By Conor Humphries | BELFASTReuters
21 March 2017Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who laid down his arms and turned peacemaker to help end Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict, died on Tuesday after a decade as deputy first minister of the British province.
As a young street fighter in Derry and later as a politician and statesman, McGuinness saw his mission as defending the rights of the Catholic minority against the pro-British Protestants who for decades dominated Northern Ireland.
But for his critics, that cause was never enough to justify the IRA's campaign of bombings and shootings that killed hundreds of British soldiers and civilians.
In his later years McGuinness was hailed as a peacemaker for negotiating the 1998 peace deal, sharing power with his bitterest enemy and shaking hands with the Queen, though the gestures were condemned by some former comrades as treachery.
He was forced to step down in January, a number of months before a planned retirement, because of an undisclosed illness.
At the time a frail and emotional McGuinness told a large group of supporters gathered outside his home in the Bogside area of Northern Ireland's second city that it broke his heart that he had to bow out of politics.
"I don't really care how history assesses me, but I'm very proud of where I've come from," McGuinness told Irish national broadcaster RTE.
He is survived by his wife, Bernadette, and four children.IRA COMMANDER
Born on May 23, 1950 in Derry, McGuinness in childhood experienced the contempt which many of the pro-British Protestant government had for the Catholic Irish minority who dreamt of joining with the Irish Republic to the south.
A trainee butcher, McGuinness abandoned his apprenticeship in 1970 to join the IRA as the guerrilla group began its 30-year campaign against British rule that Catholics found increasingly intolerable. He swiftly rose to become a senior commander.
McGuinness later admitted he was second-in-command of the IRA in Derry on "Bloody Sunday" - the day in 1972 when British troops in the city killed 14 unarmed marchers, ushering in the most intense phase of the Troubles.
A British government inquiry found McGuinness was probably armed with a sub-machine gun that day, but that he did nothing to justify the troops' decision to open fire on the marchers.
In 1973 he was convicted by the Irish Republic's courts of being an IRA member after being stopped in a car packed with explosives and bullets and was briefly jailed.
Fellow nationalist inmates recall him as a fierce football player in the exercise yard.
He spent years on the run and was banned from entering Britain in 1982, during the IRA's bombing campaign there, under the prevention of terrorism act.POLITICS AND PEACE
During the 1980s McGuinness emerged alongside Gerry Adams as a key architect in the electoral rise of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, advocating a strategy of combining the use of the ballot box with that of the Armalite rifle.
First elected as a member of the Northern Ireland assembly in 1982, McGuinness played a crucial role in keeping the more militant wing of the IRA on board as elements of the leadership secretly probed the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
Following the IRA's second ceasefire in 1997, McGuinness became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in peace talks that led to the landmark 1998 Good Friday peace accord.
Nine years later, the rise of Sinn Fein to become Northern Ireland's largest Irish nationalist party allowed McGuinness to become Deputy First Minister in the power-sharing government with bitter enemy Ian Paisley, the firebrand preacher many Catholics see as a key player in the genesis of the conflict.
McGuinness surprised many by forming a close working relationship with Paisley, the media dubbing the pair "the Chuckle Brothers". In 2012 he shook hands with Queen Elizabeth at a charity event in Belfast.
Such gestures alienated many former comrades who call him a traitor for helping to run the province while the Union Jack was still flying over it. McGuinness countered it was a stepping stone to their goal of a united Ireland.
Over the past decade, Sinn Fein has focused much of its resources on the Republic of Ireland, where it has grown from five to 23 seats of the 166-seat parliament in a decade.
A non-smoker, virtual teetotal and keen fisherman, McGuinness briefly moved south in 2011 for a failed run at Ireland's largely ceremonial presidency, wining just under 15 percent of the vote.
McGuinness leaves Northern Ireland at peace and hands over to a new generation with Sinn Fein a major political force across the island, and his dream of a united Ireland inching closer after the party recorded its best ever result in an election three weeks before his death.(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Clarence Fernandez)
Mrs Thatcher offered concessions to the inmates, but proposal was rebuffed, writes Alban Maginness
Alban MaginnisBelfast Telegraph
7 Sept 2016Every year, the British Government releases secret papers relating to Northern Ireland under the 30-years rule, and as time goes by we get to know a little bit more about the truth behind the Troubles. It can be a fascinating insight into the workings of the direct rule administration.
Recently, the Government released a memo from a British civil servant, Stephen Leach, to a more senior civil servant, John Blelloch, who served as a deputy permanent secretary during the hunger strikes in 1981. He had a crucial involvement at that critical time with Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister. The memo confirms that a "good offer" was made that could have ended the hunger strike and saved four or maybe six of the republican prisoners.
The official Sinn Fein narrative of the hunger strikes is that Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, inflexible and immovable throughout, who was by her very inflexibility directly and solely responsible for the deaths of the 10 republican prisoners who were on hunger strike in Long Kesh.
Richard O'Rawe, who was PRO of the republican prisoners in Long Kesh during the hunger strikes, has courageously put forward in his books Blanketmen and Afterlives an alternative narrative which disputes that and which is much more credible.Bobby Sands
O'Rawe makes it abundantly clear that Danny Morrison of Sinn Fein told Bik McFarlane, the IRA leader in the prison, the terms of a British offer to end the hunger strike and that McFarlane then told O'Rawe and that both of them agreed that the offer was good. However, he points out that the hunger strikers themselves were never consulted on the terms of this "good offer". He argues strongly that Adams and a committee of leading republicans, for self-interested political reasons, refused this "good offer" from the British Government in early July 1981 and when it was repeated again on July 21, 1981.
The main reason for this, he suspects, was to ensure the safe election of Owen Carron in the by-election to fill the seat left vacant by the late Bobby Sands MP. If the hunger strike continued, electoral victory was assured.
If there was no continuing hunger strike, then the seat could have been lost to another nationalist candidate, or on a divided nationalist vote to a unionist, thereby depriving Owen Carron of victory. This would have prevented the emergence of Adams' political strategy for the republican movement. If that was the IRA strategy at the time, then it was both cunning and ruthless, involving the additional and unnecessary deaths of the six remaining hunger strikers.
This "good offer" was confirmed to intermediaries the Irish Commission for Justice and Peace (ICJP) by Adams at a meeting in a house in Andersonstown in early July 1981. This is also referred to in Leach's Government memo.
The commission confirmed that Adams admitted to them in July 1981 that a "good offer" had been made by the British Government through a back channel whose code name was Mountain Climber. Adams also warned the ICJP to stay out of the process.
Richard O'Rawe has kept track of previously released Government papers and says that they substantially support his narrative. The recent Leach memo reinforces his argument.
He believes that Adams should apologise to the hunger strikers' families and the wider community.
He is adamantly of the view that, "the British were broke, the hunger strike broke the British".
As O'Rawe succinctly puts it: "The hunger strikers broke Thatcher's resolve."
In essence, that's why the British made a good offer, which met almost in full four out of the five demands of the prisoners. The most important concession made was the right to wear their own clothes and not be forced to wear the prison uniform, the very symbol of criminalisation. Criminalisation of the IRA prisoners was at the centre of the hunger strikes.
For years now, the republican leadership has rejected O'Rawe's account and has systematically tried to discredit both him and his version of events.
Fearlessly, he has countered their arguments and refuses to be bullied by them. He and his family have had to endure persistent vilification and criticism.
He has continued to examine the evidence that has come out through Government papers to strengthen his arguments. He has challenged senior republicans to debate with him publicly, but they have refused.
He has supported the idea of an independent inquiry into the hunger strikes and would be willing to give evidence to it. Sinn Fein has refused to participate in such an independent enquiry. The party has even refused to go on TV with him to debate the issues arising from the hunger strikes.
Now he says that they should have, "A bit of humility after 35 years - it's the decent thing to do".
The problem is, neither Adams, nor Sinn Fein understand either humility, or the truth.
28 July 2016A 74-year-old man has appeared before the Special Criminal Court charged in connection with the murder of Denis Donaldson ten years ago.
Patrick Gillespie, with an address at Craigvar Street, Glasgow, Scotland was charged with withholding information regarding the involvement of another person in the killing of Denis Donaldson.
Mr Donaldson, 55, a senior Sinn Féin official was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in Co Donegal in April 2006.
He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.
The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder in 2008 but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson's outing as a British agent and subsequent murder have long been shrouded in mystery.
A long-delayed inquest into the shooting has been adjourned almost 20 times.
Gardaí have repeatedly urged the coroner to postpone the inquiry, citing concerns it might compromise their criminal investigation.
The delays have been a source of anger for Mr Donaldson's relatives. They have launched a legal action against the Irish State as a consequence.
In 2014, gardaí made a mutual assistance request to a police force outside the Republic in a bid to gain what it described as potentially "significant" evidential material.
That material was secured in March this year.
Two men were arrested in Donegal on Tuesday as part of the investigation into the murder.
The second man, who is in his 40s, has been released without charge.
A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Senior Sinn Féin official was shot dead in Co Donegal in 2006, a year after being exposed as an MI5 agent
Henry McDonaldThe Guardian
26 July 2016One big happy family! Denis Donaldson, centre, with Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams in 2005. (Photograph: Paul Faith/PA)Irish detectives have arrested two men in connection with the murder of one of MI5’s most important spies inside the IRA.
The pair have been detained for questioning about the murder of former leading Sinn Féin member Denis Donaldson in Co Donegal in 2006.
The Garda Síochána said the men, who are in their 40s and 70s, were detained on Tuesday under the Irish Republic’s Offences Against the State Act.
They are being held at Letterkenny garda station in Co Donegal. Donaldson, a former close associate of Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams, was killed by a shotgun blast as he answered the door to his cottage near Glenties in April 2006.
The 55-year-old had been exposed months before his death as an MI5 agent working inside Sinn Féin and the IRA. Dissident republican terror group the Real IRA admitted responsibility for the murder.
Prior to his exposure as a British spy, Donaldson was a prominent figure in the republican movement and eventually became head of Sinn Féin’s administrative team in the Stormont parliament in Belfast.
The inquest into his death has been delayed at least 19 times, with his family taking legal action against the authorities in Ireland over the delays.
There have been allegations that a journal belonging to Donaldson was found in his cottage and, due to its sensitive contents, the Irish police have consistently applied for postponements of the inquest.
**There are many who will find Cusack's story below entertaining. What I find equally amusing is Bobby Storey's urging of citizens to give any information concerning the 'criminal' killers of Davison and McGuigan to the PSNI although he himself intends to sue the PSNI for arresting HIM for questioning. (See this RTÉ story)
13 Sept 2015The Provisional IRA was about to appoint multiple murderer Gerard 'Jock' Davison as its so-called 'chief of staff' before he was shot dead in May, it has emerged.
Davison (48) is believed to have already held a place on the IRA's 'supreme' governing body, the 'Provisional Army Council' (PAC) and was the most senior figure in the Provos ever to have been shot dead.
Sources say he had been proposed as 'chief of staff' by a fellow Belfast member of the PAC and was awaiting elevation to the top spot when he was shot dead on May 5. No other 'Army Council' man had ever been killed before him.
Garda sources confirmed to the Sunday Independent that Jock Davison was 'there or thereabouts' at the top table of the Provisional IRA leadership when he was shot.
Ironically, it is also believed that Davison had been an agent for British security services who may also have been supporting his elevation to the top spot. This may have been part of a long-term plan to ensure that a figure like Davison would ensure the IRA kept to its ceasefire.Gerard 'Jock' Davison
In another twist, the PAC member who was said to have been promoting Davison as 'chief of staff' was also once suspected of being an agent working for British military intelligence. At one stage in the early 1990s, this man was being secretly filmed by an undercover RUC squad when he met his British Army handlers in a south Belfast park. During the meeting, the man was handed a briefcase stuffed with cash. A large IRA arms dump in west Belfast was seized shortly after.
Davison's role as a 'tout' was exposed in the immediate aftermath of the gruesome murder of innocent Belfast man Robert McCartney (33) in a Belfast city centre pub in January 2005. Davison ordered his men to butcher McCartney and his friend Brendan Devine following a drunken row, giving the order by running his forefinger across his throat and motioning towards the pair.
In the stabbing and beating frenzy outside the pub Davison slashed his own arm and went to the A&E at the Ulster Hospital in Dondald in east Belfast. There he was witnessed speaking to two men wearing suits and speaking in English accents.
Davison was never charged over the McCartney murder but continued his rise up the ranks of the Provisional IRA leadership. He was previously implicated in the murders of nine alleged Catholic drug dealers in Belfast but never played any significant role in fighting British forces in Northern Ireland.
Sources in Belfast say one of the reasons Kevin McGuigan decided, after years of simmering hatred, to murder Davison was because he had learned he was about to be elevated to the top job in the IRA. McGuigan had, it is said, referred openly to Davison as a 'tout'.
The Provisional Army Council, which officially doesn't exist any more, largely consists of Northern and specifically Belfast men. All are millionaires from 'dipping' into the organisation's massive criminal machine.
The Army Council members include:
The remaining chief of staff, a west Belfast man in his fifties who still occasionally lives in the back streets where he grew up but has several other houses and whose wife and children live openly ostentatious lifestyles.
An Armagh man once known as a dole cheat who is said to own a house on which up to €3m has been spent, paid for with money from diesel laundering, along with many other properties.
The Belfast man who was proposing Davison as 'chief of staff' and who still lives in a modest family home in west Belfast but is secretly wealthy.
Another Belfast man, a member of an IRA 'aristocracy' family, who once ran a multi-million euro illegal rubbish dumping business.
Two other Belfast men who were released from the Maze jail as part of the prisoner release deal after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
A prominent member of Sinn Fein from the Republic.
Suzanne BreenBelfast Telegraph
3 Sept 2015An American gunrunner is set to be flown to Northern Ireland to give evidence in court against a senior Sinn Fein strategist, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
In what would be one of the most high-profile trials in years, Florida stockbroker turned gunrunner Mike Logan has agreed to testify against Sean "Spike" Murray, once a prominent IRA member, in Belfast Crown Court.
Logan claims he sent Murray hundreds of weapons during his five-year gunrunning career which began after the IRA ceasefire and continued following the Good Friday Agreement.
Murray is one of Sinn Fein's most senior officials in Belfast. Less that a fortnight ago, he was a member of the party delegation which met the Chief Constable at PSNI headquarters to deny IRA involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan and to insist the IRA no longer existed.Mike Logan will give evidence against a one-time prominent IRA member in court
The deadly cache of weapons that Logan sent the Provos included around 200 handguns which were used in several murders including the killing of two police officers in Lurgan in 1997.
Spike Murray has continually denied any involvement in the gun-smuggling plot, describing the allegations as "without foundation".
But Logan (56) claims he worked for the IRA, reporting directly to Murray, who has served seven years in the H-Blocks for explosive offences and is a regular visitor to Sinn Fein offices in Stormont.
The Belfast Telegraph can exclusively reveal that a high-powered PSNI delegation travelled to the US last month to ask Logan to give evidence against Murray. They included Det Chief Supt Tim Hanley, Head of Serious Crime Branch.
The detectives held a three-hour meeting with Logan in a Florida Hotel. His lawyer spoke to them on the phone in advance to ensure he had immunity from prosecution.
Logan initially refused to co-operate with the PSNI. However, they remained in regular contact with him. Logan changed his mind a fortnight ago and told the police he was willing to help the investigation and to give evidence against Murray.
Three detectives and a PSNI camera operator are due to meet Logan in Florida in early October to formally interview him and record his evidence on video.
Sources say that if a prosecution case is successfully constructed, detectives have told Logan he will be flown to Belfast for the trial and housed in secure accommodation. He has been promised "total protection" in court and when travelling to and from court.Sean 'Spike' Murray
When asked about the dramatic new developments in the case, a PSNI spokesman would only say: "Inquiries are continuing. This remains a live investigation and as such we can't comment."
Apart from sending the weapons used to murder Constables John Graham and David Johnston in Lurgan in 1997, another gun Logan sent the IRA was used to kill Real IRA Belfast commander Joe O'Connor three years later.
Logan believes a third was used in the IRA's attempted murder in England of former Special Branch agent Martin McGartland in 1999.
McGartland was shot six times outside his home in Whitley Bay. His life was saved by neighbours using cling film to stop the blood flow from his wound.
Two months later, the Czech-made Luger pistol used in the attack was found in undergrowth along the River Tyne. McGartland claims there has been "a massive cover-up" about the gun's origins as the authorities want to avoid blaming the IRA for the attack.
Logan was first interviewed in April last year in a BBC Spotlight programme which suggested that the British authorities, at the highest level, knew the full details of Spike Murray's involvement in the arms' importation but turned a blind eye in order to protect the peace process.
The day after the programme, the DUP met the PSNI to raise concerns and, hours later, it was announced police were investigating the Florida gunrunning operation.
Until our revelations today, details of that investigation had remained secret.
Logan was given immunity from prosecution by the US authorities in 2002 in return for giving them information about the weapons he had bought for the IRA.
24 March 2015A veteran former IRA man has said it is “shameful” for republicans to still defend the murder of Jean McConville.
Brendan Curran, who was Sinn Fein’s first councillor in Newry in 1985, said that the party needs to “honourably” accept that it “got things wrong”.
Mr Curran quit Sinn Fein a year and a half ago and last week he resigned from the council with a heated speech in which he claimed that there was a “Stakeknife-like” figure within Newry Sinn Fein, a reference to the notorious IRA informer from Belfast.
In his speech, Mr Curran alleged that he had warned the party of a paedophile priest (who is now dead) who was abusing children on a large scale, but he was told to stop talking about the issue.
Yesterday Mr Curran told local radio station Q Radio: “I know things have happened in the past which were bad, and things which maybe we all took part in and that was the way it was. But you know what? Now is not the time to call people like Jean McConville an executed tout. And nobody – particularly republicans – can stand by a remark like that.
“I’m simply highlighting something which is common currency in Patrick Street in Newry. Executed touts? Shameful. What happened to that woman was shameful.
“And I realise that it happened, I realise, in the whole darkness of the war. But you see now that we’re standing back and the smoke has cleared, we should be able to honourably turn round and say ‘You know what? Sometimes we got things wrong’.”
24 March 2015
**Awww...from the QUEEN!A high-profile Sinn Fein politician has revealed he received a Royal pardon from the Queen during the Troubles.
Gerry Kelly, who was handed two life sentences after being convicted for his role in the IRA’s Old Bailey bombing in 1973, said he was given a Royal Prerogative of Mercy in the mid-1980s as part of a legal deal to secure his extradition back to the UK from the Netherlands.
Now Assembly Member for North Belfast, Mr Kelly was arrested in Holland three years after his 1983 escape from the Maze paramilitary prison in Northern Ireland.
He was extradited back to Northern Ireland in 1986 and spent three more years in the Maze before his release in 1989.
The disclosure about the Royal pardon came during a radio exchange with Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister over the contents of a Westminster report on on-the-run Irish republicans.
While the inquiry by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee dealt primarily with those on-the-runs outside the jurisdiction who had not yet been charged with an offence, it also touched on those convicted of offences who were able to return after securing a Royal pardon.
The committee had expressed concern that the names of those who had received such pardons had not been made public.
When Mr Allister challenged Mr Kelly on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback show about whether he had a Royal Prerogative of Mercy, he replied: “Actually, I have.”
Mr Kelly stressed he was not dealt with under the scheme for on-the-runs, that saw around 190 letters of assurance sent to republicans.
“It was after an escape but it wasn’t a letter to do with on-the-runs or to do with this scheme at all,” he said.
“The Dutch said they would not extradite me unless the British quashed the sentences - it was up to the British to quash the sentences whatever way they wanted to quash them.
“If they chose to produce a prerogative then that’s the way it did - I didn’t care what way it was done.
“The point was I came back to Ireland as a remand prisoner as opposed to someone who was doing this length of sentence because the Dutch - their courts - came to the conclusion that it was unjust.”
The Government has previously acknowledged that a number of pardons were issued in terrorism-related cases during and after the Troubles.
Mr Allister said he had written to Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers to demand details about how and why a pardon was issued to Mr Kelly.
“This is the first time that this information has come into the public domain and I have today written to the Secretary of State demanding answers on what exactly Kelly was pardoned for,” he said.
The TUV leader added: “This latest revelation is yet another reminder of the peace process’s “heart of darkness”.
PSNI to probe allegations of fraud at devolved parliament over politicians’ expenses after claims made in BBC documentaries
Henry McDonaldThe Guardian
26 November 2014The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed it is examining politicians’ expenses at the Stormont assembly following allegations of major fraud at the devolved parliament.
A PSNI spokesman said on Wednesday that officers from its serious crime branch were assessing the claims of “potential criminality” at the Northern Ireland assembly.
The PSNI acted after two BBC documentaries in the region that exposed claims of major expenses fraud.
In the second of the programmes aired on Tuesday night the BBC Spotlight investigations team revealed that Sinn Féin assembly members claimed £700,000 in expenses for using Research Services Ireland over the last decade - a company linked to the party. RIS is run by Sinn Féin’s finance managers.
Another ex Sinn Féin assembly member told the programme the party had claimed for his driving expenses even though he cannot drive.
Meanwhile the former speaker of the regional parliament, the Democratic Unionist Willie Hay, said he has suspended his brother-in-law as his office manager after the programme revealed it had claimed thousands of pounds in expenses for home heating oil. Hay refused to comment on the revelation explaining that it was now a police matter.
The former chairman of a Westminster standards watchdog, Sir Alistair Graham, criticised the use of taxpayer’s money channelled to cultural societies that were linked to Sinn Féin. He told the previous Spotlight programme that there was a “real danger that these so-called cultural bodies are rather bogus organisations which is a way of channelling public money to political parties”.
Graham said these allegations of criminality had to be investigated by the PSNI.
Northern Ireland’s justice minister, David Ford, said that the controversy underlined the need for an external, independent public audit of parliamentarians’ expenses at Stormont.
Maíria Cahill says apology is owed over how Sinn Féin and IRA handled abuse allegations
Stephen CollinsIrish Times
16 October 2014Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin joined a victim of sexual abuse today in accusing Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams of “despicable behaviour” in denying her account of how she was treated by the republican movement.
Belfast woman Maíria Cahill met Mr Martin at Leinster House today in the wake of the BBC Spotlight programme which detailed how she was raped in 1997 while a teenager and later and later interrogated by the IRA about her case.Maria Cahill speaking at Leinster House today with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. (Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins)
Both later spoke to the media after Mr Adams had gone on RTE’s “News at One” to deny Ms Cahill’s claim that he forced her to confront her alleged rapist, a senior republican.
In response Ms Cahill said: “I am appalled. Gerry knows the truth. He knows I know the truth. I have been forced into the position where I have had to waive my anonymity because of his previous denials on that issue and I think that is reprehensible.”
She commended the Spotlight programme for making the documentary about her case.
“I also think that Gerry not only owes the victims across the board an apology for how the IRA and Sinn Féin handled this issue. He also owes Micheál Martin a public apology because he called it a ‘new low’ after he raised this issue in 2012.
“And his party colleague Pearse Doherty came out and said those claims were unfounded and untrue. And I think at this point Sinn Féin needs to come out and say that the IRA internally investigated sex abuse cases that Sinn Féin members were involved in some cases in that.”
Ms Cahill said that very prominent senior figures in Sinn Féin including Gerry Adams who was an MP at the time learned of her allegations. “Gerry had a duty to report that to the police and he did not do so.”
She said there were other women and men who had been treated in the same way. “I have met with victims in similar situations and I also have met with former senior Provisional members of the IRA who confirmed that they internally investigated cases of abuse. I think at this point it is completely ludicrous of Sinn Féin to keep denying the issue.”
She also pointed to the fact that Mary Lou McDonald had previously called on anybody within the Catholic Church who had been found to have covered up abuse to be arrested and prosecuted and face the full rigours of the law.Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald (Photo: Independent.ie)
“I am challenging Mary Lou McDonald to come out again and call on those members within Sinn Féin currently, and I don’t think there is any doubt about this, who have been found to have covered up cases of child sexual abuse to be arrested, prosecuted and face the full rigours of the law. Nobody should be above the law on this issue.”
Ms Cahill said it was important that she had live witnesses who can corroborate it. “Gerry has chosen two dead people and I think that is absolutely reprehensible given his close relationship with those two people. That he has told lies about them and he has lied about me and he clearly has trouble with some aspects of his memory and it is not just on this issue but on other issues in the past just like he denies his membership of the IRA which I also know not to be true.
Analysis: BBC programme puts focus on Sinn Féin response to allegations about IRA man
Gerry MoriartyIrish Times
16 October 2014The BBC Spotlight programme about Maíria Cahill cast a double focus – on her as the alleged victim of an IRA rape and “interrogation”; and on the IRA, Sinn Féin and Gerry Adams in how they addressed the issue of alleged sexual abuse by republicans.
As is often the case in these matters, it is down to whom people believe. Again as in such matters there were many claims and counterclaims.Sinn Féin head Gerry Adams, once again embroiled in a sexual abuse cover-up (Photo: Alan Betson)
What cannot be denied is that Ms Cahill made a strong and articulate case. She alleged that, aged 16, she was subjected to rape and sexual abuse by an IRA member that went on for about a year.
When this came to the attention of the IRA, Ms Cahill claimed that in effect she suffered a double form of abuse at the hands of an IRA “kangaroo court”, testing whether she or her alleged assailant was telling the truth. That inquiry could not make up its mind who to believe.
Ms Cahill comes from what was called republican “royalty” because she is a grandniece of Joe Cahill, founder of the Provisional IRA, a friend of Adams and an important figure in bringing the troops from “war” to ceasefire. So, senior republicans were picked to test her allegations.
For years, Ms Cahill carried the weight of that alleged experience, resulting in recourse to alcohol and two failed suicide attempts. She said it was only in 2009, when she saw the UTV programme on the proven sexual abuse by Liam Adams of his daughter Áine, that she decided to take the case to the police.Acquitted
Her alleged abuser was charged, as were those allegedly involved in the IRA inquiry into her claims. Ms Cahill said that, in the end, she was not capable of giving evidence in court, with the result that all those implicated were acquitted. The counterclaim by the defendants was that her evidence would not stand up in court.
Ms Cahill said she was unhappy it took so long – four years – for the Police Service of Northern Ireland and prosecution to bring the case to trial. The police ombudsman is investigating how police handled the case.
Legally, that’s where matters lie. But this is a story that may develop. Ms Cahill said last night she had been contacted by women who allegedly suffered abuse by IRA members, numbering in “double figures”. They too, it is claimed, were told to keep quiet. Some may now go public as Ms Cahill did, exposing more poison from the past.
October 16, 2014
DUBLIN (AP) — Negotiations to bolster Northern Ireland's power-sharing government are opening Thursday in Belfast as the 7-year-old alliance of British Protestants and Irish Catholics faces its toughest political test.
The United Kingdom government is overseeing the talks at Stormont House involving local leaders, who have grown increasingly divided over a growing list of issues. The diplomatic push is expected to run twice-weekly alongside the continuing operation of Northern Ireland's five-party administration.
At stake is the central achievement of the Good Friday peace accord of 1998: the formation, in 2007, of a governing coalition of former enemies committed to ending a 45-year conflict that has claimed 3,700 lives. But many of the conflict points that stir violence remain unresolved, particularly sectarian parades and the display of British and Irish symbols.
The major Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein, wants existing restrictions on Protestant parades strengthened and more British symbols removed. The Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland's primary defender of political union with Britain, seeks the opposite. Street confrontations over marches and flags triggered several bouts of Belfast rioting in 2013, but cooler heads have prevailed this year.
More troublingly, opposite sides of the coalition have spent the past year locked in a costly blinking contest over Northern Ireland's budget. Sinn Fein is blocking welfare reforms already enacted in Britain, triggering an 87 million-pound ($138 million) penalty on Northern Ireland's British-provided finances and forcing cuts in services, including the police. Bigger budget penalties loom.
If the deadlock isn't broken, analysts agree that the Northern Ireland Assembly could be dissolved for early elections and a cross-community coalition would have to be painfully reconstructed. Filling the political void until then would be resumed "direct rule" from London, the system that prevailed in Northern Ireland from 1972 through much of the 2000s.
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK
Associated PressWashington Post
30 April 2014Gerry AdamsDUBLIN — Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow.
Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview.
Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy.
According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group.
“I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family,” Adams said. “Well publicized, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these. While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs. McConville.”
Reflecting the embarrassment associated with killing a widowed mother, the IRA did not admit the killing until 1999, when it claimed responsibility for nearly a dozen slayings of long-vanished civilians and offered to try to pinpoint their unmarked graves. McConville’s children had been told she abandoned them, and they were divided into different foster homes.
Her remains were discovered only by accident near a Republic of Ireland beach in 2003. The woman’s skull bore a single bullet mark through the back of the skull, and forensics officer determined she’d been shot once through back of the head with a rifle.Jean McConville and children
Adams was implicated in the killing by two IRA veterans, who gave taped interviews to researchers for a Boston College history archive on the four-decade Northern Ireland conflict. Belfast police waged a two-year legal fight in the United States to acquire the interviews, parts of which already were published after the 2008 death of one IRA interviewee, Brendan Hughes.
Boston College immediately handed over the Hughes tapes. The college and researchers fought unsuccessfully to avoid handover tapes of the second IRA interviewee, Dolours Price, who died last year.
Both Hughes and Price agreed to be interviewed on condition that their contents were kept confidential until their deaths.
In his interviews Hughes, a reputed 1970s deputy to Adams within the Belfast IRA, said McConville was killed on Adams’ orders. Hughes said Adams oversaw a special IRA unit called “The Unknowns” that was committed to identifying, killing and secretly burying Belfast Catholic civilians suspected of spying on behalf of the police or British Army. An independent investigation by Northern Ireland’s police complaints watchdog in 2006 found no evidence that McConville had been a spy.
Hughes told the researchers he led the IRA team that “arrested” McConville, but her fate was sealed following a policy argument between Adams and the man he succeeded as Belfast commander, Ivor Bell.
He said Bell wanted McConville’s body to be put on public display to intimidate other people from helping the British, but Adams wanted her killing kept mysterious.
“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed,” Hughes said in the audio recording, which was broadcast on British and Irish television in 2010. “That man is now the head of Sinn Fein. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did.”
A 2010 book written by the lead researcher, journalist Ed Moloney, “Voices From the Grave,” also quoted Hughes as describing Adams as the IRA’s “Belfast Brigade” commander who oversaw planning of the first car-bomb attacks in London in March 1973.
Adams and Hughes were arrested together in July 1973, when the British Army pounced on an IRA commanders’ meeting in West Belfast. Both were interned without trial. Adams was repeatedly interrogated for suspected involvement in IRA bombings and shootings, but was never convicted of any IRA offense besides a failed prison escape during his mid-1970s internment.
Last month Belfast detectives investigating the McConville killing arrested and charged Bell, now 77, with IRA membership and aiding McConville’s murder.
Price, who was a member of the IRA’s 1973 London car-bombing unit, died last year of a suspected drug overdose. She gave interviews to journalists admitting she had driven McConville across the Irish border, where another IRA member shot McConville once through the back of the head. It remains unclear what precisely she told the Boston College project.
Adams was the longtime British Parliament member for West Belfast, although like all Sinn Fein politicians he refused to take his seat in London, citing the required oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
He never held a post in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, the central peacemaking institution established in the wake of the Good Friday accord of 1998. He stepped down as West Belfast’s MP in 2011 and won election to the Republic of Ireland parliament, where he represents the same border area, County Louth, where McConville’s body was found.
27 March 2014Police in Ireland have been accused of stringing along a coroner and the family of murdered IRA spy Denis Donaldson with bogus claims.
As the eighth anniversary of his killing at a remote famine cottage in Co Donegal approaches next week, lawyers for the family there is no bona fide reason for an inquest into his death not to go ahead.
In a statement issued through their legal team, the Donaldson family said their treatment is consistent with a series of scandals to hit the Garda force over the last few months and claimed some people involved in the controversies have had direct involvement with their case.Denis Donaldson was murdered in 2006
" The gardai are now stringing along the coroner's court and the family with bogus claims and a flagrant disregard for European Court of Human Rights obligations," they said.
"The effectiveness and independence of the investigatory process, and the completed Garda investigation, has lost any credibility," they said.
Mr Donaldson, 55, a senior Sinn Fein official and close colleague of party president Gerry Adams, was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in April 2006.
He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.
The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder three years later but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson's outing and subsequent assassination have been shrouded in mystery.
The family said they have no faith in the Gardai and refused to attend the latest preliminary hearing of the inquest, the 13th since the killing.
"From the outset the Donaldson family have implored Gardai to rigorously investigate the role played by state agencies in the circumstances surrounding the exposure and killing of Denis," they said.
"Throughout that time, Gardai have refused to probe these concerns and admitted to the family that they closed the file on Denis's death without interviewing those members of Special Branch who were actively involved in events leading up to Denis' killing."
The Donaldson family said that at previous hearings they have heard explicit assurances that no further time would be required by either gardai or the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the case.
The family claims lawyers for the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have consistently contested their attempts to have the inquest heard.
They have instructed their legal team to take a lawsuit over what they claim are ongoing infringements of the human rights of the Donaldson family.
In November 2012 the inquest was told a file on the murder had been submitted to the DPP and a d ecision on a prosecution was expected within four months but no-one has been charged. Several arrests have been made.
By Philip Bradfieldp.email@example.comNews Letter
11 November 2013The man who allegedly shot Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville was yesterday named as former Sinn Fein councillor and Belfast IRA commander Pat McGeown.
It was claimed yesterday that he also shot dead ‘Good Samaritan’ Protestant workman Sammy Llewellyn when he went to help Catholics on the Falls Road board up windows after an IRA bomb in 1975.
“I was recently approached by grassroots republicans who were sympathetic to the McConville family,” Jean McConville’s son Jim said yesterday in a Sunday paper.
“I was given some details of what happened and only two weeks ago I gave Pat McGeown’s name to my solicitor.”
The paper claimed that McGeown was only 17 when he shot Mrs McConville in the back of the head, and that he later rose to become a close political confidant of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.
The News Letter
understands McGeown’s name had been widely linked to Mrs McConville’s murder before he died in 1996.
Gerry Kelly MLA said at McGeown’s funeral that he had been a prisoner in “Cage 11” of the Maze with Gerry Adams. Adams officially launched the Pat McGeown Community Endeavour Award at Belfast’s Upper Springfield Development Trust in 1998.
He described McGeown as “a modest man with a quiet, but total dedication to equality and raising the standard of life for all the people of the city”, adding that McGeown “would have been one of the last people to expect an award to be given in his name, and yet few others could have deserved the honour more”.
Mr Kelly said McGeown started “barricade duty” at 13 and then joined the local unit of the IRA in the Beechmount area. He added that “at one point he held the most senior rank in the Belfast brigade of the IRA”.
The book Lost Lives
, which lists all those who died during the Troubles, said McGeown’s health never recovered after 47 days on hunger strike.
He was jailed in the Republic for explosives offences aged 14 and at 16 was interned before being imprisoned for a bombing attack.
He served 15 years for bombing the Europa Hotel and was the Officer Commanding of the IRA in the Maze. After being released in 1986, he went on to become group leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council.
Sinn Fein yesterday declined to offer any comment.
Another Sunday paper yesterday reported that the IRA member, then aged 16, who drove Mrs McConville away from her children has phoned her daughter Helen McKendry to apologise.
**In 2009, Ó Brádaigh made headlines...after he would not condemn the murder by the Continuity IRA of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, County Armagh. (BBC)IRA chief of staff and president of Sinn Féin'The armed stuggle and sitting in parliament are mutually exclusive,' said Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.
Ann McHardyThe Guardian
5 June 2013Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who has died aged 81, was an IRA army council member, the founding president of Provisional Sinn Féin in 1971 and an IRA army council member. He led the Provos until 1983, through the most violent years of Northern Ireland's Troubles, until he split with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness over the peace process. In 1955, Ó Brádaigh had led the biggest IRA arms raid ever on an army depot in Britain, but from 1979 he was involved in a power struggle with the two northerners and was finally ousted when Adams replaced him as Sinn Féin president and McGuinness became its chief negotiator.
Ó Brádaigh regarded himself as keeping alive pure Republicanism, inherited from the IRA of 1916. He remained committed to the 1921 constitutional policy of refusing to take part in democratic politics until Ireland was reunited. He believed bitterly that Adams's and McGuinness's policy of using "the armalite and the ballot box" would perpetuate partition and keep "the occupied six counties", as he termed Northern Ireland, inside the UK. In 1986 Ó Brádaigh said: "The armed struggle and sitting in parliament are mutually exclusive."
He regarded the IRA ceasefire of 1996, the Good Friday agreement of 1998, the decommissioning of IRA weapons in 2006 and McGuinness becoming deputy first minister in a power-sharing government in Belfast in 2007, with the Rev Ian Paisley as first minister, as total betrayal.
After the 1983 split with the Provos, Ó Brádaigh formed the Continuity IRA and Republican Sinn Féin, which had the odd distinction in 2004 of being the only Irish organisations on President George W Bush's list of banned foreign terrorist organisations in the US, even though they were not active, while another splinter organisation, the Real IRA, perpetrator of the 1998 Omagh bombing, was.
Ó Brádaigh had been instrumental in founding the Provos after a disagreement in 1971 with his one-time close IRA associate Cathal Goulding over moves by Goulding to participate in Irish politics and take seats in the Dáil. Sinn Féin had previously fought elections on an abstentionist ticket and Ó Brádaigh had won a seat in 1957.
For Ó Brádaigh, born Peter Roger (hence "Rory") Casement Brady into a middle-class Republican family in Longford, Ireland, the commiment was personal loyalty. His father, Matt Brady, who died when he was 10, was an IRA man who suffered badly from injuries inflicted in 1919 by the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Ó Brádaigh was educated at St Mel's College, Longford, and University College Dublin, and graduated in commerce and with an Irish language-teaching certificate. He became a teacher at Roscommon vocational school, resigning during periods in prison. He joined Sinn Féin at university, and the IRA in 1951. In 1955, he led a 10-member IRA group in an arms raid on Hazebrouck Barracks, near Arborfield, Berkshire, which successfully netted ammunition and weapons, including 55 Sten guns. However, many of the weapons were recovered when the first of the two vans taking them to a hideout in London was stopped for speeding. Ó Brádaigh, in the second van, stored his haul and returned to Ireland but an address in the first van led the police to the store.
In 1956, in the IRA's Northern Ireland border campaign, codenamed Operation Harvest, Ó Brádaigh was part of the planning group and second in command of the western attack. A police barracks at Derrylin, County Fermanagh, was hit and an RUC constable, John Scally, killed. Ó Brádaigh and others were arrested the next day across the border in Cavan and imprisoned for failing to account for their movements. Shortly after his release, Ó Brádaigh was interned at the Curragh military prison. In September 1958 he and Daithi Ó Conaill escaped by cutting through a wire fence, and Ó Brádaigh became the first Dáil member on the run.
As IRA chief of staff, he penned the ceasefire standing the organisation down and bringing a formal end to the border campaign. In 1968, when protestant gangs began firebombing Catholic streets in retaliation against civil rights concessions by the Unionist government, only six IRA guns could be found to defend the burning homes. The bitter slogan painted on walls in Catholic areas was "IRA ... I Ran Away". Ó Brádaigh, working with Sean MacStiofain and Seamus Twomey, began recruiting a new IRA and seeking money and weapons.
The Dublin leadership found willing northern recruits in young men like such as Adams, then 20 and active organising street fighting in Belfast, and McGuinness, 19, similarly active in Derry.
As president of Sinn Féin, Ó Brádaigh was responsible for the Sinn Féin policy, Éire Nua, new Ireland, which proposed a federal Ireland reunited in four provinces, one of them Ulster. He did shift Sinn Féin in 1979 to allow recognition of the Irish special court in Green Street, Dublin, because so many activists were being tried there on charges of IRA membership, himself included, and being convicted with no evidence, on the grounds that their refusal to recognise the court was deemed proof of guilt. But he would not move on parliamentary abstentionism.
A sensitive and courteous man, an Irish traditional music enthusiast, Ó Brádaigh was not immune to the horror of bloodshed. I was standing nearby at a Sinn Féin annual conference in the Mansion House in Dublin in 1978 as he took a message saying that two IRA bombers, whose wives were delegates, had blown themselves up in Belfast the previous night. He had to tell the wives. He went white and broke into a sweat. I interviewed him later and he said that he felt in middle age that he now understood that pain was real for all affected, even British soldiers. That realisation did not change his commitment to "the armed struggle".
As president of Sinn Féin after 1971, Ó Brádaigh was involved in negotiations with the Irish and British governments, something both governments denied, and in international publicity and IRA fundraising campaigns. In 1974 he took part in the Feakle ceasefire talks with protestant church leaders and in 1976 met the Ulster Loyalist co-ordinating committee at their request, to discuss whether their policy of an independent six-county Northern Ireland could fit with the nine-county old Irish kingdom of Ulster in Éire Nua.
In 1974, he testified before the US Senate committee on foreign relations about the treatment of IRA suspects in Northern Ireland. The same year, the State Department revoked his multiple entry visa to the US. In 1975, FBI documents described him as a "national security threat" and a "dedicated revolutionary undeterred by threat or personal risk", but recorded that the visa ban was requested by the British Foreign Office, supported by the Dublin government. Ó Brádaigh also carried a British passport in the name Peter Brady, legally obtained through British-Irish citizenship agreements, which he claimed he used to continue to enter the US.
In 2005, Ó Brádaigh, a keen historian, donated a set of papers of the National University of Ireland. They included notes that he had taken during secret meetings in 1975-76 with British agents which confirmed that Britain did consider withdrawal from Ireland.
Latterly Ó Brádaigh was seen in Ireland as almost a comic figure, as modern Republicanism followed Adams and McGuinness into constitutional politics, but he continued to have influence, particularly abroad, often being interviewed in the US by video link.
He and his wife, Patsy, had six children.
• Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (Peter Roger Casement Brady), IRA leader and politician, born 2 October 1932; died 5 June 2013