Journalists shed light on horrors of the Troubles

This week saw the launch of a remarkable book. And some of the stories contained in it will go a long way towards increasing our understanding of what became known as, “the Troubles’.

‘Reporting the Troubles’ was the brainchild of Deric Anderson Jnr (og), a young man whose veteran news reporter dad Deric Snr walked every step of the way through 50 years of this defining period in our history.

Deric Jnr (og), suggested the time was now right for his father to lean on his many friends and colleagues in the world of journalism with a view to getting their Troubles-related stories on paper.

The result is ‘Reporting the Troubles’ – Journalists tell their stories of the North of Ireland conflict’ (pictured above) and I was privileged to be asked to contribute to it. Like his close friends Ivan McMichael and Raymond Managh, Deric Henderson cut his teeth as a young reporter on the Tyrone Constitution in his native Omagh. Deric, Raymond and Ivan changed journalism in the city. Their general high standards, commitment to detail and willingness to go the extra mile to produce good stories was obvious from the beginning.

calamity

And therefore when the calamity of the Troubles eventually exploded on the streets, the Tyrone trio were capable of reporting these dreadful events honestly and accurately.

Peter Ward murdered by the UVF, on Malvern Street, on the Shankill in 1966. He was the the first man murdered by the modern-day UVF. Who claim they were funded during the Second-World-War which is bullocks ha,ha,ha,

It is widely known, but Raymond Managh is the man who in 1966 broke the shocking story of the Malvern Street shottings, which resulted in the death of a young Catholic barman called Peter Ward.

Malvern Street signalled the arrival of the mordern-day UVF on the streets.

The story was flashed around the globe on the BBC World Service. And in Reporting the Troubles, Raymond recalls how that happened. After leaving the busy Belfast Telegraph newsroom, Ivan McMichael- whizz-kid shorthand writer went on to become the doyen of court reporters, covering all major cases.

In this book, Ivan recounts the trial of a ruthless gang of loyalist paramilitaries convicted for murdering members of the hugely popular Miami Show band.

Members of the Miami Showband murdered in cold blood by loyalist paramilitaries for being Catholics
The Miami Showband massacre and the aftermath of the bombing

Deric Henderson headed-up the Belfast Desk of the Press Association for many years. He was the coalface throughout the Troubles and he has a mountain of good stories to tell. But in this book he has chosen to reveal a moving story relating to members of his own family. And he also recounts the day he managed to manipulate the daily news coverage at the end of the trial of the infamous Shankill Buthers.

Stain Glass windows put in in remembrance of the La Mon House Hotel firebombing

Wendy Austin revisits the PIRA firebomb atrocity at the La Mon House Hotel. And Fermanagh reporter Denzil McDaniel delivers a moving account of the IRA Poppy Day bombing of Enniskillen, while Ivan Little – a co-editor of this book along with Deric – recounts the Sean Graham’s bookies shop shootings on Belfast’s Ormeau Road.

Poppy Day Enniskillen bombing
Sean Graham’s bookies shop shootings on Belfast’s Ormeau Road.

Some of the best Troubles coverage was done by reporters who had previous understanding of the problems which led to the outbreak of civic strife in the North of Ireland. And yet a number of them quickly grasped the nettle and were able to deliver incisive reports for Republic of Ireland, the UK as well as worldwide audiences.

In this regard, Kate Adie, Alex Thompson and Miriam O’Callahan all made notable contributions. And in this book also, Belfast Telegraph political editor Suzanne Green reaffirms her reputation as a superb recorder of the history of the Troubles. My old Sunday World colleagues Jim McDowell and Sam Smyth are also represented.

Sam provides a light-hearted break from the bleakness by recalling the amazing secret life of UDA leader Sammy Duddy, who at the height of the Troubles doubled as a cabaret drag artiste.

For my part, I documented the previously untold story of Short Strand woman Marie O’Hara. A mum of five daughters, Marie lost two husbands – both entirely innocent men – to UVF violence. It is a remarkable account of how resilient the human spirit can be when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds and I was honoured to write it in Reporting the Troubles.

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

Follow this links to find out more: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/sammy-duddy-26326357.html

http://www.irishnews.com/paywall/tsb/irishnews/irishnews/irishnews//news/2016/05/27/news/50-years-since-first-victim-of-troubles-was-shot-by-uvf-533761/content.html

http://www.dannymorrison.com/death-of-mary-ward/

Two men arrested in England over theft of documents relating to the ‘Loughinisland Massacre’

Police said the sensitive material was held by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Six innocent people were murdered including the oldest man ever murdered in the Troubles by terrorists in the Loughinisland massacre

Two men have been arrested over the suspected theft of confidential documents relating to the Loughinisland massacre.

The material, which police say featured in a documentary about the 1994 murders, had been in the possession of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI).

A police spokesman has claimed the theft of the documents “potentially puts lives at risk”.

PONI officers reported the theft to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The PSNI then asked Durham Police to conduct an independent investigation into the theft.

The men, aged 51 and 48, were arrested by officers from the Durham force.

The arrests came on Friday morning after detectives, supported by PSNI officers, searched three properties in the Belfast area.

Six men were shot dead (murdered) inside the bar while watching Ireland play Italy during a World Cup football match

These included two residential properties and a business premises.

A number of documents and computer equipment seized during the raids will be examined by specialist officers.

The men are being questioned at Musgrave Police Station in Belfast.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary described the investigation as “complex”.

“This morning’s arrests are a significant development in what has been a complex investigation,” he said.

“The terms of reference given to our inquiry were clear in that the investigation is solely into the alleged theft of material from PONI.

“The theft of these documents potentially puts lives at risk and we will follow the evidence wherever it leads us.”

Six people were murdered on June 18th 1994 when loyalist gunman (colluding with British death squads) burst into the bar in Loughinisland, Co Down, and opened fire on it’s customers

The UVF terrorists struck as football fans watched the Republic of Ireland team play in the 1994 Fifa World Cup.

In 2011, the Police Ombudsman found there had been major failings in the police investigation following the shootings, but said there was no evidence that police had colluded with the UVF.

However in 2016, a new Ombudsman report found there had been collusion, and the police investigation had been undermined by a desire to protect informers.

In 2017, a documentary, No Stone Unturned, named the main suspects, who were all leading members of the British Security Services

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story.

Proposed Brexit Law if passed would ban paramilitary images being published.

CONTROVERSIAL legislation proposed by the British government will make it ‘illegal’ to publish images linked to the republican movement and loyalism and would be punishable with six months in prison.

The Terrorists were the British not the Irish and I will gladly spend six months in prison at HM expense but England has no control or power’s in Ireland. Ireland belongs to the Irish.

The proposied clampdown is contained in new the counter-terrorism and border security bill which is making its way through Westminster.

The Irish News revealed on Friday how planned legislation will result in the establishment of a mile-wide ‘stop-and-search border zone’. Now it has emerged that the bill also proposes to outlaw clothing and images associated with paramilitary activity. While other legislation, including the Terrorism Act, covers some of this ground, the proposed legislation will go further. There are 14 republican and loyalists organisations proscribed by the British government. Several of the groups, including the main republican and loyalist organisations, are on long-term ceasefire.

The planned legislation says that: “A PERSON commits an offence if the person publishes an image of – (a) an item of clothing, or (b) any other article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. The proposed legislation says “an image is a reference to a still or moving image [produced by any means]”.

This means that anyone who published an image relating deemed to be in support of a paramilitary organisation would be breaking the law. How far this will be enforced is unclear but it is thought it could be applied to flags and other images associated with both republican and loyalists groups.

Human rights groups have voiced concern about the proposed legislation. Deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Daniel Holder said: “The reality is, as it stands, if these laws were in fact applied to the North of Ireland, there would be huge community alienation, street violence would probably erupt and the cause of peace would be put back immeasurably. “So if these counter-terrorism measures are not only useless but counter-productive for the North of Ireland, how are they appropriate for the rest of the UK?”

The CAJ and nationalist politicians have also voiced concern about the prospect of a ‘stop-and-search border zone’. If the bill becomes law any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are engaged in “hostile activity”. SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna last night said the proposals would be a “grotesque assault on border life and on the [Good Friday] agreement of which the UK government is a co-guarantor”. “The UK government appear to neither care nor understand the anxiety they are causing here,” she said.

SDLP MLA Carmel (Claire) Hanna

“At this point in the Brexit negotiations there is very little we could put past this government who seem prepared to sign up to almost anything in the name of Brexit and oblivious to the tension these proposals create.”

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill accused the British government of “duplicity”. “The use of stop and search powers is already a cause of massive concern in nationalist areas and if powers as wide-ranging as these were introduced, it would be disastrous,” she said. “It runs counter to human rights provisions. It runs counter Good Friday Agreement and the principles of the European Common Travel Area. “I will be taking this up directly with both governments because it is clear that, through this legislation, London is preparing for the imposition of a hard border in Ireland.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young and The Irish News for the original story.

Irish News Editorial

Legislation must be scrutinised 

WHILE considerable attention has been focused on the Brexit withdrawal bill, another piece of legislation which could have far-reaching repercussions for the border has been making its way through Westminster largely unnoticed. The counter-terrorism and border security bill contains proposals that, if passed, could have alarming implications for people in the border area of the North of Ireland. Under the terms of the planned legislation, any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are entering or leaving the nort. An ‘examining officer’ may question the person to determine if they are engaged in ‘hostile activity’.

It is not clear if this means police or border force officers will be protrolling the border area, able to stop and question any person they wish without due cause. Obviously this would be viewed with deep concern, particularly at a time when efforts are under way to ensure there is no hard border on this Island following the UK’s departure from the EU in March next year. It is also worrying that this legislation, which contains other broadly-constructed measures that will raise serious concern, has already passed the Committee stage and could come into law before Christmas. These proposals must be subject to careful scrutiny and assessment with political representatives making sure we do not end up with a hard border as a result of Brexit or any other form of legislation.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

UVF leader in meeting with DUP councillor about controversial bonefire

SENIOR loyalists, including a man believed to be a UVF leader, attended a meeting with a DUP councillor that ran until the early hours of the morning in a last-ditch effort to resolve a bonfire dispute in East Belfast.

Riot police at the Bloomfield walkway bonfire after it was set alight when mediation failed on Wednesday.

The Irish News has seen details of meetings that took place in the early hours of Wednesday, just hours before a bonfire at Bloomfield Walk-way was prematurely set on fire. Lee Reynolds, pictured below, the DUP group leader on Belfast City Council, was present at the meeting, as were Jamie Bryson and Stephen Matthews – widely believed to be the leader of the East Belfast UVF.

Lee Reynolds DUP group leader on Belfast City Council.

At 11.45pm on Tuesday Mr Reynolds and mediators met senior loyalists. Police were asked to attend but declined. The meeting took place hours after the High Court ruled that the landowner, the Department for Infrastructure, was responsible for the protection of life and property on its land at the walkway and that the pyre had to be removed or dramatically reduced in size.

LOYALIST: Stephen Matthews, widely believed to be the leader of the East Belfast UVF, was in attendance at the final-hour meetings.

The meeting lasted until after 1am with loyalists from the East Belfast Community Initiative, including Bryson and Matthews, going to the walkway to speak with a crowd of around 150 young people who had gathered at the site. This was done after speaking with mediators to calm tensions. There were fears at that time that the large crowd was preparing to engage in civil disorder and a large number of riot police were deployed to the area.

The bonfire builders were given the option to dismantle the bonfire themselves or told the PSNI and contractors – who were former members of the military – would take the material away, by force if necessary.

Contractors, ex military, protected by police, dismantle the Cluan Place bonfire later on Wednesday.

Bonfire builders refused to dismantle the pyre, which was five times the fire’s devices recommended height for the plot, saying they would sit on the wood to prevent it being moved. At 5am police moved in to start removing the material. At this stage only around 15 young people remained at the site. They set fire to the structure before fleeing, leaving fire crews to keep the blaze under control and hose down nearby properties. Masked contractors moved in and removed the remaining wood under the protection of riot police.

The same  contractors, protected by around 200 riot police, later removed a bonfire built in the middle of the road at Cluan Place in East Belfast. When asked about the talks, the East Belfast Community Initiative said the “late-night meetings took place with the view to trying to de-escalate tensions”. Who made up our delegation is a matter for ourselves. However, we can confirm that all attendees were present as representatives of EBCI. No-one in the delegation is a member of any proscribed organisation,” the spokesperson added. Mr Reynolds has been approached for comment.

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

The corrupt Tory/DUP alliance have tried to sneak this bill through parliament!

TEAM named to consider proposals to protect armed forces veterans from prosecution

This bill is trying to be sneaked through British parliament without the consent of Irish victims

A TEAM has been established in Britain’s Ministry of Defence to consider proposals to protect armed forces veterans from prosecution for historical allegations, the defence secretary has announced.

Gavin Williamson told MPs he understands concerns over whether current and former personnel were receiving the legal protection they deserve (for carrying out murder), amid calls for a statute of limitations.

During defence questions in the commons, Tory former minister Sir Henry Bellingham asked Mr Williamson if he would bring forward legislative proposals for a statute of limitations to protect British armed forces veterans from prosecution for historical allegations (including murder). Mr Williamson replied: “I understand concerns over whether serving and former personel are receiving the legal protection and certainty that they deserve.

” I am therefore pleased to announce that I have established a dedicated team within the Ministry of Defence to consider this issue and advise on the way forward. Defence committee chairman and Conservative MP Julian Lewis said his committee would “warmly welcome the setting up of a dedicated team”.

Chief Constable George Hamilton (pictured above on the right) has previously dismissed claims that legacy investigations are focusing mostly on former members of the security forces rather than paramilitaries. Figures released by the RUC/PSNI last year showed that around 70 per cent of investigations into killings during the Troubles do not involve the security forces.

The announcement came hours before MPs debated the North of Ireland’s Budget (No2) Bill, in which former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon (pictured below) sought to amend to stop public money being used to fund historical prosecutions of former service personnel in the North of Ireland.

Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley, moving the Bill at second reading, said: “Passing this budget bill does not remove the pressing need to have locally accountable political leaders in place to take the fundamental decisions that will secure a more sustainable future for the people in the North of Ireland.” She said the bill authorises North of Ireland departments and other bodies to incur expenditure of up to £8.9billion and use resources of up to £9.9bn for the financial year ending March 31 2019.

Ms Bradley said it was a “technical” budget bill although she added she was not dismissing the “constitutional significance” of the UK Parliament delivering this to the North of Ireland.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: “This is a difficult budget, in cash terms, it’s a flat budget and the amount of money available to government departments in the North of Ireland is no different than it was in the previous year, and that does present challenges.” Mr Wilson added the challenges included allocations being based on decisions taken by the assembly nearly two and a half years ago.

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

Principal disputes claim UDA flag erected ‘at entrance’ to Belfast primary school

One of the UDA flags erected in South Belfast in recent days.

A PRINCIPAL has disputed a claim that UDA flags have been put up “at the entrance” to a primary school.

Loyalist paramilitary flags have been erected in the Malton Drive area off Malone Road, close to several schools in south Belfast.

Among the UDA flags is one beside a school traffic warning sign on a lamppost along Finnis Drive.

Taughmonagh Primary School is at the end of the nearby Findon Gardens.

On Sunday, SDLP councillor Donal Lyons said “dozens” of UDA flags had been put up in the south Belfast area including “at the entrance to a primary school”.

“There can be no purpose in hanging these flags other than to glorify the terrorist acts of the past, and claim authority and control of an area in the present,” he said in a press release, which included a photo of the flag at Finnis Drive.

He added: “The fact that these UDA flags have been put up at the entrance to a primary school and outside the local community centre where young children will be forced to pass under them is particularly outrageous.

“There is no justification for these flags to be up and no reason that they should stay up.”

However Janet Douds, principal of Taughmonagh Primary School, branded the description of the flag’s location as a “complete fallacy”.

“The actual flag in question is on a school sign 0.2 miles from our school gates. It’s a generic school sign for all schools in the area which include Harberton Special School, Fleming Fulton, Oakwood and Glenveagh.

“The actual roadway up into my school is Findon Gardens, and there is not one single flag on that entire street – there’s nothing.

“As a school we are completely all-inclusive. We have Catholic parents who are more than happy to send their children here, and my fear would be that this would put other parents off.

“You have no idea how much this has annoyed our parents from both the Catholic and Protestant sides, because the parents know this is not a true reflection of what our school is and what it stands for.”

In response, Mr Lyons said: “I completely understand the school principal’s point and no school should have to get involved in a political matter of this type, which is why I didn’t single out any particular school.

“The fact is though that there are a number of schools in this area some of which have paramilitary flags at their school gates.

“The fact is also that the sheer number of paramilitary flags throughout Taughmonagh means that no child is able to go to school, use the playground or move around the estate without passing under the shadow of the UDA.

A UDA flag flying outside Taughmonagh Community Forum Resource Centre

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

Irish Border Stance Is Driving Libreal And Hardline Unionists Together

 

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit in Dundalk

In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum result, there was shock and dismay across Irish nationalism, which feared the return of a hard border and a more nationalistic UK moving further from the rest of Europe.

That feeling lingers, although it appears to have been somewhat lessened by the Irish Government’s robust stance in the Brexit negotiations, and the willingness of the EU to endorse that stance, putting the issue of the Irish border at or near the top of the talks process.

In the referendum, unionism voted largely to leave the EU, but there was sizable pro-remain unionist vote. But, just as there is a unity across nationalism to Brexit, so there is emerging a unified unionist front in opposition to the ‘backstop’ option which Mr Barnier articulated again yesterday.

That option – which only comes into play if the UK and the EU cannot agree on other solutions to avoiding a hard border, such as the use of technology or the entire UK remaining in a customs union – would involve regulatory alignment across the island of Ireland and customs checks between Northern Ireland and GB.

Last week DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds characterised such a stance as “almost the annexation of Northern Ireland”.

Although there are unionists who are fervently pro-EU, almost none of them have come out to support of the EU’s suggestion of an Irish Sea goods border.

Unionism increasingly united against EU stance

Yesterday the liberal UUP MLA Steve Aiken, who backed the remain side, used the same word as he denounced the EU’s stance.

Two months ago Lord Empey, one of David Trimble’s key negotiators during the talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement, wrote to Mr Barnier to express “deep concerns” about an EU approach which he said “undermines the Belfast Agreement and the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland”.

In a pan-European negotiation about trade, security and constitutional principle, Northern Ireland is in some ways an insignificant area.

But with the Irish border an issue of emblematic significance to both sides, it has become critical to the talks.

Unionist unease will not stop Brussels endorsing the stance of one of its members, Ireland.

But the fierce unionist-nationalist split in Northern Ireland means that the EU stance is in effect almost indistinguishable with the stance of Irish nationalism – from the Irish Government to Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

That is undsurprising, given that Mr Barnier is representing Dublin, and the other EU members, in these talks.

But in adopting a stance which is that of one side of the political divide in Northern Ireland, it makes it more difficult for the EU to present its solution as a neutral attempt to save the Good Friday Agreement or even peace itself.

With many thanks to: E News for the origional story.