Cemetery arson attack an inexcusable violation of burial sanctuary says priest

THE Catholic Church has said it will review security at Milltown Cemetery after vandals set fire to the gates in a “shocking” attack. 

The front gates of Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast, which date back to 1896.

The front gates at the West Belfast cemetery, which dates back to 1896, were set alight on Friday night after traffic cones and a wheelie bin were placed behind them and set on fire by a gang of youths. The fire service attended the scene and extinguished the blaze. A spokesman for the diocese of Down and Connor last night described the attack as “shocking” and said “significant damage” had been caused both to the gates and the entrance of the cemetery.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey described the incident as “disgusting behavior”

Fr Eddie Magee said that security would be reviewed in the wake of the attack. “This was a dangerous, inexcusable and deliberate act of vandalism which violated the sanctuary of a site of burial. “This action is particularly shocking because it is not only a manifestation of anti-social behavior but it also engenders a sense of distress among the local community whose loved ones are buried within this sacred place,” he said. “Places of burial hold deep significance for all within the community and such places should not be targeted for criminal acts.”

The area has been plagued by antisocial behaviour in recent times with traffic routinely targeted by stone throwing youths who gather in the Falls Park facing the cemetery. West Belfast MP Paul Maskey described the incident as “disgusting behaviour” and urged parents to monitor their children’s whereabouts. “This is unacceptable behaviour. Enough is enough,” he said. “I’m sure those responsible for this unacceptable behaviour have relatives interred in Milltown like many of us. “This is disgusting behaviour and I will be meeting with agencies over the weekend and early next week to try and get a resolution to this problem.”

Alliance councillor Sian O’Neill described the fire as an attack on the whole community. “It is deeply sad to see the disrespect some people have for our dead, in what is supposed to be an area of respect,” the South Belfast councillor said. “My thoughts are with the loved ones of those buried there, who may have been affected by this incident.

Making an appeal for information RUC/PSNI, area commander for West Belfast, chief inspector Kellie McMillan said: “This is a cemetery, a graveyard, a place for quiet reflection to peacefully pay respects to loved ones who are no longer with us. I cannot understand what any human person would feel could be gained from such thoughtless, criminal vandalism. “Police will be working with the community in West Belfast to prevent this behaviour and stop further hurt being caused to families and friends of those whose lives are remembered here. This is not acceptable behaviour and a robust response from policing and the criminal justice sector is required. “I am appealing to parents and guardians to know the whereabouts of their children and who they are with, and to play a role in preventing them from becoming involved in behaviour which could see them end up with a criminal record.”

With many thanks to: Gareth McKeown, The Irish News. For the original story. 

RUC/PSNI make first loyalist arrests under terrorism laws on crackdown on the UDA in West Belfast.

Storm Ophelia exsposes the face of UDA recruits

UDA searches: Four men arrested and ammunition and drugs seized. 

The men, aged 24, 32, 34 and 36, were arrested in the north of the city on suspicion of being UDA members.

Paramilitary uniforms, drugs, a gun holster and ammunition were seized during a two-day operation which included 13 searches in north Belfast, Holywood, Co Down, and Portadown, Co Armagh.
UDA ties, badges and flags were also seized, along with steroids, cannabis, mobile phones and tablets.
Two of the men, aged 34 and 36, have been released pending a report to prosecutors over UDA membership. The 36-year-old man will also be reported for supplying class C drugs.
The 24-year-old man and the 32-year-old man remained in custody last night.
Detective Inspector Heather Whoriskey appealed to anyone with information about paramilitaries to contact police.
“I understand that people feel afraid to speak out against these paramilitaries, but police need information from local people – as we will act on information we receive,” she said. “It may not always be visible and immediate but please be assured that every piece of information is assessed and acted on.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News. 

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. 

BBC forced to clarify claims about Pengelly’s father after candidates’ TV clash!

WESTMINSTER  Westministor ELECTION 2017.

Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and DUP’s Emma ‘Little’ Pengelly. Clash on TV’s ‘The View’ on the BBC.

THE BBC had to issue a clarification at the end of it’s flagship programme after Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir made claims about DUP rival Emma Little Pengelly’s father.

Above: former DUP leader Peter Robinson, second left, with Noel Little, fourth from left, at an Ulster Resistance rally.

The pair clashed on The View during a debate between South Belfast candidates for next week’s Westminister election broadcast from St George’s Market on Thursday night. In a heated exchange, Mr Ó Muilleoir refused to appologise for mentioning Mrs Pengelly’s father Noel Little after she urged the Sinn Féin MLA to condemn IRA bombings.

Ulster Resistance, which Noel Little, father of Emma ‘Little’ Pengelly, was a leading founder.

Mr Little was a founder of Ulster Resistance. In 1989 he was arrested in Paris in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns. The weapons sought were destined for the UVF, UDA and Ulster Resistance. After spending two years on remand, he and two others received suspended sentences and fines.

‘The Loyalist’ UDA Propaganga Magazine, endorsing DUP’s Emma ‘Little’ Pengelly. For her “hard work the DUP have been doing in the community for everybody”.

The well known and often bought magazine “The Loyalist” is mainly bought and sold wihin the loyalist community of North & West Belfast. Only to members of the UDA & UVF. Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing. In response, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: ‘I wasn’t sure what point of this conversation I would get to mention your father, Emma, who when my father was being discriminated against working in the Harland & Wolff, was bringing in guns into this country which led to the slaughter along the Island.”

On the far left, former DUP leader and member of the “Ulster Resistence” ex-DUP leader Peter Robinson. Third (on the right), Mrs ‘Little’ Pengelly’s father, Noel Little.

Mrs Pengelly interacted: “I’m going to stop you there.

His name was raised after Mrs Pengelly defended her Westminister candidacy being endorsed in a magazine connected to the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group. Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw called on Mrs Pengelly to publicly reject the endorsement.

Mrs Pengelly said the DUP has “clearly called for the UDA to go away, and all paramilitary organisations”. She added that the article in The Loyalist endorsed her because of the “hard work the DUP have been doing in the community for everybody”. Facing criticism from Mr Ó Muilleoir, she accused him of hypocrisy and urged him to condemn IRA acts of violence including the 1996 Manchester bombing.

Mrs Pengelly interjected: “I think its absolutely appalling for Máirtín to sit there and just say that. Because I think when Máirtín goes back to his group meeting of the MLAs from Sinn Féin and he looks left and right and he sees people in his party that have committed horrendous crimes, and I want him to think how would you feel, how would you feel, if their children – who had no responsibility for the actions of your colleagues – had to sit in a studio and hear abuse like you have given me. It’s a lack of respect, it is wrong and I am going to call you out on that.”

Asked by host Mark Carruthers if he wished to apologise, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “I will not apologise for bringing up the question of Noel Little who brought in guns to this country. “But if Emma had any self-respect, she would not be trying to lecture other people on the terrible conflict we have been through. “You are the last person, to be lecturing.”

Mrs Pengelly said she has “clearly condemned all paramilitary violence”. At the end of the pre-recorded TV programme, a BBC continuiy announcer said: “We have been asked to point out that Noel Little was never convicted of arms importation to the North of Ireland. “He was given a suspended sentence and fined in a French court for his part in an intelligence plot.”

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

Group accuses DUP of putting face against progress on legacy issues.

A VICTIMS campaign group has accused the DUP of continually having “placed their face against” progress on legacy inquests.

The bullet-riddled minibus at the scene of the massacre of 10 Protestant workmen shot dead by the IRA at Kingsmill in January 1976. But a judge says gardaí have not supplied documents relating to the outrage.

The comments come as Arlene Foster said she would be “writing to the Irish Primeminister” to express concern after further delays this week in the inquest into the IRA massacre of ten Protestant workmen at Kingsmill. Mrs Foster made her comments after it emerged that documents linked to the 1976 attack and requested from gardaí by a judge in Belfast had not been produced. The request was made by Judge Brian Sherrard who is presiding over the high-profile case.

The funeral’s of 10 Protestant workmen murdered by the IRA in 1976.

Mrs Foster said: “I am disappointed that the Irish government is now standing in the way of closure for these families, who have already suffered so much.” The Republic’s Justice department said the Irish government had already taken the “unprecedented” step of producing domestic legislation to facilitate legal co-operation with the inquest. “This legislation facilitated the transfer of significant evidential material by An Garda Síochána to the North of Ireland coroner,” a spokesman said.

The Ten men murdered in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976.

“The Irish authorities have continuously sought to cooperate with the coroner and his legal team as part of an ongoing legal process.” Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan had requested just over £10m to fund a proposal to deal more expediently with legacy inquests last year. However, Mrs Foster blocked the funding prior to the 2016 assembly election saying the process was “skewed” towards killings committed by the state, and she “will not allow any process to rewrite the past”. Andrée Murphy of Relatives for Justice said while she welcomed Mrs Foster’s comments in relation to the Kingsmill delays, her decision to block funding for legacy inquests in March 2016 had caused “harm on top of the devastation already experienced”. “Families from every background and all communities are engaged in inquests”, she said. It would be hard to over state the huge pressure and ever present anxiety that the lack of progress on inquests has caused. “And movement on it would demonstrate goodwill from the British government and unionist parties who have thus far placed their face against delivering achievable remedy to these families.”

With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News for the original story.

Guildford Four’s Armstrong lays bare experience of prison and it’s aftermath.

ONE of the Guildford Four has described his struggles following his release from prison – and how he has come out the other side. Wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 15 years, Paddy Armstrong was one of four people (known as the Guildford Four), jailed for the Guildford pub bombings in England in 1975.



Almost 30 years after his release, the Belfast-born man has relieved his ordeal in a book, Life After Life, saying “we can’t let people forget, because there are still injustices in the world today”. Mr Armstrong said the book, ghostwritten by Journalist Mary-Elaine Tynan, “lays bare the experiences of those years and their aftermath”. “It took a year and a half to get this out of me, but I’m glad I’ve done It,” he told The Irish News. “My son and daughter had begun asking questions about what happened to me and I found it difficult to answer. “I live for my family and I want people to see I’ve come out the other side – that there is a life after life.”



Mr Armstrong was jailed for life alongside Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson in what was widely regarded as one of the UK’s worst miscarriages of justice.

I needed to do it for my children and their generation – people who don’t know our story. Because their are still injustices in the world today. – Paddy Armstrong.


Their convictions for murdering five people in two IRA pub bombings in 1974 were finally quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1989. Recalling a dark period of his life, Mr Armstrong said: “I didn’t have a clue what was going on when I was arrested.


“They asked me the same questions over and over again. One of the police said: “We know you didn’t do it but we’re going to do you for it”. When we were told we would serve 35 years. I thought I’d never see the outside world again. “But that time came and when I got out I lived with my solicitor Alistair Logan for nine months – he saved me as I didn’t know anything about the outside. I remember the first night I stayed in his house I ended up putting the mattress onto the floor as I wasn’t used to sleeping on a bed.


“That following morning, Alistair said to me: ‘I heard you moving about a lot in your room’ and I said I still had in my head the warders were coming into my cell. “He got two doctors to treat me – ones that help soldiers who came from war, and I think that helped get my head together. They helped me adjust to life outside again. “It was very hard and there were times I wanted to be back in prison because at least I knew the structure there.”


“Asked if his ordeal had made him bitter, Mr Armstrong said: “I’ve no bitterness at all, I’m not that type of guy. “I’m angry with the police. I always get asked ‘you must hate so many people’ but what’s the point?” On why he was publishing his memoirs now, he said: “I didn’t just want the book to be about my time in prison but also about my life since I got out, and how difficult it was in those early days. 

“I needed to do it for my children and the people of their generation – people who don’t know our story. Gerry Conlon and Carole Richardson are gone now, but I’m still here. And so is Paul Hill. “And we can’t let people forget because there are still injustices in the world today.” Life After Life, A Guildford Four memoir will be launched at Easons in Belfast’s Donegal Place at 6.30pm on Thursday night April 13th 2017.
#JFTC2 #JusticeForTheCraigavonTwo

#FreeTonyTaylor

With many thanks to: Suzanne McGonagle, The Irish News.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guildford_Four_and_Maguire_Seven

Daughter of woman murdered (Cumann na mBan) the female wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead with her sister to sue Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Maura Meehan (31) and her sister Dorothy Maguire murdered by the British Army in 1971 to sue MoD.

Daughter of shot IRA woman to sue British Army
Margaret Kennedy (Maura’s daughter) holds photographs of her mother Maura Meehan and aunt Dorothy Maguire who were shot dead at a British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971. Picture by Mal McCann
 THE daughter of an IRA woman killed along with her sister more than 45 years ago by the British Army is set to sue the Ministry of Defence. Mother-of-four Maura Meehan (31) was killed along with her sister Dorothy Maguire when soldiers open fire on a car ( pictured below) in which they were passengers in West Belfast in 1971. Both women were members of Cumann na mBan, the female wing of the IRA.
Picture’s of the car Maura and Dorothy were traveling in showing the extent of damage done in the double murder committed by the British Army.

Original examinations also found that swabs taken from Ms Maguire showed the presence of lead on one hand. However a recent ballistic forensic report commissioned by solicitors acting for the family has cast doubt on the origional findings saying they did not “provide any salient evidence to conclude that Mrs Meehan had fired a gun”.

The review added that the origional report failed to consider other sources of lead “an explanation for the presence of lead on the swabs taken from her hands”. Mr Meehan’s daughter, Margaret Kennedy (pictured above), last night welcomed the new findings.”It’s what we have said all along basically,” she said. Mrs Kennedy, who was aged nine when her mother was mudered by British Army, accused authorities of “stalling” on the case but said they would continue with their campaign until they get answers.

“All we are looking for is the truth to be told,” she said. The Ministy of Defence (MoD) did not respond to requests for a comment.

With many thanks to: The Irish News, Mal McCann (for the picture) and for the origional story.