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10th-Aug-2016 01:13 am - Edward Daly, Peace-Seeking Bishop in Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles,’ Dies at 82
NY Times
8 August 2016

 photo daly.jpg

Father Edward Daly waving a bloodied white handkerchief in a widely circulated picture from Jan. 30, 1972, known as Bloody Sunday. (Credit Mirrorpix)

Edward Daly, who as the Roman Catholic bishop of Northern Ireland’s second-largest city argued relentlessly for peace during the three decades of sectarian violence known as the Troubles, died on Monday in Derry. He was 82.

His death, at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, was announced by Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, the diocese that Bishop Daly led from 1974 to 1993, when he stepped down after having a stroke. (The city, officially Londonderry, is commonly known by its shorter name.) He was hospitalized after a fall several weeks ago.

“Bishop Daly served, without any concern for himself, throughout the traumatic years of the Troubles, finding his ministry shaped by the experience of witnessing violence and its effects,” Bishop McKeown said in a statement.

On Jan. 30, 1972, as a 38-year-old curate at St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Father Daly escorted unarmed protesters on a march toward the city center when British soldiers opened fire, resulting in the deaths of 14 people. The massacre became known as Bloody Sunday.

Images of Father Daly waving a bloodied white handkerchief as protesters tried to carry a wounded man, Jackie Duddy, to safety circulated around the world.

“I went in front with this handkerchief in my hand, and they carried Jackie behind me,” he later told the BBC. “All hell was let loose. We were very nervous and frightened, and when we laid him down on the pavement, he had died.”

He added: “It was utterly disgraceful. There was nothing fired at them — I can say that with absolute certainty because I was there.”

Father Daly later told The New York Times that the massacre fueled the growth of the Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary group that battled British security forces and the unionist segments of Northern Ireland’s population throughout the Troubles.

“Many young people I have talked to in prison have told me they would have never joined the I.R.A. had it not been for what they witnessed on Bloody Sunday,” he said.

In 2010, after a 12-year investigation that cost about 200 million pounds, or $265 million at current exchange rates, “a serious and widespread loss” of discipline among the soldiers was blamed for the massacre.

Britain’s prime minister at the time, David Cameron, apologized, calling the massacre “unjustified and unjustifiable.” The next year, the government agreed to compensate the victims’ families.

Edward Daly was born on Dec. 5, 1933, in the village of Belleek, County Fermanagh, near the border with Ireland. He attended St. Columb’s College, a boys’ grammar school in Derry, before the diocese sent him to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome to prepare for the priesthood.

 photo Daly 2.jpgHe was ordained as a priest in 1957 and appointed a curate in Castlederg, County Tyrone; in 1962, he was named a curate at St. Eugene’s, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Derry, and he was ordained a bishop in 1974.

As bishop, he repeatedly denounced waves of violence. In 1976, he deplored a firebombing that destroyed much of Londonderry’s shopping district, and in 1987, he stopped church funerals for I.R.A. men after one service was turned into a paramilitary display by republican gunmen.

On Oct. 24, 1990, the I.R.A., threatening to kill his family if he did not obey, forced Patrick Gillespie, 42, a Catholic kitchen worker at a British Army base, to drive a van containing explosives into a military checkpoint outside Derry.

The retired bishop Edward Daly in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 2014. He died on Monday at the age of 82. (Credit Brian Lawless/Press Association, via Associated Press)

The attack, one of three “proxy bombs” that day, killed Mr. Gillespie and five soldiers. At a Mass attended by Catholics and Protestants, Bishop Daly said the killers had “crossed a new threshold of evil.”

“They may say they are followers of Christ,” he said. “Some of them may even still engage in the hypocrisy of coming to church, but their lives and their works proclaim clearly that they follow Satan.”

Bishop Daly was equally unsparing in his criticism of the British authorities. After prosecutors moved to quash the murder convictions of six Catholics who said they had been coerced into confessing to the 1974 bombings of two bars in Birmingham, England, he said in 1991, “The justice system in Britain has problems, and it must face up to those problems.”

The same year, he expressed alarm about the covert recruitment of I.R.A. members by the British security services; some were found out and killed.

The Troubles largely ended in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, which provided for self-government in Northern Ireland with power sharing among its political factions.

The agreement also set out the principle that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom until a majority of people in both Northern Ireland and Ireland wished otherwise.

Bishop Daly, who is survived by two sisters, spent his retirement as a chaplain to the Foyle Hospice in Derry and as archivist for the diocese.

He wrote two memoirs, “Mister, Are You a Priest?” (2000) and “A Troubled See: Memoirs of a Derry Bishop” (2011).

In the 2011 book, he questioned the Vatican’s policy on priestly celibacy. “I think priests should have the freedom to marry if they wish,” he told the BBC, expressing worries about a shortage of priests.

On Monday, religious and secular leaders, Catholic and Protestant alike, mourned Bishop Daly’s death.

Bishop Kenneth Good of Derry — of the Church of Ireland, which is part of the Anglican Communion — praised him “for unwavering Christian leadership and guidance when it was desperately needed in this city and community, during the darkest days of the Troubles.”

6th-Aug-2016 05:37 am - The Siege of Jadotville: How the bravery of Irish UN soldiers was shunned
By Eamon Sweeney
Derry Journal
5 August 2016

**There are more photos on-site

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Johnny McAnnaney, Derryman, is pictured on the back row, second from the left.

A film version of the forgotten story of 156 soldiers who held a 3,000 strong force at bay during a battle in the Congo fifty-five years ago is to be released by US media giant Netflix next month.

The lead character will be played by Jamie Dornan, the Co. Down born star of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and Belfast set thriller ‘The Fall’.

However, behind the glitz of the Hollywood sheen placed on this story lies the shameful post-conflict treatment of the Irish combatants by Irish Army top brass after they returned from Africa.

The battle which took place in September, 1961 has drawn comparison in its scale with the British defence of Rourke’s Drift - an event of course immortalised in the film ‘Zulu’.

And, as always seems to be the case with conflicts down the historical ladder of the centuries, whether by accident or by design, a Derry man was in thick of the action in the Congo.

The story goes as follows:

On September 13, 1961, the United Nations (UN) gave permission for its forces to launch a military offensive, code named Operation Morthor, against mainly mercenary military units working for the State of Katanga which had broken away from Congo-Leopoldville the previous year.

Under UN rules, its force in the Congo was to remain strictly impartial in the conflict.

Yet, the Katangese political leadership believed that the UN had broken its mandate and was siding with its opponents-the central Congolese Government. Soon after the launch of Operation Morthor, the Katangese led an attack on an isolated UN military unit based at the mining town of Jadotville.

The 156 strong contingent of Irish troops under the auspices of the UN were stationed at Jadotville.

"God, my men were fine. Ireland never reared better sons."

--Cmdt Pat Quinlan

Their leader was Commandant Pat Quinlan.

The positioning of the Irish men had come about after an angry phone call from the Belgian Foreign Minister to the UN Secretary General complaining that Belgian settlers within the local population had been left unprotected and open to attack from the anti-colonialist Kantagese.

Yet, when the Irish troops arrived it transpired that they were not welcome and there was in fact strong support for the insurgents.

The initial attack took place whilst the Irish men were at an open air Mass.

Expecting to take full advantage of the element of surprise, the attackers were however seen by an Irish sentry. His warning shot alerted the members of the 35th Irish battalion and the battle had begun.

A combined force of between 3,000-5,000 Belgian, French and Rhodesian mercenaries with local Luba tribesmen spearheaded the assault carrying light and heavy weaponry and they also used a Fouga Meister fighter jet carrying underwing bombs and machine guns.

The Irish men carried only light weapons and antiquated Vickers machine guns.

When the battle commenced the Irish radioed their headquarters. The message said: “We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey.”

Astonishingly, whilst the Katangese attacked in 600 strong waves, having previously bombarded the area with heavy mortar fire, the Irish lost no men in the five day long siege. Instead, only five men were reported injured.

In return the attackers suffered an estimated death toll of around 300 and an indeterminate number of them were wounded. This has always been attributed to the tenacity of the Irish soldiers but also was due in great part to the brilliant tactical capability of Commandant Pat Quinlan.

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Commandant Pat Quinlan pictured with his men in the aftermath of the Siege of Jadotville.

However, whilst Pat Quinlan retired a full Colonel in the Irish Defence Forces he was never to serve overseas again.

Eventually, after running out of ammunition, water and food the Irish had no choice but to surrender. Despite the fact they had outfought a vastly numerically superior force, their surrender rankled with the Irish Army hierarchy.

The soldiers who fought at Jadotville regarded Quinlan as an exceptional leader who saved their lives. Eventually in 2004, then Minister of Defence Willie O’Dea held an inquiry that cleared Pat Quinlan and A Company of any notion of misconduct.

A commemorative stone honouring the soldiers was erected in Athlone Barracks in 2005 and a portrait of Comdt Quinlan now hangs in the Congo Room of the Irish Army UN School.

Born in 1921, John McAnaney hailed from Derry’s Bishop Street.

On joining the Irish Army he was initially stationed in Athlone before being shifted to the now defunct Collins Barracks in Mullingar where he later married Pauline O’Mahony. They had five children.

By the time the Irish Army reached the Congo in 1961 John had attained the rank of Corporal.

John’s daughter Kathleen Lafferty still lives in Mullingar told the ‘Journal’: “When he came home from the Congo, I was only about two-and-a-half years old, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember being handed up to this man on the back of a lorry. I didn’t have a clue who he was. I thought I was being given away and remember saying ‘I promise, I’ll be good!’.

Whilst Kathleen says that her father wasn’t one to talk in detail about what happened in the Congo she does recall that he spoke about what happened during his time in captivity,

“He said that while they were being held, the local women were worse than the men as they would poke them through the compound wire with sticks. As well as that, my father and a Private Peppard were singled out for particularly bad beatings by their captors.”

Whilst letters were sent home from the Congo by her dad, Kathleen says that what happened and what will be seen in the film are worlds apart in terms of what her father wrote.

“Of course, nothing was ever wrong and everything was always fine in the letters.

“Another memory I have is sitting on the floor watching ‘Jackanory’ on TV with my brother and mum was making dinner. when a big breadknife was thrust between both of us and pointed at the TV and mum shouted: ‘There’s your father on the news!’

“That’s how we knew he was home.”

The subsequent shoddy treatment of the men who fought so valiantly at Jadotville by the Irish Army hierarchy who unspokenly ‘frowned’ upon the fact that the men had surrendered - even thought they had no choice - still rankles with the families of many of the men.

Kathleen Lafferty said: “It was heart wrenching and stomach churning. It grew with me. Now, I have the greatest respect for the the Army lads on the ground. It was those upstairs in the top brass that I had the problem with.

“It was awful to grow up as a daughter thinking that my father was treated like that. He was a very proud man. He walked upright with his shoulders back. We still have the morals he gave us to this day.

“He loved Derry so much. I still remember sitting on his knee on the bus to Derry and him singing about the town even as we neared it. I am very proud of what these men did-all of them.”

Despite the treatment received by her father and his comrades by the upper echelons of the Irish Defence Forces it not deter Kathleen Lafferty’s brothers, Tony, Martin and Paul McAnaney following their father into military service. All of them also saw overseas service during their careers in both Cyprus and the Lebanon.

Sadly, John McAnaney passed away suddenly in 1967 at the age of 45.

The shock of this and the fact that her mother was left to raise five children alone caused great distress.

“Dad was buried with full military honours, but after he died there was no contact from the Army-no support at all,” she said.

Asked if she is looking forward to watching the Netflix film ‘The Siege of Jadotville’ next month, Kathleen told the ‘Journal’: “I am, but I am fearful of looking at it too. It will be extremely emotional.

“I remember my dad as a wonderful, loving father. One thing I do remember was that Army overcoat cast over the chair at home. Chocolate was a rare treat in those days, but he always had a Kit-Kat or something in it.

“The game was that he’d leave it there to see if my friends and I could find it hidden somewhere in the coat without him seeing us.

“There was no central heating in those days and that coat would also be put around us at night over the top of the Army blankets. The coat was so big and so heavy.

“Imagine being sent out to Africa with this type of clothes.”

‘The Siege of Jadotville’ is a feature length movie that will be available for viewing on Nextflix in September. For details go to the Netflix website.

After their surrender, the Irish contingent were held for around a month. It is believed that their captivity lasted so long because the Katangese used them as a bargaining tool to improve their political bargaining power.

The ‘Derry Journal’ reported on the situation in the Congo on Tuesday, September 19, 1961.

Under the headline ‘Jadotville Garrison is being treated well’, the report said: “Reports on the situation in the Congo continue to be confused, but an Irish Government announcement yesterday stated that Irish troops at Jadotville, which had been overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers, were being treated well by their captors and that there were no further casualties among them.

A statement issued by the Government Information Bureau in Dublin yesterday afternoon said that the message was received from Leopoldville at 1.20pm from the Commander of the 35th Irish Battalion: “All ranks of the battalion in Elizabethville fit and well. Morale tip-top. We now have two channels of communication through another source.”

“The Jadotville garrison is reported to be well housed and it appears they are being well treated.

“They have been allowed to retain their light arms without ammunition.

“There are no more casualties than they have already reported. It is still three wounded and two shell-shocked. But, my men are showing the signs of the strain that they have been through since they went to Jadotville.”

6th-Aug-2016 03:46 am - Man arrested in Ireland over murder of British spy Denis Donaldson
Garda Síochána hold man in his 40s for questioning in Co Donegal over killing in April 2006

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
4 August 2016

Irish detectives have arrested a man in his 40s in connection with the murder of Denis Donaldson, an MI5 spy who operated at the heart of the IRA and Sinn Féin.

The suspect was detained at Cloghercor in Doochary, Co Donegal, on Thursday. The Garda Síochána are questioning him at Letterkenny garda station.

Donaldson – a former close associate of Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams – was killed by a shotgun blast as he answered the door of his isolated cottage near Glenties, Co Donegal, in April 2006. The Real IRA admitted responsibility for his murder.

Last month a 74-year-old man from Glasgow, Patrick Gillespie, was charged with withholding information in connection with the MI5 agent’s murder. Gillespie, who has an address in Glasgow’s East End as well as one in Donegal, was granted bail.

Denis Donaldson

Before being exposed as a British spy, Donaldson was a prominent figure in Sinn Féin and eventually became head of the party’s administrative team at the Stormont parliament in Belfast. Donaldson was also renowned as a “fixer” for the republican movement’s leadership and was responsible for the removal of candidates the party’s hierarchy were concerned about and their replacement with those who would toe the line.

At one time he was also in charge of international relations for Sinn Féin and spent time in the Middle East meeting Palestinian factions and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Throughout that period, Donaldson was also working for British intelligence.

The inquest into his death has been delayed at least 19 times, resulting in his family taking legal action against the authorities. It is understood the delays are partly connected to sensitive material that the Garda Síochána possesses, namely the journal that Donaldson was writing after being unmasked as a British agent.

6th-Aug-2016 03:34 am - Man arrested over 1976 Kingsmills murders
Fifty-nine-year-old held on suspicion of killing 10 Protestant workmen in County Armagh after forensic breakthrough

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
5 August 2016

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A bullet-riddled minibus near Whitecross in south Armagh, where 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead in a suspected reprisal attack. (Photograph: PA)

A fresh police investigation into one of the most notorious sectarian mass killings of the Northern Ireland Troubles has led to the arrest of a 59-year-old man.

The arrest on Friday follows a breakthrough by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in their historical inquiry into the Kingsmills massacre in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead in 1976.

At the end of May this year the PSNI said they had made a potential DNA match regarding a palm print on the getaway vehicle used by the people behind the murders.

Although the organisation has never admitted responsibility for the atrocity, the IRA is widely blamed for the attack during which the killers freed the only Catholic man on the workers minibus before gunning down his colleagues.

Their minibus had been stopped on the Whitecross to Bessbrook Road at Kingsmills in South Armagh by a man who had an English accent waving a red light. The victims, according to one of the survivors of the massacre, believed at first that the man was a British soldier.

Karen Armstrong with a photograph of her brother John McConville, who was killed in the Kingsmill attack (Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA)

The gunmen, who were hiding in hedges, ordered the workers to leave the van and then questioned them about their religion. After allowing the Catholic worker to flee, the IRA unit then opened fire on the Protestant workers.

The revelation about the palm print was made during the first week of a long-delayed inquest into the Kingsmills atrocity this year.

The man the PSNI arrested on Friday is from the Newry area of South Armagh. The Newry and Armagh Ulster Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Danny Kennedy, who worked closely with the Kingsmills families for an inquest, welcomed the arrest. He said: “The families and sole survivor have waited 40 years in their pursuit of maximum truth and justice for this brutal and barbaric crime.

“The news that someone has been arrested in connection with Kingsmills must be seen as a potentially positive development. We must now wait and allow the police investigation to take its course.”

Kennedy added: “It is my sincere hope that the police now have a realistic prospect of mounting a successful prosecution of some of those responsible.”

28th-Jul-2016 03:34 pm - Man charged in connection with Donaldson murder
RTÉ News
28 July 2016

A 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.

27th-Jul-2016 02:29 am - Two held in Ireland over murder of British spy Denis Donaldson
Senior Sinn Féin official was shot dead in Co Donegal in 2006, a year after being exposed as an MI5 agent

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
26 July 2016

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One 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.
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23rd-May-2016 02:44 pm - Inquest into Kingsmill massacre in Northern Ireland begins
Killing of 10 Protestant workmen was believed to have been carried out by IRA despite republican organisation denying it all these years

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
23 May 2016

Alan Black, the sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre, arrives at Belfast coroner’s court for the inquest. (Photograph: Niall Carson/PA)

The sole survivor of the Kingsmill massacre, when 10 Protestant workmen were killed by the IRA in 1976, has called for the “unvarnished truth” at the opening of an inquest into the atrocity.

Alan Black survived despite being shot 18 times when members of the IRA’s south Armagh brigade opened fire on the workers at Kingsmill, in County Armagh, after stopping them on a minibus going to work.

It later emerged at the hearing that two suspects connected to the killings were given “letters of comfort” from Tony Blair’s government as part of a secret deal with Sinn Féin during the peace process, to allow IRA members on the run, or wanted fugitives, back into Northern Ireland.

Speaking outside Laganside courthouse in Belfast on Monday, Black said it was a “red letter day” for him and the families of the murdered men. “We have fought long and hard for this review.

“Obstacles were put in our way. Thanks to these people we have gotten over each one,” he said referring to the families of those who died in the attack. The inquest will hear opening statements from family members of the murdered men.

The atrocity was claimed by the South Armagh Republican Action Force in revenge for a loyalist sectarian double murder in the county. However, republican and security sources down through the decades have said the IRA was behind the Kingsmill killings, even though the organisation has never publicly admitted it.

Monday’s inquest also ruled out a conspiracy theory that claimed an SAS captain, Robert Nairac, had a hand in the murders. Nairac went undercover within the IRA and was later killed by republicans after being abducted from a pub. The inquest was told that the soldier was not serving in Northern Ireland at the time of the atrocity.

The inquest will also hear from police officers belonging to the historical enquiries team, a policing unit tasked with reopening unsolved cases from the Troubles. In 2011, the HET concluded the IRA was responsible for the Kingsmill massacre.

19th-May-2016 05:35 am - IRA tried to write my mum's story. I'm here to put it straight
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 Breen
Belfast Telegraph
18 May 2016

Shauna 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."

18th-May-2016 07:03 am - David Black accused refused Supreme Court bid
Alan Erwin, Belfast
17 May 2016

The 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."

18th-May-2016 06:34 am - Irish government to pursue Dublin-Monaghan files
The Irish government has said it is committed to pursuing British files on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.
17 May 2016

Irish 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
— 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.
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) May 17, 2016

18th-May-2016 05:59 am - Evidence from US witness sought in Jean McConville case
Ivor Bell alleged to have given interview about killing to Boston College researchers

Irish Times
16 May 2016

Ivor 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.


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.

18th-May-2016 05:22 am - Family granted challenge over Stakeknife probe
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
17 May 2016

Freddie Scappaticci

A 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."

26th-Feb-2016 08:51 am - Alleged ex-IRA chief Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy jailed for tax evasion but protests innocence
Belfast News Letter
26 Feb 2016

Alleged 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.”
19th-Dec-2015 10:08 pm - Damage done by Murphy's activities will take decades to clean up
The Troubles were good to Thomas Murphy, Gerry Adams's 'decent friend' and 'good republican'.

Jim Cusack
18 Dec 2015

Thomas ‘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.
17th-Dec-2015 04:30 pm - Farmer accused of being senior IRA commander convicted of tax fraud
Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, whose farm straddles border, found guilty of failing to file tax returns in Ireland between 1996-2004

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
17 Dec 2015

**See also: Will The Provos Stand By 'Slab'? - Ed Moloney

Thomas ‘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.
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14th-Nov-2015 04:00 am - 'Nelson files' link British authorities to UDA death squads
Jim McDowell
Irish Independent
14 Nov 2015

Shock 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.


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.

10th-Nov-2015 12:02 pm - Bloody Sunday investigators arrest former soldier
Detectives investigating shootings in Derry in 1972 arrest 66-year-old in Antrim

The Guardian
10 Nov 2015

The 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”.

7th-Nov-2015 05:18 pm - An alternative history of the Easter Rising
Patrick Murphy
Irish 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.

22nd-Oct-2015 03:13 am - British Army's highest ranking IRA informer to be investigated over 24 murders
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 Agency
The Telegraph
22 Oct 2015

Fred 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.

22nd-Oct-2015 03:01 am - 'Stakeknife': police spy in IRA to be investigated over murders
Prosecutor tells police to open inquiry into crimes including murder allegedly linked to British state’s agent inside IRA, named as Freddie Scappaticci

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
21 Oct 2015

Freddie 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.”

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