Monthly Archives: August 2015

The McGuigan Killing: Just Not Good Enough Chief Constable!

'Hear No Evil! See No Evil! Speak No Evil!

‘Hear No Evil!’                      ‘See No Evil!’                  ‘Speak No Evil!’

First, you let everyone believe the IRA no longer existed, that it had gone away.

That was a lie, and you knew it.

But you didn’t care.

Then, when your lie was exposed, you told us, ‘Well they don’t really do anything! Nothing to see here. Move on!’

What do you think people are?

Complete idiots?!

Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

Time to go, Chief Constable! Time to go!

The McGuigan Killing: The Humpty Dumpty World Of The PSNI Chief Constable

Hear! Hear!

seftonblog

“When use a word” , Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone,”it means just what I chose it to mean, neither more nor less”. [Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking -Glass]

For a masterly summary of the position, see Ed Moloney in today’s Irish Times.

And so to George Hamilton’s finessing of Supt Geddes’ last statement. Goodness know how many lawyer hours went into it. How many drafts the SOS rejected. What Box had to say about it.

George says that PIRA is a paramilitary organisation, devoted to peaceful means, just like the Salvation Army.

Here are my questions for George:

  1. Has this organisation access to arms and explosives?
  2. Has it killed anyone in the last twenty years?
  3. Who shot Martin McGartland?
  4. If PIRA is committed to politics, who are its politicians?

I’ll bet that I won’t get a reply.

Hamilton says that they…

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The McGuigan Killing: Just What Is Wrong With RTE?

I turned on the RTE iPlayer on my iPad last night to watch the nine o’clock television news to see what coverage the national broadcaster was giving to the political crisis caused by the PSNI admission that the Provisional IRA had been involved in the slaying of Kevin McGuigan.

To my surprise, nay shock, there was not a single word or picture devoted to a story that has the potential to bring down the power-sharing government at Stormont and imperil not just the Good Friday Agreement but the peace process itself.

If proper news values had been applied, the story should have led the broadcast. But instead it was appallingly and completely absent.

So, last night I wrote to RTE public affairs to ask why and this morning the nice lady there sent me this reply:

We did not feature a report on the story on last night’s Nine O’Clock News but it was carried on our website from earlier in the day and featured on Drivetime. We don’t comment on individual editorial decisions as general policy. The story and related developments have featured throughout our news coverage today.

In the absence of a coherent explanation for what is at the least a devastatingly poor editorial decision or at worst blatant censorship, I am driven to wonder myself what the real reason was.

There is, and has been a tendency in Irish journalism, which has been around as long as I have been in the business – and which has probably intensified in the peace process years – to believe that ‘if we don’t report it, then it didn’t happen’.

The decision to pretend that the PSNI statement was just not newsworthy enough to put on the main national television news programme smacks of that type of thinking.

The arrogance behind that attitude is staggering. When journalists believe that by manipulating the news they can shape events then a door is opened to all sorts of horrors, distortions, fictions and outright lies.

Thanks to Denis O’Brien and his grip on the media, Ireland has enough problems on its journalistic plate without going down that road.

Someone needs to get hold of RTE news and give it a good shake. And I know where I would start.

The Ivor Bell Prosecution: Brought To You By The Same People Who Screwed Up The Mairia Cahill Case

The Good Old days, when Barra was a pup.

A incisive piece, as always, from Peter Sefton about the contortions behind the prosecution of Ivor Bell.

seftonblog

Roy Junkin, sometime deputy director of the DPP, used to remind his staff and police the “we are in the ‘E’ business”. E stood for evidence. A case would not be prosecuted unless and until the evidence supported a reasonable prospect of success of conviction. That was the test.

Barra was just a pup then.

Now the PPS , under Barra’s command, are all over the place.

[Although it should be said that he did apply for another job]

Consider the Ivor Bell case. As I understand it , the case against him is that he has given interviews to the Boston College project and therein he has incriminated himself in the murder of Jean McConville. Thus he has been charged with membership of the IRA and aiding and abetting her murder.

You might think, Dear Reader that before the police arrested him they had some evidence to support the…

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The McGuigan Killing: PSNI Say IRA Did It But Didn’t Do It – Go Figure!

UPDATE ONE

In an updated statement from PSNI headquarters, Det Supt Kevin Geddes adds one significant sentence, which does little to clear up confusion surrounding his first statement.

The sentence is: ““Our assessment is that Action Against Drugs (AAD) is an independent group which is not part of the Provisional IRA. But it is also our assessment that some members and associates of AAD are, or were, members of the Provisional IRA.”

One possible translation: AAD is a group composed of dissident republicans and Provisional IRA members who may or may not still be members of the IRA. But the Provisional IRA itself has nothing to do with AAD or vice-versa. Confused? You bet.

The only thing we can be sure of is that the PSNI believes the Provisional IRA still exists, hence the sentence: “….some members and associates of AAD are, or were, members of the Provisional IRA.”

The verb “are” is damning. (This is beginning to sound like a Bill Clinton press conference on Monica Lewinsky!)

Go figure.

UPDATE TWO

PSNI close in on Kevin McGuigan murder suspects

PSNI close in on Kevin McGuigan murder suspects

UPDATE THREE

Thanks to a simple misunderstanding and a communications foul-up, I was under the impression that there were two statements from PSNI Det Supt Kevin Geddes, when in fact there was one. My apologies for that.

This means that Mr Geddes was all along trying to say that while Provisional IRA members were involved in the McGuigan killing, the Provisional IRA was not. Square that circle if you can.

At the same time his statement clearly implied that a) the Provisional IRA does still exist and b) its members happily co-operate with dissident republicans opposed to the peace process and the ceasefire in an organisation that targets people accused of killing senior IRA members, viz one Jock Davison.

In other words determined opponents of the peace process work with and do favours for republicans whose leadership they abhor.

This is all so full of unasked and unanswered questions, as well as simply unsustainable propositions, not to mention the massive implications for the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement that it is difficult to know where to begin.

All that one can say with confidence is that Det Supt Geddes, and his press office advisers, have made a bad situation very much worse. Anywhere else and heads would roll. But that will not happen.

In a move that, intentionally or not, will rescue the power-sharing government from an immediate crisis over responsibility for the killing last week of ex-IRA activist, Kevin McGuigan, the PSNI has, as was widely predicted, claimed that ‘former members’ of the IRA were responsible for the slaying.

In a statement to the media this afternoon, the PSNI’s Det Supt Kevin Geddes said that members of a group calling itself ‘Action Against Drugs’, composed of dissident and former mainstream IRA members – and separate from the IRA – were responsible:

It is my assessment that Action Against Drugs are a group of individuals who are criminals, violent dissident republicans and former members of the Provisional IRA. They are dangerous, they are involved in violence and extortion of the nationalist and republican communities.

My assessment is that this is a separate group from the Provisional IRA. I have no information at this stage to say whether [the killing] was sanctioned at a command level or not.

The PSNI claim that the group ‘Action Against Drugs’ is a front for dissidents and ex-Provos is a new twist on the story and will be greeted with considerable scepticism on the streets of Belfast.

Not least of the questions Mr Geddes’ claim prompts is why on earth dissidents would want to do the mainstream IRA a favour by exacting revenge against the accused killer of one of their esteemed colleagues, Jock Davison who was allegedly killed by Mr McGuigan.

This suggests that the PSNI may next insinuate that the killing of Mr McGuigan was actually a plot to embarrass and cause political difficulties for Sinn Fein and the peace process by creating circumstances in which the mainstream IRA would get the blame..

In a place well used to conspiracy theories this one is in a place of its own.

One question that demands a fuller answer is Supt Geddes’ unexplained reference to “a command level”, as in: “I have no information at this stage to say whether [the killing] was sanctioned at a command level or not.”

What command level? Action against Drugs’ command level or the Provisional IRA’s command level or the dissidents command level? He doesn’t say. But he need to clarify this asap. If it is the Provisional IRA’s command level then this is an admission the IRA still exists, when it was supposed to have disappeared a decade ago.

One thing is for sure, the story ain’t over. Why, The Irish Times may soon be obliged to put its own staff reporter on the story!

Ballymurphy Massacre Spotlights Outrageous British Double Standards On Historical Cases

The British Army is renowned for its exhausting bureaucracy, every form filled out in tripilicate and filed away in offices bunged full of filing cabinets. What a surprise then to discover that the Ministry of Defence has ‘lost’ the personnel records identifying the soldiers involved in the Ballymurphy massacre of August 1971, when British paratroopers gunned down eleven civilians.

In this important article in the current edition of An Phoblacht, the SF paper’s editor John Hedges discloses that not only have these vital records gone AWOL but a member of the inquest staff has been re-assigned to another post, meaning that his learned knowledge has gone with him. Meanwhile the coroner’s office has been told by the PSNI that the resources available for historical inquiries are ‘finite’, a veiled warning that money may be cut off to the Ballymurphy investigation.

All this is in sharp contrast to the resources and effort put into the Boston College archive case by the PSNI. Millions have been spent on legal cases and despite questionable evidence, the prosecuting authorities seem determined to push ahead with a court case.

When it comes to historical cases, it seems there are victims and then there are victims.

Here is the full text of the AP story:

Soldiers responsible for Ballymurphy Massacre cannot be traced, claims ministry – Taoiseach urged to act

THE Ministry of Defence claims that it cannot find any records identifying the soldiers involved in the Ballymurphy Massacre in the three days after internment in August 1971 when 11 civilians (including a Catholic priest) were shot dead by British Army paratroopers.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD – a former MP for Ballymurphy in west Belfast – says that, in light of the recent all-party motion passed by the Dáil supporting the Ballymurphy families, this deserves the urgent attention of the Taoiseach.

In March, Taoiseach Enda Kenny met the Ballymurphy families and reiterated the Irish Government’s support for the families’ quest for the truth and for justice regarding the deaths of their loved ones, including their proposal for an Independent Panel of Inquiry.

Expressing his “deep concern and anger at the failure of the British Government to progress the Ballymurphy case”, Gerry Adams said he has been given a copy of a letter sent from the Crown Solicitor’s Office to the Coroners’ Service in Belfast which reveals that “serious hurdles have been erected by the British state to the families getting to the truth of events in Ballymurphy in August 1971”.

The letter also confirms that the member of staff assigned to Ballymurphy has been reassigned to another inquest.

Ministry of Defence logo

It reveals that the British MoD “has not been able to uncover any records within its control regarding the original cipher list [British Army personnel record] at Ballymurphy in 1971 . . . MoD has not as yet been successful in tracing any ciphered soldiers involved in Ballymurphy”.

Additionally, it also notes that the PSNI has previously advised the Coroner that “the resources which the Chief Constable can commit to servicing the legacy inquest process are finite”.

Gerry Adams says:

“This is an unacceptable situation. It is clear evidence that the British Government and system is not dealing with Ballymurphy in a manner and a timescale that meets international human rights standards.”

He added:

“The deliberate withholding of resources and the failure to speedily identify the soldiers present in Ballymurphy is evidence of a British Government and MoD deliberately frustrating the families efforts.”

He said the Irish Government has a responsibility and a mandate from the Dáil to challenge the British Prime Minister and Government on the way it which it is dealing with the Ballymurphy families and with this case.

“It needs to adopt a more robust and assertive approach to ensure that the British Government allocates the necessary resources to the Ballymurphy Massacre case.

“I have therefore asked the Taoiseach if he will raise these concerns with British Prime Minister David Cameron; instruct the Minister for Foreign Affairs to also raise this with the British Secretary of State; and seek from the British Government a commitment to allocate the necessary financial and personnel resources to the Ballymurphy Massacre case.”

McGuigan Killing: With No Evidence, The Irish Times Calls It ‘A Feud Between Former IRA Members’

After days of silence from Ireland’s paper of record, or at least no published articles on the killing of Kevin McGuigan written by a staff writer, The Irish Times has, courtesy of a piece filed by an unnamed reporter from the Press Association (PA), pronounced the McGuigan slaying outside his Short Strand home last week “a suspected feud between former IRA members”.

Irish_Times

This politically safe if somewhat ambiguous depiction would, if reflected in the results of the PSNI ‘investigation’, get Sinn Fein off the hook and defuse any threat from the DUP leader Peter Robinson to expel the party from the power-sharing Executive, a threat Mr Robinson would have to make good if the PSNI found that the killing was authorised by the republican/Sinn Fein leadership or that there was foreknowledge on their part.

The use of the phrase “former members” by the PA, and its endorsement by the Times is critical to all this; on one reading, it carries the implicit suggestion that the killers were not members of any existing republican group or the Provisional IRA in a re-structured form, could not have been ordered to kill, and thus accords with the official peace process narrative which claims that the IRA went out of business in July 2005.

On that reading this killing could therefore be seen as an intervention by former combatants that had nothing to do with the Sinn Fein or IRA leadership. In May, Jock Davison, a senior IRA figure in the city was slain in the Markets district and last week, his alleged killer was struck down in the nearby Short Strand. Thus the narrative could read: old friends fell out and their mates took sides, but nothing to do with the Provos.

Neither the PA nor The Irish Times provide any evidence to support this claim nor do they source it. The Press Association has an interesting history covering the Northern Troubles. For a period in the late 1970’s its Belfast office was known for its excellent IRA sources but after complaints from the British military there were staff changes and thereafter the PA became better known for its RUC and security force stories.

Observers of the republican scene, including this writer, believe that while the mainstream IRA no longer exists in its old form and size, the organisation most certainly retains an intelligence-gathering wing which is active on both sides of the Border while common sense – namely the need to defend against precisely the sort of assault represented by the Davison killing – strongly suggests a precautionary need for some armed capacity.

No seasoned observer believes that weapons are not available for use and there is a widespread suspicion in republican districts of Belfast that the McGuigan killing was ordered with the intention of deterring any more killings like that of Mr Davison.

Nonetheless given the high stakes at risk, no less than the survival of the power-sharing government at Stormont, a PSNI inquiry which concluded that Kevin McGuigan was killed by armed members of an organisation linked to Sinn Fein would be a disaster for supporters of the peace process.

The Irish Times/PA description – “a feud by former IRA members (with the accent on ‘former’)” – would give Sinn Fein a ‘get out of jail free’ card and save the process.

A wise punter would bet the mortgage on it. But be quick.

Below is The Irish Times/PA story:

 

Shankill bomber questioned in McGuigan murder inquiry

IRA Shankill bomber Seán Kelly is being questioned by police investigating the killing of former Provisional IRA member Kevin McGuigan.

Mr McGuigan, a 53-year-old father of nine, was murdered at his home at Comber Court in the Short Strand area of east Belfast last week, in a suspected feud between former IRA members.

He was shot a number of times in front of his wife Dolores outside their home in Comber Court last Wednesday.

Mr McGuigan was suspected by some in the republican movement of involvement in the killing of former IRA leader Gerard “Jock” Davison in the nearby Markets area of Belfast three months ago.

There has been widespread speculation his killing was a revenge attack by Mr Davison’s associates.

Stormont’s First Minister Peter Robinson has warned Sinn Féin it would face expulsion from the power-sharing Executive if the IRA was responsible.

Mr McGuigan’s relatives have used social media to accuse the IRA.

Sinn Féin has rejected the suggestion of IRA involvement.

Kelly and is among five men aged 39, 53, 41, 44 and 49 being questioned by detectives.

Kelly and Thomas Begley planted a bomb in Frizzell’s fish shop in 1993.

Begley, died in the explosion with nine other people.

Kelly was released from prison under the Good Friday Agreement.

Weapons recovered during searches in Greater Belfast have been sent for forensic examination, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

The Shankill deaths were among the most notorious of the later years of the Troubles.

IRA bombers intended to target paramilitaries they believed were meeting upstairs in one of the most famously loyalist parts of the city. Instead niine shoppers were killed and dozens more injured.

Begley, also died in the blast in the packed fishmongers after the device exploded prematurely. The attack took place on a Saturday afternoon in October 1993.

A total of 57 people were injured, some seriously. Among them was a 79-year-old woman and two two-year-old boys.

Following the attack, the Ulster Defence Association carried out a series of retaliatory attacks, killing eight people at a Catholic bar in Greysteel near Derry shortly afterwards.

PA

Female Viagra – The Shady History Of The Company Behind It

Last night the US Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) – the body that polices America’s medical world – announced that it had given approval to a new female libido pill, a woman’s  Viagra, for want of a better description.

What the FDA neglected to tell the world was the history and background of the controversial company behind the new drug, a company that the FDA previously clashed with over its exaggerated claims for other treatments.

The full back story to the new treatment adds weight to the theory that in approving the drug the FDA was bowing to political and commercial pressure to give women their own Viagra, even if it might not work or have serious negative side effects.

Courtesy of an Associated Press story that ran on MySanAntonio, here is the fascinating and disturbing background to the company behind the new drug.

It is a story that the tabloids and red tops may choose to ignore in preference to the obvious prurient and salacious angles otherwise available. The article was written and posted  yesterday in anticipation of today’s FDA decision. Enjoy:

Drug execs behind female libido pill have run afoul of FDA.

In this June 22, 2015, photo, Sprout Pharmaceuticals CEO Cindy Whitehead works in her office in Raleigh, N.C. Sprout soon may succeed where many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have failed: in winning Food and Drug Administration approval for the first drug to boost women’s sexual desire. Photo: Allen G. Breed, AP / AP

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A small drugmaker from North Carolina may succeed next week where many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have failed: in winning approval for the first drug to boost women’s sexual desire.

The husband-and-wife team that founded Sprout Pharmaceuticals is not new to the pharmaceutical business or even to marketing drugs to people frustrated with their sex lives. The couple’s previous company, Slate Pharmaceuticals, sold an implantable testosterone pellet to men with low levels of the hormone.

But Slate’s marketing push ran afoul of federal rules, making misleading, unsupported statements about the benefits of testosterone therapy while downplaying risks. In fact, when the Food and Drug Administration held a meeting examining the overprescribing of testosterone last year, it played Slate’s commercial as an example of inappropriate marketing.

That record worries Sprout’s critics, who see a troubling pattern in the aggressive tactics it has used to urge the FDA to approve the women’s desire drug, which was previously rejected twice because of lackluster effectiveness and side effects such as nausea, dizziness and fainting.

The search for a pill to increase women’s libido has been something of a holy grail for the pharmaceutical industry since the blockbuster success of Viagra for men in the late 1990s. Pfizer, Bayer and Procter & Gamble all studied — then abandoned — potential treatments for female sexual desire disorder.

“This company already has a history of unethical marketing,” said Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman of Georgetown University. “If approved, I think this drug will be widely prescribed, and we would see an epidemic of adverse effects.”

After a year of lobbying by Sprout-backed supporters, the drug won a surprising 18-6 recommendation from a panel of FDA advisers in June. The FDA is scheduled to make its decision on the drug by Tuesday.

Sprout’s drug was actually acquired from Boehringer Ingelheim in 2011. The German drugmaker shelved the pill after a unanimous vote against its approval by FDA advisers in June 2010.

CEO Cindy Whitehead and her husband, Bob Whitehead, who preceded her as CEO, paid for the drug, dubbed Addyi, by selling off their testosterone business, which had grown to nearly 100 employees.

These days, the executives like to emphasize their company’s small size. In interviews, CEO Cindy Whitehead jokes that Sprout’s entire staff of 25 could fit in an elevator.

There is little financial information available about Slate or Sprout because they have both been privately held. The Whiteheads say their hormonal implant, Testopel, grew into the second most-prescribed testosterone treatment among urologists, ahead of competing gels and injections.

But the company’s promotional efforts went too far.

In March 2010, the FDA sent Slate an 11-page warning letter, highlighting a host of misleading, unsupported and inaccurate statements in its brochures, websites and a video. In a rare step, the FDA held a teleconference with the company to outline its “serious concerns.”

Among the many problems, the company’s website suggested Testopel could benefit patients with depression, diabetes and HIV.

“The FDA is unaware of any data to support these claims,” the letter said.

In a video, Slate featured Harvard Medical School professor Abraham Morgentaler, claiming that testosterone could boost men’s energy and libido.

“Their strength may improve. Their workouts at the gym may get better. They start chasing their wives around the room a little bit. They just feel like guys again,” Morgentaler said. The FDA said his claims were unproven.

This past May, the FDA directed all testosterone drugmakers to clarify that their drugs are intended only for men with low testosterone due to disease or injury — not normal aging. And new warning labels also stress the risk of heart attack and stroke with the hormone.

When Slate marketed Testopel, that information was not yet required. But the company’s materials failed to disclose a laundry list of other known risks, including prostate cancer, swelling, nausea, vomiting, acne, liver problems and headaches.

“I can’t remember seeing a warning letter with so many examples of misbranding in it,” said Fugh-Berman, who recently signed a petition urging the FDA to reject Addyi, citing minimal benefits and dangerous side effects.

Cindy Whitehead said Slate immediately discontinued the materials cited by the FDA. And she insists the company will promote Addyi carefully, focusing on educating doctors about who is likely to benefit from the drug.

“We would never want a patient who’s not going to see a benefit to take it and tell everyone it doesn’t work,” she said. At the FDA meeting in June, Sprout offered to hold off on television advertising for up to 18 months after the drug’s initial approva

 

Boris Johnson, Sinn Fein, & The Labour Leadership Contest

A front-page story today in the British Army and MI5’s favourite morning read, The Daily Telegraph, has Boris Johnson, public school buffoon, London Lord Mayor and Bullingdon Club vandal (along with David Cameron and his finance chief, George Osborne), attacking left-wing(‘ish) Labour Party leader candidate, Jeremy Corbyn for his sympathies for Sinn Fein (I say ‘ish because a real leftie surely would have quit the moment Tony Blair took the crown!)

This is what the Telegraph article headline looks like:
Telegraph

The Bold Boris labels Corbyn ‘Sinn Fein-loving’, which is probably not inaccurate. As for being ‘monarchy-baiting’, that sounds like a pretty good reason to vote for him.

But on the question of this all being unbelievably good luck for the Tories, I just have one question.

When it comes to Sinn Fein-loving Labour leaders, there is something in my memory banks that tells me that as far as that activity was concerned, no-one could hold a candle to one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, formerly known as the leader of the British Labour Party and one-time prime minister of Britain.

The Bullingdon Bullies at Oxford. Boris is seated far right (where else?) and Cameron is back row

The Bullingdon Bullies at Oxford. Boris is seated far right (where else?) and Cameron is back row, second from left

In the business of indulging Sinn Fein and the IRA, turning a blind eye to DAAD killings, Northern Bank robberies, bar stabbings, grudge shootings and so many breaches of ceasefire conditions along with concession after concession – so numerous and generous that it took the White House to call an end to the giveaways – surely Tony Blair and not Jeremy Corbyn is the real Sinn Fein-lover here?

So, why no fuss from Boris and his buddies when Tony Blair was giving Sinn Fein not just the shop but the key to the shop? Why no reminder now of the real truth about all this?

But there’s the rub. Tony was then Tory-lite, virtually indistinguishable from the Conservatives, and now is the spokesman for the Labour Party’s neo-liberal opposition to Jeremy Corbyn, the only thing standing between civilization and barbarity.

And so a curtain shall be drawn over that extraordinary chapter in British politics, no mention of how Blair’s purchase of Sinn Fein laid the basis for his post prime ministerial career, and fortune-making, as the world’s great peace-maker.

Instead a new version has been forged, with the powerless, but possibly naive, Mr Corbyn cast in the role of the true villain regarding the indulging of Sinn Fein, and Tony Blair written out of the story.

How convenient.

McGuigan Killing: Catherine McCartney Speaks Truth……

The PSNI’s warning to the media that it would be “reckless and dangerous” to speculate about IRA involvement in the killing last week of Kevin McGuigan, shot dead outside his Short Strand home, has brought to the surface long simmering concerns about partial policing and prosecution decisions in the peace process dispensation that now reigns in Northern Ireland.

The impression that legal authorities are putting the survival of the peace process before justice – primarily in decisions or attitudes designed to protect Sinn Fein and its allies over issues as diverse as sexual abuse and historical cases – surfaced late this week with a call from the sister of an IRA victim to replace the PSNI as lead investigator of the McGuigan murder.

Catherine McCartney, whose brother Robert was stabbed to death by IRA members in 2005, allegedly under the control of Jock Davison whose own killer was claimed to be Kevin McGuigan, said basically that the PSNI was not a fit force to probe the incident because it put the political process ahead of objective investigation.

The warning to the media that it would be “reckless and dangerous” to link the killing to the IRA was echoed by calls on the media from Sinn Fein not to be “unhelpful” by suggesting IRA responsibility.

Stripped of ambiguity, these PSNI & SF statements can be translated thus: “Don’t blame the IRA because the more you do, even if it’s true, the harder it will be for us to ignore their part and the more likely it is that this will cause problems for the power sharing government at Stormont”. Or put another way: “…..let’s pretend it didn’t happen and move on.”

A piece by Henry McDonald in today’s Guardian captures Catherine McCartney’s anger and frustration well. (p.s.: still no update worth the name in Ireland’s newspaper of record) :

Call for IRA gunman Kevin McGuigan’s murder inquiry to be taken off PSNI

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Catherine McCartney, centre, with her sister Paula McCartney in 2005, said: ‘I’m in no doubt politics influences police investigation strategies’ Photograph: Paul Faith/PA

Henry McDonald

Friday 14 August 2015 16.06 BST
Last modified on Friday 14 August 2015 17.10 BST

One of Northern Ireland’s most outspoken campaigners for paramilitary victims has called for the inquiry into the murder of IRA assassin Kevin McGuigan to be taken off the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and given to an external police force.

Catherine McCartney – whose brother Robert was murdered by IRA members in Belfast city centre a decade ago – has accused the PSNI of being more concerned about protecting the political process at Stormont than solving paramilitary murders.

McGuigan, a former neighbour of the McCartney family, was shot dead outside his home in the Catholic Short Strand district of east Belfast on Wednesday night. The former IRA gunman feared for his life because fellow republicans accused him of assassinating the ex-Belfast IRA leader Gerard “Jock” Davison in the nearby Market area in May.

A 39-year-old woman and a 44-year-old man were arrested in east Belfast on Thursday in connection with the killing and are being questioned by police.

They were detained a short distance from where McGuigan was gunned down in front of his wife at their home in Comber Court.
Analysis Is the Provisional IRA anti-drugs unit back in action?
Analysis: The murder of former IRA assassin Kevin McGuigan signals emergence of new shadowy paramilitary unit on the streets of Belfast
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Criticising the PSNI for failing to state which, if any, organisation the McGuigan suspects belonged to, Catherine McCartney said only an external police force could properly investigate such murders.

She said on Friday: “In my view the police record on these types of murders is abysmal. Public confidence is nil and people don’t feel protected from paramilitaries. I’m in no doubt politics influences police investigation strategies. I certainly believe we don’t have an independent police force and that’s a huge problem.”

The McGuigan killing has further destabilised the already fragile power-sharing executive at Stormont. Northern Ireland’s first minister, Peter Robinson, warned on Thursday that Sinn Fein could be expelled from the power-sharing coalition if IRA involvement in the murder was proven. Sinn Féin’s former Lord Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey vehemently denied any IRA connection to the killing.
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McGuigan’s 75-year-old mother said she would pray for her son’s killers and that they would have to live with what they had done. Margaret McGuigan said: “He was a loving son, father and brother. He never got into trouble or a row. He never started a row in his life. He was a great son. He would do anything for anybody, neighbours and all.”

Republicans in Belfast have repeatedly blamed McGuigan for murdering Gerard Davison in May; McGuigan consistently denied he had anything to do with it.

Davison was shot dead in Welsh Street as he was walking to work at a local community group. He is believed to have been personally responsible for or ordering the deaths of up to 15 men from the early 1990s onwards, many of whom were accused of drug dealing within nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

He was also accused of giving the order to attack Robert McCartney, a forklift truck driver who was murdered outside a Belfast bar in 2005.

The McCartney family have alleged that the PSNI investigation into his murder was hampered due to the protection of informers inside the Belfast IRA and political considerations.

Catherine McCartney and her sisters launched a global campaign to try and bring their brother’s killers to justice. They were invited by George W Bush to the White House and also met the late Ted Kennedy, who lent his support to their campaign. A decade on, no one has been convicted of their brother’s killing.