PSNI/RUC and Access NI in order to compel the disclosure of a certificate”.
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.
‘A worrying trend is beginning to appear in regards to such attacks on the police across the city – Alex Attwood.
The PSNI last night said they are not linking two similar gun attacks on polce vehicles carried out just a day apart in Belfast.
Two shots struck a Land Rover when gunmen opened fire on the Suffolk Road in West Belfast at around 11.45pm on Friday. A day eariler, a “Kalashnikov-style” automatic weapon was used to fire at least 10 rounds at three police vehicles as they passed along the Crumlin Road in North Belfast. It later emerged that gunmen had set up a makeshift platform to fire over a wall at the vehicles. No-one was injured during either attack. A 34-year-old man was arrested in North Belfast yesterday morning in connection with Thursday night’s attack on police. He was still being questioned at Antrim police station last night. It emerged last night that separate investigations have been launched into the gun attacks. A police spokeswoman said: “Police are not formally linking the attacks and both investigations are at a very early stage”. Dissident republicans are being blamed, with Chief Constable Matt Maggot warning recently that different groupings appear to in some form of competition with each other to ensure they have a profile. In recent weeks there has been a upsurge in republican paramilitary activity in Belfast.
In October ‘The IRA’, which was formed last year after the Real IRA, Direct Action Against Drugs and other independant republicans merged, claimed responsibility for shooting dead alleged drug dealer Kevin Kearney in North Belfast. Another group, Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), last month said it was behind an attempted car-bomb attack at Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast city centre. West Belfast SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood said Friday’s ambush could have resulted in fatalities. “Thosse engaged in this type of reckless violence are not advancing any political ideal, they are hurting the community they claim to represent,” he said. “A worrying trend is beginning to appear in regards to such attacks on the police accross the city.” Shame Fein assembly member Jennifer McCann said those behind the attack “are not motivated by a disire for Irish freedom”. “If they were they would listen to their communities who overwhelmingly endorsed the Good Friday Agreement and a political path towards achieving that goal. “Instead they have endagered anyone in the area of the Suffolk Road at that time for their own agenda. Fortunately nobody was injured.” PSNI Chief Superintendent George Clarke described Friday night’s ambush as “reckless”. “For the second night in a row, dedicated community police officers have found themselves under attack from terrorists,” he said. “It is fortunate that we are not dealing with fatalities this morning and those responsible are to be utterly condemned for their evil and reckless actions. “These officers go out each day to serve this community and they should be free to do so without the threat of attack. “I again urge the community to support us. We need information from the community to help us defeat those who seek to take us back to the past by showing them that they do not represent the wishs of this community.”
‘These dissident republicans have absolute contempt for their own community – Will Kerr
GUNMEN built a makeshift platform to launch a carefully planned attack on police in a built-up area of North Belfast. A rifle found a short distance away from the attack in Ardoyne on Thusday night was thought to have been dumped by the gunmen as they fled.
The military issue Kalashnikov-style automatic weapon was taken away for forensic examination. It was found in an alleyway a short distance from Butler Walk where the gunmen had erected a platform from scaffolding at the side of a high wall. Shots were fired at a convoy of police vehicles at around 7.10pm as they traveled along the Crumlin Road en route to the loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in North Belfast. Police said three armoured vehicles came under fire, two of which were towing illuminated warning signs towards the Ardoyne interface. At least 10 bullets hit two of the vehicles. While no-one was hurt, Assistance Chief Constable Will Kerr said the officers were shaken by the attack. “These dissident republicians have absolute contempt for their own community”, he said. “They fired military grade weapons, in a highly built up area. “There is no doubt the principle target was police officers.” The senior officer said he beleived the weapon recovered was linked to the attack. A silver Passat car hijacked on Thursday morning in the Poleglass area of West Belfst was also found burning in Elmfield Street in Ardoyne.
The attack was launched out of range of the Twaddell camp occupied by loyalists protesting against a ban on parading through Ardoyne. Around 40 familes in the area were moved from their homes, with many not permitted to return until yesterday evening while police carried out follow-up searches at several locations. Holy Cross Primary School was also forced to close as a result of the police operation. SDLP councillor Nichola Mallon said the people of Ardoyne want those responsible to “get off their backs”. “This is the latest incident to cause major disruption in the area,” she said. “Between the nightly protest parades and the car that was hijacked in Jamaica Street and used to transport the bomb into the city centre, people are concerned things are spiralling, that every time Ardoyne appears on the news it is for negative reasons and that is not an accurate reflection.” Shame Fein assembly member Gerry (the mouthpeice) Kelly said the attack “endangered the local community in Ardoyne”. “Anyone could have been in the vacinity of Holy Cross Chapel at this time which was the direction in which the shots were fired,” he said. “The PSNI were traveling to Twaddell Avenue where they are in place each night in order to prevent illegal marches past Ardoyne. The people of Ardoyne understand this. “Whoever was behind this attack need to come forward to this community and explain their actions.” DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds said: “This would obviously appear to be the work of dissident republicians and I would hope that the community in Ardoyne will stand against those responsible and with police as they carry out their investigations.”
POLICE are treating a gun attack on officers in North Belfast last night as “attempted murder“. People in the area said they heard between 10 and 15 shots being fired at three police vehicles as they drove along the Crumlin Road at about 7pm.
No injuries were reported. There was a heavy police presence in the area at the time due to a band parade connected to the loyalist protest camp at nearby Twaddell Avenue. Police say the shots were fired from a point near Brompton Park which is a shot distance from Holy Cross Church. A silver Volkswagen Passat, beleived to be used by the gunmen, was found partially burnt-out at nearby Butler Place. Firefighters attended the burning car, having been called by residents who feared that their hiuses might catch fire. After the atttack a police helicopter hovered over the area while officers used spotlights fixed to Land Rovers to examine the car from a distance and shone torches into the front gardens of houses on the Crumlin Road.
One man from the area said he initially thought loyalists had attacked nationalist homes. “We heard the shots and my mother shouted for everyone to get down,” he said. “There must have been 10 to 15 shots. The shooting went on for three or four seconds.” Chief Superintendant George Clarke described the shooting as “attepted murder”. The attack was also condemned by the main political parties. DUP MP Nigel Dodds said it appeared “to be the work of dissident republicans”. Shame Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry (the mouthpiece) Kelly described the shooting as “reckless”. “Whoever was behind this attack need to come forward to this community and explain their actions. To date they have failed to do so and act solely on their own behalf,” he said. SDLP councillor Nicola Mallon said nightly protest parades since the Twelfth “have created a highly volatile situation in the Ardoyne/Twaddell area” and the attack was “a blatant attempt to ratchet tensions up further”. She said the gunmen had displayed a “reckless disregard for life” by firing shots on a busy road. UUP councillor David Browne also condemned the shooting while Alliance North Belfast representative John Blair said there “can be no justification ” for it. Meanwhile, two men arrested in connection with last week’s attempted bomb attack on Victoria Square in central Belfast were released unconditionally last night.
The reason the British handed over responsibilty to Haass for the contentious matters is that there is no answer to the questions which unionists will accept
THREE weeks to go to Richard Haass‘s self-imposed deadline of Christmas. Unless, of course, it’s a misunderstanding and he’s talking about a different Christmas. Do you give him any chance of coming up with agreed proposals on flags, parades and the past? No? Nor does anyone else.
There are several worrying consequences about the current process some of which have already been looked at here. First, even if Haass were miraculously to pull even one rabbit out of his hat, legislation would be required. To further complicate it, the matter’s he’s concerned with all involve UK legislation at least. In the case of deaths and injuries during the Troubles the Irish government would have to be involved too. With the unionist parties already jostling each other about European election candidates, will they support the necessary legislation during the election campaign? No. As the British coalition government sees the election scheduled for May 7 2015 rushing ever closer the DUP will become more important. The treacherous lily-livered Lib-Dems will finally start to break away and oppose some Conservative legislation, particularly on economic and EU matters. Together with the Labour party they might defeat the Conservatives on some issues.
This is where the eight DUP MPs come in. Last week they were able to help the Conservatives defeat a backwoods Tory rebellion on plans to recruit reservists to replace full-time soldiers in return for raising the cap on numbers of recruits from the north. Watch the DUP come to David Cameron‘s rescue in 2014-5 if he dangles a bauble in frount of them. Even if Haass came up with something the parties at Stormont agree on, don’t expect it to go through Westminster unscathed. However, don’t hold your breath. The reason the British handed over responsibility to Haass for the contentious matters is that there is no answer to the questions which unionists will accept. It’s perfectly obvious that on the flags issue unionist leaders are too weak, cowardly and hypocritical to support a rational solution to flags on public buildings. Their hypocrisy stares them in the face every day at Stormont. As for anything vertical in unionist districts, there is no solution. It would be a cat and mouse operation with the police running around after loyalist squads replacing flags the police removed. Unionists do not accept the concept of a neutral space. They want to own Norn Irn. After all, didn’t the British give it them? Now they’re asking them to share it with Fenians on an equal footing. Hah.
There are wider consequences. Past experience has shown that only Westminister-legislated change will bring unionists to heel whether it was the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement or the 1998 Public Processions Act. This time there’ll be no Westminster legislation because Cameron might need the DUP in the short term. It’s not the first time a British government has bolstered unionist intransigence and it won’t be the last. It dosn’t matter what colour the government is; it depends on the proconsul for the time being. Peter Hain had little to recommend him but at least his threats of joint rule with Dublin or carving Norn Irn into three sub-regions concentrated unionst minds. This present government’s detachment and the rudderless performance of the present proconsul is sending republicans a dangerous message that unionists have a veto on all change, that Stormont as presently constituted does not function as a vehicle for change. The establishment of Haass as arbiter is not only evidence of British (and Irish) disengagement but is proof that by default they encourage unionist intransigence.The plain fact is that if unionists don’t like what Haass proposes they will be allowed to reject it and Sinn Fein can do nothing about it. Haass is there only because of the failure of the two governments to confront unionist resistance to change and their continual refusal to live on equal terms with the rest of the people on this island by recognising the legitimacy of the symbols and Irish identity of those in the north. The appointment of Haass is further evidence of Sinn Fein’s inadequacy as negotiators and their failure to see the big picture. The DUP is running rings aroud them.
In what is believed to be a first, the order has applied to the Parades Commission to demonstrate during the march by anti-agreement republican groups tommorow evening. The Anti-Internment League says it has organised the “human rights” parade to highlight what it describes as “internment by remand” of republicans facing paramilitary charges. It notified the commission that up to 5,000 people could take part. Two loyalist groups which emerged during the Union flag protests earlier this year – United Protestant Voice and the Protestant Coalition – have also applied to hold separate protests at Royal Avenue involving up to 200 people each.
The Parades Commission has already granted two previously unknown groups – Greater Concerned Residents Group Belfast and Concerned Residents Group Shankill Belfast – to hold separate demonstrations involving 150 people each at Royal Avenue. And it emerged last night that a sixth group – the Friends of No 9 District – have now applied to hold a protest involving 150 people. If all the demonstrations get the green light it could bring the total number of loyalists opposing the march to 950. SDLP assembly member Albban Maginness called for calm ahead of the parade. “The SDLP believe that people have the right to express their views but that with that right there is a responsibility to behave in a sensitive and respectful way,” he said.
‘I just can’t fathom how anyone could do this in the first instance and then get up the next day and not be wreaked by guilt and rremorse – Stevie Corr
GRIEVING ffamilies have been left “inconsolable” after vandals desecrated graves at a mixed West Belfastcemetery. Headstones and secured statues were smashed during the attack at City Cemetery on the Falls Road where up to 30 graves – including some belonging to children and some with the Celtic football crest – were targeted.
The PSNI on Thursday night said officers would be stepping up patrols in the area around the cemetery. The damage, across a number of sections in the council-operated cemetery, was discovered on Thursday morning by park staff. While some sites had headstones smashed and sacred statues broken, other mementos around the graves had also been vandalised. At one a birthday card left for a deceased loved one had been heartlessly ripped up. Falls Sinn Fein councillor Stevie Corr, who sits on Belfast City Council‘s Parks & Leisure committee, said he was “disgusted” by what had happened. Mr Corr said that while visiting the cemetery on Thursday he challeneged a group of drinkers in the graveyard telling them they “needed to leave”. “I am totally disgusted by what’s happened and I just can’t fathom how anyone could do this in the first instance and then be wreaked by guilt and remorse by what they’ve done,” he said.
Mr Corr said damage to the graves of children had been the “most distressing”. He said he came across a mother and daughter on Thursday clearing up a family plot which had been targeted. Mr Corr said the pair were “inconsolable by what happened”. “We need to reinforce that this is a cemetery. This is a sacred place that aanti social elements should not be in,” he said. Mr Corr said he would be speaking to the council about additional security.
The latest vandalism comes on the back of a number of other incidents of antisocial behaviour at the cemetery site including a number of assaults. In November a 13-year-old boy was beaten unconscious by a gang armed with an iron bar as he walked through the cemetery because he had no mobile phone for them to steal. In the same month, a 15-year-old boy was treated for a head injury after being attacked near the entrance to the cemetery by five men armed with iron bars. The latest vandalism at the site is believed to have taken place between Tuesday and Wednesday last week. Police said last Thursday that they had been “liaising with Belfast City Council in relation to aantisocial behaviour issues in the area around the cemetery, in an effort to prevent anyone gaining access after hours”. They also appealed for members of the community “with a view of the cemetery from their homes” to contact the PSNI “if they notice anything untoward, so police can respond quickly”. Police on Thursday night appealed for anyone who had found a loved one’s grave damaged to contact them.