Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail: saoirse@iol.ie
Date: Feabhra / February 28, 2005

Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom

In this issue:

Who rejected British offer in 1981?
RUC assault pregnant woman in Derry city
Republican Prisoners Action Group lobby Human Rights Commission
Nine jailed by non-jury court.
Family won’t rest, bomb inquest told
Calls to support RUC/PSNI ‘politically unrealistic’
MI5 move centre stage within Six Counties
Rathenraw trees and CCTV cameras -- a political issue?
Daily Ireland to sue Michael McDowell
British soldiers found guilty of abusing Iraqi prisoners

IN A statement On February 28, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin said that extremely serious issues had been raised by the allegations concerning the 1981 H-Block hunger strike in an article in the Sunday Times of February 27 and in an interview with Richard O’Rawe on the Marion Finucane Show, RTÉ Radio One on February 28. Richard O’Rawe, a former prisoner and publicity officer for the H-Block prisoners, is the author of a new book Blanketmen, which deals with the prisoners’ ordeal.
The statement went on: “I am convinced that the IRA Army Council of that time did not reject the British government offer of early July 1981 (which was sponsored by the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace), resulting in the deaths of six more hunger strikers.

“As President of Sinn Féin, I knew that it was not the policy of the Republican Movement to prolong the hunger strike until the by-election which followed from Bobby Sands’s death., I believed then, and still do, that the terms for the settlement were a matter for the H-Block prisoners themselves.

“The exact terms of what was on offer would have been known immediately to those in contact with the British government through the intermediary, to those in charge of communication with the prisoners and to those responsible for publicity and in contact with the media.

“If some one or more persons in those areas of responsibility invoked the name of the Army Council without authorisation to support private or personal views, then that is a very serious charge which needs to be answered even at this late stage.

“The policy of the “armalite and the ballot-box” was nothing new. It was simply a restatement of Republican policy since 1917 but in more up-to-date terms. Personally, I had been involved in elections contested by Sinn Féin from 1959 to the late 1960s, having been an elected Deputy for Longford-Westmeath from 1957 to ’61 and Republican candidate in Fermanagh-South Tyrone in 1966.

“Further, Sinn Féin was not “a paper organisation” prior to 1981 as has been alleged. That may have been the view inside the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. On the outside, the election of 30 to 40 Sinn Féin councillors in the 26 Counties during the 1970s shows that allegation to be without foundation.

“It is true that in the post-hunger strike period many people joined Sinn Féin. In fact it was flooded with people who were not convinced Republicans. These were good people who were essentially humanitarian in outlook.

“They were not educated politically and later provided the dead-weight when a move was made to convert a revolutionary movement into a constitutional political party. Perhaps the prolongation of the hunger strike was meant to provide the groundwork for such a shift to constitutionalism?” the statement ended.


THE RUC/PSNI were accused on February 28 of assaulting a pregnant woman in Derry during a forced search of her home.

The woman –Erin Fisher – was forcibly pushed aside when she refused to allow the RUC into her home without producing a valid warrant. “They pushed their way in past me even after I told them I was pregnant,” Ms Fisher said. RUC/PSNI officers then proceeded with the search. It appears that they had attempted to execute a warrant at the wrong address.

Ms Fisher said that the officer she spoke to agreed that her treatment had been harsh, and she called on the occupation forces to make a public apology.

This is not the first incident in recent times whereby the British colonial police have raided the wrong premises. They continue to treat the nationalist people of Derry with contempt. This will continue for as long as we are subjected to a military force raised by the British Crown policing any part of Ireland in order to further her colonial agenda.

A delegation from the Republican Prisoners Action Group met with Professor Brice Dickson of the [British] Human Rights Commission and his staff on February 24 to highlight the deteriorating conditions affecting Republican POW's in Maghaberry gaol.

The delegation spent over an hour during which issues such as Strip Searches, Lockdowns and numerous other issues were presented to the Commission.

A spokesperson for the group described the meeting as productive and positive and that the Commission assured the delegation that they were concerned about the issues and have undertaken to visit Republican prisoners in order to directly assess the situation.

The spokesperson said: “The Republican Prisoners Action Group view the situation as being wholly unacceptable and as a concerted effort on the part of the British authorities to criminalise Republican prisoners .

“This we will never accept and we again call upon those in positions of influence to publicly address this ongoing deteriorating situation.”


THE Dublin based non-jury Special Court jailed nine men on February 24 for participation in a Continuity IRA training camp in the Comeragh mountains in August 2003. Having heard 26-County Special Branch evidence against the men on February 22, the non-jury court handed out four, five and six year sentences.

Patrick Deery, Stradbally, Co Waterford and Joseph Mooney, Co Waterford were each sentenced to six years imprisonment. John O’Halloran, Limerick, Mark McMahon, Wexford, PJ Kelly, Wexford, Brian Galvin, Ballybeg, Co Waterford and Michael Leahy, Dungarvan, Co Waterford were sentenced to five years. Dean Coleman, Limerick and Thomas Barry, Lisduggan, Co Waterford were sentenced to four years.


THE relatives of a bus conductor killed in the 1972 Sackville Place bombings in Dublin will not rest until they discover the circumstances surrounding his death, his widow told his inquest, which opened in Dublin on February 22.

Dublin Coroner’s Court is hearing evidence into the death of Thomas Duffy (23) and George Bradshaw (29), who were killed in an explosion in Sackville Place on December 1, 1972. The inquest is also investigating the death of a third man, Thomas Douglas, who was killed by a bomb in the same place on January 20, 1973.

The original inquests opened shortly after the deaths but were never completed. They were formally reopened on December 14, 2003.

Monica Duffy-Campbell told the inquest on its opening day, “The family won’t rest until we find out the circumstances around that bombing, the investigations, why it’s 32 years later we’re here at an inquest.”
Ms Duffy-Campbell was four-and-a-half months pregnant with the couple’s second child when her husband, Thomas Duffy, was killed.

He was on a break at the CIÉ bus company canteen near Sackville Place at 8pm, coroner Brian Farrell was told. A policeman came in to warn the men that there had been a bomb scare. As Mr Duffy left the canteen, he ran straight into the explosion, the inquest was told. Garda Michael Murphy told the court he had found Mr Duffy’s body under a car adjacent to another car that had exploded.

Father of two George Bradshaw, a bus driver with the same company, was also killed. His body was so badly injured that there was initially difficulty in identifying him, the inquest jury was told. George Bradshaw’s sister Rose said, “He left behind a grief that never ends. It’s as raw in my mind today as it was then.”

Joseph Hart, a bus conductor at CIÉ, told how a policeman had run into the canteen to warn the bus drivers about a bomb.

“The garda said, ‘Clear the canteen. There’s a bomb.’ As we were actually leaving the premises, the ceiling came in on top of us.”

He said he did not see what had happened to Mr Duffy and Mr Bradshaw.

The inquest is also examining the death of Scottish-born Thomas Douglas. The 21-year-old had moved to Dublin to work a few months before the January 1973 bomb.

The jury was told he had been going to buy a newspaper to send to his mother when the bomb exploded, throwing him into a shop window.

His mother, Maureen Noble, said that a priest in the street had administered the last rites to her son before he died. Thomas Douglas’ brother Joseph described the scene as horrific.

“The whole shop front was all broken up. There was paper all over the street with blood everywhere.

It’s as clear today as it was then.”

His younger brother Andrew said that the family had not heard anything after the initial investigation. He told the court that he did not believe the inquest would be happening, had it not been for Justice for the Forgotten, an organisation for victims of the 1970s bombings in Dublin and Monaghan.

The inquest also heard evidence from eyewitnesses who saw two men sitting in a car in unusual circumstances in the area before the first bomb.

The first bombing occurred on the night that Leinster House was debating a bill to amend the already draconian Offences Against the State Act. Following the bombing, Fine Gael who had up to then been reluctant to support the amendments voted in favour. Despite the fact that the bombings were carried out by British-backed loyalist death squads, this legislation was only used against Republicans and members of other nationalist groups.

A Belfast businessman told the second day of the inquest how a man with an “English accent” rented a car from him that was later used in the December 1972 bombing. Philip Morley who owned a car hire firm in Belfast said that on the morning of November 30, 1972 a man seeking to hire a car contacted him.

He described the man as about 40 years of age, six feet tall, between 14 and 15 stone, with fair to “dirty fair” hair and a round red face. He spoke with an English accent. He rented the car using a driver’s licence in the name of ‘Joseph Fleming’. It later transpired that a Joseph Fleming had his licence stolen earlier in the year.

Three days after the bombing Philip Morley was interviewed by both the RUC and the 26-County police. Despite giving a detailed description of the man he was not shown any photographs. He was not contacted again.

On day three former Commissioner of the 26-County police, Laurence Wren made the astounding claim that it was “not necessarily” surprising that a suspect for whom there was a photfit identification and fingerprints was never arrested.

He told the Dublin City Coroner’s Court that he did not recall any attempts to revive the inquiry after the initial Garda investigation had come to a halt. “I don’t remember anyone directing a fresh inquiry,” he said.

At the time Wren was a Chief Superintendent with the 26-County police force’s secretive ‘C3’ unit, which he said, was not an “investigative unit” but acted as a “conduit” for information between the Dublin government, various units of the 26-County police, the 26-County army and British Crown forces in Ireland.

Cormac Ó Dulacháin SC, representing the victim’s families put it to Wren that shortly after the 1972 attack he had circulated to the 26-County army intelligence a photofit of one of the suspected bombers. Fingerprints, believed to be from the same man had also been collected, Cormac Ó Dulacháin said.

He also said that Laurence Wren had had contact with the RUC and had corresponded with retired British Crown force members. Wren said that at this remove he had no recollection of any correspondence.

“There was a photfit of a major suspect in the December 1 bombings and positive finger prints. Is it not surprising that nothing, that something did not emerge from this?” Cormac Ó Dulacháin asked.

“Not necessarily, no” Laurence Wren replied.

On February 25 the jury at the inquest returned a verdict of “unlawful killing” in the deaths of Thomas Duffy and George Bradshaw, killed when a car bomb exploded at Sackville Place on December 1 1972, and Thomas Douglas, killed in a second explosion in Sackville Place on January 20 1973, all CIE workers.

The jury took just over an hour to return the verdict. They also recommended that a transcript of the inquest be forwarded to the 26-County premier Bertie Ahern and the British Six County Secretary, Paul Murphy.

The Dublin City Coroner, Dr Brian Farrell said the families’ grief had been compounded by the delay in the inquests, which “which should have been completed 30 years ago”. He said he hoped the families no longer feel isolated and forgotten”.

Margaret Urwin campaign secretary for the Justice For The Forgotten group, which represents the victims and their families, said she was disappointed by the lack of information in the 26 County police files. She also said the lack of cooperation on the part of the British authorities was to be “greatly deplored”.


WRITING in The Irish Times on February 25, Mark Thompson, spokesperson for the Belfast-based human rights group Relatives For Justice which “works primarily with those affected by state and state-sponsored violence”, said that while questions over the role of the British state in the murder of nationalists and collusion with Loyalist death squads remain unanswered calls to support the RUC/PSNI are unrealistic.

“The focus on outstanding issues on policing has almost disappeared from the agenda, instead being replaced by commentators and opportunists demanding compliance and cooperation with the PSNI,” Thompson writes. “Currently the PSNI, including the British Ministry of Defence is preventing the holding of inquests into controversial killings involving the RUC, British army, and in cases in which evidence of collusion exists.”

He pointed out in the article that the Relatives For Justice group is currently involved in 21 cases “within the British judicial system in which controversial killings by the state are being subjected to a stalling process in defiance of a European Court ruling. The tactics used are refusal by the RUC/PSNI and the MoD to cooperate with coroners, refusal to adhere to court rulings and the threat to use public interest immunity certificates to prevent the handing over of information to families.”

In some of the cases he says the public may wish to know why ‘Public Interest Certificates’ are sought in cases where loyalist death squads were responsible for the killings. “Obstacles from the PSNI, and the MoD, aimed at preventing the examination of any of these cases signal that processes of investigation and justice can be corrupted in the interests of the state. This has consistently been the case when the British army and RUC killed people.”

Pointing out that the European Court found in the cases brought by the families of victims of British state violence in 2001 that the British state’s attempts to investigate these killings failed to comply with international standards of impartiality, accountability and transparency, Mark Thompson writes: “The primacy of protecting British state interests is clearly in evidence to the exclusion of the interests of truth, accountability and justice for its hundreds of victims. This was also witnessed recently in relation to the Barron inquiry and the Oireachtas Committee into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings with British refusal to cooperate.”

He concluded that people affected by violent actions of the British state are expected to trust the institutions of that same state, responsible for the deaths of their family members to investigate these killings.

“As people rush to condemn and to say that we should accept the PSNI they do a great disservice to the universal principles of human rights. Indeed they ignore the reality, as they use the current circumstances to push an agenda implying that if we refuse to accept the PSNI then we are all somehow guilty of something.”


THE British intelligence service MI5 is to take over-all responsibility for British intelligence gathering and its various other clandestine activities within the Six Counties from the RUC/PSNI in two years time, the British supremo in the Six Occupied Counties, Paul Murphy announced on February 24. The RUC/PSNI will retain responsibility for dealing with organised crime.

The restructuring will give MI5 the lead strategic intelligence role within the Six Counties, placing it at the centre of the British state’s counter-insurgency programme.

A GROUP of community workers living in the Antrim area who previously spoke out against a lack of community consultation relating to the proposed installation of CCTV cameras at Rathenraw and St Malachy's Catholic High School said recently that as an election draws near, unionist political hopefuls intend to inflame sectarian division by once again lashing into Antrim nationalists.

One worker who participated in a recent Antrim Community Discussion Forum claimed, “There has been no public consultation about proposals to install Hi Tech surveillance cameras at housing estates or Catholic schools in the Antrim Borough or indeed cutting down trees fronting the Rathenraw estate. “It is a matter,” she said, “that seems to come to the fore as a one-sided unionist electioneering issue. Because, no political representative or any other decision maker, to date, has ever spoke with the residents group in Rathenraw about installing CCTV cameras or cutting down trees in the area.”

A Rathenraw resident said, “The trees are a natural and scenic boundary which enhances our estate, how anyone could think for one minute that residents here want rid of the trees is way beyond me. If anything Rathenraw residents are inclined to want more trees planted, not less. The residents who live at the front of the Rathenraw estate also regard the trees as protection from attack against their homes.”

A community worker, who attended a Community Relations Council consultation 18 months ago entitled “A Shared Future” held in the Dunadry Inn said, “sectarian attacks and murders in Antrim featured high during the consultation as well as a ‘lacking’ of local political representation.”

She continued, “I am not one bit surprised that fixing cameras in nationalist areas remains part of a unionist agenda in this town and that all other discussions about CCTV sites are surrounded in secrecy because it seems to me that the local council and other public bodies in Antrim are excluding the public from decision making as much as possible anyway.”

Other community development workers living in Antrim Town claim, they have “not only seen but read” CCTV proposals for Antrim Town and they believe, “The prime focus and the proposed locations for the cameras appear to be ‘fixated’ with screening nationalists and only nationalists.”


THE newly established Belfast-based newspaper Daily Ireland announced on February 21 that it is to sue the 26 County Justice minister, Michael McDowell for libel.

This follows remarks by McDowell that the paper was a “Provo front”. The publisher of Daily Ireland denied the paper was a front the Provisionals. He said the newspaper, which is part of the Andersonstown News Group, had instructed its solicitors to start libel proceedings against Michael McDowell.

Speaking on RTE radio, a spokesperson for the paper said it was taking the 26-County justice minister’s remarks very seriously. “They are scandalous, they are rubbish, they are defamatory,” he said. Also speaking on RTE radio, a spokesperson for the National Union of Journalists said they also viewed the remarks with great concern, as they could be seen to target professional journalists at a time when the political situation in the Six Counties had become very volatile.

The Daily Ireland spokesperson said that previously when McDowell had labelled the paper as a “fascist publication” he and the paper’s solicitors had written to him but had received no reply.

Asked where the money for the paper came from he replied said: “ The majority of the money is coming from the Andersonstown News Group, courtesy of a major loan from the Bank of Ireland. Other funding comes from a number of small investors in Ireland, including former GAA President, Peter Quinn.

“Our operation is totally bona fide, this sort of allegation has never been made by unionist politicians in the North and this type of slur has never been made by any of our most ardent opponents commercially either, so the minister is talking rubbish and its an attempt to try and damage us and prevent us from publishing.”

The Daily Ireland newspaper, which has a circulation of 25,000, was launched on February 1. With a staff of 40 it is sold throughout the Six Counties as well as counties Louth, Leitrim and Sligo.


TWO British soldiers were found guilty on February 23 of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a case that has seriously undermined the standing of the British army and been dubbed Britain’s Abu Ghraib. Another pleaded guilty and a fourth was sentenced last month.

The British Judge Advocate, Michael Hunter described the ill-treatment as “brutal, cruel and revolting”, saying: “anyone with a shred of human decency would have been revolted by the pictures.

The men were found guilty at a British army court martial in Germany of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the British army Camp Breadbasket outside Basra two weeks after the war was declared over in May 2003. The abuse was captured in photographs.

However the charges were not in relation to the sexual assaults on two men who were forced to simulate oral and anal sex whilst giving a thumbs up for the camera. The British army has yet to arrest anyone for that crime or act against more senior officers who broke the Geneva Convention through a plan they devised to punish looters by ordering that they be rounded up beaten and abused.

The British soldiers who were tried claimed that they were being held up as “sacrificial lambs”, covering up for what was British army policy.

Cpl Daniel Kenyon, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was convicted on three charges, including the failure to report that soldiers under his command had forced two Iraqi males to strip naked and simulate sex acts. He was also found guilty of aiding and abetting another soldier who assaulted a prisoner and hung his victim from a forklift truck. He was found guilty of failing to report this to his superiors.

Lance Cpl Mark Cooley was found guilty of “Disgraceful conduct of a cruel kind”, after he drove the forklift truck with the bound Iraqi suspended from it. He was convicted of having brought the British army into disrepute by posing for a picture in which he pretended to punch an Iraqi prisoner.

Another British soldier, Lance Cpl Darren Larkin pleaded guilty to assaulting an Iraqi man after he was photographed standing on his body.

Fusilier Gary Bartlam, who sparked the abuse inquiry when he took his photographs to be developed, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment last month and given a dishonourable discharge for being a “willing participant in this very brutal and very cruel act”. He was the first British soldier to be jailed for crimes committed in Iraq.

On February 25, the three British soldiers were sentenced to between two years and five months imprisonment and expelled from the British army. Irish people will note that British soldiers convicted of more serious charges such as ‘unlawful killing’ within the Six Counties were never expelled, but were reinstated in the British army on their release.

Cpl Daniel Kenyon was sentenced to 18 months in prison, ark Cooley was sentenced to two years and lance Cpl Darren Larkin to five months,


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