Stoppage that brought the north to its knees
Thirty years on — The Ulster workers strike remembered

William Scholes - Irish News
May 15, 2004

William Scholes looks back to 1974 and how rising tensions in the
north resulted in an unprecedented strike that set back power
sharing by almost 30 years.

Confusing splits within unionism, concerns over the Pope's health
and an apparently ill fated experiment in power sharing – the
headlines at the start of May 1974 seem to echo those of May 2004.

But for all the similarities, these were also the days of 15-minute
gun battles between soldiers and IRA members in Crossmaglen and
deadly bomb attacks at places such as the Rose and Crown pub on
Belfast's Ormeau Road, in which six people died.

British troops, IRA gunmen and bombers and loyalist paramilitaries
were all on the streets as what would later become known as the
Troubles gathered their bloody momentum.

Against a backdrop of killings and injuries, efforts to find a
political solution had led to the creation of the Sunningdale
Agreement, which created an executive in which unionists, led by
Brian Faulkner, shared power with the SDLP, under the leadership of
Gerry Fitt, and the Alliance Party.

In addition to establishing power sharing at Stormont, Sunningdale
created an assembly and proposed setting up a council of Ireland
which, hardline unionists feared, would give the Dublin government a
direct hand in the affairs of the north.

Three strands of unionism opposed to both Faulkner's pro-power-
sharing leadership and Sunningdale, joined forces to form the United
Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC).

The UUUC represented the Official, Vanguard and Democratic Unionist
parties – led by Harry West, William Craig and Ian Paisley
respectively – as well as the Orange Order and believed the majority
of unionists were opposed to power sharing.

An opportunity to test this view came less than two months after the
Faulkner/Fitt executive had been formed on January 1 1974 with the
calling of a general election on February 28.

It was a resounding victory for the UUUC, with its representatives
winning 11 of 12 seats.

Armed with this bolstered mandate and determined to bring down the
executive, UUUC member John (now Lord) Laird proposed a motion
calling for the rejection of Sunningdale.

Mr Faulkner put forward a counter motion, with the date for the
debate set as May 14.

At the start of May power station workers had gone on strike in a
dispute over pay.

The stoppage had a crippling effect on Northern Ireland industry,
including the temporary closure of Harland and Wolff, Shorts and

"I think we have walked to the brink, looked over and come back just
in time," an employer, little knowing what lay ahead, said after the
strike had been settled.

As the day of the crucial vote drew near, it looked as if the
executive parties of Mr Faulkner, Mr Fitt and Alliance leader Oliver
Napier would be able to muster a total of 45 votes compared to 31
votes for the anti-executive UUUC.

On the Saturday before the vote, May 11, a warning from a group
calling itself the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) was tucked away in
the news stories.

The UWC said it would call a "full-scale strike" if the assembly
approved Sunningdale.

"The UWC, the successor of the Loyalist Association of Workers,
which organised political strikes in the past, claims to have
300,000 members," the Irish News reported.

Tensions, already high, increased when Vanguard leader Mr Craig said
that the spate of sectarian murders in the north
was "understandable" and "excusable", a view that led the Irish News
leader writer to be visited "by feelings of contempt".

By May 14 the stage was set for the opening act of a battle of
nerves that eventually brought the north to its knees, bringing the
Sunningdale experiment to an end and setting back power sharing by
almost 30 years.


Derry Journal

UDA Target McGuinness
Friday 14th May 2004

REPUBLICANS IN Derry say they are 'seriously concerned' that loyalists are on the verge of carrying out an attack in the Bogside-Brandywell area and that the target could be a leading republican - possibly even Martin McGuinness.

Their fears follow further sightings of leading loyalists acting suspiciously in various parts of the Bogside and Brandywell.

One source has confirmed that a leading loyalist was spotted twice in one day in the street where Martin McGuinness lives.

At Easter Sinn Fein said they were concerned that a leading loyalist had been seen acting suspiciously in the Bogside and warned people to be vigilant.

These concerns increased this week after up to four loyalists were seen travelling in two cars in the Bogside/Brandywell area.

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney has called on all republicans and nationalist to review their personal security after the latest sighting of unionist paramilitaries in the Bogside/Brandywell area.

Mr. McCartney stated: "On Tuesday of this week it was reported to one of our local representatives that two cars, one containing one man and the other three men, were observed driving in and around the Bogside and Brandywell areas.

"The person who spotted this activity observed the cars over several minutes and was able to identify the drivers of both cars. He is no doubt that from behaviour there were acting in consort."

He went on: "This sighting has been the latest in a series over the past couple of months in which this same loyalist has been seen near the homes of Sinn FÈin members, including that of Martin McGuinness, Mitchel McLaughlin and Declan Kearney.

"They have also been seen taking photographs of the homes of republicans and their cars."

Following the sighting at Easter there were claims by some loyalists sources that the people were involved in 'cross community' work but this has been rejected by Sinn Fein.

Mr. McCartney said: "The consistent involvement of this person in these activities defies any suggestions that he is involved in any semblance of cross community activity and ridicules other attempts in recent times to justify this type of activity.

"Sinn Fein reaffirms it supports and encourages genuine cross community work and will continue to do so.

"Not withstanding our support for cross community projects republicans and nationalists need to be mindful of this build up of unionist paramilitary activity which is suggestive of a potential attack on this community."

He continued: "Given the crisis within Unionism and the increase in attacks against nationalists, such as the attacks on the homes of Sinn Fein councillors, the intimidation on new residents in Sandy Row and the pipe bombs attacks in Antrim and Maghera it is blatantly obvious that loyalism is preparing for further attacks.

"These attacks and other loyalist activity continues with apparent impunity, and the question needs to be asked who is directing these unionist paramilitaries to act in this way at this time?

"Given the history of collusion between loyalism and British intelligence agencies Sinn Fein is calling on nationalists and republicans to be vigilant and review their personnel security."

Irish Freedom Committee

**see alternate site for live links

Subject: Maghaberry prison guards abuse, assault Irish Republican POWs – ACTION REQUEST
Date: Friday, May 14, 2004

In an statement today from Belfast, prisoners' rights spokespersons Marian Price and Martin Mulholland decried yesterday's invasive assault on Irish republican prisoners at Maghaberry Gaol, Co,. Antrim. (see below).

Prisoners were locked in their cells all morning and denied breakfast and lunch, and when they were finally let out of their cells in the afternoon they were verbally and physically assaulted by the prison guards and called "REPUBLICAN SCUM". The prison "ninja" screws then invaded the men's cells with dogs and left several filthy and covered with dog hair.

In one very serious incident a male prisoner was so brutally strip-searched and verbally taunted that he will seek assistance at the Belfast rape crisis center. This is a particularly disgusting incident and shows the level of depravity to which the prison administration and its screw thugs will go to wield their brute force and dehumanize their captives.

This most recent assault, compounded with many other recent attempts by the administration to agitate the republican prisoners such as the withholding of personal mail, the abuse of family members at visits, and the ongoing daily efforts to dehumanize and abuse the republican prisoners; can only be seen in light of the recent passing of a bill in Parliament calling for the transfer of "unruly" or "troublesome" prisoners to prisons in England and Wales.

The Irish Freedom Committee calls on all of our Members and supporters to please send a letter to the Northern Ireland Office and the Prisons Service to protest the deplorable treatment of Irish Republican prisoners at Maghaberry Gaol. As so succinctly pointed out in the statement referenced above, on a day when Hugh Orde has come out and identified sectarianism as a hate crime, all right-thinking people should call on his offices to take action against the Prisons Service for the outrageous show of sectarian abuse that the prisoners have had to endure at Maghaberry yesterday.

Sample letter and contact info follows below or get an INSTANT EMAIL form here:

The Irish Freedom Committee®

From a statement released yesterday by prisoners rights spokespersons Marian Price and Martin Mulholland in Belfast:

“Today in Maghaberry gaol prison officers and the Northern Ireland Prison Service were involved in their very own form of abusing POW’s. The abuse started when the prison officers refused to unlock the men this morning. The men were also denied breakfast and lunch and were kept in their cells until well into the afternoon. At this stage the men were unlocked for recreation. While the men were in the recreation area a heavily protected search team was sent onto the wing and proceeded to verbally abuse the POW’s. The men were instructed by their Officer Commanding to co-operate with the searches as it was felt that the Search team on duty were engaged in an effort to antagonise the men and provoke some sort of confrontation. A number of cells were wrecked by the search team and covered in dirt and dog hairs. Many of the republicans were subjected to inhuman and degrading strip searches with one POW describing the search as a form of rape and definite sexual assault. This prisoner intends to contact the rape crisis centre in Belfast for counselling so extreme was his strip search. Immediately prior to searching this man, three members of the search team insulted him and offered to fight him saying that he thought he was a “hard man” and that they would show him how “hard he really was”.

All the prisoners had their Human Right violated today by the prison service with even the basic rights to association and food being denied for a long period of the day. On a day when Hugh Orde has labelled sectarianism as a hate crime (we) fully expect him to take action against the NIPS for the sustained tirade of sectarian abuse that the prisoners have had to endure. In one instance when a prisoner returned to the recreation area a prison officer had spelt out REPUBLICAN SCUM on the scrabble board. This area is covered by 3 surveillance cameras; it will not surprise any republican if the tapes suddenly disappear.

This bully boy attitude of the prison officers toward the republican prisoners is a constant feature of prison life for POW’s in Maghaberry Gaol but the criminal behaviour of the prison officers involved in sexual assault and hate crime today is an escalation in this policy. Republicans will not tolerate the brutalisation of our prisoners or their families and we call on human rights agencies and political parties to ensure that they are not as quiet in the future as the have been in the past. We also ask the Irish Government to take the British to task over their treatment of Irish Citizens. The British authorities in Ireland are expecting to get away with the same behaviour as they and their allies get away with in Iraq, we must all ensure that this doesn’t happen.

For easier steps see http://members.freespeech.org/irishpows/bb3/POWs/actionrequest_maghab.htm
1. Open an email and enter the following addresses into the "TO" bar:
press.nio@nics.gov.uk; info@niprisonservice.gov.uk; info@psni.police.uk

2. Copy and paste the suggested text below into your email body

3. Add you name and location to the text.


Mr. Paul Murphy - Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Block B
Castle Buildings
Belfast BT4 3STGTN

Mr. Peter Russell - Director General
Room 321
Prison Service Headquarters
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road

Mr. Hugh Orde - Chief Constable
65 Knock Road

Friday, May 14, 2004

I am writing today to protest the deplorable treatment yesterday of the male republican prisoners at Roe House in Maghaberry Gaol. I am aware that these prisoners were held in their cells all day until afternoon without meals, and were then subjected to numerous incidents of sectarian abuse by the guards as their cells were searched by teams with dogs. I understand that the prisoners co-operated fully with the searches and did not resist, despite the fact that in many cases their cells were wrecked and left in a filthy state. I am aware that the prisoners felt there was a distinct effort afoot to provoke them and to incite them into a confrontation.

I am particularly disgusted to learn that strip searches were carried out during the searches and that in one case a strip-searching was so abusive and invasive that the prisoner has defined the experience as rape. I find this to be utterly inexcusable and repellant in the extreme. I cannot see how this sort of abuse can be tolerated by your administration particularly with recent news reports of appalling prisoner abuses in the news Internationally.

It is clear that there is a policy afoot to attempt to agitate these men for no reason. I will continue to monitor this situation, and I remain concerned regarding these and other ongoing human rights abuses at Maghaberry Gaol.
Please advise.

Thank you;


© The Irish Freedom Committee® NewsList - IFC Updates



A Colombian judge has decided that three Irishmen must remain in
the country pending an appeal by the state prosecutor against
their acquittal on charges of training rebels in the country's
civil war.

Judge Jairo Accosta yesterday decided that James Monaghan,
Martin McCauley, and Niall Connolly could not leave Colombia
pending the appeal process, which could take up to a year.

The three were convicted on a lesser charge of using false
documentation, and given sentences of between two and four

Judge Accosta said he was not satisfied the men would return.
While they could be released on bail, their defence team says
their lives would be in danger in a country where right-wing
paramilitaries have targeted the men throughout their
incarceration. The three have refused to leave their prison
without protection against the death squads.

Ms Catriona Ruane of the 'Bring Them Home' campaign, said she
was shocked by the ruling. "I can't believe that we have three
men imprisoned for the last three weeks because the Colombian
state failed to produce an adequate security plan. The dogs on
the street know there is no safe place for these men in

She added: "They have been found innocent by a Judge. The
Colombian Government has refused to accept the decision of the
judge and continues to make prejudical statements. President
Uribe, Ex-President Pastrana, General Mora, by their prejudicial
comments have created a situation where there is no safe place
in Colombia for these three Irish citizens."

"There is no justice in Colombia, we are calling on the
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to intervene directly with President
Uribe and the International Community.

"These men should be home with their families. What is happening
is a travesty of justice."


An Phoblacht

13 May 2004

Thousands of republicans from across Ireland arrived in Belfast on Sunday 9 May to attend the annual 1981 Hunger Strike commemoration parade. People from across the nine Ulster Counties were well represented at the parade. Feeder marches from Twinbrook in West Belfast, Ardoyne in North Belfast, Short Strand in East Belfast and The Markets in South Belfast made their way through Belfast's streets to the main rally point at Belfast City Hall.

Portraits of the ten 1981 Hunger Strikers and of Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg, who died on hunger strike in England, were in evidence. Most striking this year, however, was the sight of hundreds of people carrying photographs of the many nationalists and Catholics killed by British crown forces and their proxy killers in the loyalist death squads during the past five decades of conflict.

At City Hall — on the stage adorned with the immortal words of Bobby Sands — Let our revenge be the laughter of our children — a message from Ógra Shinn Féin was read out.

Then, Pauline Davey-Kennedy, daughter of assassinated Sinn Féin Councillor John Davey, accused the British Government of organising a "campaign of political terror" when they "developed a new policy of murder by proxy known as collusion".

She explained how her father was killed by the UVF with weapons brought into the North by British agent Brian Nelson and MI5.

"My father was effective and he stood up for his people. He was outspoken in his opposition to British rule and to unionist bigotry and the British decided he should die.

"But like criminalisation, the policy of collusion failed and it failed because of the courage of my father an those like him who refused to be terrorised, intimidated or defeated".

The main speaker of the day was West Belfast MLA Bairbre de Brún, the party's Six-County candidate in next month's European elections.

She likened the British Government's attempts to criminalise the republican struggle in the '70s and 80s with attempts by the present British administration under Tony Blair to criminalise republicans using the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), electoral manipulation and the political moves that brought down the power Executive at Stormont.

"Then, like now, the objective of the British Government was to prevent change," she said. "Now, like then, republican objectives are to bring change about.

"Sinn Féin will refuse to bow to this policy of criminalisation and disenfranchisement and this march today sends out a clear message to the British Government that we will not be criminalised and we will not be marginalised."

Turning to collusion, the former Health Minister said that "this is an unresolved issue and in the interests of justice and reconciliation it must be addressed. The murder of citizens through collusion with unionist death squads has been and remains a British state policy in Ireland."

"Another echo from the Hunger Strike period is the apparent inability of the British Government to stand over agreements it has reached with republicans," she added.

"The last five years have seen Tony Blair's Government renege on key elements of the Good Friday Agreement and on subsequent agreements emerging from negotiations."

Bringing a close to the rally, renowned Belfast singer and musician, Pól Mac Adaim, respected for his support of political causes from the struggle of the Palestinian people and the continuing hunger strike in Turkey, sang the ballad Joe McDonnell.

An Phoblacht


Photo: Michael Finucane

Last weekend saw the 23rd anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands, the first of ten Irish republican prisoners of war to die in the H-Block Hunger Strike of 1981 rather than be labelled criminals.

On Friday night, the annual Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture was delivered by Michael Finucane, son of solicitor Patrick Finucane, who was shot dead by the UDA pro-British death squad in 1989. Sinn Féin EU candidate Bairbre de Brún chaired proceedings at the Devonish Entertainment Complex in Belfast.

The campaign group, An Fhírinne, used the event to highlight the killings of hundreds of nationalists assassinated by the British Government's proxy gun gangs — the UVF and UDA.

Many of the families of people killed in the collusion campaign were present at Friday night's lecture. Robert McClenaghan of An Fhírinne told An Phoblacht that "the Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture was the perfect platform for our campaign given that Pat Finucane was the solicitor who represented the Hunger Strikers and his killing is so central to the collusion strategy operated by the British".

The following is an edited version of Michael's address.


"I cannot think of a more apt time of year to address the topic of collusion, as we remember all of the hunger strikers and, in particular, commemorate the first to die, Bobby Sands. I know that this time of year must be especially difficult for all of the families of those who died on Hunger Strike in the H-Blocks. I think I can relate to some of what they must be feeling, having gone through a few anniversaries like this myself with my own family.

When I read the words written by a man who perhaps knew he was going to die, I find myself moved by the deep humanity of Bobby Sands. He was an IRA Volunteer and a soldier in that army. But he was also a human being and, for me, that is what comes across most strongly in his writing. The depth of his empathy with other people is clearly evident, as he constantly mentions his family, his comrades, his friends, admiring them for their efforts while being almost dismissive of his own. His language is an inclusive language; not just remembering the people he knows but speak of what he hopes might be one day, for all people of this island. His writing shows a breadth and depth of vision that was far ahead of its time.

It is significant that Bobby Sands' thoughts and vision contain no element of sectarianism, no hint of partisanship about for whom he is seeking a better future. It is everyone, all peoples of this island. He specifically says so in the phrase: "...everyone, Republican or otherwise..." He does not discriminate; he does not exclude.


Today, we face the challenges of a new Irish society that is not only multi-denominational, but also multi-racial and multi-ethnic. A very different society from the one Bobby Sands knew in his time. I think Bobby Sands would have relished the challenges that the diversity in our modern society has brought. I have no doubt that his contribution today would have been just as significant, if not more, than that of 20 years ago. He would have been to the forefront of meeting the challenges that our new society brings. In today's society, where the very right to become a citizen is about to be put to the vote in a constitutional referendum, Bobby Sands would have been the vanguard of inclusiveness, welcoming those who come to our shores seeking refuge from persecution in their own lands. Not only would he have extended the hand of friendship, he would have placed the burden of expectancy upon each new addition to Ireland by showing them that they had their own part to play. With that burden comes a sense of worth, a comfort that, although something is expected, it is only because we value the unique contribution that is only to be found in each individual human being. It is this meaning in his writings that sets him so far apart from the State he was fighting against:

Bobby spoke for all people who claim nothing more than their basic right to govern their own affairs; to decide their own future; to make their own way in the world free from oppression and persecution. I think, too, that Bobby Sands knew what his fate would be, even though he hoped and prayed for another. He knew the enemy far too well to allow himself any false hopes. Perhaps, even, he knew deep down that this would be the fate of many others, though they had not yet realised it and he himself fervently hoped and prayed against it.


The writings of Bobby Sands demonstrate an understanding of something fundamental about the nature of the place in which we live and, more importantly, the way in which the British sought to control it. In his time, the control went under the titles of 'normalisation' and 'criminalisation'. If criminalisation and normalisation were the watchwords of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the next title to be applied was emerging under cover of extreme secrecy. It was not something that had been given a name in Bobby Sands' time, although it certainly existed and he was no doubt aware of it. It was developed in the early 1980s and nurtured in the years that followed, using state resources and state personnel. I refer, of course, to what we now know as 'collusion'.

The true nature of collusion is not difficult to understand. When the State eventually realises that people cannot be criminalised; that they will not give up their identity; that they will fight to retain their individuality and their beliefs; that they will never, ever yield, surrender, and be assimilated into a mindless, soulless institution; there is, really, only one thing left to do: kill them. Or kill those close to them. Or kill those close to them and all around them. Normally, this type of activity goes by another name: murder. The British Government describes it in another way: policy.

Collusion is a reality that we know all too well because we have been forced to deal with its effects for so long. We are all of us expendable if the British State so decides. As citizens, our lives are not valued or protected, but assessed, according to what is 'in the interests of the State' at any given time. We have all of us buried too many fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, sisters, brothers and friends, to think anything different.


The policy of collusion between the British State and loyalist paramilitaries has been in operation for many years. We know this because of the way in which the activities of a key agent, Brian Nelson, have been exposed to public scrutiny. Initially, this happened at his trial in 1992, but subsequent examination of his role has proved far more illuminating. The reports compiled by Sir John Stevens — or, at least, the 20-page summary that was released to the public — and the recent report by the former Canadian Supreme Court Judge, Peter Cory, show the truth of Nelson's activities and also expose the true nature of the work of the Army unit that controlled him, the Force Research Unit (FRU).

The FRU was a secret branch of Army Intelligence responsible for running agents and informers to gather intelligence in Ireland. This unit still exists, and is now operating under the name Joint Services Group. At the time Nelson was gathering intelligence for the FRU, the commanding officer was Lt Colonel Gordon Kerr. He is now a Brigadier and is currently the British Military attaché in Beijing, China.

My family have campaigned for a public inquiry because of the compelling evidence that my father's murder was part of the approved policy of widespread collusion between the British State and loyalist assassins.


It is a paradox of my family's campaign that, the more work we do, the more the name of Patrick Finucane becomes known around the world, the farther away an end to this process is pushed. There is a simple explanation for this paradox: the persistent efforts of the British Government to avoid a public inquiry at all costs. It is not difficult to understand the motivation for this when one examines the evidence, for it is both compelling and damning in the extreme.

Throughout the many years of campaigning that my family and I have been engaged in, the British Government have never denied that they colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in the murder of my father. They have simply avoided dealing with the case by employing one ruse after another. The all-consuming objective of the British Government has been to delay the possibility that a public inquiry might have to be established within any kind of meaningful timeframe.

It has been a very successful strategy. Two key witnesses, including Brian Nelson, have died in the last 15 years. Vital documentary evidence is missing. Recollections are fading fast and will continue to do so. Each day that passes makes it all the more likely that the adage "justice delayed is justice denied", will be all too apt in my father's case.


My family and I have just witnessed the conclusion of one process of delay in our case. I refer to the investigation carried out by Judge Peter Cory.

Judge Cory was appointed under the terms of an agreement reached in July 2001 during political negotiations at a crucial point in the peace process. The British and Irish Governments agreed that they would jointly appoint "a judge of international standing from outside both jurisdictions to undertake a thorough investigation of allegations of collusion" in the murder of my father, as well as five other controversial cases. The two governments stated specifically that, if the judge recommended a public inquiry in any of the six cases, the relevant government would implement that recommendation.

Neither my family nor any other family was consulted in advance about the governments' proposals. We did not agree that a review of the evidence was necessary, even by a judge of international standing. It was nothing more than a further delaying tactic by the British Government to avoid establishing a public inquiry.

Judge Peter Cory was appointed to the task of reviewing the six cases after considerable negotiation between the two governments about choice of judge. The appointment was supposed to be filled no later than April 2002. This did not happen on time and Judge Cory was not appointed until months after the agreed deadline.

My family and I met with Judge Cory shortly before he began his work. At our first meeting with him, we explained our view that his investigation was unnecessary. We made it clear that, although we took no issue with him personally, we could not accept his appointment because it was just another instance of British Government delay. We were already in the process of grappling with another delaying process, the futile police investigation being conducted by Sir John Stevens, 15 years after the murder. We feared that the exercise about to be undertaken by Judge Cory would be the same as that undertaken by Stevens: unaccountable, unnecessary and unwelcome.

Given that he had only just been appointed to the job, Judge Cory accepted our position with an admirable degree of composure. He even went so far as to say that if he were in our shoes, he would probably feel the same. However, the governments had decided upon this mechanism and, as such, we were all of us stuck with it. Judge Cory promised that he would conduct as thorough a review as possible in as short a time as possible. He said that he would begin with Pat's case, as it was the largest. He said that he would complete all cases before revealing his findings. He said that he would insist that the commitments the two governments had made to him would be honoured and that he would not stand for any reneging on their agreements. This was reassuring but of little comfort: Judge Cory was still, after all, an appointee of the British Government.


Judge Cory began his work in August 2002. He completed his work on all six cases in October 2003, several weeks ahead of schedule. He informed my family at all times of the progress of his work. He met with us on a number of occasions and answered our questions about his work, insofar as he could without compromising his position. He told us what he would do and has done it. To date, Judge Cory is the only person in any way connected with the British Government who has kept his word to my family and me as regards his involvement in my father's case. My family and I did not know who he was at the time of his appointment, but he was recommended by those who did as a person possessed of a first rate mind, abundant in independence and integrity.

In every instance of our dealings, Judge Peter Cory has more than fulfilled his recommendation. The British Government, on the other hand, has reneged on its commitments at every opportunity and where possible, it has changed the conditions of those commitments.


One of the original terms of Judge Cory's appointment was that his reports would be made public as soon as possible after completion. He submitted his reports to the British Government at the end of October 2003. By Christmas 2003, they remained unpublished. Some of the contents of the reports had been leaked to the Northern Ireland press. Speculation was rife among sections of the media about what Judge Cory's recommendations were. The number of theories was seemingly endless but sandwiched between all of this newsprint hype were families of murder victims who had no idea what was happening. Judge Cory was constrained by his terms of appointment and could not tell us. The British Government would not.

We know now that, at this time, the British Government was engaged in a behind-the-scenes exercise of consultation with the agencies of the State that Judge Cory had investigated. The families of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Billy Wright and Robert Hamill could not be permitted to know what exactly had been recommended about the murders of their relatives, but the British State bureau responsible for each murder was fully consulted and asked for its views. This process took another six months to complete. In that time, Judge Cory made a number of representations about the disclosure of the reports to the families concerned. He asked that, if the reports could not be disclosed in their entirety, could the recommendation in each one not be disclosed? The answer to this basic, humanitarian request was, "no".

In the end, Judge Cory decided that he was not prepared to simply await the outcome of the British Government negotiations and contacted my family directly to tell us that he had recommended a public inquiry be established in my father's case.


In the meantime, my family also decided not to wait for the British Government to deign to tell us what we would be permitted to know and when. In February, we launched an action in the courts to compel the British Government to publish Judge Cory's report. It was only after this action had been instigated that the British Government confirmed that it would publish the reports of Judge Cory on 1 April.

On 1 April, Mr Paul Murphy MP, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made a statement in the House of Commons. He confirmed that Judge Cory had recommended inquiries in all four cases that he had investigated in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State said that the British Government proposed to establish inquiries in three of the cases immediately. In the case of my father, the British Government proposed that it would "set out the way ahead at the conclusion of prosecutions". No inquiry of any kind was mentioned. The British Government's response to Judge Cory's report was simply to say that "the way ahead" would be set out later. No commitment to a public inquiry was given at the time of publication, nor has one been offered since.


I believe that the reason the British Government has avoided committing itself to an inquiry is because it cannot face such an appalling prospect. The evidence shows clearly that the British State pursued a policy of state-sponsored assassination, using loyalist paramilitaries as its proxy killers. In pursuing this policy, the British were no better than the many despotic regimes around the world today that are condemned for their appalling human rights records. In seeking to cover up what they did for so many years, the British Government continues its policy. Those responsible were rewarded at the time and are now protected in the aftermath. The British Government clearly believes that, if delayed long enough, it will perhaps be possible to avoid an inquiry altogether.

We are now engaged in another court case against the British Government to compel them to commence a public inquiry as recommended by Judge Cory. We should not have to do this. The British Government made a commitment to implement the recommendations of Judge Cory and I believe that they are breaking that commitment by delaying it. Again, it is not difficult to understand the motivation. The British Government is trying to postpone the day when it will be exposed to the world as having engaged in the murder of its own citizens. It has delayed the establishment of an inquiry for 15 years, despite calls from distinguished individuals and organisations worldwide that such an inquiry is necessary.


Every domestic and international non-governmental organisation that concerns itself with human rights in Ireland has called for a public inquiry into the case of Pat Finucane. Both Human Rights Commissions, North and South, have done so. Every Law Society and Bar Council in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland have done the same, as have many international bar associations. The former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Dato Param Cumaraswamy, has called for a public inquiry on four occasions. His successor, Leandro Despoiuy, has continued this call. The UN Special Representative on human rights defenders, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and the UN Human Rights Committee have all supported the call for a public inquiry.

On the tenth anniversary of Pat Finucane's murder, over 1,000 lawyers around the world signed a petition supporting the call for a public inquiry. The US House of Representatives has called for an inquiry. The Government of Ireland has repeatedly called for an inquiry through the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen. This was recently repeated by the Irish Government in a statement on the floor of the United Nations.

My family believe that the truth will remain hidden until a fully independent public judicial inquiry is established to investigate all of the circumstances. We would very much like to be able to say that the end was in sight, but we cannot. We can only see more delay and obstruction ahead as the British Government continues its policy of postponement. This will not deter us. We will continue until we achieve our goal. The campaign is a means to an end: a public, independent judicial tribunal of inquiry that will fully examine all of the evidence in my father's case. Pat Finucane deserves no less than that, as do all of those murdered by the State through this evil policy of collusion.

If the new society we are building is to have any chance of survival, it must know the complete truth of its past, so that it can learn all the necessary lessons to provide a future for everyone. It is our future that matters. It is the future that mattered to people like Bobby Sands and Pat Finucane. We cannot dishonour their memory or their sacrifice by working any less hard toward the future than they did."

An Phoblacht



The claim by both Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon this week that they did not know about the Red Cross report on the abuse of detainees in Iraq by US and British soldiers until the story broke in the media last week seems barely credible. Given their respective positions as Prime Minister and Defence Secretary, and the contents of the report itself, their argument that the it was "confidential" and had in any case already been acted upon by the MoD defies belief.

But actually, the decision by some invisible official in the MoD that neither the Prime Minister nor the secretary of state need be troubled by a report documenting serious breaches of international and British law by British forces betrays the deeply ingrained culture within the British establishment of the toleration of violence by the British Army; a culture which has always existed and which has seen British soldiers across the world routinely excused for even the most horrific of crimes, not least in Ireland.

Given their historic success in batting away accusations, very often by independent and reputable organisations like the Red Cross and Amnesty International, of murder, torture and rape by British forces and their equal success in ensuring that convictions in the European Court of Human Rights are quickly forgotten, the British Government and MoD officials must have felt reasonably confident that the same could be achieved with the latest Red Cross report and the equally damning AI report on the killing of 37 civilians by British forces in Iraq.

Of course, in their complacency and indifference, they had not accounted for the power of the image. Those photographs of Iraqis being tortured have succeeded where no amount of words ever could in forcing the issue of the conduct of the US and British Armies into the public consciousness where it will stay for years to come. If they had not reached the public domain, it is virtually certain that both governments would have been able to deny, cover up, legislate and propagandise the accusations out of existence.

After all, an AI report on the torture occurring in the detention centres in the north of Ireland in 1972 created barely a ripple anywhere outside the Six Counties. When, in 1979, police surgeon Dr Robert Irwin told London Weekend Television that during the previous three years he had seen more than 150 prisoners who had sustained serious injuries due to beatings, the British Government responded by claiming that the injuries were self-inflicted and making public the fact that his wife had been raped by an SAS man a short while before, implying that Irwin was merely exercising a grudge. The fact that the soldier responsible had been swiftly and safely flown out of the north without facing any charges was glossed over.

In 1978, the British Government was convicted in the European Court when it was found that during 1971-72, 14 detainees had been subjected to "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" by the British Army, which was using them as guinea-pigs for its refined new interrogation techniques. The European Commission went further, finding that the government was guilty of outright torture against the detainees in contravention of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In its report, the Commission also remarked on the widespread and systematic abuses which were being perpetrated at the Palace Barracks. "Quite a large number of those held in custody were subjected to violence by members of the RUC," it noted. "It led to intense suffering and physical injury which on occasions was substantial."

The techniques employed by police and army interrogators were almost identical to those currently being employed in Iraq. The accounts and images of prisoners being made to stand spread-eagled for long periods of time, prolonged hooding, white noise, sleep deprivation, mock executions, ritualised sexual humiliation and severe beatings are all familiar. Also familiar are the accounts of the army's behaviour on the ground; arbitrary arrest and detention, theft of possessions and money, brutal and wantonly destructive house searches, the targeting of the families of 'suspects', deaths in custody and the random shooting of unarmed civilians, including children.

Indeed, so familiar is all of this that one former British soldier who served in the Six Counties during the 1970s called BBC Radio's Five Live whilst the subject of Iraq was being discussed to voice his retrospective guilt at the way in which the army had behaved in Ireland. He wanted to apologise, he said, to the Irish people for the mistreatment they had suffered at the hands of the British Army, mistreatment which was now being replicated in Iraq. (Another caller recounted how, when working in the north during the same period, he was regularly stopped by both British Army and IRA checkpoints. In the light of the revelations coming out of Iraq, he said, "I don't need to tell you who was the more civilised.")

But it is worth remembering that the systematic ill-treatment of Irish political prisoners was not confined to the worst days of the conflict in the 1970s and '80s. As recently as 1997, Amnesty issued a report denouncing the British Government's continued use of the 'concrete coffins', Special Secure Units to house 13 republican prisoners within Belmarsh and Whitemoor prisons in England as "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment". The report went on to say that Irish republican prisoners were "arbitrarily and punitively" subjected to this particular form of imprisonment and that the use of SSUs was in clear violation of "Britain's obligations under international human rights treaties". The SSUs are currently used to house Muslim 'terrorist' suspects.

And whilst we are on the subject of history repeating itself, Tony Blair might do well to take a long hard look at the last days of the last Labour government. At exactly the time that the Bennett report on the abuse of detainees in the north was published — March 1979 — James Callaghan's government was in crisis and facing a vote of No Confidence in parliament. It desperately needed every vote it could muster, including those of the Independent MP for Tyrone/Fermanagh, Frank Maquire and the SDLP's Gerry Fitt. Fitt could normally be relied on for support Labour, but during the No Confidence motion debate stood up and berated the government over the findings of the Bennett Report declaring that the British public would be react with "horror".

In fact, the British public remained blissfully unaware of the report but both he and Maquire abstained in the vote on 28 March. The government lost by 311 votes to 310, precipitating the general election of May 1979 and the victory of the Tories under Margaret Thatcher. A few years later, the journalist Peter Taylor wrote about those momentous events. "It was a fine irony that the issue the government had consistently refused to face, the ill-treatment of suspects in its custody, was at the end of the day the issue that finally destroyed it."



SF: 'Catholics threatened by loyalist gang in Belfast'
12/05/2004 - 1:28:17 PM

Sinn Féin has claimed that a group of around 40 loyalists crossed the peaceline in south Belfast last night and threatened Catholics in the Lower Ormeau Road area.

The party said nationalist community leaders tried to contact their loyalist counterparts via the mobile phone system set up to ease tensions in interface areas, but the phones were switched off.

It said the incident had compounded fears about the potential for violence during this year’s loyalist marching season and called for dialogue between both sides in an effort to prevent such violence.


Saturday 14 March, 1981

Fearless fighter joins Hunger Strike

ONE of the most fearless and active young republicans to emerge from the armed struggle against British occupation forces in Ireland this decade, 25-year-old Francis Hughes from Bellaghy, County Derry, is to join the H-Block Hunger Strike this Sunday, 16 March.

After a fierce gun battle between an IRA active service unit and the RUC in South Derry on Good Friday 1977, the then RU chief constable Kenneth Newman described Frankie Hughes as ``the most wanted man in the North''.

At this stage, Frankie has been three years on the run and despite thousands of wanted posters being pasted up by the RUC all over South Derry he remained in the area, often living out in the fields and hills while British forces scoured the countryside searching for him.

The incident which led to his capture occurred in an area at the bottom of the Glenshane pass in South Derry, about a mile from Maghera, on 16 March 1978.

Two IRA Volunteers dressed in military uniform were crossing a field when they were suddenly confronted by five SAS undercover soldiers, who to their cost mistook them for UDR men. The IRA Volunteers, who did not mistake the SAS men, quickly opened fire and a gun battle ensued.

In the shootout, two British soldiers were shot: a lance corporal in the Parachute Regiment, who was on special duty with the Gloucesters, was shot dead. The two IRA Volunteers then escaped the immediate vicinity, but a full-scale manhunt was mounted by hundreds of Brits and RUC men.

Thirteen hours later, Frankie Hughes was found under gorse bushes in a ditch about 200 yards off the main Belfast to Derry Road. He was badly wounded and had lost a lot of blood. On his military uniform the word Ireland was emblazoned across his combat jacket, and his hair had been dyed ginger.

He was trailed out of the gorse, but refused to answer any questions, and was described as totally `uncooperative' by his captors.

He spent ten months in the military wing of Musgrave Park Hospital, and as a result of his gunshot wound his thigh bone was operated on and reduced by one-and-a-half inches, leaving him with a steel pin in his leg and needing a crutch to move around.

In August 1978 he was taken from Musgrave Park to Castlereagh RUC Interregation Centre and charged with organising and taking part in a number of IRA operations. At his trial, which ended after 13 days on 18 February 1979, he was given a number of long sentences.

When brought to the H-Blocks, Frankie immediately went on the blanket and was in H5 until being transferred to H6 two weeks ago.

Frankie Hughes joining Bobby Sands on Hunger Strike will doubtless inject even more urgency into the long and arduous campaign, which in its output needs to match the courageous self-sacrifice of the republican political prisoners on Hunger Strike.

CAIN: Songs of Resistance


With the wind that blows down through sad Derry
Came a Volunteer brave and so bold,
He took on the might of the British
For the honour of Ireland to uphold.
He led a brave column of volunteers
Against foreign soldiers of scorn,
And in the little town of Bellaghy
Francie Hughes, Hunger Striker, was born

So let’s sing of this brave gallant soldier,
Who on Hunger Strike proudly did stand,
With his comrades McCreesh and OHara,
Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Bobby Sands

We heard how he marched o’er the mountains,
Always ready to meet with the toe.
And how he attacked on a hillside
Then vanished with the winds that blow

So let’s sing of this brave gallant soldier,
Who on Hunger Strike proudly did choose,
To stand for the rights of his comrades,
We remember you, brave Francis Hughes

The wind still blows down through sad Derry,
And it echoes in valley and glen,
And high round the hills of Bellaghy
Francie Hughes watches over his men


1981 Irish Hungerstrikers


Died May 12th, 1981

A determined and totally fearless soldier

THE SECOND republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status - a fortnight after Bobby Sands - was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their 'most wanted man' in the North.

Eluding for several years the relentless efforts of the British army, UDR and RUC to track him down, Francis operated boldly throughout parts of Tyrone and north and south Antrim, but particularly in his native South Derry, with a combination of brilliant organisation and extreme daring - until his capture after a shoot-out with the SAS - which earned him widespread popular renown, and won general support for the republican cause, as well as giving him an undisputed reputation as a natural-born soldier and leader.

Read Francis Hughes' biography



Another young Catholic man has been seriously injured in a sectarian attack in North Belfast by loyalists.
The victim, who said that he wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said that he was attacked with a machete in the head for no reason as he walked home, and that he lost so much blood in the vicious attack that doctors said he could have died.
The attack happened on the Cliftonville Road last Saturday [May 1] around 10.30pm. The victim had been at a party and was walking home when a car pulled up and the attack was carried out.
“I was walking home from my friend’s house when this happened. I wasn’t feeling well and thought I’d be better off at home so I left early.
“I saw this car pull up and saw three people in the car. They got out and shouted ‘Get the Fenian Bastard’ and slashed my head. I don’t remember much after that but my friend who came down from the party said that I was staggering. He had to hold me straight he said.
“I remember the ambulance being there and the cops. I remember one of the cops saying to me that if I didn’t go to hospital now I’d be dead in the morning. He said I’d lost so much blood I had to get it sorted.”
The victim’s ear at that stage was severed from the ear drum right through to several inches near the base of the skull. He was sent to the Mater Hospital on Saturday night, and then transferred to the City Hospital for an operation which was carried out two days later.
The machete attack on the 30-year-old has also left him homeless, as his flat is near to where the attack happened.
“I just can’t face going back there. All I can see is the Cliftonville Road from the window of my flat and I never want to have that view again.
“I can’t go out at the moment because of the wounds and the blood on the head. My nerves are shot, and I’m just praying that I’ll get it over soon.”
The PSNI at the time of the incident informed the victim they believed the incident was sectarian. Sinn Féin MLA Kathy Stanton said she was appalled by the attack and the ever-increasing attacks on Catholics.
“It is strange that there is no talk or report from the International Monitoring Commission [IMC] about these loyalist death squads running riot and attacking people.
“I would like to make people aware all over the city that there has been an escalation of attacks.
“They have been played down considerably and there is no coverage of the incidents by local Unionist representatives.
“It is worrying that the IMC hasn’t released a response, they are legitimising loyalist death squads going into nationalist areas and wreaking havoc.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter



There was a sombre atmosphere at the Devenish Complex on Friday as family and friends of people murdered as a result of collusion between loyalists and the state attended the Annual Bobby Sands Lecture.

Over 1,500 people packed into the large hall to hear speakers, including Michael Finucane – son of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane – Bairbre de Brún MLA and many of the loved ones of the collusion victims tell of the loss suffered by them as families and their continued campaign to find out the truth.

The event was organised by An Fhirinne, and included a photographic exhibition and film produced by the families telling their story of how collusion had affected them.

Robert McClenaghan’s grandfather, Philip Garry, was one of 15 Catholics murdered at McGurk’s bar in December 1971. He attended the event and praised the strength and courage of all the families that took part in the exhibition.

“Almost immediately after the murders we knew it was the loyalists who had done it but you had the unionist politicians, RUC, British government and the British army saying that it was not UVF,” he said.

“For all the victims’ families what we want is the British government to admit that they had been covering up for the loyalists for all these years. I think that events like this with the video and the families coming together to tell their stories and standing up means the British government have to tell the truth of what happened.

“We are determined to campaign for the truth. We want to find out why it was necessary for them to lie and cover it up. We want to find out the truth not just for McGurk’s bar but for all the hundreds of photos here of the people killed through state collusion during the Troubles.”

Hundreds of people filed past the tunnel of photographs which included mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, all murdered by loyalists and British agencies throughout the Troubles. Collusion has been an issue at the heart of the peace process with families campaigning throughout the world trying to hold the British government accountable for British agents who worked with the RUC and the British Army in seeking out vulnerable Catholics and sanctioning their deaths. Among the many people at the lecture were some of the families of the hunger strikers. Enda McLoughlan, sister of Thomas McElwee, the ninth hunger striker to die in August 1981, attended the Bobby Sands Lecture.

“Events like this are important for the families because the younger generations need to know about what happened during the Troubles,” she said. “Even though it brings back old wounds, our loved ones have to be remembered and should not be forgotten about.”

As the event began the families braced themselves to tell their moving accounts of how collusion and the loss of loved ones underpin the need to struggle for the truth.

Leontia McCauley’s sister, Philomena Hanna, was shot dead on April 28, 1992 by a UDA gunman in a chemist shop on the Springfield Road. The mother-of-two’s death was one a number of controversial murders – the weapon was used in more than one murder.

Leontia said: “When Philomena died no police or police liaison officer came to our family to tell us that she had died. They fired bullets at her face and chest. When my father went to identify her body he fell on top of Philomena and cried. As he came home later we noticed that he had blood all over his shirt.”

Leontia’s emotional recollection of her sister’s murder was one of the entries shown in the video.

She said: “My father was taunted constantly by the British army after Philomena’s death. He died on Christmas Day of a broken heart.”

Teresa Slane’s husband Gerard was murdered by the UDA at his home in Waterville Street in September 1988. His murder was linked to the notorious UDA/British army double agent Brian Nelson.

In Teresa’s sequence she recalls that she was upstairs protecting her three children when Gerard was murdered. “I was protecting the kids but I remember smelling smoke and seeing Gerard’s blood everywhere.

“I was so angry at Brian Nelson getting away with murder. I wanted to know why the charges were dropped against Brian Nelson – but now I know that it was because he was a British Intelligence Officer.

“It was hard bringing up the children on my own, especially during holidays, the kids’ first Communion, Confirmation and Christmas morning when they were opening their presents without their father being there.”

As the numerous families spoke of the loss of their loved ones many of the people in the hall cried and comforted one another, but their strength and determination was clear for all to see.

A particularly striking and poignant moment during the collusion film was the entry of young Katie Hanna, Philomena’s daughter. Katie was only one when her mother was murdered.

In the film she said that she never knew her mother really and that it was hard growing up without her. As the young child spoke about her mother and life without her, the full horror of the issue of collusion was made real, and the need for an evening such as this became apparent.

Her closing remarks moved all the families and friends at the exhibition. Katie’s final words in the film were: “I never got to call her mummy.”
It seemed to highlight the loss for all the families on the night.

• See more pictures and the text of Michael Finucane’s speech on Thursday




Sharon O'Neill
Irish News

After the publication of pictures purporting to show British
soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners, comparisons have been drawn with
the army's conduct in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Chief
Reporter Sharon O'Neill reports.

Within the next two weeks more British soldiers from Northern
Ireland will fly to Iraq amid a deepening controversy over the
alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners which shows no sign of abating.

The US military has filed criminal charges against six of its
soldiers accused of abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraid jail, Baghdad,
and a number of senior personnel have been reprimanded.

The action was taken after pictures showing the torture and
humiliation of Iraqi prisoners were beamed across the world. Now the
British army is in the dock facing similar accusations of

The publication of photographs showing the alleged abuse of Iraqis
at the hands of British personnel has sparked a political and
military crisis.

The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into the
pictures, one of which appears to show a hooded and bound Iraqi
prisoner being mistreated.

Shortly after the pictures were published in a British tabloid
newspaper, military personnel raised questions about their
authenticity, although the soldiers who took the pictures reportedly
insist that they are genuine.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said that if the images were authentic the
torture would be "totally unacceptable".

Soldiers from Northern Ireland are due to fly out to Iraq for escort
and guard duties within the next few weeks.

Thirty-five part-time soldiers from the Territorial Army's Royal
Irish Rangers are to travel to the city of Basra – the scene of
continuing serious violence.

A British army spokesman confirmed that 208 personnel from Northern
Ireland had been "mobilised" to Iraq, including those in training
and other staff from medics to infantry soldiers.

Amid the torture allegations comparisons have been drawn with the
British army's conduct in Northern Ireland – particularly during the
early years of the Troubles.

Former internee Paddy Joe McClean's victory in a landmark human
rights case against the British government more than 30 years ago is
testament to the fact that the security forces have committed abuse
of the type alleged in Iraq.

In the early 1970s the former chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil
Rights Association – now a member of Omagh District Policing
Partnership – was hooded, deprived of sleep, subjected to continual
noise and starved while interned at Belfast's Crumlin Road jail.

The Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found his jailers guilty of
torture and the British government was ordered to pay out thousands
of pounds in compensation.

Mr McClean said he believed the Iraq photographs to be authentic.

"I accept that various interests will go to all lengths to defend
what happened once they are exposed," he said.

"In our case that was the British government. Whilst they paid us
compensation, they never accepted responsibility. That is the key
issue and that is the ultimate cover-up of governments.

"I have a number of thoughts on the photographs. I am surprised that
people do not understand that this is what soldiers do. That happens
all the time. All armies will do that – history is full of instances
of that.

"In relation to our own experiences, we were fortunate that there
was such a thing as the Geneva Convention of Human Rights because
after the Second World War the different European countries came
together to defend what would be legal and what wouldn't be.

"Under the terms of that convention armies were supposed to behave
in a defined way. If they didn't do that there was recourse for
people like me who could go to the international court in Strasbourg
and have our case heard and that did happen so that we had redress
against the excesses of the armies.

"As you know in the hooded case of which there were 12, we were
successful in bringing the British government to book. They were
found guilty of inhuman degrading treatment against detainees. That
avenue is not open to the people in Guantamano Bay for example,
because the greatest and largest superpower in the world, the United
States, don't subscribe to any form of international convention on
the human rights of detainees.

"In fact the Americans have gone further because they have
designated Guantamano Bay in Cuba as a no-man's land where no law
applies so that the detainees there have no redress at all. That is

After the pictures were published General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of
the General Staff in the British army, said any soldier who abused
Iraqi prisoners was "not fit to wear the Queen's uniform".

Human Rights Group the Pat Finucane Centre pointed out that Sir Mike
had sat on the army board which ruled that Mark Wright and James
Fisher could remain in the military despite their convictions for
the murder of north Belfast teenager Peter McBride in 1992.

SDLP North Belfast assembly member Alban Maginness said he believed
the Iraq photographs to be genuine.

"It is a matter to be resolved but they seem to me to be fairly
realistic. We should not be sending any more (military personnel to
Iraq) and we shouldn't be sending any local soldiers to a situation
that is fraught with difficulty and where there are controversial
circumstances to be investigated," he said.

"The Iraqi people should be listened to. The council in Iraq has
effectively been ignored in terms of its counsel to the Americans
and to the British.

"The UN should ultimately be involved in any sort of decision making
as far as that is concerned."

Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Fred Cobain said the
authenticity of the pictures was not the issue.

"My view is the same as everyone. People who are guilty of abusing
prisoners need to be caught and dealt with," he said.

"I don't know whether they (the pictures) are genuine or not. That
is not the issue. If people are being mistreated by British
soldiers, that issue has to be dealt with.

"I am anti-war. The difficulty is, how are the coalition going to
extract themselves from Iraq and leave themselves some sort of
democratic system behind them? It is a total mess at the minute."

Sinn Féin North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly said the debate
over the abuse of prisoners was nothing new.

"Sinn Féin told both the British and American governments that the
invasion in Iraq was wrong. We predicted that the outcome would be
more misery and death and greater political instability," he said.

"The maltreatment of prisoners in Iraq comes as no surprise, given
our experiences of occupying forces here in this part of Ireland.

"Whatever the veracity of the pictures currently circulating,
nationalists living in this part of Ireland have direct experience
of not just the approach of the British army as an occupying force
but also their treatment of prisoners.

"You only have to look at the cases of the hooded men where the
British government was found guilty in the European Court of Human
Rights of inhumane and degrading treatment to see evidence of how
the British army has behaved here."

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland said
he feared that the pictures would "exacerbate an already fragile

"The prison was notorious under Saddam Hussein. It should not be
allowed to become so again. Iraq has lived under the shadow of
torture for far too long," he said.

"The coalition leadership must send a clear signal that torture will
not be tolerated under any circumstances and that the Iraqi people
can now live free of such brutal and degrading practices."

May 10, 2004

News Letter

Friday 7th May 2004

NOTORIOUS loyalist killer Michael Stone may be forced to repay the £30,000 compensation awarded to the widow of one of his victims, the High Court in Belfast heard yesterday (6th).

Stone was said to have substantial assets arising from the sale of his autobiography "None Shall Divide Us" and his earnings as a celebrated painter.

But the court was told the Compensation Agency has refused to go after him because there was nothing to indicate they would make a substantial recovery.

The Agency's decision is being challenged by Ann-Marie McErlean, from west Belfast, who was awarded £30,000 for the loss of her husband Thomas, one of three men killed on March 16, 1988, when Stone attacked mourners in the west Belfast cemetery.

He was subsequently jailed for life for the three murders and three others with a recommendation that he serve at least 30 years.

But in July, 2000, he was released on licence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mrs McErlean, a 36-year-old mother-ofthree, applied for leave to seek a judicial review of the Agency's decision.

Her lawyer Frank O'Donoghue, QC, said it was clear Stone had substantial assets. Besides the sales of his book and newspaper serialisation there was also his paintings.

Mr O'Donoghue said the dust cover on Stone's book stated he was a highly successful artist whose work drew attention from around the globe.

"It is not unreasonable to submit that the McErlean family have been upset that Mr Stone has profited from his own criminality," said Mr O'Donoghue.

He said the legislation provided that where a person was a convicted offender and was in line for compensation the money could be withheld.

"But in this case that interpretation is too narrow and the burden should not be imposed on the taxpayer," he said.

"The Compensation Agency does not appear to have given consideration to the views of the victim and it should in these unusual circumstances."

Paul Maguire, for the Agency, said the legal test before granting leave was whether or not there was a realistic prospect of success.

"There is no evidence that Mr Stone has substantial assets, the basis on which this application has been mounted," he said.

Mr Justice Weatherup said Stone must have assets but the Agency had concluded there was no prospect of making a substantial recovery.

He said he was not satisfied an arguable case had been made out for a judicial review but it might be that a case could be made that the Agency had an obligation to make inquiries about Stone's assets.

The judge said that rather than dismiss the application in a case of such considerable public interest he would adjourn it to allow Mrs McErlean's lawyers to consider how they might advance the matter, if at all.

News Letter

Siege Of Derry Site Up For Sale
By Ian Starrett

Monday 10th May 2004

THE Catholic Church is poised to sell a Siege of Derry site - but the Derry Diocese was urged to think again about its plans by both loyalists and republicans yesterday.

The Brow of the Hill, one of Londonderry's best-known historic sites, was the scene of the vital Battle of Windmill Hill during the Siege of Derry.

The Catholic Church could also face Gallic fury if the site, in the Long Tower area, is dug up and built on.

French soldiers are still buried there and it was also the site of a 6th century Columban monastery where monks wrote Christian manuscripts to help spread the gospel around the world.

Catholic Church authorities in Londonderry have said that the site could now be sold to the highest bidder after a possible transfer of the green belt land to local community groups fell through.

A property developer is now believed to be interested in buying the land at the Brow of the Hill to build apartments.

Apprentice Boy William Hay, a DUP MLA, said: "It is of huge historical importance to the city, specifically from the period of the Siege. Perhaps the Church are not aware of this. It's still not too late to involve local groups.

"Maybe what the Church needs to do is to revisit this issue and look at it from a different light."

Historian Paddy Doherty said: "The Battle of Windmill Hill took place on June 4,1689, when Williamite forces recaptured the strategic area from French Jacobite troops.

"A number of French troops were killed and buried where they fell."

Sinn Fein councillor Peter Anderson said: "Some people claim that the origins of Derry can be traced back to this area."

He added that the residents were deeply concerned that the Brow of the Hill trees will be destroyed and replaced by flats.

Mr Anderson also wants the Church to think again about selling the historic site.


Paisley vows to fight republicanism to the death
**and may this happen sooner rather than later

09/05/2004 - 11:18:50

In a rousing speech to his party's annual conference in Belfast yesterday, DUP leader Ian Paisley pledged to combat republicanism to the death.

During his speech he demanded that British Prime Minister,Tony Blair live up to his promises and exclude Sinn Féin from government in the North.

Paisley also accused the Catholic Church of coming to the aid of the IRA.

Mr Paisley singled out this week's speech by the Archbishop of Armagh, Doctor Sean Brady, during which he criticised the PSNI and the continued existence of paramilitary groups.

Speaking at his party's annual conference, Dr Paisley says this is more evidence of the Vatican's support for Irish republicanism.


SF 'criminalised by government'

Bairbre de Brun addressed a Hunger Strike commemoration

The government is trying to criminalise Sinn Fein through the International Monitoring Commission, Bairbre de Brun has said. Ms de Brun said the setting up of the body, which monitors paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland, was a breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

It threatened to further damage the credibility of the political process, she told a rally at Belfast City Hall to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Hunger Strike on Sunday.

The International Monitoring Commission's first report highlighted the levels of paramilitary activity by republican and loyalist groups, and recommended financial sanctions on Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party.

Both parties have vowed to challenge the move.


Ms de Brun said Sinn Fein's commitment to the political process could not be questioned.

"It comes from our desire to see conflict ended and a new future built for everyone on this island, but we cannot do this alone.

"The British Government must fulfil its commitments and the Irish Government has a duty and an obligation as co-guarantors of the Agreement to stand up for the rights of Irish citizens living in the north.

"Tony Blair must learn the lessons of the past, end his policy of criminalisation and live up to his commitments under the Good Friday Agreement."

The latest crisis in the political process was triggered by the alleged false imprisonment of dissident republican Bobby Tohill in February.

Within hours of the incident, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said the IRA was behind it.

It led to Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble withdrawing from the review over Sinn Fein's continuing participation in the talks.

Devolution was suspended in the province in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at Stormont.




The Colombian attorney general's office has appealed the
acquittal last month of three Irishmen it accused of teaching
bomb-making to rebels in the country's civil war.

Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley will not be
allowed to leave Colombia until the appeals process runs its
course, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said.

If the case reaches the Supreme Court this could take as long as
five years, according to legal experts. The three men are
refusing to leave a Bogota jail until the government provides
them with protection against right-wing death-squads who kill those
they suspect of sympathising with the rebels.

A judge last month dismissed the state's main charges, which
were based on circumstantial evidence and testimony by alleged
rebel defectors.

They have already spent 34 months behind bars, and their lawyers
say they can leave prison for time served or on parole once they
pay a fine of about €6,000 each.

But the men's representatives say they will not leave Bogota's
Modelo prison without protection. So far the government has
refused requests for a safehouse and bodyguards, the
representatives said.

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe has called for the campaign to bring
home the Colombia 3 to be intensified in the coming days. He was
speaking after the Colombian Attorney General's office announced
that it would be appealing against Judge Acosta'a verdict.

Deputy Crowe said:

"For almost two weeks now we have witnessed the farcical
situation whereby three Irishmen, who have been found not guilty
of the serious charges that they faced, continue to be detained
in La Modela which is one of the most dangerous prisons in the

"The men are in constant danger and the only way that their
safety can be guaranteed is if they are allowed to return home

"Given that the Attorney General has now lodged an appeal and it
is not clear how long this process will take, the men should be
allowed to travel home. I would call on the government to do all
in their power to ensure that this happens."


Paisley's veto kills hopes of restored devolution

Henry McDonald
Sunday May 9, 2004
The Observer

Ian Paisley buried any chance yesterday of devolution being restored to Northern Ireland before next year's expected UK general election.

The Democratic Unionist Party leader warned that he would not enter into any government until the IRA had disbanded and the dual-premiership system of a unionist First Minister and a nationalist Deputy First Minister was scrapped.

Paisley's remarks were in contrast to recent speculation that there was a chance of a new deal to bring back power-sharing government by October.

Speaking at the DUP's annual conference in Belfast, Paisley said a single prime-ministerial system should be put back in place at Stormont - a position that neither Sinn Fein nor the SDLP would support.

He said the DUP would not consider any 'two-stage position', which would have allowed his party to enter into direct talks on the basis of an end to IRA activity and a single act of decommissioning.

Paisley also criticised the Irish government's secret deal with Sinn Fein to free the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe if last year's deal at Hillsborough had secured an end to paramilitarism and restored power-sharing. He declined to condemn sectarian and racist protests, even though the DUP conference debated a motion condemning racism and hate crime.

The DUP leader's hard-line position was endorsed by his deputy, Peter Robinson, who earlier told DUP delegates that Sinn Fein and the IRA 'must give up terrorism or be left behind'.

Robinson, whom both the British and Irish governments regard as a potential dealmaker with republicans, said the DUP wanted devolution, but not at any price.

Meanwhile The Observer has learnt that it was republicans who leaked the story to the BBC about the clandestine deal that would have seen Jerry McCabe's killers released.

Senior officers in the Garda confirmed that Sinn Fein allowed the story to leak out in order to embarrass Justice Minister Michael McDowell. Republicans have been stung by McDowell's trenchant criticism of Sinn Fein and its continued links to the IRA. McDowell has accused Sinn Fein of 'vomit-making hypocrisy' over the party's campaign against political corruption.


Ahern urged to come clean on McCabe killers 'deal'
By Michael O'Farrell, Political Reporter

THE GOVERNMENT came under intense pressure last night to disclose whether or not it was prepared to release the killers of Detective Jerry McCabe last October as part of a deal to restore the Northern Assembly.

But a Government statement released following reports of the deal yesterday stopped short of denying the killers' release had been part of peace process negotiations.

Instead, the statement issued on behalf of Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the Government would not authorise any such release "in the context of continued Provisional paramilitarism".

"The Government's positionhas not changed and will not change," the statement continued.

The statement appears to differ significantly from previous assurances given by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on February 10, 1999.

"I have clearly and unambiguously made clear since Good Friday 1998, that any references by the Sinn Féin negotiators regarding the release of the late Jerry McCabe's murderers could not be considered. At no time was anyone given any comfort about these people and neither will they be," he told the Dáil as those responsible were jailed for the manslaughter of Det McCabe in Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996.

The suggestion that a deal could have been considered in the context of an overall agreement was greeted with anger by Det McCabe's family, gardaí and political parties North and South.

A friend of Detective McCabe's widow Ann said the family was distressed the issue had re-emerged.

"Ann is trying to get on with her life as best she can and all she expects is that this issue doesn't keep coming up again and again," the friend said.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said last night's statement raised fresh concerns and appeared to be an attempt at a cover-up.

"I have a very simple question for the Taoiseach. Did the Government offer to release these killers as an incentive to Sinn Féin and the republican movement to fulfil their commitments under the Good Friday Agreement, or did they not?" he said.

Labour justice spokesman Joe Costello called on the Government to clarify whether the offer to release the prisoners might still be on the table. "Such a move would be in direct conflict with assurances given by the Government to the Dáil, the garda representative bodies and most importantly of all to Jerry McCabe's family," he said.

Paul Brown, a GRA executive member, said the organisation would be seeking an immediate meeting with Mr McDowell. "The morale of An Garda Siochána would be deeply affected if this turns out to be true," he said.

Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors president Joe Dirwan also demanded an explanation. "This will seriously undermine our efforts to enforce law and order," he said.

In Dublin yesterday, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said the prisoners should be released under the terms of the Good Friday agreement but declined to comment about whether a release was one of the Government's commitments during last year's negotiations.

An Phoblacht

**From this week's issue


Photo: Robert McClenaghan at the An Fhírinne exhibition of victims of collusion

Michael Finucane, the son of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, will deliver this year's Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture, the centrepiece of a weekend of activities in which British state collusion with unionist death squads will be raised during the annual commemoration of the 1981 Hunger Strikes.

An Fhírinne, the campaign calling for the truth about collusion, is to launch a photographic exhibition. "We have compiled over 200 photographs of collusion victims," said group spokesperson Robert McClenaghan, "but this exhibition is nowhere near complete and is still very much work in progress.

"We are conscious that many victims of collusion have yet to be included in the photographic record and we are therefore appealing to family members to supply us with a photograph of their loved one to be included in any future exhibition," said Robert.

The exhibition, including a video in which a number of victims' families are interviewed about collusion, will be held on Friday 7 May at 7pm at the Devenish Complex in North Belfast, to be followed by the Bobby Sands memorial lecture.

On Sunday 9 May the annual Hunger Strike commemoration march will take place, setting off from various points throughout Belfast to march to the City Hall for a rally at 3pm.

The families of collusion victims are being invited to participate by carrying photographs of those who were killed.

An Phoblacht


Mary Nelis and Raymond McCartney pause in silence at the Derry hunger strike memorial on Wednesday, which marked the 23rd anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands. The event was attended by many Derry republicans.

Sunday Business Post


09/05/04 00:00
By Tom McGurk

They should be on the Jerry Springer Show. They probably will be yet. This, folks, is a good old country boy meets girl love story with a sting in the tail.

Or even an Iraqi on a dog lead if you like. Folks, meet Miss Lynndie England and her beau, Charles Graner.

Lynndie is a trailer-park queen from Appalachian country who used to work in a chicken factory, but went off to Iraq with 372 Military Police Company to do her bit in the war on terrorism. All week, Lynndie's mom has been on the steps of their mobile home, telling the media about how her girl was just doing her job.

Anyway in Iraq, Lynndie met big Charlie, a former prison officer from Uniontown. Charlie, seemingly, is a good God-fearing boy too.

Journalists report that he even has a quote from the Book of Hosea painted on a stone outside his house. It reads: "Sow for ourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love and break up your unplowed ground."

Thing was, both these young folk were kinda lonely over there in Iraq, having just both been divorced before they left. And what do you think but didn't they just fall in love in that prison there called Abu Gharib.

Yes sir, as they had a hootenanny every night with them there naked Iraqis, Lynndie and Charlie kinda got sweet on each other.

What a swell time too they had at their engagement party in the prison. Man, was that old jailhouse rocking! Not content with hanging her knickers on one of them naked Iraqi's heads, Lynndie then got herself a big dog lead and played ``hound dog'' with another.

Meanwhile, Charlie was sort of arranging more naked Iraqis in a big pile so that the good folks at home could see what a real bunch of assholes these guys were.

I suppose liberating these folks requires intimate knowledge, because then Lynndie got real playful and lined them all up, naked as they were born, so that she could see those Arabs in all their glory.

Then Charlie suggested that these Arab boys might go beating their meat and everybody got their digitals out for snaps for the good folk back home.

My, oh my.

Well, the good news is that love triumphed, and now Lynndie is in the family way, thanks to big Charlie.

The bad news is that she's in a cell, all alone up there in Fort Bragg Detention Center back in the States. Seems them folks up there in Washington don't see the joke. Seems somehow that they got the calculations wrong.

It's a year since George Bush announced "mission accomplished," so let's make that calculation. In Iraq, a secular murderous Arab despot - a potential brake on fundamentalism in the region - has been overthrown and the real possibility of Iraq coming under the power of fundamentalist mullahs grows by the day.

Daily the whole of southern Iraq is coming under Iranian influence. The reconstruction effort of the last year now lies in ruins. The reconstructed Iraqi army and police force, who recently refused to fight insurgency, cannot resolve the law and order problem.

Two of Iraq's major cities have now ceded from direct US control - Falluja, whose siege ended in defeat for the US marines, and the holy city of Najaf.

The price, in terms of lives and the global impact on US influence, is appalling.

An estimated 12,000 Iraqis, the vast majority civilians, have been killed, and American troop losses in the last month were greater even than those sustained during the three-week invasion.

But of even greater concern is the growing sense that for all its superpower military might, the United States has got itself into a political and military quagmire that it is unable to win, contain or easily withdraw from.

The grim parallel is actually not with Vietnam, but with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

That conflict eventually destroyed the morale of the Red Army, and its crippling aftermath in wider Soviet society became a significant factor in the collapse of the entire Kremlin system (Come to think of it, who better to relate the moral of this tale to the White House than their former friends in the Taliban, and even Osama bin Laden himself, whom the US armed and supported in that war with the Soviets?).

Given the growing evidence of the systematic use of torture and sensory deprivation in the Iraq and Afghanistan spheres, another covert American military mission has also blown up in their faces.

Throw in Guantanamo Bay, and a policy of capturing and holding hostages, thousands of mostly non-combatants, for intelligence-gathering on Iraq and Afghanistan. It raises a truly terrifying spectre.

Further, given that Guantanamo is a legal no-man's land and the US has "occupying power" legal status in Iraq, the Bush administration is actually secretly making war on thousands of civilian non-combatants - beyond any of the normal rules of justice.

Bush's refusal in 2001 - before 9/11 - to allow the US to come under the auspices of the International Court of Justice now points up the long-term ambitions of this administration.

Given the American conduct in Vietnam, there is nothing surprising about their behaviour in Iraq. In Vietnam, two million Vietnamese civilians were killed, mostly by American bombing and the extensive use of chemical weapons like Agent Orange and napalm.

Meanwhile, the use of torture and sensory deprivation was widespread.

General Westmoreland famously decorated his desk with the shrunken heads of Dead Vietcong, and many Marines collected ears, penises and teeth as trophies from the dead on the battlefields.

To kill and torture civilians you first have to dehumanise them, and en route to Vietnam, American recruits were taught that the Vietnamese did not have the same attitudes to life and death as westerners.

One could not look at Lynndie and Charlie's pictures without sensing that the same dehumanisation process is under way again.

The chilling message is that America is gearing up for its war on terrorism by inculcating in its troops a racist attitude to Arabs and the Muslim world in general.

Even the extensive use of torture and sensory deprivation on Iraqi non-combatants, whose useful information would be minimal, suggests that experimentation may be the real purpose.

Experimentation with techniques (particularly their sexual subtext) designed to break down Muslim sensibilities, and therefore to develop specific techniques for the torturers, for wars ahead.

Presumably, Lynndie and Charlie's wedding plans are on hold at the moment - like a lot of other things in America at the moment.

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