Chief Constable breaks silence to defend RUC/PSNI stance on Glenanne Gang

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has responded to criticism from the Glenanne Families.

PSNI chief constable
Chief Constable George Hamilton has publicly defending his force against criticism in relation to the policing of the past.

However, he has also made clear he will be appealing a judgment by Mr Justice Treacy in June of this year ordering an independent investigation into the Glenanne Gang killings.

Last week relatives of 120 victims of the loyalist killer gang published an open appeal to the Chief Constable in the Irish News asking him to abide by the court ruling and order an independent investigation.

The killings, which took place in Armagh, Tyrone, Down, Louth and Monaghan between 1972 and 1978, were previously investigated by the now defunct Historical Enquiries Team, however the cold case team was disbanded before the final report was released.

Through the Pat Finucane Centre, the families made an impassioned plea to Mr Hamilton to do the “right thing”.

Northern Ireland’s most senior officer has now publicly responded saying he felt it was important to clarify the situation because of “ongoing risk to public confidence in policing and the need for urgent progress on dealing with the past”.

“I read carefully every word of the open letter published in this paper last week by the Glenanne families”, Mr Hamilton said.

“Within weeks of becoming Chief Constable in 2014, I spoke about this issue, warning that ‘action is needed if policing and, indeed, our peace process is not to be dragged backward.’

“Three years have passed and, despite the efforts of officials working on legislation, nothing has changed. As Chief Constable I am frustrated and concerned. But this cannot compare to the raw hurt and pain that grieving families experience.

“I find myself in an impossible position. The High Court has found that while I have a legal obligation to investigate the circumstances of the Hillcrest bombing and other related cases, my organisation is not sufficiently independent to conduct that investigation”.

Mr Hamilton has said to outsource the investigation to an external police service would be likely to cost in the region of £60 million over five to six year period from an already drastically slashed policing budget.

“There are insufficient detective resources immediately available in the UK to conduct this investigation, even if the financial resources were made available to me,” he added.

The chief constable also pointed to the operation Kenova investigation, headed up by Bedfordshire Police Chief Jon Boutcher, into the activities of the agent known as Stakeknife, saying that probe is currently subject to judicial challenge because it is being funded from the PSNI budget.

“In these circumstances it is in the public interest that clarity is sought from the Court of Appeal as to what the law permits or requires PSNI to do in relation to investigating the past,” he said.

“I have no more desire for prolonged legal wrangling than the families do. It is a damning indictment that in the continuing political vacuum on dealing with the past; witnesses and members of grieving families are passing away without resolution.

“I believe that the right place for any legacy investigation is the Historical Investigations Unit. The failure to make progress on the HIU over the last three years has come at both a financial cost and a cost to confidence in policing. And that cost will continue to increase the longer that the ongoing delay continues”, Mr Hamilton added.

PSNI CHIEF CONSTABLE REFUSES TO ACT ON HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT

BRIAN FEENEY/IRISH NEWS/WED 20 DECEMBER 2017 | 20 December 2017

Leading “Irish News” columnist, Brian Feeney, asks why the most senior police officer in Northern Ireland is defying a court order and refusing to even talk about completing a report on collusion into 120+ murders?

George Hamilton: refusing to act on High Court judgement

There’s a distinctly unpleasant whiff beginning to rise from the PSNI.

Yes, there are various surveys and polls indicating levels of satisfaction that the unlamented, discredited RUC could never have attained but there is growing dissatisfaction with critical aspects of policing and no sign they will be addressed.

People living in mixed districts and some Nationalist districts are deeply unhappy with the failure of the police to deal with loyalist flags and paraphernalia. The police have completely failed to deal with loyalist paramilitaries who still despoil working-class Unionist districts, prey on businesses and prevent investment. The PSNI record on recruiting Catholics has stalled and gone into reverse. There’s more. The reasons and excuses provided are well known but the results never change.

The major aspect which has crystallised dissatisfaction in recent months is failure to deal with the past in ways which obstruct dealing with the past. On December 15,  we had a lengthy self-serving epistle from the chief constable explaining why he is going to appeal a High Court order commanding him and his force ‘to expeditiously honour its enforceable public commitment to provide an overarching report into the Glenanne group of cases’. This to be done independently, expeditiously and with ring-fenced funding.

The reason Mr. Justice Treacy issued such an order is that on July 28 he quashed the PSNI decision to abandon the HET inquiry into the notorious Glenanne-based police/UDR murder gang and ordered an independent investigation. However by November the court found that the PSNI had ignored the court’s instruction; had done precisely nothing. Now the Chief Constable, still having done precisely nothing, is appealing the order to the Court of Appeal with your money. He has no hope of overturning the order but will appeal on esoteric legal grounds. Another year’s delay.

In his letter explaining why he has not complied with the order but is appealing,  the Chief Constable cites cost. He has conjured a figure of £60 million over five years out of misty Hy-Brasil. The Glenanne cases involve the killing of 120 or more people in the 1970s by a gang composed of RUC, UDR, and UVF. Most had dual membership. The HET was tasked with examining 2,555 cases involving 3,260 killings. The North’s Criminal Justice Inspection team found in 2013 that the total cost of the HET was £60 million.

How come the disparity? How could investigating the Glenanne gang cost so much? Their names are well known. All you have to do is pick up Anne Cadwallader’s book, Lethal Allies and you will find the gang’s whole modus operandi, their weapons, their scenes of crime. It’s a textbook for anyone pursuing an inquiry. Cadwallader makes a credible case without being paid £60 million.

Chief Constable George Hamilton asserts in his letter that there are ‘insufficient detective resources’ in the UK for carrying out an independent investigation. Rubbish. Pull the other one. The HET was able to set up and get under way using retired detectives. They successfully completed dozens of cases, few as straightforward as the pre-prepared treasure trove sitting waiting for Glenanne investigators.

The chief constable asserts that the Historical Investigation Unit recommended in the Stormont House Agreement is the body to investigate the Glenanne gang. It isn’t. That’s just kicking the can down the road. Mr. Justice Treacy ordered an independent, ring-fenced body. So the non-existence of the HIU is a red herring.

Mr. Hamilton also takes a swing at ‘the continuing political vacuum’ as a reason for not proceeding. No. Our useless invisible proconsul [James Brokenshire, NI Secretary of State] could allocate targeted funds for the past immediately. Has Hamilton asked him?

Unfortunately the Glenanne case is simply the most egregious example of the PSNI stalling, blocking, redacting, asking for Public Immunity Certificates, losing evidence and so on. Although Hamilton denies it, the inescapable conclusion is that the PSNI is preventing truth emerging but searching for delays and pretexts to protect State interests.

Regardless of motive the result plays to the political position of Unionism, not, altogether now, ‘the political vacuum’. It’s unionists and our proconsul who don’t want appalling conspiracies like the Glenanne RUC/UDR/UVF murder gang investigated. The consistent failure of the PSNI to proceed proactively supports that position. It smells fishy.

ENDS

‘IRA” says it struck police vehicle with EFP (explosively formed projectile).

THE Republican paramilitary group known as the ‘IRA’ last night claimed it was “confident” it struck an RUC/PSNI vehicle with an EFP mortar in Strabane last week.

In a statement the organisation, sometimes referred to as the ‘New IRA’, said it fired the potentially lethal device at the passing patrol car at Townsend Street in the Tyrone town last Tuesday night. The group claims the EFP (explosively formed projectile) mortar contained Semtex and was triggered by command wire and fired from a distance of nine feet at the police vehicle as it passed at around 8pm. The ‘IRA’ claims that the mortar was moved from another location in the border town earlier on Tuesday after the security forces failed to show up.

Using a recognised codeword, the republican group claimed that an attempt to target a police car with the same device at Townsend Street was abandoned an hour before the attack because of the prescence of civillian vehicles in the area. The RUC/PSNI has said that the device, which it described as a “roadside bomb with command wire attached” was “designed to kill or seriously injure” its officers. Three officers who were travelling in the vehicle were uninjured but believed to be left shaken. The RUC/PSNI vehicle left the area after the attack and police were later criticised for failing to cordon off the scenne for three hours.

Several people were removed from their homes during a follow up operation but later allowed to return. Politicians have condemned the latest attack which came just weeks after the ‘IRA’ tried to kill a Catholic police officer in Derry using an undercar bomb. Policing Board member and SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said: “Such attacks on the PSNI (RUC) have no place in a modern progressive society.” DUP MLA Tom Buchánan said: “There must be a united and resolute stand from right across the political spectrum to such activities.”

In August 2015, a motar was discovered and disarmed at a cemetery in Strabane after a security operation. EFPs, which can pierce armour over a long distance, have been used by the ‘IRA’ in Derry and Belfast in the past. On those occasions no-one was injured. Unexploded EFPs have also been recovered by the security forces accross the north. Believed to have been developed in Iran, the homemade weapon was regularly used in Iraq. It is considered by some as the modern version of the horizontal mortar – known to republicans as a ‘doodle bug’ – which was used by the Provisionals. Meanwhile, police have been given additional time to question a 20-year-old man arrested in Newtownstewart in connection with the attack last week, while a 31-year-old man arrested on Saturday continued to be questioned last night.

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

Please Write To Irish Republican Political Prisoners.

This list is updated on a regular basis.

List of Republican prisoners that are looked after by Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA)

Portlaoise Gaol

E3 & E4, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois

Dublin: Tallaght
Michael Finlay
Dean Byrne
Edward McGrath

Clondalkin

Patrick Brennan

Donard

John Troy

Bluebell

Sean Connolly

Ballymun

Stephen Hendrick

East Wall

Pierce Moran

Rush Co Dublin

John McGrail

Killester

Donal O’Coisdealbha

Goatstown

Connor Hughes

Ballybrack

Darren Fox

Louth:

Owen McCann
Conan Murphy

Carlow:

James Smithers

Cork:

Tony Carroll
Brian Walsh
Joe Walsh
Sean Walsh
Mick Gilmartin
Martin McHale

Derry:

Kevin Devlan

Tyrone:

Damien (DD) McLaughlin

Maghaberry
Roe 4, Maghaberry Prison, Old Road Ballinderry Upper, Lisburn BT28 2PT

Armagh:

Dee Duffy
Shea Reynolds
Ciaran Magee
Brendan McConville
Sean McVeigh
Luke O’ Neill (held on a non-political wing on protest)
John Paul Wotton

Belfast:

Anto Davidson
Christie Robinson

Derry:

Barry Concannon
Jason Ceulmans
Damien Harkin
Neil Hegarty
Nathan Hastings
Seamus McLaughlin

Fermanagh:

Barry Petticrew (Held on a non – political wing in isolation)

Meath:

Darren Poleon
Brian Walsh

Tyrone:

Gavin Coyle
Martin McGilloway (CSU)

Magilligan
Point Rd, Limavady BT49 0LR

Belfast:

Brian Millar

————————————————————————————————

List of Republican prisoners that are looked after by Cogús prisoner support group

Roe House MAGHABERRY

Old Road Ballinderry Upper,
Lisburn,
County Antrim,
BT28 2PT

Conor Hughes

Gerard Flanagan

Carl Reilly

Tony Taylorq

Ta Mc Williams

Ciaran Mc Laughlin

Paddy O’ Neill (teach na failte)

Cogús Prisoners E2, Portlaoise Co Laois:

Charles Anthony Deery

Garret Mulley

Seamus McGrane

Ryan Glennon

With many thanks to: Stephen Codd @ Revolution Ireland.

 

IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers

HET findings published as Haass talks break up without agreement -into ‘Shot-to-Kill’ policy’s in the North of Ireland.

TWO IRA men were shot in the back by SAS soldiers in Co Tyrone 30 years ago, a report has found. The families of Colm McGirr (23) and Brian Campbell (19) on Monday 30th December said they planned to sue the British government and wanted fresh inquests into their deaths.

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The news came as US diplomat Richard Haass failed to make the party’s in the North of Ireland come to an agreement on dealing with the past, parades and flags. Among the issues holding up the progress have been mechanisms for giving evidence to Historical inquires by bodies taking over the functions of the PSNI‘s/RUC‘s Historical Enquires Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman. The fresh report into the Co Tyrone killings was carried out by a forensic pathologist for the HET. It appears to contradict accounts given by the undercover soldiers who claimed the pair were shot dead while pointing weapons towards them. Mr McGirr and Mr Campbell, who were members of the Provisional IRA, were murdered by the SAS in a  field on Cloghog Road near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, on December 4 1983. A third man was injured but escaped. Their deaths fuelled claims of a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy by the British government against IRA members.

Testimony from the soldiers had claimed that the men were removing weapons hidden in the field and on being challenged “Colm McGirr turned and pointed a shotgun towards one of the soldiers who then fired several shots at him”. Forensic pathologist Richard Shepherd reviewed the postmortem examination scene photographs and statements from four of the six soldiers prescent. He said he did “not believe Colm McGirr would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” and “no shots had struck Brian Campbell from the front”. In his report, which the families have received, he concluded that because Mr McGirr was right handed, he did “not believe he would have turned far enough to threaten soldiers” if he was holding a weapon. “In my opinion therefore it is more likely that [Mr McGirr] received shots to his right side and back as he was facing into or towards the bush,” he said. The SAS also claimed one of the squad, known as Soldier A, then fired towards Brian Campbell who was holding an armalite rifle and had also turned and was facing them” However, Dr Shepherd concluded that “no shots had struck Brian Campbell form the front”. “I cannot exclude the possibility that the injury to the left upper back was inflicted as he lay on the ground,” he said, without ruling out the soldiers’ version of events in both cases. The IRA men’s families have now called for a fresh inquest into their deaths/murders. Solicitor Padraig O Muirigh, acting on behalf of the relatives said they would also take legal action against the British government.

“This report raises serious concerns in relation to the original soldiers’ statements,” he said. “In light of the disclosure of the Dr Shepherd’s report the families have made an application to the attorney general to direct a fresh inquest into the deaths/murders of Colm McGirr and Brian Campbell. “They will also be issuing civil proceedings against the minister of defence in relation to the unlawful actions of the soldiers.” Colm McGirr’s brother Brian (58), from Coalisland, claimed the British army discovered the arms cache three days earlier on December 1, but the weapons were not removed or disabeled. “We have no doubt that a carefully planned ambush was set by undercover British security forces that evening,” he said. “Through the 30 years that have passed we have sought the truth of what happened. We were led to bbelieve that the PSNI’s/RUC’s Historical Enquiries Team would make every effort to achieve the truth. “As part of this, a second pathologist has confirmed that the shootings could not have happened as described by security forces. Both men, Colm and Brian, were shot in cold blood in the back.” Mr McGirr said the families have been informed that the HSE investigation “is at an end and will proceed no further”. “We lived with a charade of an inquest in early years with no evidence of any sort offered as to what occurred. The McGirr and Campbell families will continue to demand that a new inquest is held to fully investigate all that occourred on that evening.” Reacting to the findings on Monday nnight, Dungannon Independent Republican councillor Barry Monteith said he was “not surprised” by the pathologist’s review and accused the British government of operating a ‘shot-to-kill policy in the North of Ireland. However, Dungannon DUP councillor Samuel Brush said he had no confidence in the HET. “There are dozens and dozens of murders around this area in South Tyrone that have not been looked at,” he said. “It baffles me that these things didn’t ccome to light then and can be turned up. “All we can do is work on reports as they come but is this report any better or any worse than the previous ones?”

With many thanks toto: The Irish News.

Related articles

Female inmate ‘forcibly strip searched’

BRITAIN STILL ABUSES IRISH REPUBLICAN WOMENSecond woman missed hospital appointment after refusing to remove clothes campaigners say.

REPUBLICAN prisoner campaigners have claimed a forced strip has been

out on a female republican inmate at Hydebank Wood Prison.

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Sharon Rafferty, of Cavana Linn in Pomeroy, was forced to remove her clothes before and after making a court appearance in Omagh, Co Tyrone, last month. Supporters say the 38-year-old refused to take off her cloths voluntarily female prison officers forcibly removed them down to her underwear. Ms Rafferty is facing charges relating to republician paramilitary activity in Co Tryone. Since her arrest in May last she has been detained on a separated wing at Hydebank Wood Prison on the outskirts of Belfast. It has also emerged that a second republican prisoner, Christine Connor, missed a hospital appointment last month after refusing to be strip searched. The 27-year-old is facing two counts of attempted murder and possession of pipe bombs in relation to an attack on the PSNI in North Belfast in May. The Irish News understand both wimen have indicated they will not voluntarialy submit to strip searches in furture.

On Wednsday night Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) sais Ms Rafferty felt like she had been “sexually assaulted” after the search. “She feels very strongly she should not have to remove her clothing,” she aid. The prisoner campagner says Ms Connor will also continue to resist strip searches. “Christine feels she is being denied the right to medicial treatment which is a basic human right,” she said. “She is on medication and needs to see a specialist.” The last high-profile female republican prisoner to be subjected to strip searches is believed to be Roisin McAliskey – daughter of former Mid Ulster MP Bernadette McAliskey – who was searched more than 70 times while pregnant in custody awaiting extradition to Germany in connection with an IRA mortar attàck in 1996. She was released wîthout charge in 1998.

I VOTE FOR JUSTICE

In November last year male republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison ended an 18-month no-wash protest sparked by a number of complaints about the jail regime, including the use of strip searches. A spokesman for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said: “The Prison Service Full Search Policy for women prisoners has developed a two stage full search procedure. A stage one search requires the woman to remove her outer clothin; however she would not be requied to remove her underwear. If staff have suspicions or intelligence has been received to suggest that the woman could be concealing items in her underwear she would be required to proceed to a level two search. “This would require her to remove the clothing from her top half of her body, including her underwear. When dressed she would remove the clothing from the bottom half of her body, including her underwear. While we cannot comment on specific individuals, at no stage has a level two search been deployed in Ash House in recent weeks as is being claimed in some quarters.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.

BID TO MAP REMAINS OF ULSTER PLANTATION

Culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she was “delighted work has begun on the important historical dig”

A TEAM of archaeologists are attempting to map the archaeological remains of the Ulster Plantation. Excavations have begun at a 17th-century castle at Baronscourt, Newtownstewart, in Co Tyrone.

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It was built by Sir James Hamilton of Greenlawe, Scotland. Documentary sources date its construction and occupation by the Hamilton family to 1622. Even before the pivotal 1607 ‘flight of the earls’, King James 1 granted the earldom of Abercorn to the Scottish Hamilton family. In 1606, James became the first real and his brothers Sir George and Sir Claus were granted lands in the barony of Strabane, Co Tyrone. It is there that the castle at Derrywonne was built. The present duke of Abercorn granted permission for the excavation on his estate. Lead archaeologist Nick Brannon beleives the castle began as a domestic, rather than defensive, building but under threat of attack, an additional tower with pistol loops was built on to protect it.

English: James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn ...
English: James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn (1811-1885) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ambitious three-year programme will see research excavations specifically targeting nearly 700 sites and monuments associated with Scottish Planters. It is founded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure on the recommendation of the ministerial advisory group for the Ulster Scots Academy, established in 2011 to advise on how best to promote research, knowledge and understanding of Ulster-Scots language, history and cultural traditions. Culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she was “delighted work has begun on this important historical dig”. “Evidence of a shared inheritance based on authentic research is an important element in building a united community for the future,” she said.

With many thanks to : Bimpe Archer, Irish News.

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