Saturday, 27 December 2014

Deals beyond reason & thought!

Remember remember, the 23rd of December, deals beyond reason & thought!

This year has been so eventful that those who would normally commemorate the opening of an envelope failed to mark or acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the infamous Gilmour show trial.

30 years ago this month the trial against 35 Derry men and women who had already spent around 2 years on remand collapsed when the trial judge, Lord Lowry, declared that super-grass Raymond Gilmour was a liar who was 'entirely unworthy of belief.' Sadly this situation bears a similar resemblance to the current case of the Craigavon two who are serving life sentences on farcical evidence and on the word of an informant who according to his relative is a Walter Mitty who should not be believed, but unfortunately for these men the show (trial) goes on..

Speaker of the House!
Ironically shortly after the verdict was reached in the Gilmour trial Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin headed a press conference and spoke on behalf of those released. Thirty years on Mitchel McLaughlin is the Stormont speaker and his party supporters of informants. This would explain why Sinn Fein remain silent on the issue of the Craigavon Two'. Not forgetting this is the party who in their own words said they were content “to administer British Rule in Ireland for the foreseeable future.” Vichy regime anyone?

In a recent tweet tantrum former Blanket man, Sinn Fein Councillor Kevin Campbell accused academic and former blanket man Anthony McIntyre of running a touting programme in respect of his work on the Boston Oral History Project. A sentiment echoed by Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney.

Tweet from twits.

Then in a dramatic twist stretching beyond the imagination of the writers of Dallas, on December 23rd Stormont parties with the British and Irish governments brokered a deal which includes the establishment of, wait for it, an Oral History Archive project by 2016

Maybe Kevin Campbell could take time to explain how his party would support a similar programme sponsored by the British establishment, after he referred to an academic project as a 'touting programme'.

Kevin I think you and Raymond owe “big Mackers” an apology as he has clearly been an inspiration. The difference is “Big Mackers” fought with everything he had to protect the project he was involved with whereas Sinn Fein will be working on this new initiative with the British establishment. Need I remind Kevin, Raymond and the rest of the flock that this is the same British Government who lied to the European Court of Human Rights over the case of the hooded men. What part of 'not to be trusted' does your party not understand? Here's another reminder, 'On the runs.'

Now whilst on the subject of new initiatives surely more thought should be given to ways of dealing with the past. The Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), will be established to investigate outstanding troubles related deaths and the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR), will be established to enable people to seek and receive information in private. Whilst it has been agreed that this information will be inadmissible in court proceedings it has been stated that if information comes from another source a person can be prosecuted. I would question if this could  leave a participant open to being branded a tout if a case should arise. And considering not one of the Para's from Bloody Sunday has been arrested or prosecuted it could be argued that this process will serve a select few.

Whilst some may be deluded enough into believing that this new process puts the British establishment on a par with republican and loyalist groups maybe people should consider the many who have 'troubles-related' criminal convictions that have blighted them and held them back from opportunity since their release. Will they ever have their slate cleaned?

It seems if you're involved in the murder of 14 people on Bloody Sunday the Queen awards you, have a troubles related conviction even a trivial one from 40 years ago and it will haunt you forever. Furthermore if this process is genuine in that a war situation has been acknowledged, will the the British Government acknowledge their part in the deaths of ten the hunger-strikers who died in opposition to their criminalisation and brutalisation policy which continues today?

Another aspect of the latest deal which is deeply concerning is the views expressed by the following gentlemen: The First Minister Peter Robinson believes this deal provides an "agenda for a better government". The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan stated that the deal "sets out a plan for financial and welfare reform",whilst Mr McGuinness hailed it as a 'remarkable achievement'. Considering Mr McGuinness said the recent Stormont draft budget was the best deal possible, I would take what he says with a pinch of salt!

I can understand Peter Robinson hailing this deal as an agenda for better government as with the establishment of a Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition by June 2015 Peter and the unionist majority may be in a position to ensure their Twadell brethren have a leisurely stroll home, after all the powers for this are being devolved to Stormont. You could say keeping it in house!

Maybe Mr McGuinness could explain his view especially as his party promised during their latest publicity stunt to oppose Welfare Reform. I for one don't buy into this cushioned flexibility nonsense as in reality this is more debt, with two thirds of this 2 billion quid cushioned flexibility having to be repaid on top of our crippling levels of debt already accrued in our names.

Some of the outcomes of the recent talks just befuddle me! These remarkable achievements, well, just aren't that remarkable. It's often said that history is written by the victors, but the sad reality here is that history being rewritten on a constant basis to suit the maintenance of the political status quo and its middle managers. On top of this any semblance of resistance to financial terrorism against the people under the guise of austerity was wiped out by a faux deal which could be considered more like another retelling of the emperors new clothes than any genuine and meaningful attempt to create a better society.

On the 23rd of December 2014 our people were robbed, as a consequence of more deals beyond reason & thought!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

This grubby little statelet!

It was announced a few days ago that the Police Service Northern Ireland is to take over the work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) which is set to wind down this month.

Bloody Sunday 1972
This new investigations unit will consist of 70 police officers and staff with it's initial focus said to be on investigating the Bloody Sunday murders and reviewing the “On the Runs” letters. The announcement that two cases in particular will be given priority would suggest that once again the Bloody Sunday issue is being used as a political pawn whilst the 'On the run letters' are a reminder to some players of who continues to hold the full deck of cards.

In the past I remember thinking that the Bloody Sunday family members were lucky in comparison to the families of other victims, having been granted a full inquiry. However today I believe these people have been used and abused with their plight continually used as a smokescreen for the lack of progress, justice and democracy in this little statelet.

Name me any other 'democratic' country in the world where 13 people innocent people were brutally murdered in one day with the perpetrators and their paymasters known and then less than one year later their leader given an award by his monarch.

Name me any other 'democratic' country were after over 40 years no-one has been arrested for mass murder such as those on Bloody Sunday. To say this beggars belief is an understatement. Contrasting this we have two men in the north serving life sentences for the murder of a police officer in 2009. These two men, now known as the Craigavon 2 have been jailed on circumstantial evidence, missing evidence and on the word of a Walter Mitty with a drink problem and an imaginary dog. This grave miscarriage of justice could be a storyline from the TV fantasy show the Twilight Zone. Yet some how the facts of this case conveniently escape the notice of many including those keen to talk behind closed doors!

With the above cases in mind I would have deep reservations about the PSNI heading these investigations, not least due to their incestuous relationship with the RUC coupled with their failure to robustly investigate the death of one of their own officers.

In 2012 the BBC revealed that over 75% of civilian staff employed by the PSNI on temporary contracts were former RUC officers who had retired under the Patten redundancy scheme. Nearly half of these were involved in some of the most sensitive areas of policing, including intelligence. An October 2012 audit office report revealed that over 20% of all RUC officers who took Patten redundancy were later rehired by the PSNI.

This year Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire launched legal proceedings against the PSNI who had obstructed his investigations into 60 murder cases. Additionally the retired Police Officers Association attempted to take the Ombudsman to court over his findings in the case of the Good Samaritan Bombing. The association also threatened a boycott of ombudsman investigations into historical cases of alleged human rights breaches. So with the current and retired officers impeding historical investigations it must be asked what chance is there for future investigations?

If I was a Bloody Sunday family member I would be demanding an full independent investigation with international oversight as anything less is an insult to the intelligence of people who have suffered enough. If any of the so called nationalist politicians from Derry had any integrity they would be publicly demanding David Cameron fulfil his responsibilities on this matter when he arrives for more closed shop talks next week with Enda Kenny.

How often have we heard of the need to fulfil the Good Friday Agreement? The reason I bring this up is that this was the only deal people got to vote on. From shady deals at St Andrews, to the Haas talks a year ago the people have had no say. Yet in the next few weeks we are to learn if Stormont is to be responsible for corporation tax. Jesus help us!!!

A reduction in corporation tax potentially means more money for the rich and further hardship for the poor. Furthermore for a deal to be brokered the British government are insisting on the implementation of Welfare reform. People seem to forget that a few weeks ago the people who want to be responsible for corporation tax went cap in hand for a 100Million quid hand out from the British Treasury. Handing these clowns that level of fiscal control is like Guinness giving full control of St James Gate Brewery to someone with a Chronic Alcohol addiction – it just doesn't make sense, well that is unless it's Sinn Fein's unification strategy to bankrupt the north so London wants rid of us?

Tax expert Richard Murphy has warned that that the moment the corporation tax rate is cut we lose the same amount from the block grant. This means we lose the tax, the cut in the block grant and there is no guarantee of one extra job. If these plans don't help the public see that some Stormont representatives lack the capacity to make important decisions then nothing will.

Mr Murphy estimates that if the corporation tax is cut by 300 million quid, companies would need to generate and additional 2.4 billion quid in profits for this to be of benefit to the public purse. However considering the amount of tax paid by the Starbucks, Amazons and Ikeas I wouldn't be so sure of Stormont holding them to account. You only have to have watched the recent Spotlight
broadcasts to see how useless they are at protecting the public purse. And like those tax dodging companies they weren't breaking the law... they were working within the system.

And as in any self respecting banana republic, god help those who would raise their heads above the parapet to raise awareness of an amoral and unjust system. Three Derry men including a local Councillor are to face prison for painting political slogans on the city's walls.

Gary Donnelly was elected to the Derry/Strabane Super Council this year having topped the poll in his constituency. Whilst I would fundamentally disagree with Gary's political persuasion I recognise the sterling work he has been doing at a grass roots level for a number of years. This was reflected in his vote. Gary isn't your 'all suit and no substance' style Councillor, unlike some Gary's work is in his feet and not in his bank balance or expense account.

The sentence imposed on Gary and two others over a slogan they painted on the Derry Walls is overly harsh and politically motivated. Whilst every court case should be examined on it's merits, it beggars belief that shortly after the judge's ruling two drug dealers and a repeat child abuser were dealt with in a more lenient manner by the same court. Whilst I don't condone his actions, I recognise the thinking behind painting slogans or indeed 'the writing on the wall'.

The wall at Free Derry Corner with it's slogan was once referred to as graffiti. The inspiration for the slogan 'Welcome to Free Derry 'now known world wide came from a wall painted as part of the free speech campaign during a civil rights sit-in at Berkeley, California, in the 1960s. Today Free Derry Corner attracts thousands of tourists to the Bogside with the added bonus of the world famous murals, which further assist with depicting our turbulent past.

In his ruling the trial judge in the case appeared to take more issue over the use of the word internment suggesting that it had been resigned to the dustbin of history and that the very suggestion was but a poor reflection on the judiciary.

This would suggest that the message was more of a problem than the action. This decision which is due to appealed early in the new year serves to undermine the democratic process and sends the message that some are dealt with more harshly than others particularly those who are known to go against grain or as I would put it, those with an independent thought of their own.

During the Hunger Strikes the Derry Walls became a focal point in highlighting the severity of the action taken in a demand for political status and an end to inhumane treatment. In a leaflet published and distributed by the Derry H-Block committee in 1980 the committee raised issue over the priorities of local business people who viewed the messages on the walls as 'wanton destruction'.

Yet today some of those who sit in judgement of Gary Donnelly in the council chamber and in Stormont are the same people who supported the same action in the past and who condemned the businessmen for their lack of compassion. And if the truth be told, one of those who sought to deride Councillor Donnelly really should know better, as he was on on Hunger Strike in Long Kesh and was singled out on the Hunger Strike Committee Leaflet.
Look Raymond - Ye got a mention!

My question is simple where is your compassion for the growing number of people held on lengthy remand without trial and essentially where is your protest? Like it or not lengthy remand is tantamount to internment, new name same aim. With your memories seemingly lacking do your research and you will learn that internment has been around in every decade of the Stormont regime and that people have and always will oppose it irrespective of the name it's given. But then again as the self serving proponents and protectors of this grubby little statelet I should know to expect nothing less.

I wonder is if the PSNI will fully investigate the claims made recently in the BBC Spotlight programme? Claims involving millions of pounds of tax payers money paid out to invisible landlords and elusive research companies owned by members of the Sinn Fein's finance department, who allegedly receive no payment.

How can we as a society sit by and say nothing when men are being sent to gaol for political 'graffiti' whilst at the same time a blind eye is being turned to the misappropriation of tax payers money running into millions of pounds.

But then it would seem money is no option in these cases and that the law can turn a blind eye to maintain this endless railroading process some call the peace process.

What a crazy place we live in!!!!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Toilet rolls and curried yoghurt!

Having been suffering from a flu recently I have been watching much to my irritation the shenanigans of the Stormont dynasty coupled with the antics of their equally shifty counterparts in the south in Dole (Dail) Eireann.

Yesterday evening it was announced that the Irish Government should open the case of the Hooded men. This comes months after revelations of how the British Government misled the European Court of Human Rights during the trial case. Whilst the suggestion is indeed welcome I won't hold my breath given the close relationship between both governments who these days appear to be intertwined. The recent release of a video about the impending centennial of the 1916 rising featured no reference to the seven signatories of the proclamation of the Irish Republic but did manage to feature the British Prime Minister and British Queen. Now if that doesn't tell you about the subservient relationship between the Free State and British governments nothing ever will.

Additionally we must keep in mind that we are dealing here with a government who are attempting to introduce a water tax despite the Irish people have an exemption within an EU agreement on charges for domestic water use. What is quite frightening is that the contract Irish Water and the Irish Government expect people to sign states that they must seek advance written permission from Irish Water to recycle rain water from their guttering and driveways.  Which would suggest that Irish Water is now claiming ownership of rain water.

In legal terms damage by rainfall is considered an act of God as such insurance companies generally restrict liability. Does this now mean that anyone with a contract with Irish Water can hold them liable if their property suffers flood damage caused by rainfall? Or does this mean that Irish Water hold themselves on par with the almighty?

As equally absurd, in the north of the island we have the outstanding issue of elusive cultural societies with charitable status who rent space to political parties albeit at a high cost. Reading between the lines these societies would appear to be invisible “musical organisations that specialise in fiddling.” Maybe if the owner of the office Arlene Foster availed of had of spoken to the shinners, or to use their non de plume, the societies, he too may have qualified for charitable status, removing the need for Arlene to pay his rates via the public purse. Another issue of deep concern involves the amount of money being paid out for the rental of an over-sized office, which is rented by a Hussey who appears to be partial to a bit of role play.

Next we have Gregory Campbell, say what you like about him but he has always been consistent with his bigoted moronic rants. Lately Gregory's focus in the midst of economic despair has been on toilet paper, curry and yoghurt. I suppose you could argue that with the consumption of curried yoghurt coupled with the vast amount of verbal diarrhea spewed by Gregory one might require extra toilet paper. Gregory and his party leader will no doubt argue that his sentiments have been taken out of context however the reality is Gregory would rather clean his behind with any mention of promoting the Irish language than fulfill the promises outlined in the Good Friday Agreement. What makes the mind boggle further is these nonsensical rants seem to feature highly in news headlines yet appear to escape the attention of the equality commission who seem to make cakes and small businesses their priority.

Today the main news headlines involve the king of amnesia Gerry Adams, who used inappropriate language in a recent statement. Gerry has since taken to time to apologise for his remarks which included the word “bastards” explaining that he was referring to "bigots", and not all unionists. It might be an idea for Gerry to us the word the “bastards” when standing in the Dail pontificating about water charges to remind his cohorts that the water tax is unnecessary and unfair particularly as “ only our rivers run free” which is in no reference to the bottled Irish water sold by Sinn Fein at their Ard Fheis.

You could argue that with his apology Gerry has shown great leadership but then he is as selective with his apologies as he is with his capacity to recall events of the past. After all this is the same Gerry who had a list of alleged sex abusers posted through his letterbox and immediately arranged for it to be delivered to the Gardai. However in the case of his niece the best Gerry could muster was a call to social services over head lice and a signed copy of his book which featured a prominent dedication to his brother Liam (the abuser) who he claimed he was estranged from at that time.

Please don't be fooled by random comedic and choreographed radical outbursts. These headline grabbers are designed to deflect from issues such as the scale back on the police investigation into Bloody Sunday which seems to have escaped the notice of many of our politicians including those who reside locally. Other issues include austerity, the sneaky installation of water meters in areas of the north, the butchering of front line services, and the deaths of people unable to avail of much needed healthcare services, a miscarriage of justice, internment, and not forgetting attempts by the British government to erase the past, rewrite the past and evade justice.

Frankly our politicians have become an insult to human intelligence and now act as a promotional tool for the restoration of Direct British Rule. The recent Spotlight programme showed how our politicians here are more focused on how they can manipulate the system to line their own pockets yet cry foul when challenged over their actions. After all it's not their fault the system is open to abuse, some would even say they are just making good use of it!

Welcome to the island of equity, where elements of the Good Friday Agreement are akin to toilet paper and societies are measured on their financial value.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Blackstone's Ratio

On Friday November 14th I attended an event in the Tower Hotel in Derry. The event was held to highlight the plight of the Craigavon Two who it would seem are victims of a gross Miscarriage of Justice.

Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton have protested their innocence since their arrest. They are currently serving lengthy prison sentences for the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll who was callously gunned down in 2009. Their convictions have been secured on the on the most questionable evidence, yet despite this the silence around their issue remains astounding with particular reference to our seemingly disinterested politicians.

Imagine your child was serving a life sentence on this evidence:

1)The main witness for the prosecution 'Witness M' has been described as a Walter Mitty by his own family.

2)The witness came forward eleven months after the murder whilst heavily intoxicated. Furthermore the witness asked if he would be paid for providing evidence.

3)His eye witness account has been deemed a medical impossibility due to his visual impairment.

4)The witness claimed he had been walking his dog around the time Stephen Carroll was murdered. It later transpired that the witness did not own a dog.

5)His partner from the time refused to corroborate his version of events.

6)This witness has been found to be inconsistent with his evidence from the outset.

7)Security surveillance equipment had been tampered with by security services leading the disappearance of crucial data.

8)The partial finger print found on the murder weapon does not belong to either of the accused nor was their alleged role established by the prosecution.

As I listened to the campaigners at the above event I couldn't help but sympathise with the families of both men on the understanding that this could as easily be a member of my family, in the wrong place at the wrong time. The evidence cited above not only gives rise to reasonable doubt but is an absolute insult to the idea of natural justice and human intelligence.

With the above factors in mind it is clear we continue to live in a society that favours expedience over natural justice as was apparent in the cases of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and other less high profile cases.

The harsh reality is many of our people appear apathetic in this instance maybe even fearful of being branded anti- peace process or worse if they decide to speak out. But then this is to be expected with delusional and disinterested political and civic leaders who appear happy to let innocent people rot in jail rather than showing leadership.

Brendan Conville and John Paul Wooton continue to languish in prison on circumstantial evidence, tampered evidence and on the word of a visually impaired Walter Mitty character who is prone to heavy drinking and who claimed to be walking a dog which was later deemed imaginary . The whole thing is absurd, an affront to the notion of justice and would be no better than a comedic farce if it didn't involve the ruination of lives and a lack of investigation into the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll.

In 2008 Professor Graham Zellick, the  chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission in England, said the Court of Appeal should rule for retrials in cases where doubt has arisen over the safety of a conviction.

In his interview with the Independent in September 2008 the professor spoke of how “ The Court of Appeal ought to be more active in quashing convictions even though there has not been any irregularity in the trial process."

Professor Zellick also added that "The Court of Appeal is even more reluctant in 2008 than in the 1990s to quash convictions because they think they are unsafe.” 

And it would appear that they are now even more reluctant!

In his interview Professor Zellick made reference to the belief of English scholar William Blackstone who stated that “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer". Blackstone was an authoritative speaker on common law. The basis for the concept of “reasonable doubt” is reflected in this quote, known as “Blackstone’s ratio” which is still used today.

Sadly the case of the Craigavon could be considered something out of a policy, war criminal and genocidal maniac Pol Pot would have embraced. Pot believed it was "Better to arrest ten innocent people by mistake than free a single guilty party. "

So much for an era in which 'justice will be done and seen to be done.'

It would seem our justice system is a real as the dog in the case.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Monsignor Raymond Murray, Derry, 14 November 2014.

The Craigavon Two.

Yesterday evening I attended a public discussion on the plight of the Craigavon Two which was organised by their campaign group and held in the city's Tower Hotel. I had planned to write a piece on last nights event however Monsignor Murray kindly sent me his contribution. This is a great statement from a world renowned Human Rights stalwart.

Monsignor Raymond Murray
In October 1978 I delivered speeches to a hundred Congressmen in Washington DC and to the Ad Hoc Committee for Human Rights in Northern Ireland, Philadelphia. Among the demands I listed were an end to 7 Day Detention; an end to torture and ill treatment of arrested persons; an end to imprisonment without trial; an end to long remands without trial; an end to Special Diplock Courts; the release of 18 Irish prisoners in Britain who were innocent. We are still campaigning some forty years later against legal injustice. There is no adequate procedure for undoing miscarriages of justice.

Our sympathy is with the family of Constable Stephen Carroll, 48 year old Catholic member of the PSNI, murdered in the Lismore Manor area of Craigavon, Co. Armagh, in March 2009. We feel for his wife Kate Carroll, his son Shane, and all members of the family who have suffered grievously. The campaign for the Craigavon Two, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton sentenced for the murder, views their conviction as a miscarriage of justice. We also feel for them and their families. The campaign points out the flaws in witness and forensic evidence and one of our legal expert speakers on the panel this evening, Sarah Wilson (and assisted by Angela Nelson in this case) has outlined the case of their innocence. Leaflets are also available to you summarizing the flaws. 

The campaign for the Craigavon Two is mounting at home and abroad and in particular in the USA due to the great work of Helen McClafferty. It follows fast on the recent campaigns for the release of Marian Price, Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough. John Finucane, solicitor for John Paul Wooton, at a campaign meeting in Belfast, in August this year, said 'A campaign will strengthen any legal avenue and I have seen that personally in my father's case' (i.e. Pat Finucane). We are now seeing also an extraordinary development of international concern in the case of the Craigavon Two (and Julian Icom, Canada, present here this evening, will spread the campaign in Canada, Cuba, and Venezuela). After attending the appeal in their case we were surprised by the long delay in the verdict and shocked at the judgement. We were so confident that they would be released. Now the case goes to the Supreme Court. Your support is urgently needed. Write please to the Secretary of State, Teresa Villiers, to the Minister for Justice David Ford, and to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny. There has been little interest in trials in the North by the Irish Government when doubt is cast on a conviction in a Special Diplock Court. Yes, some TDS in recent years have entered campaigns for justice and are involved in the Craigavon Two campaign. We are grateful to them. Bring your view also before local politicians North and South and to human rights organisations.

A year ago I spoke at a Conference in London organised by personnel from Wiltshire University. After my speech a man approached me flanked by two women. It was Billy Power and his two daughters coming to greet me. The last time I saw him was in Brixton Prison. Billy as you know, innocent man, one of the Birmingham Six, spent 16 years in prison. Fr Denis Faul and I wrote a pamphlet The Birmingham Framework within a year after the conviction of the Birmingham Six and also a broadsheet on the forensic aspects of the case - there was ample evidence in those two publications to prove that they were innocent. Corruption of law meant that they and other innocents at that time were condemned to suffer in jail. Why do we still have to fight cases of legal injustice? I recall after giving a copy of our pamphlet The Birmingham Framework to a journalist asking him some weeks later what he thought, 'Guilty as hell' he said. Yes it took 16 years to build up the truth against hostile government and weak media, to establish counter-action to sentences which found the men guilty. We don't want such a delay in this case. Gerry Conlan lately deceased, R.I.P., one of the Guilford Four, joined in this campaign for the release of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton and called loudly for their release. He poured scorn on the evidence against them. He knew what it was like to suffer as an innocent in prison. He did not want them to suffer a similar fate as himself.
Corruption of law!
 We had internment in the North in every decade of the Stormont monolithic unionist government. In the 1970s it was introduced with ill-treatment and torture- besides the hooded men in Ballykelly some 400 men within a few months were severely tortured and ill-treated in the Palace Barracks Holywood and Girdwood Park Barracks, Belfast . Even after internment was formally ended in 1975 – a substitute was found – doubling sentences and imposing charges so that innocent people were held in jail for a year and a half before they were found innocent at their trial. The English government was found guilty of torture by the European Commission on Human Rights and guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment by the European Court of Human Rights – their injustice is recorded in legal text books - and the Hooded Men are now bringing their case back to the European Court of Human Rights to have it declared that they had been tortured. Ian Cobain's book Cruel Britannia - A Secret History of Torture (2012) showed how the use of torture had long been a tradition and policy of the British Government. There is still no sense of guilt and reform in British governments regarding the tragedies of the conflict here: are the Ombudsman and The Historic Enquiry Team's work now to be wiped out with a denial of funding and a firm attitude threatening the closure of documentation regarding state violence and crime ? Speaking at the University of Ulster in early November this year European human rights commissioner Nils Muiznieks insisted that the British Government must uphold the rule of law and claimed that it had breached the European Convention of Human Rights by not conducting independent and prompt investigations into conflict killings. The British Government for forty years has avoided its responsibilities in relation to killings carried out by the security forces. Mr Muiznieks said that budget cuts 'should not be used as an excuse to hamper the work of those working for justice'. The British government in these cases and in the cases of convicted innocent people continues to fail victims.

We never have had adequate procedure for undoing miscarriages of justice. We still have Special Courts. During the 30 years conflict Diplock Courts were not acceptable by people seeking truth and justice, and present traces of its workings in the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007 in non-jury courts with their aura of injustice, are not acceptable. The rule of law in N. Ireland was corrupted by the use of illegal methods of interrogation and by the official efforts to cover up the use of these methods. The end can never justify the means. Justice not expediency is always the principle. Justice, freedom and truth are helped by jury courts. Confidence in the protection of the law is vital to a free society. To retain non-jury courts for certain individuals leads to selectivity and the danger of prejudice. If this is seen in prosecution and preferring of charges then confidence in the courts is undermined. It casts doubts on the objectivity of law officers of the Crown and the police. Law officers depend on security forces (‘intelligence’) for information about crimes committed by private individuals thought to be members or former members of prescribed organizations, and are therefore limited by the quality of their sources of information. Selectivity at stages of the application of the law disturbs peace and justice. During the conflict Catholics/nationalists felt they were denied civil rights and legal justice. This led to alienation. Any measure that indicates retention of selectivity casts doubts on the practice of justice. Will the Stormont government face the problem, has it an interest in it? 
And what of ourselves? How can we fail to be anxious and concerned when we hear of injustice inflicted on individuals? The state is supposed to be the servant of its citizens not the master. It always comes down to the individual with a name, a human being. Names, yes, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton and their tormented families. They deserve our special attention. We must not seek excuses for ourselves in the matter of injustice by just proclaiming the abstract. We thank you for attending this meeting. It is an indication that you want to be guided by justice and as you have heard this evening where there is injustice there is suffering. I finish with words of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton themselves:
'While we must acknowledge that this partial court system is the only mechanism available to us to obtain our eventual release, we also acknowledge that the only real momentum for the realisation of that eventuality will come from you, the public, and not from a system where the presumption of innocence has been replaced by a single judge who along with his traditional role also fulfils the role of the entire jury single-handedly. We place our faith in the jury that really matters and that is the jury of public opinion. We ask that you demand justice for the Craigavon Two and justice for all'.
Raymond Murray, Derry Meeting, 14 December 2014.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Never a dull moment!

A few observations:

Over the past few months Derry has experienced the occasional upsurge in so called 'dissident attacks.' These attacks could often be seen as timely in that they mostly serve to deflect from important issues and recent announcements such as the millions of pounds being removed from the economy in the form of cuts to front-line services. Now, before I go any further I’m not being dismissive of the danger of such an attack, just that the timing coincided with the announcement that Stormont is going to implement cuts to everything that moves, well except their expense accounts, but that’s another story.

This announcement should have sparked demonstrations similar to those we witnessed in the south of Ireland over the implementation of water charges, yet in Derry the most we witnessed was a dangerous device being launched at a passing police car. I would say to those behind the recent attacks, your actions are negatively impacting on local people and local youth and will no doubt assist with securing more money for the police budget whilst shifting the focus from the total failure of our cowboy politicians.

So for those among you who feel you are on the road to a freeing Ireland my advice is get a grip of yourselves as you are as much of a threat to the British Establishment as the Salvation Army is.

Realistically, there’s no need for dissident republicans to try and bring down Stormont, the 108 cowboys are running it into the ground quicker than you can say ‘gay cake’.

My question is how many cuts to services people will tolerate by the Stormont fat cats before they realise that all those loans and money on tick from the British treasury have to be repaid. If you think we’re in bother now give it a few years, it’s almost like Edward J Smith the captain of the Titanic deciding to play chicken with an iceberg.

Over 24 hours after the attack in Creggan the PSNI in their treatment of residents and young people were considered by some to be acting in a manner worthy of the B Specials. As someone who is not selective with condemnation, I would call on the politicians and moral guardians to condemn these actions which in some cases amounted to child abuse, but then again I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to open their chirpers.

Another issue that has captured a lot of attention this week is that of a cake which has become known as the 'gay cake.' The cake which was ordered at an Ashers bakery in Belfast earlier this year caused a lot of controversy when the bakery declined the custom on the basis that the request was "at odds" with their Christian beliefs. The Northern Ireland Equality Commission in their recent correspondence to the bakery last week said that unless the firm acknowledged their breach of equality laws and offered compensation they would begin legal proceedings.

Ironically in the cases at Stormont where some law makers are persistent equality law breakers the equality commission seem to take a more relaxed approach. The Equality Commission took until October 2013 to enter the debate at Stormont requesting that leadership to  shown over issues including gay marriage, gay and unmarried couples having the right to adopt and permitting gay men to donate blood. These issues had previously been the subject of costly legal challenges via the public purse by the then DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots.

With the above issues in mind I would question why the equality commission have never launched a challenge over the breaches of equality legislation at Stormont yet are overly keen to drag a local business through a costly court process over a cake? The critical side of me can't help but wonder if this selectivity around issues of equality is influenced by the fact the Equality Commission is a sponsored department of the Office of the First and deputy First Minister. Surely if those in government were to set a better example in terms of adhering to equality legislation or were at least reprimanded for their failures local businesses would consider reviewing their own policies.

What was laughable today, was the Nolan show this morning, Catriona Ruane from Sinn Fein told a Catholic priest who had disengaged with 'gay groups' over the cake issue that it wasn't for her to tell any church how they should engage with a community, but if the leadership of the catholic church feels it cant do the job then 'somebody else should be doing it'. and I would say to Ms Ruane, please pass on those sentiments to your party and their buddies, because the people North & South are being failed by those elected, it's simple really, you can't have your cake and eat it.

And on the topic of sugary things Nils Muiznieks an EU official announced yesterday that the government needs to conducting, independent and reasonably prompt investigations into troubles related killings by British military and police. Further stating that budget cuts cannot negate the need to uphold the rule of law and how this is currently in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Alas one more to the chorus of Haas and Larkin!!!!! 

In a response from the Northern Ireland Office a spokesperson said the UK government has a "strong track record in upholding human rights, and takes its human rights obligations extremely seriously". At this statement alone I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Britain's strong track record in upholding human rights can be summed up in 3 words, ‘The Hooded Men’.

The NIO spokesperson then went a step further saying "We are working assiduously on a range of processes under way which relate to Northern Ireland's past, including very extensive disclosure exercises.” "The government is currently engaged in intensive talks with Northern Ireland's political leaders and the Irish government on a range of matters including how to approach the legacy of the past. The Secretary of State believes that these talks provide a crucial opportunity to address this pressing issue."

Availing of the Control and F function on my laptop to ensure I hadn't missed anything I found no mention of the word prosecution. This will be case a of all those parties involved in discussions trying to work out how to best cover their asses in terms of avoiding prosecution.

I don’t know what island of equals they’re all on, but I can’t seem to find it on a map maybe it’s five miles west of Hy-Brasil?

Lastly yesterday was a busy day as it was also revealed that British intelligence agencies have policies to allow their staff access to communications between lawyers and their clients. These actions conflict with Lawyer/client confidentiality and as such campaigners fear this will have a troubling impact on the British justice system.

The guidance was disclosed for the first time at a tribunal which examines complaints against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. It would seem that the idea of big brother is not only confined to channel five. But then again, with the NIO lauding the British Government’s Human Rights record, maybe, just maybe, they’re just accessing these communications to protect the accused human rights!!

So to sum up, over the last few weeks we have had the issue of gay cakes, religious bakers, an unequal Equality Commission, Dissident style Dukes of Hazard, EU officials in harmony with Haas and a goodbye to lawyer and client confidentiality.

Welcome to NORN IRON, please feel free to digest as much processed nonsense as you can possibly stomach.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Resist Tory Cuts they said!!!!

Presenters of Rip off Britain!

Dear Rip Off Britain

I would like to draw your attention to a situation that I believe warrants your immediate attention and expertise. On an annual basis here in the North of Ireland millions of pounds via the British treasury are wasted by a group of cowboys acting as a government known as the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Between them these cowboys are representative of just over 50% of the population. And thanks to system known as proportional representation, a complex mathematical equation designed to get as many undesirables elected, we have 108 undesirables who are about as useful as Captain Hook in gynecology clinic.

Over the past few months one section of this Assembly known as Sinn Fein have been asking ordinary people (including those who don't even get an average industrial wage) to join them in their alleged campaign to Stop Tory Cuts.

Additionally this request has been delivered door to door in the form of colourful literature which contains statements such as“ If implemented these cuts will drive thousands into poverty, homelessness and desperation. Sinn Fein will continue to stand up for all communities being targeted by the Tories.” On the flip-side of the literature it also states that “the Assembly and the Executive MUST defend your rights.” Followed by “the Assembly and Executive MUST defend families, children, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.”

The above suggestions are all fairly admirable however just this evening it was announced that Sinn Fein and their counterparts the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) have voted in support of a draft budget which is estimated to slice £870 million out of our already crumbling economy. Then to add insult to injury these cowboys have raked up another £100 million in debt that will be added to their debts accrued through the use of Private Finance Initiatives which is a staggering £250 million per annum. That said with members of the Assembly earning over 40 thousand quid + expenses + perks and the Dawg and deputy Dawg earning £71,434.00, they can afford to be a bit flash with the cash.

This acceptance of the draft budget not only completely negates the Sinn Fein stance but showed that their party president's (Gerry Adams) recent comments that Sinn Fein would be willing to allow the Executive to fall before it imposes budget cuts were meaningless.

Since the announcement today that Sinn Fein have begun the process of implementing those Tory cuts, sources say they are also involved in fund-raising to get Gerry a new spine. It is envisaged that Gerry may or may not have this procedure carried out in the private Manhattan clinic where he had his arse done.

During a televised news interview with the BBC, Martin McGuinness a senior Sinn Fein Minister and Deputy First Minister of the North explained that a failure to implement the draft budget would lead to the collapse of the current administration and that anyone who believes otherwise would need to give themselves a shake, maybe Martin should have told Gerry that before he went shouting the odds about bringing the institutions down.

What's even more astounding is that today as Gerry forgot himself and praised the cuts as leadership, Dathai McKay was complaining on the Sinn Fein website that the cuts would result in a hospital closure. Dathai said '“The DUP is targeting front-line services in the health service, and that is shameful.' Yet this totally contradicts Martin McGuinness's claim on the very same Sinn Fein website also published today that front-line services are protected in budget agreement.

Competition time - spot the odd one out!

It is clear these people are incapable of making decisions or standing over them nor are they capable of ensuring value for money. So Rip Off Britain as your show is funded by public money  I'd like you to give me value for money and have your best crack team of investigators, investigate these crackpot cowboys and provide me with answers to the following questions:

Do we the downtrodden have a case under the Sales of Goods and Services Act 1982?

Do Sinn Fein have a case to answer in terms of false advertising in respect of the  promises contained in their recent campaign literature?

Lastly it is common knowledge that you can get into trouble with the law for impersonating a police officer, taking this into consideration I would query if those involved in impersonating a government at Stormont are breaking any laws?

I look forward to your response

Thank you in advance

A Derry Mother!

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Lonely Parapet!

Anthony and Carrie
Today I read a very thought provoking and disturbing article penned by Carrie McIntyre who amongst other things is the wife of political commentator and former political prisoner Anthony McIntyre.

In her article Carrie draws comparison between her personal experience and the suffering and anguish felt by Maria Cahill, with Carrie having been vilified for her vocal stance on injustice and for her involvement in Boston Oral history project. It is clear to any objective individual that the Boston History project was carried out in good faith with it's purpose to gather testimonies from republican and loyalist paramilitaries to ensure their side of the story is told in the future.

I first met Carrie McIntyre whilst I was propping up a large picture board in support of Marian Price during the 2013 annual March for Justice in Derry. As I waited for fellow campaigners to get off the bus which had arrived from Belfast Carrie walked towards me, introduced herself and then to my delight thanked me for my efforts in the campaign for Marian Price which for me was somewhat of an unexpected and rare occurrence.

At the end of the march Carrie again approached me to say goodbye and wished me well. The next time I met Carrie was in her home last year in the company of mutual friends. During the short visit I could sense that both she and Anthony were under extreme pressure despite the brave faces they put on it.

As someone who has highlighted human rights and social justice issues I have the utmost respect for the McIntyres who not only raise their heads above the parapet but when needed stick their heads through it. I am today deeply saddened to learn of the severe impact the continued vilification of this family has had on them, particularly Carrie. Anthony who spent years in prison for troubles related offences spent a large part of his prison sentence on the blanket protest which has no doubt taken it's toll both mentally and physically. Sadly years on it would appear that he is now suffering at the hands of those he once called comrades, something that has been ongoing since he and Carrie spoke out against the murder of Joe O'Connor in broad daylight in Belfast.

Admiration is all well and good but it is clear Anthony and Carrie are in need of more than admiration they are in need of what they have given and continue to give to others and that is full support. I must stress this is no attempt on my part to dismiss the support they have and continue to receive. No family should have their name dragged through the mud or plastered on walls for avoiding revisionism and telling the truth.

No person should be reliant on medication as a consequence of living in fear for speaking their mind and fundamentally no woman or man should fear to sleep because of veiled threats from those who ought to know better. Those who pay tokenistic lip service against such behaviour, those who vilify and criminalise murdered teenager Paul Quinn, and those who belittle the bravery of Mairia Cahill.

Those involved in this endless vilification of the McIntyre family are merely justifying and fueling the malevolence of British establishment who I would add were relentless in their quest to access and compromise the Boston project. With these tapes said to be worthless in a court of law we can only assume these efforts were made to either strengthen their hold in the north, cause further division or to ensure that history is written by them as the victors. My guess is they will be successful with all three.

For those blind to the above factors I would add that the British establishment are now in a privileged position in that they have mastered their age old art of divide conquer and employed it to great effect here in the north as they continue to peddle their part as a neutral buffer between warring sectarian muck savages. Further to this and to reinforce their position they present to the world the hilarious ongoing comedy of the numpty narcissists in Stormont as democracy in action. And if I'm honest each time I see the footage on TV of the Carson statue on the long drive up to Stormont i'm always waiting on Woody Allen or Mel Brooks to come tumbling out from behind Carson in a fit of laughter at how we've been had.

But this is no comedic farce, yet it remains a farce nonetheless and the sad truth from reading between the lines in Carrie's statement is that it is clear that she continues to knock on doors for support. So the question is do we sit back and allow her to continue down a lonely path or do we join her to ensure her knock is heard and her call is answered? Do we ignore the plights of the Quinn family in South Armagh, Mairia Cahill, or the next victim of injustice who has the courage like the McIntyre's to raise their heads above that lonely parapet?

These people cannot and should not be held accountable for the action or in-actions of the British State, irrespective of how their cohorts try to justify or spin it.

Ironically as the McIntyres continue to suffer and lose sleep the members of Northern Ireland Assembly who have remained silent on the issue are currently involved in promoting a new initiative in an attempt to deal with the past. This initiative known as a truth recovery process will involve encouraging former paramilitaries to come forward and have their version of events documented in order to shed light on the past. Sound familiar?

The difficulty with this truth recovery commission is depending on the immunity offered and secured, the submission of statements for some could result in a two year prison sentence as was agreed under the Good Friday Agreement. Were as with the Boston tapes there is seemingly less chance of securing a conviction.

So lets say we apply the logic of those involved in demonising the McIntyre family to the proposed truth recovery process, with this logic it could be argued that those behind the initiative are engaged in attempts to initiate a type of touting programme? Yet I doubt these names will ever appear on any wall.

Maybe if some of those involved in vilifying the McIntyre family would take time and form an opinion of their own they would realise that they too could find themselves in a similar position and for merely formulating a different opinion. 

Onwards and Upwards!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Two sides of the same coin!

Maria Cahill

I have been following the bravery of Belfast woman Mairia Cahill closely. The recent revelations that came via the BBC Spotlight programme have sparked a lot of interest but mostly fury.

I met Mairia Cahill two years ago when she came to live in  Derry.  Prior to that, through a mutual friend we became acquainted via Facebook. Through our chats  I could sense that Mairia was somewhat of a solitary person who took comfort in the company of her family and a select few, which was hardly surprising considering her suffering and the struggle she faced. On a personal level I have always been moved by Maria's courage, persevering spirit, strength of character and  indomitable spirit. 

 Mairia Cahill was let down by members of the Republican Movement, the State and those in the community who turned their backs on her. It is exactly these attitudes that keep and kept the perpetrators of such monstrous acts free to hurt again.

Furthermore some including those who claimed to be representative of the people felt it best to keep Maria's issue hidden, or depending on your view, in house. It is unbelievable that anyone could feel it was appropriate to take an abused child to 'face' her alleged abuser? But then this type of activity was exposed before in the case of Aine Tyrell. I would also add that it defies logic that someone could feel it appropriate to advise an abused child to seek counseling and then fail to inform the police or take action themselves? And the two people I'm referencing in these instances are both elected representatives!

Now just when you think you've heard it all....

It was announced a few days ago that the investigation into abuse that took place in the Kincora boys home in Belfast will not be part of a UK wide investigation. What needs to be questioned is why this case is subject to exclusion with Belfast supposedly part of the United Kingdom?

The Stormont assembly recently backed a motion that said allegations MI5 had been involved in covering up abuse at the Kincora boys home could not be adequately investigated in any way other than by a Westminster-led UK inquiry.

However, British Secretary of State Theresea Villiers stated on Tuesday that as child protection is now a devolved matter, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry, currently sitting at Banbridge courthouse was the better forum to investigate the allegations. Theresa Villiers also said the UK government and its agencies, including the Ministry of Defence and the security service MI5 would give the HIA inquiry "the fullest possible degree of co-operation". The fullest possible degree of co-operation, doesn't really inspire confidence, and really don't be surprised if a public immunity interest certificate appears.

With MI5's alleged involvement in the cover up of this scandal how can there be a thorough investigation? MI5 are unaccountable to the institutions set up under devolution therefore these claims cannot be investigated by anyone outside of the British Government. And if by a chance Mi5 was found culpable in the abuse that took place through Kincora, I feel I can safely say that there is a snowballs chance in hell of anyone being taken to task for it.

The question now is how far will the state and those now is positions of power go to protect themselves? People have always known that the there was a dirty war taking place in the North, the terrifying thing is that we will never know the extent of it.

Clint Massey
What we do know and take some comfort from is that through the bravery of people such as Mairia Cahill and Kincora survivor Clint Massey, the innocent victims who were caught in a crossfire that didn't contain a single bullet do have some hope of getting justice and closure they deserve.

And for that I am grateful for their courage, as for the others, who covered up abuse, protected abusers and terrified the survivors of abuse, they're just two sides of the same vile coin.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Carr, driven by you!!!!!

Councillor Sean Carr
Over the past few months I like many others have watched with great unease as a local family have fallen foul of what appears to be an SDLP witch hunt. The Carr family are a well respected bunch from Abbey Park in Derry. Councillor Sean Carr, a local undertaker, is known throughout this city for his tireless efforts and commitment to the people of Derry. On a personal level Sean Carr is one of the few Councillors I would contact, as is the case with my wider family members.

A few years ago as part of a residents group myself and others were faced with the impossible task of seeking answers from Derry City Council, answers which should have been readily available to us as ratepayers. During this time Sean Carr was the only Councillor to speak out and provide answers to our questions.

Additionally when I fell foul of an SDLP bully with an allergy to questioning, Sean during a heated meeting with the SDLP Chief Executive Michael Savage spoke out on my behalf when others were content to sit back and say nothing.

Just this year the Carr family came under the spotlight when Sean's son Jimmy, who at that point was a sitting Councillor, was informed two days prior to the local election that the SDLP had withdrawn their support for him as a candidate. This followed allegations of inappropriate messages which were alleged to have been sent via a council iPad. The situation was further exacerbated when Sean Carr's name mysteriously disappeared from a sample ballot paper which had been circulated in the Bogside by the SDLP.

In fairness Jimmy Carr and myself have had a bit of a turbulent relationship but in the grand scheme of things Jimmy is generally a good kid with a good heart, who I should add was later cleared of the allegations against him. Despite this Jimmy has never received an apology from the SDLP who treated him in a manner worthy of Stalin.

I have just today contacted the SDLP to air my grievance and to advise of the knock on effect the treatment of the Carr family  may have on the party particularly in the run up to the Westminster election. My views were listened to however I doubt they will contribute in any way to resolving this issue as i suspect the primary focus for some within the SDLP is to ensure the mayor gets a seat!

I would further add that the SDLP members behind this latest fiasco have as much interest in the truth as I have in shark fishing..

In the event this issue cannot be sorted within the SDLP I personally vow to support Sean Carr if he later chooses to continue his work as a Councillor on an independent basis. Furthermore it must be acknowledged that the Carr family clearly have the support of a broad range of people in the wider community. As such I would take this opportunity to remind the SDLP as they approach the next election that people do not take kindly to decent people being treated like dirt. 

The SDLP should be doing what it can to keep the Sean Carr's of the party as anything else defies logic. But then again this is the party who refused accept the outcome of a report they commissioned in relation to the public perception of the party.

On a separate note here are two facts for you to think about:

Emile Durkheim, a French Sociologist, was a major proponent of structural functionalism, a macro perspective which acknowledges the need for inequality.

Lastly, Clint Eastwood was a Cowboy!