‘Unite’ Trade Union To Picket DUP & Sinn Fein Over Welfare Cuts

Unite community activists protest devastating impact of Tory austerity cuts

Changes to social welfare provision will mean most vulnerable face devastating income cuts

Lowering corporation taxes will mean hundreds of millions in deeper cuts to public services

Speaking ahead of planned protests by Unite community branches outside DUP and Sinn Fein offices tomorrow (Saturday, 28th November 2015 at 1-2pm); Unite Community Organiser, Albert Hewitt, expressed his union’s concerns over the likely impact of devastating cuts facing local communities:

“Our community activists have led the way in terms of highlighting the devastating impact cuts to social welfare provisions and tax credits are likely to have on the most vulnerable in our society. We have also highlighted the impact that cuts to Legal Aid are having in terms of cutting access to legal redress over unfair welfare decisions – this protest is part of that wider campaign against Tory austerity measures.

“Last November’s budget heralded unprecedented cuts to public services – it is likely that future budgets will be even more destructive. As if these were not enough, George Osborne is currently seeking reductions of up to 24% in Departmental budgets – cuts on this scale are driven by an ideologically-motivated desire to dismantle core public services. These cuts are unconscionable and offer nothing to all communities in Northern Ireland.

“Working class communities are rightfully very concerned about the scale and severity of the expenditure reductions which will be forced through by the Tory government. The budget does not recognise the higher objective need existing in Northern Ireland, a society still transitioning conflict, and will be deeply divisive in terms of impact. The recent deal between the parties ties the hands of the NI Executive in the face of further and deeper Tory austerity cuts in the future.

“Perhaps of greatest concern is the deal’s proposal to reduce corporation tax to 12.5% in an unwinnable race-to-the-bottom on global tax haven status. No one knows just how much this will cost but we can be certain that this will mean hundreds of millions of pounds of further cuts to public expenditure budgets at a time we cannot afford them. Our communities deserve better. These protests send a clear signal that Unite in the community will be at the forefront of the campaign against austerity in Northern Ireland”, Mr Hewitt concluded.

Fresh Start Or An Old Sticking Plaster? An Alternative Suggestion….

U.S.-based political consultant Michael McDowell (no relation to the other one!) offers some critical thoughts on the so-called ‘Fresh Start’ deal at Stormont and some alternative ideas for reform. This article first appeared in The Belfast Telegraph.


Peter & Marty sign the new ‘Fresh Start’ agreement. But whose dingaling is bigger?

(The photo above, of NI’s beloved leaders and fathers of their people, accompanied this article when it appeared in The Belfast Telegraph. I was in two minds whether to use it when I noticed something really, really interesting. If you look at the radiator cover behind them you’ll see two contraptions with handles sitting on top. I’ll bet these are the official seals of office, one for the First Minister, on Peter Robinson’s side, the other for Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister, on his side. The interesting point to note is that the First Minister’s contraption appears distinctly larger than the Deputy’s. So much for claims by SF that the offices are co-equal. The people who designed them must have done this on purpose to send a simple message: the two offices do not have the same ranking. Or to put it another way: Peter’s dingaling is bigger than Marty’s dingaling!)


Stormont Fresh Start: Sticking plaster approach to a festering wound will not suffice

The so-called “agreement” between the DUP and Sinn Fein last week – and it is those two parties alone which have agreed, not, please note, the other three parties in the Executive – is a weak attempt to respond to the serious, medium-to-long-term problems of the Government of Northern Ireland.
The devil is in the detail and much is, yet again, promised but not delivered, so claims that this “consolidates the peace… secures stability… enables progress… and offers hope” are aspirational only.

A Fresh Start is yet another sticking plaster on the failing body of the Good Friday Agreement. It gets us only past the May 2016 election while continuing to guarantee generous salaries and benefits for ministers, MLAs, party political advisers and others for another four to five years.

Similarly, Peter Robinson’s announced resignation as First Minister, many months ahead, does not mean root-and-branch change in the ailing governance of the province.

This latest crisis grew out of the two paramilitary-related murders of ‘Jock’ Davison and Kevin McGuigan, but, importantly, the “new” version of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) proposed to handle such outrages is entirely shorn of the old IMC’s key power – ie, to recommend a party’s exclusion from Government for breaches of the Mitchell Principles of non-violence.

Clearly, Sinn Fein insisted on this exclusion and the DUP acquiesced in it, returning with unseemly speed to its ministries and perks, and we now are to have an IMC Mk II without teeth.

Plus, the new IMC is to meet only once a year, it seems. Yes, we have several provisions in A Fresh Start for more PSNI/Garda co-operation on cross-border organised crime, paramilitary excesses and so on, but this should already be ongoing.

This is expected in a democratic society – especially 17 years on.

The gaping holes in this latest document are lack of provisions for victims and the past, which are once more kicked into the long grass, plus much talk but no action and much foot-dragging on flags and parades.

Yes, there is mention of reducing the truly excessive number of MLAs (108), but not until after the May election. Why wait?

Work was supposedly being done on this, but it seems politically convenient to keep the gravy train full for several more five-year terms.

No wonder the public mood is sour on politicians.

Yes, too, there is mention of reducing the number of ministers/departments from – for a small jurisdiction like Northern Ireland – 12 to nine. But when will this happen? By the May election? We shall see.

What odds does one place on firmly ring-fencing the illegitimate use of Assembly petitions of concern, which have been ordered up for utterly cynical purposes by the DUP and SF just recently? That is one particular get-out-of-jail-free option the two big parties will be loath to give up.

True, an official Opposition is talked about, but the details in this 67-page document are frustratingly vague on how that is to come about or to operate effectively.

As for the reduction in corporation tax to match the Republic’s 12.5%, be careful what you wish for. Serious economists are warning that the massive loss in tax revenue will need to be quickly made up in domestic and foreign investment – and this in a climate of slow growth globally, competition with the Republic and a mediocre record of job creation in Northern Ireland, with emphasis on job “announcements” but fuzzy maths on job losses.

This tax cut is almost two-and-a-half years ahead and any consequent holes in the NI Budget could badly damage the already-precarious economic well-being of the poorest in the community, who are already endangered by London-mandated welfare cuts.

A hefty cut in corporation tax is not a panacea for making Northern Ireland into the South Korea of Western Europe. And the US and the European Commission are not impressed by the Republic’s arguments that its low corporation tax is “fair”.

The gridlock in the Executive and Assembly will inevitably return because the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is just not fit-for-purpose any longer and this latest tinkering agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein is largely a smoke-and-mirrors exercise.

The current Executive and Assembly will sooner rather than later come to a point of no return, because the functionaries of both the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Civil Service are entrenched against reform that could create genuine power-sharing, not the current, sordid divvying-up of power by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

It is high time to change the frozen thinking in London, Dublin and Belfast, who are victims of “policy paralysis”. Policy paralysis is a term applied to bureaucracies, which, once they carefully build a new policy or system, are intellectually and administratively “paralysed” or “captured” by it and refuse to alter course – even in the face of chronic dysfunction.

In short, even when the policy is obviously no longer working as intended or is about to collapse, the officials responsible take the same actions over and over again, foolishly expecting different results each time, rather than radically reforming the failing policy.

The repeated and worsening deadlock is a classic case of policy paralysis. It is the triumph of hope over experience, tinkering with the wheezing 17-year-old Good Friday Agreement car, when the only solution is to change the engine, not just replace the gearbox, buy new tyres, try a different brand of petrol or oil, or replace the battery.

Let Enda Kenny and David Cameron have their officials order up a new reformed Good Friday Agreement fit for purpose not only for 2015/2016, but a decade ahead and which stipulates a voluntary (not compulsory) coalition of parties in the Executive.

If the local parties can’t agree then they should be told there will be direct rule from London or a diluted form of joint-authority with Dublin, and that their bloated numbers, salaries and expenses are ended.

London and Dublin can put together a package including a code of collective Cabinet responsibility for ministers so that corrupt or maverick heads of departments can be ousted by a weighted majority in the Executive.

Let us have a designated leader of the official Opposition in the Assembly and an Opposition with real powers to hold ministers to account and probe and issue subpoenas for testimony, for example, on paramilitary breaches or on issues such as Nama.

In addition, let the British and Irish governments keep the option of putting such a political package to the people of Northern Ireland in a referendum, as was successfully done in 1998.

Or let London and Dublin hold a Northern Ireland election on the package on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

It is, indeed, time for a “fresh start” – not the stale offering of last week.

Michael HC McDowell is an international affairs consultant and former Northern Ireland journalist who has worked in Cambridge, Massachusetts, New York City, Toronto and Washington DC, where he has lived since 1988

Frank Hegarty Comes Back To Haunt Provos And The ‘Fresh Start’ Deal

Was I the only person to wonder whether Sinn Fein, MI5, the old RUC Special Branch and the British Army’s Force Research Unit might have breathed a collective sigh of relief when the talks that led to the recent so-called ‘Fresh Start’ deal managed not to reach agreement on how to tackle the North’s bloody past?

I say ‘a sigh of relief’ when perhaps a mutual pat on the back might be more appropriate. According to this explanation of what happened, it is at least conceivable that Sinn Fein made a demand – for unimpeded access to secret British papers – which both they and the Brits knew could be credibly rejected by Whitehall. And so the effort was abandoned, seemingly ad infinitum.

And so the show rumbles on with arguably the most destabilising post-conflict element unresolved but leaving behind a distinct suspicion that both the British and the Provos have so many ugly skeletons rattling away in various cupboards that both would rather that the past would just go away.

That the past has no intention of being so obliging was forcefully underlined this week when the son of executed IRA informer Frank Hegarty went public with a demand that Martin McGuinness, at the time of the Hegarty killing the IRA’s Northern Commander, be questioned about his part in his father’s 1986 killing.

Choosing his words with evident care, Ryan Hegarty told the BBC:

He (Martin McGuinness) was around when things were happening. He was a regular visitor to my grandmother’s house. I’m not implicating him but he was there.

Thebrokenelbow.com has posted in some depth about the Hegarty affair – accessible here – drawing both on my work as a reporter in the North and Liam Clarke’s informative biography of Martin McGuinness.

According to Clarke an extensive RUC investigation into the killing was on the point, in late 1993, of charging McGuinness with murder when a political intervention, motivated by the impending IRA ceasefire, stopped all this in its tracks.

Martin McGuinness’ reaction yesterday went beyond a stout denial, going as far as to suggest that British intelligence may have had a role in the affair:

There are questions to be answered in relation to Mr Hegarty’s death by those with detailed knowledge of this event, including British intelligence.

However, other accounts put McGuinness squarely in the frame and say not only that he lured Hegarty back to Derry from England where he was in hiding with his British handlers, with false assurances that he would be safe – hence the visits to Grandmother Hegarty’s home – but that he also had a motive.

That was a long simmering squabble between McGuinness and the then IRA Chief of Staff, Kevin McKenna, fueled in part by rivalry over the IRA’s top job and McGuinness’ resentment at having to step down as Chief of Staff when he stood for Sinn Fein in the 1982 Assembly election.

Frank Hegarty had been expelled by the IRA on security grounds in the early 1980’s, after McGuinness lost the Chief of Staff role. But, coached by British military intelligence which recruited him after his dismissal, Hegarty returned to a key position, Northern Command Quartermaster with McGuinness’ support and blessing.

When Hegarty was revealed as a British spy – he betrayed an arms dump containing Libyan weaponry, thus also endangering the ongoing arms smuggling venture sponsored by Col. Gaddafi – McKenna raised various dark questions about why McGuinness had allowed Hegarty back into the IRA.

It is thus not difficult in these circumstances to see how McGuinness might have had a motive for wanting to see the Hegarty affair settled in a definitive way.

Ryan Hegarty’s decision to go public over Martin McGuinness’ alleged involvement in his father’s death, which despite his careful language is exactly what he is doing, demonstrates in a compelling fashion that the past will just not go away.

Too many corpses will simply refuse to rest in peace, and too many angry relatives have dark, suspicious, unanswered questions to allow that to happen.

And there is another certainty. Absent a credible truth-telling apparatus, these matters will be resolved in the courts, both civil and criminal, with dangerously unpredictable consequences.

From that perspective, a ‘Fresh Start’ is anything but.

Here is the piece on Ryan Hegarty carried by the BBC on Tuesday:

Ryan Hegarty. Said Martin McGuinness 'needs to be questioned' about the killing of his father, Frank Hegarty.

Ryan Hegarty. he told the BBC that Martin McGuinness ‘needs to be questioned’ about the killing of his father, Frank Hegarty.

Frank Hegarty: Martin McGuinness ‘needs questioned’ over murder, son says

The son of an IRA informer killed almost 30 years ago has said Martin McGuinness should be questioned in connection with the murder.

Frank Hegarty was found shot in the back of the head in 1986.

His son, Ryan, said Mr McGuinness “needs to be questioned”.

However, the Sinn Féin deputy first minister said he “had absolutely no role in the death of Frank Hegarty”.

Mr Hegarty’s murder is to be investigated as part of a police inquiry into the activities of Stakeknife, who was said to have been the Army’s highest agent within the IRA.

Ryan Hegarty told the BBC: “In the eyes of the IRA, my father committed the ultimate crime.

Ryan Hegarty said his family had been left broken by the death of his father
“In my eyes, he saved the lives of human beings. But it cost him his own life.

“I have never denied that he passed on information to the security services. It’s well documented what my father did.

“My family has been left broken and in misery. It left utter devastation.”

Mr Hegarty said that he did not find out what happened to his father until he was a teenager.

“It was terrible living in Derry as Frank Hegarty’s son,” he said.

“He was known as a tout.

“Whatever my father did, he paid for it. My father was a hero, but to the republicans he’s a cheater.

“He (Martin McGuinness) was around when things were happening. He was a regular visitor to my grandmother’s house. I’m not implicating him but he was there.”

Mr McGuinness has always said that he advised Mr Hegarty’s family that he should not meet the IRA if he was an informer

In a statement, Mr McGuinness said: “At the time of these events, I was an elected Sinn Féin assembly member, having been elected to the assembly in 1982.

“I became involved with the family on being told that Frank Hegarty, a well-known Derry republican, had informed them that he had been abducted and taken to England by British intelligence agents.

“It was my duty as a public representative to assist the family. I did this to the best of my ability but there was little I could do.

“There are questions to be answered in relation to Mr Hegarty’s death by those with detailed knowledge of this event, including British intelligence.”

‘Spotlight’ Movie Company Defends Depiction Of Jack Dunn In Boston Pedo Scandal

The movie production company that made the film ‘Spotlight‘, which deals with the exposing of a Catholic church cover up of widespread pedophilia by priests in the Boston archdiocese by The Boston Globe newspaper in the early 2000’s, has defended as ‘accurate’ its depiction of Boston College press officer Jack Dunn.

In the movie, Dunn, portrayed in his role as a public relations officer, is seen dismissing allegations of sexual abuse by religious teachers at Catholic church-run Boston High School as ‘a witch hunt’, implying the allegations, which had been secretly admitted by the Church, were malicious and invented.

Jack Dunn - his scene was 'accurate' says filmaker

Jack Dunn – his scene was ‘accurate’ says filmaker

Dunn attended Boston High and sat on its board. In the scene, Dunn, along with senior teachers at the school, is being interviewed by reporters from the Globe when Dunn made his ‘witch hunt’ remark.

The presentation put him alongside Cardinal Bernard Law and other senior Boston clerics in the gallery of Church rogues who concealed the widespread abuse, often by making financial deals with the parents of molested children. As in Ireland, offending priests were often transferred to other parishes but no-one was told why, least of all the new congregations.

In the past week or so Jack Dunn has embarked on a personal public relations offensive in an effort to repair his damaged reputation. Using his widespread media contacts in Boston, and starting with Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe, he has endeavoured to stir up media sympathy for his case.

Claiming he was so upset when he watched the movie that he vomited, Dunn insists that he never said any of the things the movie says he did. He has threatened to take legal action against the studio, although his chances of success are widely regarded as slim to non-existent.

So far, the largely Boston-driven media coverage has failed to note Dunn’s controversial role in Boston College’s decision to hand over confidential Northern Ireland paramilitary interviews to the police in Northern Ireland.

Dunn’s role was largely to badmouth myself and the IRA researcher, Anthony McIntyre who had strongly criticised BC’s failure to stand up for the interviewees in Ireland. As chronicled by thebrokenelbow.com yesterday, Dunn told brazen and outrageous lies on behalf of Boston College, which makes his current predicament one of this episode’s great ironies.

Yesterday the producers of ‘Spotlight‘, issued a statement standing over the movie’s depiction of Jack Dunn as ‘accurate’.

Open Road, in a statement issued to the Hollywood-based website, The Wrap,  said that it had reviewed the offending scene and ‘had concluded that the footage in question…..reflected the substance of what occurred during this initial interview at BC High.

Here is the relevant part of the report in The Wrap:

In a statement to TheWrap, an Open Road spokesperson said the film is “based on extensive interviews and other research performed by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy.

“Based on that research, we believe it’s an accurate portrayal of the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic Church.

“The production believes in everyone’s right to speak their minds on the complicated legacy of this important story. Jack Dunn is no exception. However, we disagree with his characterization of the scene as misleading.”

The production company went on to say that both Robinson and Pfeiffer reviewed the footage in question and said the it reflected “the substance of what occurred during this initial interview at BC High.”

Boston College’s Jack Dunn: When Lies Come Home To Roost…….

Way back in January 2012, Boston College’s viperous press person Jack Dunn gave an interview to RTE television, subsequently broadcast on the station’s website, in which he alleged that, a) I was the sole beneficiary of ‘Voices From The Grave’, which was partly based on oral history interviews with IRA leader Brendan Hughes, and, b) that I had been driven by the prospect of profits from the book to ignore warnings that the book was legally vulnerable, i.e. to subpoenas.

I was so angry and appalled at what I saw and heard on the RTE website that I immediately contacted the station to protest. I was of a mind to sue for libel against this outrageous lie. But, at the same time, I have never believed that journalists should sue journalists.

So I made a deal with RTE; I would hand over all the documentary evidence in my possession demonstrating that these allegations were baseless, RTE could examine them and put questions to me and Jack Dunn in an effort to establish the truth and then do with the evidence what it wished.

The evidence I provided, mostly emails, showed that I agreed to share royalties equally with Boston College, that is 50:50. To be specific, shared with the college’s John J Burns library, where the oral history archive was lodged, and its Center for Irish Programs which was in overall charge of the project.

The two men who headed these bodies, Dr Bob O’Neill and Prof. Tom Hachey had initially asked to be included in the byline but the publisher, Faber, had baulked. Instead they were offered and agreed to write a lengthy foreword and accepted the offer of half the royalties for their departments.

Furthermore, I was able to provide emails showing that when I sent royalties to Boston College, both O’Neill and Hachey asked that the money be diverted to their personal accounts, not to the institutions which they headed. They stole the royalty money, in other words. Stole money from their employer.

RTE radio put together an item on its prestigious Sunday lunchtime news show and the truth came out. You can read about it here.

Recently a movie appeared in the U.S. telling the story of the Boston Globe newspaper’s exposé of the Catholic Church’s cover up of the sexual abuse of young children over many years. It is called Spotlight and it is getting rave reviews and comparisons with ‘All the President’s Men’. Rolling Stone magazine says the movie ‘got it right’.

The movie begins with the on-screen declaration: ‘This is based on a true story’.

Jack Dunn makes an appearance in the movie as a flack for Cardinal Bernard Law, the Catholic prelate most responsible for the cover up, and for various other Catholic institutions including Boston High, a secondary school Dunn attended and some of whose religious staff had been implicated in the scandal.

Dunn appears in a scene in which representatives of Boston High are being interviewed, along with Dunn, by Boston Globe reporters about the history of sexual abuse at the school, which emerged as a result of disclosed court documents that showed that the hierarchy had paid parents to keep quiet.

At one point, faced with the allegations, Dunn protests: ‘This is a witch hunt’, implying the allegations are false and invented.

Now, as this embarrassing picture of Dunn, the denier of priestly pedophile abuse, appears on the silver screen in cinemas throughout America, the BC flack is claiming that it is all a lie.

Dunn’s side of the story is now being told by the Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen (see below and here), who, sadly, neglects to tell his readers that Jack Dunn has a track record of telling lies about other people and is hardly worthy of pity, much less credibility, when the same is visited upon him – allegedly.

I don’t know whether Jack Dunn’s movie role was invented or embroidered by the film makers, but I do know that he lied terribly and horribly about me. His record in the truth department is less than stellar and so his current denials re the Spotlight scene should therefore be taken with the obligatory bag of salt.

And about his current embarrassment I can only invoke that time-honoured Belfast phrase: Slap it into him!

Kevin Cullen’s squirming apologia for Dunn can be read below:

Jack Dunn smirks, but that was before he saw the movie 'Spot;ight'

Jack Dunn smirks, but that was before he saw the movie ‘Spotlight’

“The things they have me saying in the movie, I never said,” said Jack Dunn, a BC High graduate and a member of the school’s board of trustees.

By Kevin Cullen Globe Columnist November 22, 2015

“Spotlight,” the movie about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the coverup of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, had its general release on Friday and film critics agree: “Spotlight” is one of the best movies of the year.

Jack Dunn had a different reaction. After seeing the film at the Loews theater across from Boston Common, he stepped onto the sidewalk and threw up.

The movie sickened him because he is portrayed as someone who minimized the suffering of those who were sexually abused, as someone who tried to steer Globe reporters away from the story, as someone invested in the coverup.

“The things they have me saying in the movie, I never said,” Dunn said. “But worse is the way they have me saying those things, like I didn’t care about the victims, that I tried to make the story go away. The dialogue assigned to me is completely fabricated and represents the opposite of who I am and what I did on behalf of victims. It makes me look callous and indifferent.”

Dunn is the longtime spokesman for Boston College, his alma mater. He is also on the board of trustees at Boston College High School, from which he graduated in 1979. In 2002, Walter Robinson, then editor of the Globe’s Spotlight Team, called Dunn to set up a meeting with BC High president Bill Kemeza about allegations against priests who had taught at BC High.

That real-life meeting became a dramatic scene in the movie, in which Robinson, played by Michael Keaton, and Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer, played by Rachel McAdams, press Kemeza, Dunn, and a fictional character called Pete Conley about what BC High knew and when they knew it.

Robinson graduated from BC High, and his character expresses incredulity that previous BC High administrators didn’t know about the serial abuse by one Rev. James Talbot.

‘The dialogue assigned to me is completely fabricated and represents the opposite of who I am and what I did on behalf of victims.’

“It’s a big school, Robbie, you know that,” the Jack Dunn character says. “And we’re talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?”

In real life, Jack Dunn says, not only did he not say this but that after Robinson told him what the Globe had learned about the abuse by priests at BC High, he drew up for the school’s board of trustees a four-point plan to address the allegations with transparency and compassion.

“I proposed to the board that we create a hotline so alums can call in and report anything they know; hire an independent child advocate to review each case; report any criminality to the police; and provide counseling and compensation for the victims. There was input from others, but that essentially became the plan,” Dunn said.

The real-life meeting with Globe reporters, Dunn said, was cordial, not confrontational.

“We said we didn’t know anything, that there were no files,” Dunn said. “But we weren’t denying or minimizing anything.”

There were stories in the Globe at the time chronicling what Kemeza and Dunn said and did in response to the Globe inquiries, and a column praised BC High’s response compared to the foot-dragging and obstruction of the Archdiocese.

But real life usually isn’t dramatic enough for the silver screen. Artistic license means screenwriters and filmmakers can take a scene from real life and make it a composite that serves what they consider a larger truth. In other words, they make stuff up.

The irony, of course, is that “Spotlight” has been widely and rightly praised for the way it captures the minutiae of what newspaper reporters do in pursuit of hard-to-get stories like the clergy abuse scandal. It gets the journalism right. But in doing so, “Spotlight,” like other films that take on real-life stories, engages in something that is anathema to journalism — making up characters and dialogue.

The caveat employed by filmmakers is that most elastic of phrases, “based on a true story.” But in the interest of transparency, that sort of disclaimer should be augmented with the words “but we reserve the right to make stuff up.”

The real problem highlighted in Jack Dunn’s case is that fictional dialogue meant to highlight the obstruction thrown up by Catholic powerbrokers was put into the mouth of a real person, creating real-life consequences.

When I talked to him last week at his office in Chestnut Hill, it was obvious that Dunn was emotionally and physically wrecked by the way he’s portrayed in the film. At one point, he cried, describing how his son, a senior at BC High, felt compelled to stand up and defend him in front of his classmates before they went, as a class, to see the film.

“Part of me didn’t want to say anything about this, because I don’t want to take anything away from the victims,” he said. “The Globe reporters did a great job, and my beef is not with them. But the real heroes in this are the victims, and I know some of them and I care about them. But I can’t just stand by and have my reputation ruined.”

What perplexes Dunn, and me, too, is why the fabricated lines are credited to a real person when there is a fabricated character called Pete Conley in the scene. As a character, Conley is an influential business guy who acts as a fixer for the Archdiocese of Boston.

I asked Tom McCarthy, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Josh Singer, what he thought of Dunn’s complaint.

“We spent enormous time researching in depth what happened in Boston — interviewing individuals, reviewing e-mails, poring over court documents. The movie is based on real events and uses, by necessity, scenes and dialogue to introduce characters, provide context, and articulate broad themes. That is true of every movie ever made about historical events,” McCarthy wrote in an e-mail.

“We understand that not everyone will embrace the way they are portrayed in the film, but we feel confident, based on our extensive research, that the movie captures with a high degree of authenticity the nature of events, personalities, and pressures of the time.”

I asked McCarthy for an interview, and to answer this question specifically: Why make a real person look bad with words he didn’t say, when you could just as easily assign those words to a fictitious person you put in the scene? But his spokeswoman said they would limit their response to the e-mail.

Dunn isn’t the only real person portrayed in the film who has a beef with McCarthy. Steve Kurkjian, a legendary Globe reporter, is portrayed as a curmudgeon who was dismissive of the importance of the story. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and Kurkjian did some of the most important reporting as part of the team that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for exposing the coverup.

Kurkjian, a journalistic icon, is owed an apology, at least. So is Dunn, but he’s looking for more. A lot more. His lawyer sent a letter to the filmmakers, demanding that the offending scene be deleted from the movie, just as the movie hit hundreds of screens coast to coast.

But, with lawyers now involved, getting people to do the right thing is going to be that much harder.

Sort of like when all those lawyers were telling Cardinal Law to batten down the hatches and ignore the rabble that wanted answers.

How’d that work out for the cardinal?

Paris: Now The Backlash…..


This from AFP. How long before someone is killed? So far, not a word of condemnation from Cameron & Co. I wonder what is happening in France in this regard?

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose 300 percent in Britain in the week following the coordinated attacks in Paris, according to figures published on Monday.

A “vast and overwhelming majority” of the 115 attacks were against Muslim women and girls aged between 14 and 45 who were wearing traditional Islamic dress, according to the findings reported in The Independent newspaper.

The perpetrators were mainly white males aged between 15 and 35, according to the report, which noted that the true numbers of attacks were likely much larger than those reported.

The figures come from a report to a government working group on anti-Muslim hate compiled by Tell Mama, a helpline that records incidents of physical and verbal attacks on mosques and Muslims.

A large number of the attacks occurred in public places such as buses and trains.

“Many of the victims have suggested that no one came to their assistance or even consoled them, meaning that they felt victimised, embarrassed, alone and angry about what had taken place against them.

“Sixteen of the victims even mentioned that they would be fearful of going out in the future and that the experiences had affected their confidence.”

The rise in attacks is in line with a similar increase that happened after the murder in south London of British soldier Lee Rigby by Muslim extremists in 2013, according to the report.

Islamophobic and anti-Semitic incidents had already risen sharply before the attacks in Paris, by 70.7 percent and 93.4 percent respectively in the year to July 2015 compared to the previous 12-month period, according to police figures.

In all, 816 Islamophobic incidents were recorded in Greater London between July 2014 and July 2015, compared to 478 in the previous period.

The same period saw 499 anti-Semitic incidents, a rise from 258 the previous year.

The police did not give a breakdown on whether the recorded attacks were physical or verbal assaults, but said there were a number of factors leading to the rise including a greater willingness of victims to report such incidents and better police recording.

Britain has 2.7 million Muslim residents and a Jewish population of 263,000, according to the 2011 census.

ISIS: The Saudi Connection

Fascinating piece on Consortium News detailing Saudia and Gulf State financing of ISIS. Author Daniel Lazare points out that the ultimate beneficary of ISIS’s growth in Syria are those, like the U.S. and Turkey who wish to see the fall of the Assad regime in Syria.

The Saudi Connection to Terror

Exclusive: While Official Washington devotes much sound and fury to demands for a wider war in Syria and the need to turn away Syrian refugees, Democrats and Republicans dodge the tougher question: how to confront Saudi Arabia about its covert funding for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

How does ISIS pay for its operations? This is the key question as the war against the terror organization advances to a new level in the wake of the Paris atrocities. But the mainstream’s approved answer is part of the problem.

That approved answer, from many political leaders and assorted “terrorism experts,” is that ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State and Daesh) funds its operations through a variety of illicit activities such as illegal antiquity sales, kidnapping for ransom, holding up banks, and peddling crude from oil fields it controls in northern Syria and Iraq.

The line, dutifully parroted by news outlets from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, is nothing if not politically convenient. If ISIS is truly self-supporting, then it’s essentially self-contained. If so, then all the Western powers have to do once they’ve sealed it off in its self-proclaimed caliphate is to send in the F-18’s and Mirage 2000’s to rain down smart bombs and blow it to smithereens.

This is the thinking behind President Barack Obama’s unfortunate remarks on Nov. 12. When ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked whether ISIS was gaining strength, Obama shot back that it was simply not the case:

“What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command-and-control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.”

Contain and decapitate – this the essence of the U.S. strategy. Hence, the more the Obama administration tries to contain ISIS militarily, the more it puts out word that it is also self-sustaining economically.

But what if it isn’t? In fact, there is every reason to be skeptical of the U.S. position – and not only because American leaders have been claiming success for close to two decades in various struggles against Islamic terrorism even as it has morphed from a few scattered cells to a vast movement stretching from Nigeria to Bangladesh.

Exaggerating the Sums

So let’s start with antiquities. Last year, NBC News breathlessly reported that ISIS was tapping into a $7 billion underground market in order to finance its operations. “Priceless pieces of history snatched from illicit diggings or swiped from museum cases have become one of the four most common commodities –- next to drugs, weapons and human beings –- to be trafficked by smugglers,” it declared.

But the $7 billion total is dubious considering that the contemporary art market, entirely above board of course, amounts to only $2 billion. Black markets are all but impossible to measure for the simple reason that participants scatter like rats as soon as the lights go on.

ISIS’s role, moreover, is doubly difficult since it operates under deep cover. But we do know a few things, one of which is that antiquities do not move as easily as, say, corn or wheat. To the contrary, buyers are relatively few and far between, appraisals are required, and haggling is standard. With so many police snooping around, buyers are especially wary of getting caught funneling money to ISIS. So the role of antiquities would seem to be no more than ancillary.

The same goes for bank heists. Although ISIS was widely credited with making off with $400 million when it took Mosul, in northern Iraq, in July 2014, The Financial Times described the seizure as the biggest heist that “never happened.”

“We speak to the banks there all the time,” it quoted an Iraqi banking official as saying. “We have been informed that all are guarded from the outside by their own guards and that nothing has been removed from the premises of any banks, not even a piece of paper.”

Kidnapping for ransom also seems less than lucrative in an economy inside ISIS-controlled territory that is going increasingly downhill. Ditto local taxation. While illicit oil sales may play an important role, they are also probably not as profitable as believed. Assuming they were filled to the brim, the 116 tanker trucks that U.S. planes destroyed on Monday may have contained a hundred barrels of crude each, oil that, at today’s prices, ISIS would be lucky to sell for around $30 a barrel. Thus, the damage to the Islamic State’s “treasury” weighs in at a relatively minor $350,000 or so.

Moreover, ISIS is by now a very large operation. Troop-size estimates start at 20,000 to 31,500 (figures put out by the C.I.A. in September 2014) and go as high as 200,000, although 100,000 seems more plausible. Fighters reportedly earn anywhere from $350 a month to $800 or more. These are very imprecise numbers, but at the very least they suggest an organization with a monthly budget in the tens of millions.

So the proceeds from a hundred-odd oil trucks doesn’t explain how ISIS pays its bills. Nor does the speculation about ISIS’s antiquity sales. So if Islamic State does not get the bulk of its funds from such sources, where does the money come from?

The Saudi Connection 

The politically inconvenient answer is from the outside, i.e., from other parts of the Middle East where the oil fields are not marginal as they are in northern Syria and Iraq, but, rather, rich and productive; where refineries are state of the art, and where oil travels via pipeline instead of in trucks. It is also a market in which corruption is massive, financial controls are lax, and ideological sympathies for both ISIS and Al Qaeda run strong.

This means the Arab Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, countries with massive reserves of wealth despite a 50-percent plunge in oil prices. The Gulf states are politically autocratic, militantly Sunni, and, moreover, are caught in a painful ideological bind.

Worldwide, Sunnis outnumber Shi‘ites by at least four to one. But among the eight nations ringing the Persian Gulf, the situation is reversed, with Shi‘ites outnumbering Sunnis by nearly two to one. The more theocratic the world grows – and theocracy is a trend not only in the Muslim world, but in India, Israel and even the U.S. if certain Republicans get their way – the more sectarianism intensifies.

At its most basic, the Sunni-Shi‘ite conflict is a war of succession among followers of Muhammad, who died in the Seventh Century. The more one side gains political control in the name of Islam, consequently, the more vulnerable it becomes to accusations from the other side that its claim to power is less than legitimate.

The Saudi royal family, which styles itself as the “custodian of the two holy mosques” of Mecca and Medina, is especially sensitive to such accusations, if only because its political position seems to be growing more and more precarious. This is why it has thrown itself into an anti-Shi‘ite crusade from Yemen to Bahrain to Syria.

While the U.S., Britain and France condemn Bashar al-Assad as a dictator, that’s not why Sunni rebels are now fighting to overthrow him. They are doing so instead because, as an Alawite, a form of Shi‘ism, he belongs to a branch of Islam that the petro-sheiks in Riyadh regard as a challenge to their very existence.

Civil war is rarely a moderating force, and as the struggle against Assad has intensified, power among the rebels has shifted to the most militant Sunni forces, up to and including Al Qaeda and its even more aggressive rival, ISIS.

In other words, the Islamic State is not homegrown and self-reliant, but a product and beneficiary of larger forces, essentially a proxy, paramilitary army of Gulf state sheiks. Evidence of broad regional support is abundant even if news outlets like The New York Times have done their best to ignore it. Some of the highlights of this money trail:

–In a 2009 diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

(On Thursday, in a hawkish speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton, now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, focused on her plan for military escalation, including a U.S. invasion of Syria to “impose no-fly zones” and secure what she called a “safe area.” But she added a brief and exasperated reference to the financial reality, saying: “once and for all, the Saudis, the Qataris and others need to stop their citizens from directly funding extremist organizations as well as the schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path to radicalization.”)

–An August 2012 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency stating that Al Qaeda, Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood dominated the Syrian rebel movement and that their goal was to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” where Islamic State’s caliphate is now located.

–The Times’s own report two months earlier stating that the C.I.A. was working with the Muslim Brotherhood to channel Turkish-, Saudi- and Qatari-supplied arms to Sunni rebels in Syria.

–Vice President Joe Biden’s remarkable admission at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014 that “the Saudis, the emirates, etc. … were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war … [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.”

–A Times editorial just last month complaining that Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis were continuing to channel donations to Islamic State.

–Finally, in a front-page article on Friday, the Times belatedly acknowledged the devastating DIA report, a mere six months after it was made public by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. But even then, reporter Ian Fisher managed to leave out the most important part, which is that the Salafist stronghold that the Sunnis were seeking to establish is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” – i.e. the West, the Gulf states, and Turkey – “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

In asserting that there are “many strands of blame” in the ongoing debacle, Fisher managed to criticize everyone except his own paper.

Money Talks

Why is telling the truth so difficult? A big part of the answer is money. Because the U.S., France and other Western powers are dependent on the Gulf states for oil and see the Gulf states as an increasingly important market for high-tech weaponry.

Just last month, the Pentagon announced that it was selling to the Saudis up to four Littoral Combat Ships made by Lockheed for a total of $11.25 billion, while last week it followed up with the news that it was selling the Saudis $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs manufactured by Boeing and Raytheon to replace those the kingdom has dropped on Yemen as part of its crusade against the Shi‘ite Houthis.

The U.S. thus supplies the Saudis with bombs with which to flatten Yemeni neighborhoods, generate more refugees and, in the process, strengthen “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” so that the U.S. can then send in drones to take out a few Al Qaeda operatives.

Everyone makes out – arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, Washington politicians like the Clintons who benefit from Saudi largesse, even Al Qaeda, which, while it may lose a few personnel, sees its power grow as a consequence.

Making too big a point about how money from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is flowing to groups responsible for the carnage in Paris would put at risk this mutual-benefit society. Jeopardizing this lucrative money cycle is something that Washington cannot bear to do, which is why the Obama administration prefers to make ISIS appear to be a self-supporting operation that can be crippled by such military actions as bombing a convoy of oil trucks.

While Europe explodes with xenophobia, the real issue is not the Arabs or Islam, but the “special” U.S.-Saudi relationship which may be even more sacrosanct than the relationship with Israel. It is an alliance that demands of the U.S. that it see, hear and speak no evil about its major Arab partner. Hence, Washington must cover up the real cause of the horrors ranging from the World Trade Center to the Bataclan concert hall to the Syrian civil war.

As long as this U.S.-Saudi “special” relationship continues, the bodies will keep piling up.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).