Monthly Archives: March 2016

‘Remember British Troops Killed In 1916’, Says Sinn Fein Stormont Speaker

The idea that the British troops killed during Easter week 1916 should be remembered in the same way as those Irish rebels executed in the aftermath of the Rising is without doubt the most controversial aspect of the centennial commemoration plans.

In April 2015 then Taoiseach Enda Kenny let it be known that some form of remembrance of slain British troops would be included in the programme of 1916 events while there are plans to inscribe the names of dead British soldiers alongside republican rebels on a monument to the dead of the Rising at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin. One former British Tory MP has also advised the Irish prime minister to visit the graves of slain British troops.

To hear that proposal coming from Fine Gael or British Conservative lips is hardly surprising, but from a Sinn Fein leader in the North?

But that is exactly what Mitchel McLaughlin, the outgoing Speaker of the Stormont Assembly, is proposing. Speaking this week about the importance of Easter 1916 to republicans, he added:

“However, I equally acknowledge the need to remember the larger numbers of British Army personnel, police and civilians who were also killed that week.”

Is McLaughlin’s a lone voice or does he reflect the views of his party leadership? To answer that question it is worth bearing in mind that Mitchel McLaughlin has been a member of the republican movement since the 1960’s but never saw active service in the IRA; that must be something of a record.

A heating and ventilation engineer by trade, he spent most of the Troubles working in the Middle East but rose rapidly in Sinn Fein’s ranks when he returned in the early 1980’s when SF entered electoral politics and he became an increasingly vocal advocate of the then infant peace process. Hard line IRA activists, however, are said to have loathed him.

It is also a measure of how far out of synch these remarks may be with ordinary activists that not even Niall O’Dowd would go that far!

British who died in Easter Rising should be remembered, says Sinn Fein’s McLaughlin

By Noel McAdam

Published 15/03/2016

British troops load a vehicle during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916
British troops load a vehicle during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916

Stormont’s first republican Speaker has said there is a need to remember the British soldiers, police and civilians who died during the Easter Rising.

Mitchel McLaughlin, who is standing down after 18 months in the post, also admitted he had only learned about the role of Irish nationalists in the First World War in the last few years.

At the first of two events at Stormont to commemorate the 100th anniversary of both the Rising and the Battle of the Somme, the senior Sinn Fein figure said one of the issues facing society here is that many people only know part of their history.

“The events of 1916 particularly symbolise that – with a division in our community over whether 1916 should be remembered mainly for the Battle of the Somme or the Easter Rising,” he said.

Mr McLaughlin said that throughout his term in office, he had been “warning about whether we want the decade of centenaries to be about narrow back-to-back events in which different parts of the community reflect solely on the narrative with which they are most comfortable”.

He said: “Alternatively, these anniversaries could provide opportunities for reconciliation, to come together to learn about our shared history, seeking to respect and understand why we might view them differently.

“If we are truly going to move forward as a society, we have to accept that every event in our history will mean more to some than to others, and often will mean completely different things.

“It should be entirely possible for us to reflect on events which have had a tremendous influence on our history in a respectful, inclusive and non-confrontational way without diminishing our own personal politics.

“We might each have our own difficulties and perspective on aspects of our history, but nonetheless we need to acknowledge that they have all influenced where we find ourselves today. We can’t ignore that our history is a complex weave of background factors and events which shaped and influenced each other.”

Mr McLaughlin said last night’s event focused on Easter 1916 and meant a lot of him personally “because of the ideals of those who sought and died for the cause of Irish independence and the values behind the Proclamation”.

“However, I equally acknowledge the need to remember the larger numbers of British Army personnel, police and civilians who were also killed that week.”

He then went on to ask: “Maybe there might be value for us all in thinking about how someone like me only gains an awareness in my 60s of the role of Irish nationalists in the First World War?

“I have no doubt that this is mirrored by a similar lack of awareness within parts of unionism of the detail of the events around Easter 1916.

“I don’t pretend that looking back on history in a respectful, inclusive and non-confrontational way is necessarily easy to achieve.

“However, attempting to understand it in hindsight and listening to the perspectives of others can only benefit our society today.”

Dr Johnston McMaster, of the Irish School of Ecumenics, will speak at both the Somme and 1916 events organised by the Assembly Commission which runs Parliament Buildings. The Speaker, who replaced the DUP’s William – now Lord – Hay, said as an academic and historian who had worked on reconciliation and commemoration, Dr McMaster was “the obvious choice” to address both the Easter Rising and the Somme – an event which will take place after Mr McLaughlin leaves office.

He said the events have “created the opportunity to address the challenges of historical context, sensitivity and awareness”.

Mr McLaughlin has come in for strong criticism after he argued republicans would not have viewed the murder of Jean McConville, one of the Disappeared, as a crime.

And after a 2011 Historical Enquires Team report blamed the IRA for murdering 10 innocent Protestants in the Kingsmills massacre, Mr McLaughlin responded by saying that the party believed “the denials by the IRA that they were involved”.

Bernadette On 1916

As part of thebrokenelbow.com’s occasional coverage of the 1916 centenary here is a speech given by Bernadette McAliskey at a socialist conference in London last weekend which was also attended by film-make Ken Loach and radical writer Geoff Bell.

Enjoy:

Donald Trump & The Mob: BBC Treads Where U.S. Media Will Not

BBC Two’s Newsnight programme carried this item last Friday evening on Donald Trump’s business dealings with mob figures in New York, in particular his relationship with the late Mafia boss, ‘Fat’ Tony Salerno.

Salerno was head of the Genovese crime family and also controlled the concrete business in New York back in the day. When Donald Trump built Trump Tower on 5th Avenue it was, unusually, constructed entirely of concrete which he bought from Salerno’s firm, S&A Concrete.

Trump Tower - constructed of concrete supplied by mob boss 'Fat' Tony Salerno

Trump Tower – constructed of concrete supplied by mob boss ‘Fat’ Tony Salerno

The deal was worth millions to Salerno. Other Trump buildings also used concrete bought from the Genovese family boss. The question is, what did Trump receive in return? Was the absence of labour troubles during the construction of Trump Tower, despite the employment of a non-union, largely illegal immigrant Polish workforce just a coincidence?

Newsnight also highlighted Trump’s relationship with Felix Slater, a Wall Street broker who served time for stabbing a fellow banker in a bar. After his release from jail Slater orchestrated a financial fraud which involved mobsters as co-conspirators. He subsequently made a deal with the authorities and informed on his fellow fraudsters.

Trump was shown on Newsnight disavowing Slater even though documentary evidence showed that Slater used a Trump email address, described himself as a ‘senior adviser’ to Trump on his business card and had an office in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.

Plaudits to the BBC for screening this item. Perhaps it will encourage their counterparts in the U.S. to follow suit.

Trump’s alleged Mob links were covered by many media outlets when he first announced his plans to run for the GOP nomination back last summer. That was when he was considered an outsider, even a joke candidate who was primarily interested in the publicity the race could bring him.

But since he became the front runner the media in the U.S. has largely gone silent on the story. Only one fellow Republican candidate, Ted Cruz has raised the issue.

Here is the link to the BBC Newsnight item. Readers who are restricted from  receiving BBC programmes can download Hola, see below. Search on Hola for BBC Newsnight 4/3/2016, remembering that British style places the day first, followed by the month so March 4th reads 4/3.

http://bbc.in/1QwKN4F

https://hola.org/

The Bobby Sands Trust: Some Questions For Stormont Minister Carál Ni Chuilín

 

Carál Ni Chuilín. member of the BST and the Stormont minister who funds the Arts Council

Carál Ni Chuilín. member of the BST and the Stormont minister who funds the Arts Council

Sinn Fein Assembly Member, Carál ni Chuilín is the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure in the power-sharing Executive at Stormont;

She also sits on the board of The Bobby Sands Trust (BST):

BST

The Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure, which she heads, funds the Arts Council of Northern Ireland;

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland gave a grant to The O’Brien Press to help publish the graphic novel ‘Bobby Sands – Freedom Fighter’;

When asked by thebrokenelbow,com whether the Bobby Sands Trust had been paid a fee by O’Brien Press, the Publisher, Michael O’Brien said it had not;

But when I directed a supplementary question to the publisher asking if the BST would receive a share of the royalties from the book in the future, The O’Brien Press declined to answer;

I also asked what dealings, if any, The O’Brien Press had with the BST. Again no answer;

That was a week ago;

The Arts Council’s records show that a grant of £3,994.00 was paid to O’Brien Press in its 2013/2014 funding period;

Ms ni Chuilín became Minister of Culture, Arts & Leisure in May 2011;

The funding of the Bobby Sands graphic novel happened during her watch;

The O’Brien Press needs to clarify this matter;

Minister ni Chuilín needs to clarify her role in this affair.

Bobby Sands' son, Robert Gerard at his father's funeral

Bobby Sands’ son, Robert Gerard at his father’s funeral

 

The Bobby Sands Trust: A Need To Get Answers To Troubling Questions

I am not a lawyer and what I know about the law of Trusts, I have learned only in the last few days and even then my understanding is mostly imperfect.

But you don’t have to be a learned jurist to understand that Trusts are set up to fulfill well-defined responsibilities and must be very careful to ensure that a) those responsibilities are scrupulously executed and b) that only specified parties are beneficiaries of the Trust.

In the case of the Bobby Sands Trust we do not know for certain what its responsibilities are or who the beneficiaries should be. That is because the Trust has so far failed to make the relevant documents outlining these facts available for public scrutiny. Claims have been made but we are unable to judge their truth or weight.

Evidence has now emerged that last February the Bobby Sands Trust gifted an important historical artefact to Sinn Fein, to wit a letter from the about-to-be executed IRA activist, Tom Williams to the then IRA Chief of Staff, Hugh McAteer. The donor was Gerry Adams who is both a member of the Trust and the leader of Sinn Fein.

In the face of this evidence the need for a public explanation and accounting of the Bobby Sands Trust is now overdue.

BobbySandsTrust

As Christy Walsh, who discovered this transaction between Gerry Adams on behalf of the Bobby Sands Trust and Sinn Fein, on the Sinn Fein president’s Twitter feed, put it:

Gerry A(dams) is either making improper donations of Trust assets to a political party which are not part of the Trusts obligation and never intended to be used for that purpose.

Or Sinn Fein is the BST’s secret beneficiary.

Either way this award could give rise to serious impropriety and is it only a breadcrumb of similar sort of things scattered about twitter/facebook.

What happened here raises another troubling question. On behalf of a Trust of which he is a member, Gerry Adams has bestowed a gift to a political party of which he is the leader and of which other Trust members are also members. This appears to be a clear conflict of interest, notwithstanding any other breach of the Trust’s terms.

Bobby Sands’ heir is his son, Robert Gerald. What is his standing in relation to the disposition of his father’s writings? Where do other members of the Sands family stand, his two sisters in particular?

If the Bobby Sands Trust is being run properly, those who have charge of it will have nothing to fear by answering these pertinent questions and making the relevant documents public. They should not be surprised however if failure to provide reassurance at this level is interpreted in a way they will not welcome.

Well, At Least There’s One Radical Political Party (Not Irish!) Which Does What It Said It Would Do

From The Intercept:

American progressives distressed about the prospect of being offered a choice this fall between a right-wing billionaire and a one-time corporate lawyer on the board of Walmart, might look to Spain for a reminder that left-wing leaders with principles and charisma do still exist.

In Madrid on Wednesday, Pablo Iglesias, the 37-year-old leader of Podemos, an anti-austerity party formed just two years ago, blocked the center-left Socialist Party’s attempt to form a centrist coalition government and demonstrated a flair for political theater that galvanized his supporters on social networks.

During an impassioned speech to parliament, Iglesias said that his radical-left party, which is now Spain’s third-largest, would not allow the “miserable” leader of the more mainstream Socialists, Pedro Sánchez, to become prime minister because he had adopted the economic policies of the right.

The debate in parliament was closely watched on social networks, and the Podemos leader then made his opposition to the proposed government even more clear by leaping from his seat to congratulate a Catalan ally who also spoke against it with a bear-hug and a kiss on the lips.

That image, of Iglesias kissing the Catalan representative Xavier Domènech, was both celebrated and mocked in Twitter memes, as his supporters rejoiced at the sight of the two men kissing directly in front of deputies from the conservative People’s Party — which recently tried and failed to ban gay marriage in Spain — and his detractors evoked comparisons to Soviet-era kisses between the leaders of communist states.

Open Letter To The Bobby Sands Trust: Legality Of The Trust Should Be Re-Evaluated

Christy Walsh, who has been commenting at length on thebrokenelbow.com about the latest controversy to hit the Bobby Sands Trust, sends this open letter to the trustees:

The Secretary, Bobby Sands Trust, 51-53 Falls Road, Belfast, BT12 4PD.
By Post & Email
Open Letter to the Trustees of the Bobby Sands Trust

Dear Trustees’
I have recently read a statement on Anthony McIntyre’s’ blog The Pensive Quill: Sands Family Responds To Publication Of Book – ‘Bobby Sands Freedom Fighter’. The Trustees’ may recall that in July 2000 Journalist, Ed Moloney, wrote an article for the Sunday Tribune, reproduced on his blog site The Broken Elbow: “Sands’s family considering legal action against The BST”.

Mr Moloney has suggested to me that the legal action did not materialise because Bobby Sands’ family may not have been financially able to meet the high legal costs of such an action. This letter is my response to the contents of both of the above published articles. As what I detail below has the potential of giving rise to serious ramifications for the Trustees I am addressing my response as a letter to each Trustee.

In light of the expressed and prolonged difficulties or objections made by the Sands Family dating back for at least 16 years it is my view that the Bobby Sands Trust (BST) should at least co-operate with the family and not be obdurately disdainful of Bobby Sands next of kin because of their assertions that they are the lawful beneficiaries of the estate.

This is especially so if the BST only exists on account of a technical legal error made in the terms of the originating instrument. Intransigence on the part of Trustees may contribute to the family’s economic difficulty in having the matter lawfully settled in court.

bobby sands book

Neither an agreement nor faulty Trust that deprived Bobby Sands’ son of his right to inherit from his father would likely be held valid if the matter were to come before the courts. The purpose of this letter is to urge the Trustees to have the legality of the BST governing instrument properly re-evaluated with regard to probate and intestacy law.

Possible financial difficulties preventing any legal challenge by relatives does not relieve the BST and its legal advisors from their responsibility to due diligence in knowing, whether or not, if they may be acting unlawfully on accounted of a flawed Trust.

I understand that Bobby Sands had never expressed that it was his wish to disinherit his son in order to establish the BST. I note that the idea of a BST was formed sometime after his death and it has summarised its mandate in the following terms:

“The Trust holds the copyright on all Bobby’s poetry and prose and was established to publish, promote and keep in print the extraordinary writings of this young Irish man, who from prison isolation became an international figure in 1981, and who to this day continues to inspire Irish republicans in their pursuit of freedom from British rule.”

It appears from the Trusts statement above that the BST Trustees only act as custodians of Bobby Sands’ estate and not in the interests of any beneficiaries.

One rule against Private Purpose Trusts is that it must have at least one beneficiary to enforce the Trustees obligations. A trust for an abstract purpose like ‘keeping in print’, or ‘promoting’, Bobby Sands work, with no beneficiary, is void in law.

The BST asserts that it possesses the copyright to all of Bobby Sands works. The members of the Trust are complete strangers to the title of Bobby Sands estate, and, they are not managing the estate in the interests of his next of kin. This is not a case of a deceased author’s work becoming ‘orphaned’ because no living relatives can be traced. Bobby Sands’ next of kin are known to the BST. The Sands Family have publically called on the BST to disband, specifically because; it does not act in the interests of the deceased or his next of kin.

A trustee has a legal relationship with the beneficiaries of a trust. Like all trusts, the BST Trustees principle obligation would be to account to the beneficiaries to whom they owe their duty of care. If Bobby Sands’ next of kin are not his heirs and beneficiaries then the Sands Family have a right to know from the Trustees who they allege is the beneficiary of his estate, and, for whom they act. For a Trust with no known beneficiary it is notable that it has no fewer than eight Trustees.

Since Trustees are usually paid for their services it then would appear, in this case, that they are the only drain on the BST’s funds. Further, what are the BST’s governing rules on the numbers of Trustees and the terms of remuneration of expenses? What are the BST’s rules on Trustees length of service? These questions are also relevant to the legitimacy of the BST.

The BST should act appropriately and respectfully toward Bobby Sands’ successors and not leave them lingering in prolonged years of uncertainty on account of the BST’s own confusion, secrecy and lack of transparency. If lawful title over Bobby Sands estate has been vested in the Trustees the Sands Family, at minimum, deserves to have sight of such proof confirming that, as the deceased’s next of kin, they have been lawfully disinherited. The BST is potentially responsible for serious interference with the private life of Bobby Sands’ relatives’ right to inherit.

The Trustees should also consider that in the 1980s any Lawyers acting on behalf of the proposed Trust may have been confused at that time as perhaps were the relatives, friends or associates of Bobby Sands. Fundamental mistakes made on how to administrate the intestate estate and any copyright, I believe, are inherent in the trust’s instrument and thus the problems today. One basic error that immediately appears obvious is that the Lawyers failed to properly ascertain the precise identity of all relevant kin, and, who among them was Bobby Sands’ actual ‘priority’ successor in title. The rights of the deceased’s son were not taken into account.

There is no doubt that Bobby Sands son would have been entitled to a grant of representation had any lawyer considered his interests in his father’s property.

Another possible error is that, if, for example, one of Bobby Sands’ sisters had agreed to the setting up of the Trust, then that would not have deprived her, or any other relative of their rights as beneficiaries if the focus of the Trust was only on printing and promoting the work; that is because that would have been a natural pursuit of the BST without need to be specified in the originating instrument.

As a Trustee it is relevant for you to know that in cases where a deceased died after 1st January 1956 intestate, and domiciled in the North of Ireland, their spouse, children, brothers or sisters are, in that ‘priority’ order, the lawful successor/s of the deceased’s estate and not any formulated Trust devised by unrelated associates.

Hence, Bobby Sands’ son was, and is, the lawful successor in title of his father’s estate. However, until now you may have been misinformed or misguided on the legal status of the BST because it has been in existence for so long without challenge but that does not mean that it was formed in accordance with the wishes of the deceased Bobby Sands, or, his lawful successor.

If I am correct then each Trustee could risk personal liability for gross negligence amounting to fraud should you wilfully ignore valid evidence or facts of law that may subsequently come to your notice during your service as a Trustee. If Bobby Sands’ next of kin still retain their right to the copyright then I would urge each Trustee to consider the potential for personal criminal liability for involvement in copyright piracy, infringement, exhibiting, distributing, depriving or otherwise prejudicing the true copyright owner/s of Bobby Sands work.

By this, I am not suggesting that any member of the Trust has knowingly acted in bad faith to date but once the Trustees become aware of such a scenario then they would be foolish not to at least have the BST’s legal standing re-evaluated.

Even if the risk of any criminal liability is remote, civil liability may not be, in the event that Bobby Sands’ next of kin are ever in a position to finance a legal action against the BST. Should that happen, then the Trustees are personally liable and could be faced with extra costs and damages for any unnecessary delay they cause in releasing control of Bobby Sands copyright material back to his next of kin and rightful heirs.

If my concerns about the legitimacy of the BST are accurate then ‘printing and promoting’ Bobby Sands work is none of the Trustees business without formal consent from Bobby Sands’ successor. As successor in title of his father’s work, Bobby Sands’ son’s ownership of copyright still subsists. There are members on the BST who are themselves published authors and have children of their own. It would be in their personal interests to know that someone more meaningful, like their own children, will inherit copyright of their work when they die and not a motley crew of former associates like the self-styled Bobby Sands Trust.

I would re-emphasis to the Trustees that in the absence of any written will the law is explicit on who is a deceased’s priority successors in title. Bobby Sands’ son’s current deprivation from his father’s estate may have originally arisen as a result of possible confusion or lack of legal representation when he was a child. If there has been any misappropriation in error of his father’s estate then I am sure the Trustees’ will now do the honourable thing and endeavour to put matters right.

Yours Sincerely
Christy Walsh
2nd March 2016