Daughter of woman shot dead by Provos as an alleged informer after being held 15 days speaks out as battle for justice gathers pace
By Suzanne BreenBelfast Telegraph
18 May 2016Shauna Moreland, whose mother Caroline was abducted and murdered by the IRA in June 1994 - (BBC image)A daughter has described the emotional meeting she had with the elderly woman who found her murdered mother's body lying on a lonely border road.
Shauna Moreland also revealed how police had let the body of 34-year-old Caroline lie on the roadside near Roslea, Co Fermanagh, for 13 hours because they feared the IRA had booby-trapped it.
The heartbreaking delay was also caused by the fact that half of Caroline's body was on the northern side of the border and the rest was in the South, leading to lengthy talks between the RUC and Garda over which jurisdiction her murder fell.
In a powerful interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Shauna - who was only 10 when her mother was murdered as an alleged informer in July 1994 - described the horrific details of her killing.
"She was taken from west Belfast and brought to Fermanagh in the boot of a car where she was held for 15 days," she said.
"She was killed, on her knees and blindfolded, with tissue under the blindfold. She was shot three times in the side of the head. I've pictured what happened in my mind 50,000 times."
Last year Shauna met the woman who found her mother's body when she was out walking her dog at 7am that summer morning.
"The lady was bed-bound and in her 80s," she said. "It was very emotional for me. I brought her a bunch of flowers and I apologised to her for what she had to see on the road. It devastated our lives, but that woman was traumatised too."
Caroline, a single mother-of-three from west Belfast, was shot dead by the Provos six weeks before the 1994 ceasefire for allegedly working as an informer.
Her family believe she was a victim of Freddie Scappaticci - named in the media as the high-ranking British agent codenamed Stakeknife - and are seeking truth and justice through the courts.
The Morelands maintain that the authorities had ample opportunity to step in and save Caroline's life, but chose to let her die in order to protect a more senior and valuable alleged informer.
The last time Shauna saw her mummy was at home ironing. "I miss her so much," she said.
"I'm a chef and on Mother's Day I stand in the kitchen cooking food for God knows how many mothers.
"It makes me sad and angry that I never had the chance to cook a meal for my own mother."
Shauna explained how her two big brothers, then aged 13 and 14, also grieved for Caroline but that she felt her loss differently.
"There are things for which daughters need mothers and she wasn't there, like buying my first bra and getting my first period," she said.
"I had my grannies and my aunts, but it wasn't the same. Even now I feel that void. I'm not able to buy her presents. For 22 years on Mother's Day and on her birthday, all I can do is bring flowers to her grave.
"On my 18th and 21st birthday parties I looked around the room at all the people who were gathered to celebrate with me, but the most important person wasn't there."
It is not just on the big occasions that 31-year-old Shauna misses her mother most.
"The smaller stuff is even harder," she said. "I called in on a friend the other day as she was making her mummy a cup of tea and it hit me that I'd never done that for my mother. I wouldn't have a clue how she liked her tea, if she took milk or sugar.
"I get jealous when I see other people with their mummies. I had mine for just 10 years. She's been dead twice as long as she was with me."
Shauna also told this newspaper how Caroline could not have been a better mother.
"She was warm and affectionate," she said. "We always knew that we were loved. We felt safe with her, like nothing or nobody could harm us.
"Other mothers can complain a lot about their kids, but mummy loved being with us.
"She would have shouted at us for making a mess or being boisterous, but my strongest memories are of a house filled with fun and laughter.
"During the summer holidays she wouldn't have the money to take us to Spain or Turkey, but she organised countless days out. We went on the bus to Newcastle or the train to Crawfordsburn. She packed sandwiches and took us to the Ulster Museum.
"On Christmas Eve she had her rituals. She'd put a Christmas film on the TV and make hot chocolate for us. Then we'd be allowed to open two presents each - it was always the selection boxes and the pyjamas."
When Caroline was abducted by the IRA relatives told the children she was in hospital.
"She had a difficult birth with me - her spine crumbled and she had metal plates inserted - and she was in and out of hospital regularly, so we didn't doubt what we were told," said Shauna.
"But I remember the phone ringing and my granny and daddy going upstairs afterwards to talk to my brother. I heard him crying, and he never cried. When they told me mummy was dead; I was hysterical."
Shauna remembers being brought to the wake in her granny's home. "Mummy had auburn hair and her curls tumbled around her face," she said. "The woman in the coffin had her hair pulled back, so I said to myself: 'That's not my mummy'. I tried to escape from her death, to blank it out, rather than deal with it.
"I told myself that mummy had just gone away on a wee break because she was tired of my brother and I fighting. I convinced myself she wasn't dead, that it was a dream and I'd wake to see her standing over the bed saying: 'Ready for school?'"
After talking to relatives, Shauna and her brothers decided not to go to their mother's funeral. "I still don't know if it was the right call," she said. "I go to the funeral of relatives of friends and say to myself: 'I'm at the funeral of someone I barely knew and I wasn't at my mum's'."
Shauna's one consolation is that the IRA did not try to hide Caroline's body. "At least they left mummy on the road. They didn't 'disappear' her like Jean McConville," she said.
But Shauna is tormented by thoughts of the 15 days the IRA held Caroline. "I've gone over what could have happened and I probably imagine it 100 times worse than it was," she said. "The inquest found nothing to suggest she was tortured or assaulted, but they had her two weeks - they hardly did nothing."
In her 20s Shauna started to Google her mother's name. "The words that constantly came up were 'IRA informer'," she said. "I hated that because it was the label the IRA had created to try to excuse or lighten murdering her.
"Caroline Moreland wasn't just an IRA informer, she was a mother, a daughter and a sister. They tried to write her story, but I am here now to tell what they omitted."
Shauna is particularly proud that her mother, along with her grannies, raised thousands of pounds for muscular dystrophy.
And although she grew up in a working-class nationalist area, she was never taunted about her mother. "I wasn't filled with hate against the IRA, but when I heard people condemn the British or loyalists for what they did, I'd think: 'My own ones hurt me more'," Shauna explained.
"Some media have wanted to steer me down the road of battering only the IRA, and I won't do that. The State was equally to blame for my mother's death. It made the bullet, the IRA fired it."
Shauna has been told that she has a similar temperament to her mother. "That makes me happy, but I think mummy was more confident," she said.
"She was a very strong woman. If she walked into a room, people knew she was there. She's my role model. I find the strength to fight for my mother from my mother."
Many bereaved relatives pose for media photographs holding a picture of their loved one. Shauna refuses to do that. "It's too painful," she said. "I don't want to hold a photo, I want to hold her. I want to give her the biggest hug in the world and never, ever let her go."
Alan Erwin, Belfast:::u.tv:::
17 May 2016The only man charged in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black has been blocked from asking the Supreme Court to overturn an order for him to stand trial.
Senior judges in Belfast refused Damien McLaughlin's application after rejecting claims his case raised a point of law of general public importance.
Lawyers for the 39-year-old claim he was unfairly denied the chance to cross-examine a key prosecution witness. They also contended that a district judge who committed him for trial applied the wrong legal test.
McLaughlin, from the Kilmascally Road in Dungannon, is facing four charges in relation to the prison officer's killing.
They include aiding and abetting his murder, having a Toyota Camry car for use in terrorism, preparing a terrorist act by starting and moving the vehicle which the killers used, and belonging to a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.Damien McLaughlin
Mr Black was shot dead on the M1 in Co Armagh in November 2012 en route to work at high security Maghaberry Prison.
The 52-year-old father of two was the first Northern Ireland prison officer to be murdered in nearly 20 years. The prosecution alleges McLaughlin transported the Toyota car across the Irish border on the eve of the attack.
In June last year a preliminary investigation resulted in the district judge ordering him to be returned for trial.
McLaughlin's legal team launched judicial review proceedings against decisions to admit hearsay evidence and to return him for trial.
Their challenge centred on statements from a man who was arrested and interviewed by the Garda as a suspect in the murder plot.
He was not called as a witness during the preliminary investigation.
Counsel for McLaughlin, who is currently on bail, argued that there is a statutory right to cross-examine witnesses before trial.
A prosecution barrister countered that the proceedings were a form of satellite litigation.
Last month the High Court dismissed the judicial review challenge after ruling there was nothing irrational or perverse about the process.
McLaughlin's legal team returned on Tuesday to seek permission from judges to take their case to the Supreme Court in London.
But refusing leave, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: "We have decided we are not going to certify a point of law of general public importance.
"The decision for the magistrate in committal (proceedings) is a broad discretionary judgment taking account of all relevant factors.
"We have concluded the magistrate did not err in the approach in this particular case."
The Irish government has said it is committed to pursuing British files on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.:::u.tv:::
17 May 2016Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan reiterated the government’s intent ahead of attending the memorial service in Dublin to mark the 42nd anniversary of the atrocity on Tuesday.
Thirty-four people including an unborn baby were killed and 300 others injured when three car bombs in Dublin city centre and another in Monaghan town exploded on 17 May 1974.
To date no one has ever been prosecuted over the attacks, which the UVF claimed responsibility for in 1993.
Minister Flanagan said: "The Government has worked consistently to implement the all-party Dáil motions which call on the British Government to allow access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents in their possession relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.
“The Government will continue to actively pursue this objective, and we have made it a commitment in the new Programme for Government.”
Minister Flanagan also attended the wreath-laying ceremony at the Dublin-Monaghan bombings memorial, which is being organised by campaign group Justice for the Forgotten.
They have been calling for an investigation into alleged British state collusion into the massacre and are pursuing access to classified files in relation to the bombings.
@CharlieFlanagan today laid wreath to the memory of those killed in Dublin & Monaghan bombings on this day in 1974 pic.twitter.com/VYzgqMo4xL
— IrishForeignMinistry(@dfatirl) May 17, 2016
Mr Flanagan said the Irish Government was also determined to get agreement with Northern Ireland politicians on how to deal with legacy issues from the Troubles.
“I will be working hard to see these institutions established, for the benefit of all victims and survivors and for our society as a whole,” he added.
“Such an agreement would, in some respects, help to further honour the memory of those 33 men and women who died on the streets of Dublin and Monaghan 42 years ago today and whose families still grieve their loss.”
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams also called for the classified documents to be opened.
"It is vital that the new Government lives up to the need to ensure the utmost pressure is put on the British administration to release their files," he said.
In Talbot St @ 42 Anniversary Commemoration of Dublin Monaghan bombings. pic.twitter.com/eigE6T3oa7
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) May 17, 2016
Ivor Bell alleged to have given interview about killing to Boston College researchers Irish Times
16 May 2016Ivor Bell leaving Belfast Laganside Court last year after he faced counts of aiding and abetting the killing of Jean McConville. (File Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire)Efforts are being made to obtain evidence from an American witness in the case against a veteran republican charged over the killing of Jean McConville, a court heard today.
A prosecution lawyer disclosed attempts to have them compelled to testify about alleged offences linked to Ivor Bell.
The 79-year-old faces charges of soliciting to murder connected to an allegation that he encouraged or persuaded others to kill Mrs McConville. The victim, a mother of 10, was seized by the IRA from her Divis Flats home in west Belfast in 1972 after being wrongly accused of being an informer.
Following her abduction she was shot dead and then secretly buried. Her body was discovered on a Co Louth beach in 2003.
Mr Bell, from Ramoan Gardens in the Andersonstown district of the city, was arrested and charged in March 2014. The case against him centres on an interview he allegedly gave to US researchers from Boston College as part of a project with former paramilitaries about their roles in the Northern Ireland conflict.Transcripts
Although transcripts were not to be published until after the deaths of those who took part, a US court ordered the tapes should be handed over to PSNI detectives investigating Mrs McConville’s killing.
It is alleged Mr Bell is one of the Boston interviewees, given the title Z, who spoke about the circumstances surrounding the decision to abduct her. A voice analyst has been enlisted as part of the case.
The accused - who is currently on bail - denies any role in events surrounding the murder, claiming he was not even in the city at the time. His lawyers contend that he does not have a case to answer.
They are expected to mount an attempt to have the charges thrown out at a preliminary inquiry hearing where witnesses can be cross-examined in a bid to test the strength of the evidence.
At Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday, prosecution lawyer John O’Neill provided an update on proceedings. He indicated that efforts have been made to compel an unnamed witness from America to give evidence. However, that person remains unwilling to comply with requests.
An application may now be made to have this evidence admitted on a hearsay basis.
The case was then adjourned until next month when the prosecution is expected to finalise its position.
The family of a murdered Belfast mother-of-three has won High Court permission to challenge the PSNI for not including her killing in a major investigation into a top British spy in the IRA.
Alan Erwin, Belfast:::u.tv:::
17 May 2016Freddie ScappaticciA judge granted leave to seek a judicial review of the Chief Constable's decision not to have Caroline Moreland's abduction and shooting form part of the inquiry into the activities of agent Stakeknife, named widely as Freddie Scappaticci.
Mr Justice Colton ruled that police are arguably under a legal obligation to carry out a probe into the circumstances surrounding Ms Moreland's death.
Ms Moreland, a 34-year-old Catholic, was tortured and killed by the IRA in July 1994 for being an alleged British informer.
Despite an RUC investigation no-one has ever been charged or convicted of her murder.
Her children have issued proceedings in a bid to secure a fully independent probe. At an earlier hearing it was claimed that west Belfast man Scappaticci was permitted to engage in a murder campaign in order to strengthen his position as a British spy.
It was claimed the relatives of up to 50 victims are waiting for answers.
Scappaticci left Northern Ireland in 2003 when he was identified by the media as Stakeknife.
Before quitting his home he vehemently denied being the agent.
In October last year Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC called for police to examine Stakeknife's activities, along with what was known by RUC Special Branch and MI5.
Relatives of those allegedly killed by the IRA's internal security team, the so-called 'Nutting Squad', have backed that move. But they are opposed to the PSNI taking charge amid suspicions of security force collusion.
Chief Constable George Hamilton has decided detectives from an external force should handle the inquiry, with confirmation of who will take charge expected next month.
Any investigation into Stakeknife could last five years and cost up to £35million.
With Ms Moreland's murder currently not featuring in the planned inquiry, lawyers for her family claimed it was an unlawful exclusion.Caroline Moreland (Photo: Irish News)
They insisted police are obligated by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to investigate the killing in the Stakeknife probe.
Counsel for the PSNI argued that the legal challenge was premature and insisted no decision has been made to exclude the Moreland murder.
But Mr Justice Colton held today that the Chief Constable has arguably acted unlawfully by failing to include her death in the examination into the agent.
He also granted leave on points about delay, the requirement to ensure an independent investigation, and an alleged failure to properly involve the next of kin.
Stressing that his decision was no indication of a final outcome in the challenge, Mr Justice Colton listed the case for a further review next month.
The Moreland family's solicitor described the ruling as "a vindication of their fight for justice".
Kevin Winters also claimed others in the same situation were having to resort to the courts to contest "regressive decisions".
Speaking outside court he said: "There are currently over 40 such challenges pending before the courts with no sign of any let up in the near future.
"Those statistics are a depressing reminder of the ongoing political failure to deal with the past compounded by recent pronouncements about lack of money."
Mr Winters added: "We look forward to the next stage of the proceedings and hope that today's ruling will help get the outside police force off the ground in what will be a massive inquiry."
Belfast News Letter
26 Feb 2016Alleged former IRA leader Thomas “Slab” Murphy was behind bars for the first time on Friday.
After being jailed for 18 months for tax evasion by the Irish courts, the bachelor farmer and self-confessed republican protested his innocence, claimed he was a victim and denied being at the head of a property empire.
The 66-year-old was found guilty of nine charges at the high security Special Criminal Court in Dublin.
Murphy, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, on the border with Northern Ireland, was found to owe the Irish exchequer taxes, penalties and interest of almost 190,000 euro (£147,000) for tax dodging from 1996-2004.
In a statement from a prison cell the alleged Provo chief said he would appeal and criticised investigations into him, the trial and the media.
“I am an Irish Republican and have been all my life,” Murphy said.
“For many years now I have been the subject of serial, prejudicial and wholly inaccurate commentary and media coverage. There have also been repeated assertions that I have amassed properties and wealth.
“This is utterly untrue. I do not own any property at all and I have no savings.”
Dressed in a pink shirt, brown jacket and slacks, Murphy showed little emotion in the dock as the sentence was delivered.
He acknowledged some family members and friends as he was led out of a side door of the court.
Murphy was jailed for 18 months for each of the nine counts of tax evasion, with the terms to run concurrently, meaning he could be eligible for release in a year.
He has no previous convictions.
Judge Paul Butler, presiding in the three-judge court, noted the publicity around the trial but insisted reports of Murphy’s republican links did not sway the verdict or the sentencing.
“It has no bearing whatsoever upon the Revenue charges,” the judge said.
“This court must and does treat the accused as a farmer and cattle dealer with no other connections, past or present.”
The judges said they took into account Murphy’s age, his clean record, that he had been on bail for several years which would have impacted his life and that he had continued to work in steady employment as he awaited trial.
Judge Butler also said the total proven tax evasion was “relatively small for such a long period”.
Murphy was sentenced in a non-jury court, which normally deals with terrorist and gangland trials, as Ireland votes in a general election.
And the decision of the three-judge court demanded more answers from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams over his description of Murphy as a “good republican”.
After voting in Co Louth where he is a TD, Mr Adams was asked if he thought the sentence would have any influence on voters’ choices.
“It shouldn’t have, but we’ll see,” he said.
Mr Adams also declined to comment on the timing of the sentencing.
“That’s a matter for the court but what we are concerned about is trying to bring about real change, real change in people’s lives. If you vote for the same crowd you’ll end up with the same thing,” he said.
The penalties for Murphy’s tax offences could have been as much as five years in jail or fines of up to 100,000 euro (£77,800).
The farmer, who has no previous convictions and works as a yardsman for a business in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, did not give evidence during the 32-day trial.
He also ignored questions on his way in to hear his fate.
At the hearing, Murphy’s defence team attempted to use his silence as further mitigation with the argument that he had not attempted to mislead the court.
The trial heard that the total tax bill for the nine years was 38,519.56 euro (about £30,000), and interest built up on those unpaid bills was 151,445.10 euro (about £117,000), taking the final amount owed to 189,964.66 euro.
He was charged with five counts under the Republic’s Taxes Consolidation Act and four under the Finance Act that he knowingly and wilfully failed to make tax returns and did so without reasonable excuses.
The court found he did not furnish Ireland’s Revenue authorities with a return of income, profits or gains or the sources of them over the period but received 100,000 euro (£73,000) in farm grants and paid out 300,000 euro (£220,000) to rent land.
In 1998, Murphy lost a £1 million libel action against the Sunday Times which described him as a senior IRA figure.
On one of only two other occasions when he has spoken publicly, he claimed he had to sell a home in order to pay for some of the costs of the failed lawsuit.
In his statement issued by his legal team, Murphy further denied two witnesses had been intimidated during the trial - a vet and a landowner he rented land from.
“This is absolutely untrue. The witnesses did give evidence. The prosecution’s legal team did not even allege there was witness intimidation,” he said.
Murphy also criticised the investigation by Revenue chiefs and the Garda.
“Despite never having been questioned by An Garda Siochana in relation to Revenue matters, I was arrested, charged and put on trial in the Special Criminal Court for failing to file tax returns in respect of farming,” he said.
“The case presented against me was that tax returns with an average liability of 4,279 euro tax per annum should have been filed by me over a nine-year period in relation to farming.
“The evidence called by the prosecution showed that tax returns were made by family members in respect of the farm, and that all tax on any profit from farming has been paid.
“I maintain my innocence in respect of these charges which date back 20 years.
“Naturally I am very disappointed at the verdict of the court and have instructed my legal team to pursue an appeal immediately.”
The Troubles were good to Thomas Murphy, Gerry Adams's 'decent friend' and 'good republican'.
18 Dec 2015Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy was a senior organising figure in the ‘South Armagh Brigade’ of the Provisional IRA'Slab' has never served time in jail but has become an enormously wealthy landowner and cattle dealer, and de facto owner of a network of fuel operations and property across Ireland and Britain.
During the 1970s, Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was a senior organising figure in the 'South Armagh Brigade' of the Provisional IRA, following in the footsteps of his father, Paddy, who was a member of the IRA in the War of Independence. Thomas was not known to take part in any attacks on soldiers or police, but was known for the continuance of his smuggling business.
The South Armagh brigade was one of the most active elements of the Northern IRA. It was responsible for the biggest single loss of life for the British Army since World War II when 18 members of the Parachute Regiment were killed in a double-bomb attack near Warrenpoint in August 1979. An innocent English tourist was also shot dead as the remaining soldiers overreacted to their losses.
The attack was the culmination of years of action by the South Armagh IRA which in the early stages of the Troubles, during the early to mid-1970s, often engaged British forces in prolonged and heavy gun battles.
British officers at the time likened the tight network of lanes and high hedges of south Armagh to the ground they had fought the Nazis in, in Normandy after D-Day.
Slab was a focus of attention for the British authorities not only for his involvement in the 'Movement', but also because of his open and large-scale involvement in smuggling.
The amount of money being raised through fuel-laundering throughout south Armagh and in particular around Slab's home right on the Border at Ballybinaby was so great that the British government passed an emergency piece of legislation, the Newry and Mourne Regulation of Hydrocarbon Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order in August 1990.
The law made it an offence to transport any form of hydrocarbon fuel along Larkins Road, on which Slab still lives in what, from the outside, appears to be an ordinary bungalow.
Larkins Road was the only thoroughfare in the United Kingdom in which it was an offence to drive an oil lorry. The law was never used against Murphy as he never drove any lorries containing fuel or much else.
Repeated raids were carried out on Slab's farm and extensive outbuildings and on diesel plants around south Armagh and north Louth but, with one or two exceptions, no one has served any deterrent prison sentence.
The IRA's fuel business turned south Armagh into a petro-chemical complex with dozens of small farms turned into diesel 'washing' plants, the farm buildings often rented for £1,000 in cash per week.
However, the residue of this trade is a disastrous level of pollution of the countryside. In recent weeks, the heavy rain has been literally washing diesel and other highly dangerous chemicals used in the 'washing' process out of soil and into streams and rivers.
The toxic waste from the diesel plants has for years been seeping into the Fane River and Lough Ross drinking water supplies that feed into the water taps of some 35,000 households in north Louth and south Armagh.
Slab's own home town of Crossmaglen receives its drinking water directly from Lough Ross, the same reservoir that the IRA fuel gangsters have been leeching toxic chemicals into for more than 20 years.
This is a legacy of the IRA in south Armagh that will take generations to clean up.
Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, whose farm straddles border, found guilty of failing to file tax returns in Ireland between 1996-2004
Henry McDonaldThe Guardian
17 Dec 2015**See also: Will The Provos Stand By 'Slab'? - Ed MoloneyThomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, 66, faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in January. (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA) An Irish farmer once named in court as a senior IRA commander has been convicted of tax fraud in the Republic.
Thomas “Slab” Murphy was found guilty at the special criminal court on Thursday of failing to make tax returns to Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners.
The 66-year-old, whom the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, described as a “good republican”, will be sentenced in January.
Murphy from Hackballscross, County Louth, which is close to the border with Northern Ireland, had pleaded not guilty to nine charges of failing to file returns of his income, profits or gains and the actual source of his income to the inspector of taxes between 1996 to 2004.
But the three judges at the non-jury court in Dublin found Murphy guilty beyond all reasonable doubt on all nine offences.
The case came about after an investigation by Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau following a raid on his farm in 2006.
Murphy who was surrounded by a large group of supporters as well as members of his family was remanded on bail. He could face up to five years in jail.
In 1998 Murphy lost a libel appeal in Dublin court after the Sunday Times
alleged he was the director of the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain as well as helping to import tonnes of weapons from Libya into Ireland during the 1980s.
According to a subsequent BBC investigation Murphy was estimated to control a fortune worth £40m, earned through diesel, cigarettes, grains and pigs.
Murphy, whose farm straddles Co Louth and Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, has never denied being a republican and has stressed his support for the peace process. The IRA’s South Armagh Brigade, which numerous books and documentaries have alleged Murphy commanded, has been loyal to the mainstream republican leadership and Sinn Féin.
Jim McDowellIrish Independent
14 Nov 2015Shock revelations about British army collusion with loyalist paramilitary death squads are set to rock the political institutions in Dublin and London.
The fresh information is understood to focus on personal and highly incriminating files compiled by Brian Nelson.Brian Nelson
He was recruited by British Military Intelligence (BMI) to infiltrate the outlawed Ulster Defence Association at its network of headquarters in Belfast.
A major story in the 'Sunday World' will link both the British military and the political establishment in London to UDA death squads headed up by now-deceased loyalist paramilitary godfathers, like 'brigadiers' John McMichael and Tommy 'Tucker' Lyttle, plus a battery of other UDA so-called brigadiers who are still alive.
Nelson, who died from cancer in 2003, kept a concise and meticulous handwritten journal, running to 120 pages, of his role as a British army/UDA double agent during the darkest days of the so-called 'Dirty War' in Northern Ireland.
Those files reveal how he twice set up TD Gerry Adams for murder, as well as the now Stormont deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, among some 50 others.Thatcher
And Nelson writes that one of his BMI-sanctioned undercover operations, a botched UDA plot to smuggle arms and rockets from South Africa, went "right to the top".
Margaret Thatcher, who the Provos tried to murder in their Brighton hotel bombing in 1984, was Britain's prime minister at the time.
Nelson also said that his spymaster British army 'Boss' told him to bomb the Republic.
That was a full 13 years after the other main loyalist terror gang, the UVF, had bombed Dublin and Monaghan, killing 33 innocent people and leaving more than 200 injured.
In 1974, Nelson was jailed for the torture of an innocent Catholic man, Gerald Higgins, who subsequently died.
Released from jail after serving less than half of his seven-year sentence, Nelson tried to start a new life in West Germany.
But he was approached by the BMI and placed back in Belfast as a paid 'supertout' to re-join the UDA.
Using his previous British military background (he had served in the Black Watch regiment), Nelson flew up the ranks of the killer terror gang, which was responsible for over 300 murders during the nadir of the Troubles, many of them solely sectarian attacks on Catholics.
Nelson became the UDA's chief 'IO', or intelligence officer. He received montages and lists of IRA suspects, giving their personal details, from his BMI handlers.
And he personally scouted out targets for assassination - at the same time reporting back to, and colluding with, British intelligence service agents.
Detectives investigating shootings in Derry in 1972 arrest 66-year-old in AntrimThe Guardian
10 Nov 2015The Bloody Sunday memorial in Derry. (Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian) A former British soldier has been arrested by detectives investigating the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry in 1972, sources said.
A 66-year-old man was arrested in County Antrim on Tuesday morning by officers from the force’s legacy investigations branch.
Security sources confirmed the detained pensioner was an ex-soldier.
Thirteen civil rights demonstrators were killed by members of the Parachute Regiment on the streets of Derry in January 1972. Another victim of the shootings died months later.
It is the first arrest made by officers since their murder investigation into the events of Bloody Sunday was launched in 2012.
The probe was initiated after a government-commissioned inquiry undertaken by Lord Saville found that none of victims was posing a threat to soldiers when they were shot.
Following the publication of the Saville report in 2010, David Cameron, the prime minister, apologised for the army’s actions, branding them “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
In September, the PSNI announced their intention to interview seven former soldiers about their involvement on the day.
The suspect detained on Tuesday has been taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning.
The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Harrison, said the arrest marked a “new phase in the overall investigation”.
He said the phase would continue for “some time”.
Patrick MurphyIrish News
07 November 2015 The solution is simple. If there are going to be several competing centenary commemorations of the 1916 Rising next year, we can solve the problem of how to accommodate them all by doing what we now do best in Ireland - re-writing history.
We can create a revised version of the Rising, so that each group can justify its claim to be the true inheritors of the 1916 ideals. Welcome to Ireland, the land of instant history, where facts are flexible and the truth is a far-off planet.
So here is the (not very) authorised history of the 1916 Rising.
It all began when Pearse was walking down O'Connell Street one day, which was very hard to do at that time, because there was no O'Connell Street.
So he texted James Connolly to ask: "Where am I?" ("That's ridiculous", I hear you shout. You have a point, but is it any more ridiculous than claiming that the IRA's thirty-year war was for "equality" and not for a united Ireland? If we are going to re-write history, we may as well do it properly.)
Connolly replied by writing a pamphlet (Marxists love writing pamphlets) saying that he was busy preparing to serve King (meaning England) and Kaiser (Germany).
(We have reversed Connolly's views to accommodate almost every commemoration next year. Nearly everyone in Ireland now accepts the legitimacy of London rule in the north and Berlin rule, through the EU, across the whole island. So with a swift battering of the keyboard, all groups can now celebrate Irish "independence".)
While passing the GPO, Pearse noticed that it would be a wonderful setting for a rising. But while he was marvelling at the decor, he heard that Roger Casement had been arrested in Kerry.
Casement was later marched through the streets of Tralee to the Dublin train and not a single soul tried to rescue him. "Don't worry, Roger," the townsfolk would have shouted had they bothered to come out. "One day there will be a stadium named after you and your name will be on the lips of every planning official and health and safety officer in the north."
(I'm not sure which group we have re-written that bit for, but it might come in useful.)
So Pearse said: "Let us organise a rising, but it shall be a peaceful rising, because violence is wrong." (That covers the contradiction of preaching peace, while celebrating violence.) So they began their peaceful rising by entering into dialogue with a post office clerk and then engaging in bi-lateral talks, followed by a plenary session - just like they do at Stormont.
They later published the GPO House Agreement whereby the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) would join with all rebel groups to form the IRA, which would later revert to the IRB (Irish Republican Butterfly).They agreed that there should be an IRA for everyone in Ireland.
These IRAs would include the Real, the Surreal, the Continuity, the Intermittent, the Very Disruptive but Really Rather Nice and the Low-calorie, Sugar-free IRA. (I made most of those up, but that does not mean they do not exist. So all dissident groups are historically covered for their ceremonies. All we need now is justification for the individual party political commemorations.)
As the rising began Michael Collins said he would die for Fine Gael, so that it could invent austerity. Connolly said his death would be for the Labour Party, which would help to implement that austerity and de Valera said he would die, but not just yet, so that he could found Fianna Fáil to bankrupt the country.
All the other leaders decided to die for Stormont, so that people could become ministers without standing for election.
So there you have it. Our revised history of 1916 will now allow the various commemorative groups to march, make speeches, pontificate and scorn all rival commemorations.
However, the one thing which none of them will do is to solve the unemployment crisis in Ballymena. Commemorating the rising is seen as an acceptable substitute for failing to implement what it was intended to achieve, including for example, the Proclamation's objective of "the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation".
So the real inheritors of 1916 are neither politicians nor paramilitaries. They are those who, by their actions and principles, commemorate the rising in their daily work. These include for example, the community and voluntary sector, charities, credit unions, GAA clubs, Conradh na Gaeilge and the thousands of ordinary people who make Ireland a better place to live in.
Their history does not need re-writing.
The army double agent was known as Stakeknife, responsible for finding and killing those it believed passed information to the British security services during the Troubles
By AgencyThe Telegraph
22 Oct 2015Fred Scappaticci pictured in west Belfast in 2003 (Photo: PACEMAKER BELFAST)The IRA's most senior security force informer is to be investigated over at least 24 murders.
The army double agent was known as Stakeknife, a shadowy figure himself responsible for finding and killing those it believed passed information to the British security services during the Troubles.
At the heart of victims' concerns is whether those deaths could have been prevented and whether collusion in murder penetrated to the top of the British Government.
Freddie Scappaticci has strongly denied being the man behind the codename.
A police watchdog has passed information to prosecutors after examining the circumstances of murders attributed to Stakeknife's IRA "internal security team".
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory QC, asked police to investigate potential offences committed by Stakeknife.
He said: "I have outlined today extremely serious matters, perhaps the most significant in my time as DPP.
"I have not taken the steps to commence investigations lightly but, rather, consider they must be taken to ensure that public confidence can be maintained in the office of the DPP and in the wider criminal justice system."
He added a common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of Stakeknife.
"I confirm today that I have requested that the chief constable investigate a range of potential offences which relate to the alleged activities of an agent commonly known as Stakeknife."
Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman is investigating the murders of alleged informers by the IRA and the potential role of Stakeknife. It passed information to the DPP, which resulted in today's announcement.
Former Met Police commissioner Lord Stevens led three government investigations into security force collusion.
Relatives of the victims have pressed for a fourth more comprehensive and independent probe or public inquiry.
Frank Mulhern, whose IRA member son Joe was discovered in 1993 in a ditch near the Irish border in Co Tyrone with his body riddled by bullets, said there needed to be an independent investigation by an international police force.
He added: "It will continue to be covered up until we expose it and put a stop to it."
He said he had been pursuing the matter for many years and still hoped to receive justice.
"If he (the killer) was not being protected he would be in jail now. Of course he is being protected, even a blind man can see that."
Mr McGrory requested two separate investigations.
"The first will be an investigation of broad scope. This will seek to examine the full range of potential offences that may have been committed by Stakeknife.
"It will also include an investigation into any potential criminal activity that may have been carried out by security service agents."
• I'm no spy, says the man named as Stakeknife
PSNI ACC Will Kerr said police had received a referral from the Director of Public Prosecutions which the service was addressing.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further," he added.
Mr McGrory said Northern Ireland's attorney general John Larkin QC had recently been in contact with his office asking what action prosecutors may take about a particular murder implicating Stakeknife.
• What is the truth behind the story of Stakeknife?
"I have identified one case where I consider that there is now sufficient information available at this point to review a prosecutorial decision. This relates to a case involving an allegation of perjury in 2003.
"I have serious concerns in relation to this decision. Having reviewed all the available evidence I consider that the original decision did not take into account relevant considerations and also took into account irrelevant factors.
"I have concluded that the original decision was not within the range of decisions that could reasonably be taken in the circumstances."
The decision has been set aside and the DPP asked the chief constable to provide further material.
Prosecutor tells police to open inquiry into crimes including murder allegedly linked to British state’s agent inside IRA, named as Freddie Scappaticci
Henry McDonaldThe Guardian
21 Oct 2015Freddie Scappaticci in 1987. (Photograph: Pacemaker) One of the British state’s most important spies inside the Provisional IRA codenamed “Stakeknife” is to be investigated by police over a range of serious offences, including murder, while operating as an agent.
Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory, announced on Wednesday that he had instructed the region’s chief constable to open an inquiry into crimes allegedly linked to the spy named as Freddie Scappaticci.
It is understood the DPP has informed the chief constable that the police investigation should include a fresh look at up to 20 killings by the IRA in connection with the Stakeknife controversy.
McGrory’s decision has opened up the possibility that the Belfast republican accused of being a key informer for Britain while running the IRA’s “spy-catching” unit could be questioned about his secret career in open court.
McGrory said he had taken the decision after receiving information from the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, whose office investigated complaints about the police handling of murders and violent interrogations which families alleged were linked to the state agent.
McGrory said: “The ombudsman has carried out a comprehensive analysis of material emanating from the three investigations carried out by Lord Stevens into allegations of collusion. A common link across a significant number of potential crimes, including murder, was the alleged involvement of an agent of military intelligence codenamed ‘Stakeknife’.
“In addition, the attorney general of Northern Ireland, John Larkin QC, has recently contacted me about a murder case to inquire about any action the Public Prosecution Service may be considering. This is a case in which the same agent is potentially implicated.
“In the light of all of this information, I concluded that I must exercise my power to request that the chief constable investigates matters which may involve offences committed against the law of Northern Ireland and did so on August 11, 2015.”
The DPP confirmed he was also instructing the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, George Hamilton, to hold a separate investigation into allegations of perjury relating to a case connected to the “Stakeknife” scandal back in 2003.
Stakeknife was allegedly in charge of the so-called “head hunters”, the IRA unit that searched for, tracked down, brutally interrogated and then killed suspected informers.
Stakeknife was said to command a tightly knit group of men who were responsible for the deaths of many IRA members, some informers, others who it turned out were “set up” by the agent, who were murdered, their bodies normally dumped on side roads along the south Armagh border after hours and days of torture.
A number of families of IRA members shot dead as informers after interrogation by the “head hunters” have made complaints to the police ombudsman claiming that Stakeknife’s handlers in the security forces failed to use their agent inside the Provisionals to prevent their murders. Many of these families have alleged that their loved ones were “sacrificed” by the security forces to keep Stakeknife at the head of the IRA’s counter-intelligence unit where he could provide the state with invaluable insider information.
Meanwhile the DPP and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland said they had agreed that each of the two investigations be referred back to the police ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, so he can consider if any further inquiry should be made into the actions of the police in this controversy.
McGrory concluded: “Before making this announcement, I have had a number of meetings with the chief constable, the police ombudsman and the attorney general and we are agreed in our commitment to ensure that the public should be able to have full confidence in the criminal justice system. We will each play our role independently, openly and with integrity.”
After being named as one of Britain’s key spies inside the Provisional IRA in 2003, Scappaticci left Northern Ireland. He publicly denied he was an agent. Since then he has gone to court to prevent the media from identifying where he now lives and barring journalists from approaching him for interviews.
Scappaticci, the grandson of Italian immigrants now in his 70s, was said to be a “walk-in” agent who volunteered to work for the army’s military intelligence branch the Force Research Unit in the 1980s after a major falling out with IRA leaders in Belfast.
An audio tape posted on the internet, allegedly from General Sir John Wilsey, who was commanding officer of the British army in Northern Ireland between 1990 and 1993, recorded that the military regarded Scappaticci as “our most important secret”.
Wilsey is reported to have said on the tape: “He was a golden egg, something that was very important to the army. We were terribly cagey about Fred.”
Wife of executed Easter Rising leader reveals disdain for Casement on secret tape
Ronan McGreevyIrish Times
21 Oct 2015Sir Roger Casement, the British aristocrat, “made a fool of himself” in his dealings with the Germans, according to the wife of executed Easter Rising leader Tom Clarke.
Kathleen Clarke described Casement as someone who really knew nothing about Ireland and who considered himself a leader of the Irish Volunteers despite being nothing of the kind.
The interview with Ms Clarke was recorded in 1968 by Fr Louis O’Kane and has been stored in the Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive in Armagh until now.
A full transcript of its contents has never been released previously.
The Fr Louis O’Kane collection includes some 120 interviews with about 70 veterans or witnesses of the War of Independence, nearly all from the North.Kathleen Clarke
In late 1914 and early 1915 Mr Casement went to Limburg prisoner-of-war camp in Germany in an attempt to raise a brigade among Irishmen who had been captured early in the first World War.
He hoped it would be the vanguard of a German invasion force which would liberate Ireland from the British, but only 56 out of some 2,000 prisoners joined.
Mrs Clarke told Fr O’Kane that Casement had no mandate to do such a thing. “He went off to Germany and started things that the revolutionary group here didn’t want,” she said.‘Aristocratic kind’
“They didn’t ask Germany for men. All they asked them for was arms. And he was trying to get men.” She described Casement as the “aristocratic kind and he assumed that when he went into any movement, ipso facto, he was one of our leaders, if not the leader . . . and what could he know of Ireland, when he was all the time out of it.”
However, Casement was successful in securing arms for the rebellion although the Aud Norge, the ship which carried the arms, was intercepted by the Royal Navy on Good Friday 1916 and scuttled.Roger Casement
Mrs Clarke said her husband had said, while awaiting execution in Kilmainham Gaol, that the Germans “to the last letter of the law” had sent the arms they promised and deserved credit. Mrs Clarke told Fr O’Kane her husband had made up his mind years before the first World War to start a rebellion if war broke out between Britain and Germany.
She and her husband only disagreed on one thing – they were living in New York in 1907 and he wanted to come back to Ireland but she initially refused.
“I said, ‘You’ve done enough for your country, as much as any man could be expected’ and he said, ‘You can never do enough for your country’,” she said.
Mrs Clarke said to her husband: “I don’t want to go. If you’re taking me home to a nice quiet life, I’ll be satisfied to go. I’d love to go, but if you’re going home for a revolution, I’m likely to lose you and I don’t want to lose you.”
She went back understanding the consequences. “Once I surrendered then I went into it wholeheartedly, even thoughI realised I couldn’t see, [how we would win] . . . with the small might that we could throw up against the immense might of the Empire.”Thomas Clarke
Mrs Clarke became a formidable republican in her own right after her husband was executed in 1916.
She was a founder member of Fianna Fáil in 1926, the first woman mayor of Dublin, a TD and senator. She lived until 1972.
She was anti-Treaty and was interned by the government during the Civil War, but claims in the interview that she tried to persuade the men who were occupying the Four Courts in 1922 to lay down their arms.
She told Michael Collins she would support the Treaty on the basis that it gave Ireland the “machinery to work out to full freedom”.
In June 1922 she went to the Four Courts to remonstrate with the anti-Treaty forces who were occupying it. The occupation led to the Civil War.Conference
“It’s a challenge to Mick Collins and I know Mick well enough that he’ll only accept that challenge until such time as he can get an army together and kick you out of here. Are you going to wait for that?” she told them.
Liam Mellows, who was occupying the Four Courts at the time and was later executed by the Free State government, responded: “You’re only a woman, what would you know about it?”
The recording is available to visitors of the Cardinal Ó Fiaich library on Moy Road, Armagh, (the project is supported by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund).
Helen Litton, a grandniece of Kathleen Clarke, will give a talk about the relationship between Tom and Kathleen at a conference in the library on November 14th.
Appeal over verdict that UK justified in reneging on commitment to set up tribunal
Alan ErwinIrish Times
14 Oct 2015 Murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane’s widow is to seeking to overturn a ruling that British prime minister David Cameron acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry into the killing.
Geraldine Finucane has lodged an appeal against the Belfast High Court verdict that the British government was justified in reneging on a commitment to set up such a tribunal.
Her lawyer, Peter Madden, claimed internal communications shows former Secretary of State Owen Paterson had “closed his mind” to the type of inquiry previously promised.Geraldine Finucane, the widow of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, who is seeking to overturn a ruling on a refusal to hold a public inquiry into the killing. (Photograph: PA)
Mr Madden said: “He had engaged in a sham exercise, inviting representations from the family as to the model of inquiry which would be acceptable to them in circumstances where he had absolutely no intention of establishing such an inquiry.”
Mr Finucane was gunned down by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife and their three children at their north Belfast home in February 1989. His family have campaigned for a full examination of alleged security force collusion with the killers.
Mrs Finucane took the prime minister to court after he ruled out a public inquiry in 2011. Instead, Mr Cameron commissioned QC Sir Desmond de Silva to review all documents relating to the case and produce a narrative of what happened.
Sir Desmond’s report confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and that it should have been prevented.
However, it concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy. The Finucane family rejected the findings as a whitewash and accused the government of unlawfully reneging on previous commitments.
Pledges to set up such a tribunal, based on the recommendation of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, were made by a former Labour government in 2004 and reaffirmed in the following years, it was contended.
Earlier this year Mr Justice Stephens ruled Mr Cameron had acted lawfully in refusing to hold a public inquiry. He found Mrs Finucane had received a clear and unambiguous promise that an inquiry would take place.
But he backed the government’s case that other public interest issues, including political developments in Northern Ireland and the potential financial pressures of a costly inquiry, were enough to frustrate her expectation.
Despite throwing out Mrs Finucane’s legal bid to force the authorities to publicly examine her husband’s killing, the judge also said the state had not fully met its human rights obligation to investigate.
Now the case is to go before the Court of Appeal for a further hearing. Confirming on Wednesday that papers have been lodged, Mr Madden insisted: “A full independent and international tribunal of inquiry, where documents will examined in public and witnesses shall be compelled to attend and be cross examined by Geraldine’s lawyers, remains the only model capable of achieving the truth of Pat’s murder.”
By Vincent KearneyBBC News
2 October 2015Margaret Keeley claims Freddie Scappaticci interrogated and falsely imprisoned her in Belfast in 1994 An attempt to have part of a legal action held in secret against a man alleged to have been the most high ranking agent within the Provisional IRA will be heard early next year.
A woman claims she was interrogated and falsely imprisoned by Freddie Scappaticci.
He is alleged to have been an army agent codenamed Stakeknife.
Margaret Keeley is suing him, the Northern Ireland's police force and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for damages.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the MoD want some of the court hearings to be held behind closed doors for "national security" reasons.
Margaret Keeley claims the police and MoD both knowingly allowed her to be interrogated and threatened by a man working as an agent for the state over a two-day period in the New Lodge in Belfast in 1994.
She is claiming damages for personal injuries, false imprisonment, assault, battery, trespass to the person and misfeasance in public office.
The PSNI and the MoD are seeking to use what are called "closed material procedures" for the first time a civil case in Northern Ireland.
This would allow their lawyers to introduce sensitive information that could only be seen by the judge and a security-vetted "special advocate" who would be appointed to represent Margaret Keeley.
The advocate would not be allowed to give her or her legal team precise details about the sensitive material introduced during the secret section of the trial.
The police and the MoD argue that closed hearings are essential because some of the material is so sensitive it could potentially damage national security.
At the High Court in Belfast on Friday, Mr Justice Stephens said the application will be heard in February.
Freddie Scappaticci, the grandson of an Italian immigrant who came to Northern Ireland in search of work, denies he was an army agent.
An initial request to include him in the legal action was refused, but that decision was later overturned on appeal.
In his judgement overturning the initial decision, Mr Justice McCloskey said the allegations being made gave rise to "acute public concern and interest... and raise the spectre of a grave and profound assault on the rule of law and an affront to public conscience".
3 October 2015Forty years ago, on October 3, 1975, Dutch industrialist Dr Tiede Herrema was flagged down at a garda checkpoint as he drove to an early morning meeting at the Ferenka steel plant at Annacotty, Co Limerick.
When the chief executive of the factory complex confirmed his name, the 'guard' whipped out a revolver and bundled the 54-year-old into a getaway car. A phone call to the Dutch embassy demanded the release of three republican prisoners from prison. Failing the release of the trio, the industrialist would be "executed" in 48 hours.
It quickly became apparent to the authorities that the daring crime had been committed for largely personal motives. The bogus garda was rogue republican bomber Eddie Gallagher, on the run from the law north and south, and from ex-IRA pals now gunning for him.Abduction victim Dr Tiede Herrema
One of the three Gallagher wanted set free was his partner in crime, Rose Dugdale, who'd given birth to their son in Limerick Prison 10 months earlier. Gallagher's young accomplice, Marian Coyle, sought the release of boyfriend Kevin Mallon, who was serving time for IRA crimes.
The immediate response of Liam Cosgrave's FG/Labour government was that there would be no deals with terrorists, although they left open the suggestion that they wouldn't stand in the way of anyone - meaning Ferenka - that wanted to try paying a cash ransom.
The economy was on its knees after six years of Troubles and the ongoing slump from the 1973 oil crisis. Quite apart from the human tragedy, the kidnap and threatened murder of the boss of one of Ireland's biggest employers would surely send foreign firms packing and lower the boom on any future inward investment. The fate of the nation hung in the balance.
Industrial strife was the scourge of the time and the fitters at Ferenka abandoned their current unofficial strike to join a mass march through the streets of Limerick to demand Herrema's safe release. The city's Lord Mayor pleaded with the republican movement - who'd denied any involvement - to make a truce with the State and use their resources "to find this man and bring him back, otherwise 1,200 people will be out of work".
The 48-hour deadline passed and in the eternity that followed everyone feared the worst. Then, as hope was fading, fresh demands came through, including the shut-down of the strikebound Ferenka factory. The kidnappers hoped that the factory's giant parent company would lean on the Irish government to grant their demands, secure Herrema's release and get production rolling again. That hope was wildly misplaced.
The plant was shut down and the Army and Gardaí focused on the greatest manhunt in the history of the State, with troops posted at every port, airport and border back road, but all to no avail. In the absence of any hard leads, wild rumours filled the vacuum, including groundless whispers that the kidnappers were threatening to cut off one of their victim's feet.
Finally, after two weeks gone to ground, the kidnappers released a tape of Herrema's voice. He confirmed he was in good health. It was accompanied by new demands for a £2m ransom and a flight to the Middle East.
After two weeks in the dark, the nation awoke on a Sunday morning to radio bulletins of a dawn raid by Special Branch backed by snipers on a terraced house in the Kildare town of Monasterevin. As the guards smashed down the front door, Gallagher and Coyle retreated, shooting wildly, to an upstairs bedroom with their hostage. By early afternoon the sleepy estate in Monasterevin was swamped with security forces and media. One paper wrote: "The Hazel Hotel nearly ran out of food and by 2pm the only fare on the menu was haddock." That flippancy quickly flagged after a haggard Tiede Herrema came to a window and told the police to stay away. Everyone settled in for what would be a long siege.
After several days the kidnappers began accepting food placed in a shopping basket hoisted on a lowered rope. Days crawled by into weeks. When a demand came for fresh clothes, including three pairs of underpants and a petticoat, speculation mounted that they were sprucing themselves up for surrender. It turned out they just wanted clean undies. A failed attempt at another dawn raid through a back window left one detective wounded in the hand.
Then, on Day 17, the kidnappers asked for headache tablets. Hours later they threw their guns out the window and came out. Gallagher thought he had meningitis and asked for medical help. Herrema seemed in fine fettle. He flew home to the Netherlands, where he forgave his captors, saying: "They could have been my own children. They must have been through desperate times to come to this."
Now aged 94, Herrema has maintained close ties to Ireland, having been made an honorary Irish citizen shortly after his ordeal.
The kidnappers and their accomplices received a total of 71 years behind bars. Gallagher was reunited with his lover Rose Dugdale in Limerick Jail, where in 1978 they became the first convicted prisoners in the history of the State to wed behind bars. Dugdale was released in 1980, 10 years ahead of her husband.
In 2005, Gallagher recalled those turbulent times as "a bit like taking a stroll through a reptile pit".
**Idiocy and doublespeak in the North, as usual.
Eamon SweeneyDerry Journal
24 Sept 2015
**Photos and video on-siteA Freedom of Information request to view draft proposals on how deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict has been refused, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.
The news comes as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers yesterday confirmed that, as had been previously been suspected victims’ relatives, that those guilty of Troubles-related murders will be able to confess and then walk free. Victims’ relatives will also not be notified that any such disclosures will have been made.
The Secretary of State said that in order to encourage perpetrators to come forward structures agreed during the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) last year will mean confessions will not be made known to victims’ and that any information given over will not be admissable in legal proceedings.
However, Theresa Villiers said that confessors could still face prosecution if evidence comes to light from other avenues.
It has also been confirmed that the five political parties in the Stormont Executive-DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance, as well as the British and Irish Governments all agreed to these proposals last December as part of the SHA negotiations.
Yet, according to the Secretary of State the proposals do not amount to a general amnesty for those on all sides who carried out murders during the Troubles.
“There is no amnesty in this paper. There won’t be an amnesty in the bill, an amnesty was rejected by the Northern Ireland parties during the Stormont House talks-that is not the right way forward,” she said.
Legislation setting the way forward in respect of dealing with the past is expected to come before Parliament this autumn.
However, a Freedom of Information request seeking to view the nature of the proposals has been refused by Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice.
The request to Department of Justice asked for a copy of the draft proposals regarding dealing with the past within the SHA.
In response, the Department of Justice gave reasons for and against the disclosure of the proposals.
In the end, and despite obvious public interest on the issue, the request was however refused even though the refusal notes that the upcoming proposals could have a significant effect on the general public.
The Department of Justice said: “Private space is required to enable the Stormont House Implementation group to debate and explore the full range of policies and options arising in the Stormont House Agreement.
“Releasing information about policies is likely to prejudice such development and subsequent implementation and could allowed targeted lobbying by certain groups that could inhibit objective decisions being made.
“Disclosure could compromise future consultation and thwart the exchange of ideas.
“Although the proposed policies will involve changes which could have a significant effect on the general public, the disclosure of the information may have an adverse effect on the policy makers in that they would be less likely to provide full and frank advice or opinions on policy proposals.”
The response to the Freedom of Information request also noted that “invitations have been extended to relevant parties to participate in bilateral meetings regarding the establishment of the Historical Inquiries Unit and changes to legacy inquests.”
The response concludes: “It is our view that public interest in protecting the policy making activities outweighs the public interest in releasing the information.”
Relatives of Derry victim’s of the Troubles have long noted their suspicions that a final deal in dealing with the past will however amount to an amnesty for killers.
Kate Nash, whose brother William was shot dead by members of the British Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday and who father Alex was severely wounded coming to his son’s aid recently told the ‘Journal’: “We are just collateral damage to them. We cannot let them dismiss the pain our father suffered after the murder of our brother William.
“Every single party has betrayed us. It is being denied that this is an amnesty, but that is what it is.”
The Northern Ireland Office had recently dismissed what has now been confirmed as accurate by the Secretary of State as “grossly misleading and highly irresponsible reporting”.
Theresa Villiers has however said that plans on how to deal with the past will not be activated until political resolution is found at Stormont, in particular on welfare reform. The policy paper outlined by Ms Villiers also contains proposed legislation required for an oral archive to document the history of the conflict.
22 Sept 2015New freephone number for suicide prevention charity People struggling to cope with the pressures of life have a new free helpline number for calling the Samaritans.
Last year the UK suicide prevention charity’s volunteers responded to more than five million calls for help by phone, email and through face-to-face contact in its 201 branch offices.
However, there has been concern that call charges are a barrier preventing people from accessing the service when they need it the most.
The change has been supported by the Big Lottery Fund and Vodafone, and the cooperation of the major telecommunications companies.The new number is 116 123 and calls to this helpline do not appear on phone bills.
By Sean O'RiordanIrish Examiner
21 Sept 2015A series of improvements are being planned for the ambush site in mid-Cork where Michael Collins was shot dead by Anti-Treaty Forces on August 22, 1922.
Cork County Council’s architects department is planning to upgrade the Béal na Bláth site next year as part of the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising.
Conor Nelligan, the council’s heritage officer, said the extent of the upgrade would depend on funding, but at this stage it looks as though the council will carry out road improvement works; landscaping; put up interpretive boards; and generally freshen up the area. The road will be realigned, providing extra safety and additional parking opportunities.
Mr Neligan said there were no plans at this stage to build an interpretive centre on the site, especially as the council is preparing to open a museum in Clonakilty to commemorate the War of Independence hero.
It had been expected that museum — which is in a three-story house in Emmet Square, close to where Collins once lived — would open late this year. But Mr Neligan said it now seemed likely it would be next year.
The centre will display a large amount of Collins memorabilia and visitors to the centre will be able to view footage on screens, bringing his contribution to local and national history to life. It is expected to be a big draw for tourists.
As part of the council- organised 1916 centenary commemorations, a new play Michael Collins, with the working title The Big Fella
, is expected to be launched by GDI Productions.
Meanwhile, in Kilmurry — which is just two miles from Béal na Bláth — the locals are preparing a number of events for next year, which will include officially opening a museum on Easter Sunday.
It will have a strong focus on the War of Independence including artifacts connected to Béal na Bláth and the Kilmichael ambush.
The latter took place in November 1920 when 17 RIC/Auxiliaries were killed in a controversial attack led by IRA Cork No 3 Brigade, commanded by Tom Barry.
The Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association is also planning to provide tours of the area’s War of Independence and Civil War sites and, in association with Ballinhassig Historical Society, carry out a re-enactment of a Volunteer march through the village. Both these events are pencilled in for March 27.
Meanwhile, Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage is organising an open meeting at 8.30pm on Wednesday to examine how Clonakilty can commemorate the Easter Rising.
The meeting will be held at the former Boys’ National School in the town, (now the Parish Centre), where three past pupils who participated in the Rising itself in Dublin were taught.
Michael Collins, Con O’Donovan, and Seán Hurley, (the only Corkman killed during Easter Week in the fighting in Dublin), were all pupils at the school before they left as young teenagers.
All local organisations, schools and groups, as well as interested individuals, are encouraged to attend the open meeting.