Monthly Archives: June 2016

Things We Have Learned From Euro 16

1. England are shit and always were, always will be;

2. ‘Woy’ is a wanker;

3; Wilshire is a useless Arsenal thug;

4. I could be a football manager;

5. Ciaran O’Connor is whistling up his arse about Jimmy Greaves!

6. Bale was worth more than 100 million whatevers!

Five Years Until Scap Report Sees Daylight

Sometimes you have got to admire the bare-cheeked audacity of the British establishment when it comes to dealing with scandals that threaten their own.

A classic example has presented itself in the shape of the Boutcher inquiry into Freddie Scappaticci and his handlers. The scandal is so huge, affecting not just British military intelligence, who ran Scap, but also MI5 and the former RUC Special Branch, who both shared his intelligence, especially MI5, and via the Tactical Co-ordinating Group structure (TCG), helped run him.

All three branches of British intelligence are thus implicated in the central allegation, viz that Scappaticci was allowed to kill by his handlers to preserve his cover and his immense value to the British government in its war against the IRA.

So serious is the allegation, implicating the State in murder, that it can’t entirely be brushed under the carpet. The classic British response in these situations is to set up an inquiry headed by a safe pair of hands. They don’t always pick the right guy, e.g. John Stalker, but one can only assume they have done their homework on Mr Boutcher.

So, now, no-one can criticise the British for not doing anything about the Scappaticci scandal. But the the truth is that we are very unlikely ever to see the full report, which will be said to be so sensitive that its contents won’t be divulged. We’ll be lucky even to see a short, sanitised summary.

That’s what happened to the Stalker report, to the Sampson report which took over from Stalker when Jack Hermon nobbled him, and it is what has happened to the various Steven’s reports, although we did get one half-decent summary from Stevens.

So a secret inquiry, held in private will produce a report which we’ll never get to read but the British will be able to say that they did something about the Scappaticci scandal.

There’s a kicker though, Apparently the PSNI and/or John Boutcher are briefing that his report will take five years to produce. That’s nearly as long as World War II.

By 2021 or even 2022, Scappaticci will be a distant memory. The man himself may even have departed for the big Internal Security Unit in the sky by then. The odds are that many people won’t care a toss about Scap by that time.

But the British will be able to say that they did something about the scandal.

John Boutcher Should Watch This Movie Before He Probes ‘Steaknife’

The PSNI has announced that the Chief Constable of the Bedfordshire police force, John Boutcher will investigate former IRA Internal Security Unit chief, Freddie Scappaticci’s role as a British Army agent and whether the many killings he committed, sanctioned or arranged of alleged informers had the approval, knowledge or foreknowledge of his security force handlers.

John Boutcher

John Boutcher

Before he undertakes this task, he would be well advised to watch this graphic and accurate re-enactment of the ill-fated Stalker inquiry and bear in mind that what John Stalker was prevented from uncovering was child’s play compared to the ‘Steaknife’ scandal.

(The media call him ‘Stakeknife’ but that is inaccurate. The whistleblower who revealed his identity was forced by court order no longer to use his proper name, ‘Steaknife’ and so to circumvent the ban, he devised ‘Stakeknife’ as an alternative that could not be banned by the courts. I think it’s time we all reverted to ‘Steaknife’.)

This guy may also be able to help:

After Loughinisland, A Question For The PSNI….

So, after the Police Ombudsman confirmed this morning that there was RUC Special Branch collusion in the slaughter at Loughinisland  in 1994, when will you move against those responsible for covering up, and even possibly assisting the killers?

I mean, it is not as if you don’t know who they are or where to find them, is it?

Did The PSNI Arrest ‘Winkie’ Rea Because Of This Op-Ed Column?

UPDATE – It appears that Thomas P O’Neill III did have a political career but not a very distinguished one. Between 1977 and 1983 he was Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, a largely symbolic office. He attempted to run as Governor (the office with real power) after that but failed even to make the ballot.

On April 29th, 2014, the day before Gerry Adams was arrested by the PSNI and held for questioning for a week about the murder and ‘disappearance’ of Jean McConville, Thomas P O’Neill III published an Op-Ed in The Boston Globe asking critical and pertinent questions about British motives for invading the Belfast Project oral history archives at Boston College.

Thomas P O'Neill III

Thomas P O’Neill III

In the course of that commentary he wrote this sentence:

…..why, when both sides in the Troubles were guilty of so much wrongdoing, is the British prosecution seemingly intent on only pursuing crimes allegedly committed by only one side?

And he went on:

…..the investigation smacks of political motivation. Of the scores of murders committed during the Troubles, the British government is seeking only to investigate that of Jean McConville in what can be construed as an attempt to implicate Gerry Adams and jeopardize his current position within the Irish parliament…..Is the British demand for documents, and its search for alleged wrongdoing, driven as much by the politics of Ireland today as it is by the search for justice for past crimes?

So just who is Thomas P O’Neill III? You may, dear reader, not know who he is but there is a very good chance you’ll remember or have heard of his father, ‘Tip’ O’Neill. He was Speaker of the US House of Representatives between 1977 and 1987 – effectively the Reagan years – and in his day was one of America’s most powerful politicians.

In Irish political folklore ‘Tip’ O’Neill is widely credited for persuading Reagan to lean on Margaret Thatcher and cajole, pressurise and generally oblige the British prime minister to sign the 1985 Anglo-Irish accord – the Hillsborough Agreement as it is better known – with Garret Fitzgerald’s government, something which she was later said to have regretted.

His son, Thomas P O’Neill III did not follow his father into politics – he runs a public relations firm and was once a Trustee at Boston College – but he is a significant and respected figure in Boston and in the wider Irish-American political community. You could say he is a member of the Irish-American aristocracy.

I must confess to having mixed feelings about his Op-Ed. There is much about it to be liked. He praises the Belfast project for its candour and relevance and correctly identifies the exposing of Dolours Price as a BC interviewee – done by Ciaran Barnes in The Sunday Life c/o Allison Morris in The Irish News – as the spark for the British/PSNI subpoenas.

But his criticism of the one-sided nature of the PSNI action – aimed only at the IRA figures allegedly involved in the McConville disappearance – filled me with concern, as did the depiction of the conflict as being between ‘two sides’, as if the British did not have a dog in the fight.

It was a criticism I had heard frequently from Irish-America, where there is a tendency to paint issues in Ireland in simple, clashing sectarian colours and it led to a conclusion that further endangered the archive – and that I could not accept.

'Tip' O'Neill and then VP Goerge H W Bish host Margaret Thatcher at the US Congress

‘Tip’ O’Neill (standing, right) and then VP George H W Bush host Margaret Thatcher at the US Congress

What O’Neill was saying was this: ‘…the British are only going for Adams and ignoring the Loyalists’. This was a common refrain in Irish-America from the outset and the answer to their concern was disarmingly simple: ‘If the PSNI would only go for Loyalists and something other than the McConville affair then we’d be okay with this thing.’

A day after the O’Neill Op-Ed appeared in The Boston Globe, Gerry Adams was arrested and, as horrified supporters of the new dispensation on both sides of the Atlantic watched helplessly, the Good Friday Agreement teetered at the edge of a long drop.

In the days following Adams’ release, the PSNI announced a radical change of direction. With Thomas P O’Neill’s criticism ringing in their ears the force let it be known that its detectives would now try to obtain all the interviews lodged at Boston College.

And then they moved against Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea, the first Loyalist targeted in this saga. This, it should be noted, was some four years after Dolours Price was targeted by a PSNI subpoena.

Now the PSNI are aiming at the lead IRA researcher, Anthony McIntyre. This is a man who has never hid or lied about his paramilitary past (he describes himself on his own blog as ‘a former IRA Volunteer’, for goodness sake! Will this now be cited as supporting evidence if prosecutors bring a membership charge against him?). His often biting criticism of the Provos rests not at all on their abandonment of violence but rather their political dishonesty and all the wasted, blighted lives they had fostered.

I cannot remember a great deal about his interviews with BC (except I know they do not at all warrant a British seal of secrecy!) but one thing did lodge in my memory, and that was the several times that he passionately abhorred and rejected the use of violence for political ends. He didn’t have to do that but he wanted future historians to hear his words.

So what message is the PSNI sending by pursuing Anthony McIntyre? Is it this: ‘Even if you reject violence and argue against those who insist on its use, like the dissidents, as McIntyre has, that doesn’t matter, we’re still coming for you’? Is this the PSNI’s contribution to the new Northern Ireland? And for what purpose?

Another troubling question demands a more immediate answer: ‘Did the PSNI pursue ‘Winkie’ Rea and then Anthony McIntyre not for conventional policing reasons, not because some long standing investigation demanded it, but for political convenience, viz. in order to mollify powerful & influential Irish-Americans concerned that the force was unduly targeting Gerry Adams and harming the Good Friday Agreement?’

The Troubles in Northern Ireland had many parents. Among them was a belief that the old RUC danced to political tunes. The PSNI was supposed to be different and better. But is it?

Here is the full text of Thomas P O’Neill III’s Op-Ed in The Boston Globe:

BC

Last month, I listened as former President Bill Clinton delivered the inaugural lecture for the Hume-O’Neill Chair in Peace Studies at the University of Ulster Magee Campus in Derry, Northern Ireland. Clinton’s address conveyed a simple, yet powerful, message: Northern Ireland has made enormous strides in the peace and reconciliation process, but the job is still not finished.

These words not only resonated throughout Northern Ireland, they have taken on considerable meaning for the United States — and specifically for the City of Boston.

Boston College is immersed in a complex legal battle with the British government over the Belfast Tapes, an academic oral history project that has been tragically compromised as a result of Northern Irish political infighting and a misguided hunt for criminal justice.

Boston College commenced the Belfast Tapes project in 2001, appointing former IRA volunteer and prisoner Anthony McIntyre as the interviewer and Ed Moloney, a journalist with deep ties to both sides of the conflict, as the supervisor. With the Belfast Tapes, Boston College sought to intertwine modern academia and the college’s Irish roots to document the Troubles and the peace process of Northern Ireland.

In February of 2010, former IRA paramilitary Dolours Price gave interviews with Irish media in which she revealed that she had participated in the Belfast Project, and told them that she and current Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams were involved in the 1972 abduction and murder of Belfast mother of 10, Jean McConville. This admission quickly sparked a series of subpoenas issued to Boston College by the US Department of Justice on behalf of the United Kingdom in May and August of 2011, requesting the tapes and transcripts for use in criminal investigations.

Undoubtedly, the murder of Jean McConville was an especially gruesome war crime and her family deserves justice. However, the investigation smacks of political motivation. Of the scores of murders committed during the Troubles, the British government is seeking only to investigate that of Jean McConville in what can be construed as an attempt to implicate Gerry Adams and jeopardize his current position within the Irish parliament.

For decades, the Northern Ireland conflict has existed as a polarizing issue for many US politicians as well as officials at the White House and the Department of State. The United States Department of State has historically acted in favor of the British government, long considered our staunchest ally, and complies with their requests time and again.

On this issue, our relations with Britain have not always been smooth. My father, former Speaker of the House “Tip” O’Neill, worked tirelessly with fellow Irish-American politicians to denounce the violence in Northern Ireland and to craft a peace accord for warring factions. He convinced Presidents Carter and Reagan to press the British government on the conflict and questioned their peacekeeping efforts, an act that challenged the stance of the Department of State.

The Belfast Tapes have exposed truths about the Troubles that reawaken feelings of betrayal and bitterness among former members of the IRA. These truths should be used as a form of catharsis and as a vehicle toward peace and reconciliation for Northern Ireland. Instead, the United States and Great Britain are allowing these truths to be used in ways that appear, frankly, both selective and political.

In the Boston College case, our “special relationship’’ with Britain is raising serious and troubling questions: Are we abridging academic freedom in ways that will prevent participants in major international issues from stepping forward with their stories? Is the British demand for documents, and its search for alleged wrongdoing, driven as much by the politics of Ireland today as it is by the search for justice for past crimes? And why, when both sides in the Troubles were guilty of so much wrongdoing, is the British prosecution seemingly intent on only pursuing crimes allegedly committed by only one side?

In Clinton’s recent address, he reminded Northern Ireland and the international community that the process to securing peace is not solely comprised of various static agreements and moments, but instead is an ever-evolving conversation that each generation must continue to have and adapt throughout history. All this turmoil now is a very clear example that that evolving conversation is continuing, and how we conduct it matters.

We should not be helping to fan the flames of animosity rooted in the past of Northern Ireland. Instead, we must uphold the values and constitutional rights upon which our country stands.

Thomas P. O’Neill III served on the Boston College Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2010 and currently acts as a trustee associate.

British Won’t Say Why They Want McIntyre’s Interviews Because They Can’t…..

STATEMENT FROM ED MOLONEY ON POSSIBLE USE OF PIIC IN McINTYRE CASE

(Mr Moloney is the former director of the Belfast Project at Boston College)

The BBC is reporting today that the prosecuting authorities in Northern Ireland may attempt to keep secret the reasons why they are trying to subpoena interviews given to the Boston College archive by its lead IRA researcher, Anthony McIntyre.

After a heavily redacted version of the so-called International Letter of Request (ILOR), which is supposed to outline reasons for requesting the subpoena, was handed over to McIntyre’s lawyers in Belfast today, the PSNI and Barra McGrory’s PPS said that they may apply for a Public Interest Immunity Certificate (PIIC) to prevent the redacted sections ever becoming public.

The Star Chamber version of justice, complete with secret courts, has finally imposed itself on the Boston College case. “It was only a matter of time”, commented one lawyer. Indeed.

The reason why Barra McGrory and the PSNI want to impose a PIIC on McIntyre’s ILOR is that there is no valid reason for the subpoena. Under the treaty which makes such subpoenas possible, the requesting state must justify the request by reference to an ongoing investigation.

There is no ongoing investigation into Anthony McIntyre. There never was. The pursuit of Anthony McIntyre, like that of ‘Winkie’ Rea, was motivated by political expediency, in particular in an effort to demonstrate that the pursuit of the Boston College tapes was more than a ‘get Gerry Adams’ exercise.

I call on the US government to withdraw its co-operation in this matter and end its attempt in the federal courts to actuate a British subpoena which is now tainted by legal trickery more likely to be found in a Third World dictatorship.

I also call on the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and the Fianna Fail leader, Mr Micheal Martin to publicly condemn this British action and to confirm that they will oppose any and all attempts to extradite Mr McIntyre from their jurisdiction.

The Last Word On Tony Blair

With the Chilcott report imminent, my favourite satirist, Jonathan Pie has a timely and hilarious answer to any effort by the establishment to cover-up Tony Blair’s crimes in Iraq. Enjoy:

It Is Time The Irish News Dealt With Its Allison Morris Problem

On February 7th, 2015, on the morning that Winston ‘Winkie’ Rea’s lawyers began a judicial review in the High Court in Belfast against a PSNI attempt to seize his interviews from the Boston College archive, The Irish News’ Allison Morris splashed a story on the front page claiming that in his interviews with the college, Rea had admitted involvement in the post-1998 murder of Loyalist, Frankie Currie.

fp

The claim attracted added significance because Curry’s killing took place after the Good Friday Agreement and therefore if deemed guilty of involvement Winkie Rea would serve a full life term rather than the two year amnesty period agreed under the terms of the peace accord.

The fact that Morris’ story appeared on the morning of the court hearing meant that every involved lawyer, and very possibly the judge hearing the judicial review, could have been aware of the claim that Rea had implicated himself in a very serious murder.

Judges are not supposed to be influenced by what they read, see or hear in the media. But they are human.

This is what Allison Morris wrote about the Curry killing: “The Irish News understands that Winkie Rea (66) openly discussed in his interview recorded almost 10 years ago the internal process and build up which took place prior to Curry’s murder.”

When researching this article, Allison Morris made no attempt to contact me for comment, or the lead Loyalist researcher, Wilson McArthur. Morris has my email address and she could easily have traced Wilson.

For most ethical or competent reporters, contacting sources so close to a story would have been a priority. But not, it seems, for Allison Morris.

Had she contacted me, I would have been able to tell her that Rea never discussed the Curry murder, a detail of his interviews of which, for obvious reasons, I was confident. The fact that the PSNI have not charged him with that killing strongly suggests I was right.

I do not know who her source or sources were for this story, or even if she had any, but so wide of the mark was it that the detached observer is entitled to ask whether she invented the story. If that was the case then even more serious questions follow about her motive.

Her employer in The Irish News behaved no better. The editor, Noel Doran refused to publish a letter I wrote to the paper strongly disputing Morris’ story. It seems he will brook no criticism or censure of his ‘star reporter’ despite her getting this story as badly wrong as it is possible to be, and a slew of other stories widely criticised because of their lack of substance, evidence and corroboration.

Furthermore when I complained to the IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation), he defended Morris to the hilt. The much-criticised IPSO, regarded in some circles as a proprietors’ toy, ruled in his favour.

That verdict reflects badly on the IPSO but it also speaks volumes about The Irish News. That newspaper employs a high-profile journalist who fails to follow the most basic procedures when checking a story and is edited by a man who defends such behaviour.

It is, perhaps, time that the proprietors of The Irish News took a long, hard look at how their newspaper is being run – and in particular confront its Allison Morris problem.

Winston Rea, outside a Belfast courthouse yesterday. Police in full riot-gear and armed with a battering ram surrounded his home even though Rea's lawyers had indicated that he was ready to be interviewed whenever the police requested.

Winston Rea, outside a Belfast courthouse yesterday. On the day of his arrest police in full riot-gear and armed with a battering ram surrounded his home even though Rea’s lawyers had indicated that he was ready to be interviewed whenever the police requested. The PSNI gave him two hours to surrender.

 

Winston Rea – ‘A Cynical Balancing Act’ By PSNI

STATEMENT BY ED MOLONEY ON PSNI CHARGING OF WINSTON REA – June 6, 2016

Today’s arraignment of Winston Rea is a cynical attempt by the PSNI to show even-handedness in their pursuit of the Boston College tapes.

Available evidence shows that the PSNI only moved against Mr Rea – nearly four years after the first subpoena was served against Dolours Price – when the force’s handling of the Boston College archive was criticised by establishment figures in Irish-America for being one-sided.

Mr Rea is in the unfortunate position of being the ‘token Prod’, to be sacrificed to protect the PSNI’s image and to preserve establishment Irish-American support for the force.

The decision to prosecute Mr Rea was taken for solely political reasons.

Meanwhile the damage done by the PSNI to any credible effort to tell the truth about the Troubles is now beyond calculation, thanks to this blinkered pursuit of alleged activists, both state and non-state, via criminal prosecution.

Who in their right minds would contribute to a truth-telling process in Northern Ireland in such circumstances? Thanks to the PSNI it seems Northern Ireland is forever condemned to be haunted and cursed by unanswered questions from the past.

Sinn Fein Leader Credits ’08 Crash For Re-Think On Unity

The article below is taken from the latest online edition of The Detail, the web-based current affairs magazine and stablemate of Trevor Birney’s growing film production empire which recently released, via Fine Point Films, a docudrama about Bobby Sands called 66 Days.

I have read this piece several times. It is based on a speech given by SF MEP Matt Carthy and no matter how I hold it – up to the light, sideways, upside down or at various angles – it seems to be saying the same thing: the Good Friday Agreement is as good as it gets, folks!

Matt Carthy - one f the post-GFA generation of Shinners now consigning Irish unity to the land of shibboleths.....

Matt Carthy – one of the post-GFA generation of Shinners now consigning Irish unity to the land of shibboleths…..He heads Sinn Fein’s Irish Unity Strategy Group

So, no more pretence that the 1998 deal was a stepping stone to the all-Ireland paradise envisaged by the men of 1916 – a goal, incidentally, that I seem to remember both Messrs Adams & McGuinness a decade or so ago hinting, if not actually predicting, would be reached by the centenary.

And since that anniversary has come and gone and not only is the Border still intact but swathes of the Republic now seem to be on the British royalty’s routine visiting itinerary – rather like Stevenage or Birmingham – it is maybe time to come clean and admit the obvious about the state of the Union between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The only twist to the story is that the failure of the project is now being laid, or rather credited, at the door of the bankers. And we thought they were all evil,  selfish bastards!

This is what Carthy says:

He said that the republican ideals of the 1916 Easter Rising had not been achieved on either side of the Irish border.

“The financial crash and its aftermath has politically educated an entire generation of people in Ireland. There is now an urgency among many young and not so young people to confront the shibboleths, hypocrisy and cant of the past and to build a much more open, progressive and equal society.”

So, the goals of 1916 are amongst the ‘shibboleths, hypocrisy and cant of the past’?

Incidentally as headlines go, the one devised by The Detail’s editors is about as  dishonest as they get. ‘New language’, my arse! Enjoy, or at least read. This is another important waypoint in SF’s bewildering, extraordinary journey:

Sinn Féin uses new language to describe its vision for Irish unity

By Steven McCaffery, 04 June 2016

SINN FÉIN has asked republicans to consider “transitional arrangements” on Irish reunification including the continued existence of a devolved administration in Belfast.

In a speech today at the Corrymeela peace and reconciliation centre in Co Antrim Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said supporters of Irish unity should be “open, imaginative and accommodating”.

He called for republicans and nationalists to consider new thinking on the shape of any reunified Ireland, including “transitional arrangements which could perhaps mean continued devolution to Belfast within an all-Ireland structure”.

Mr Carthy, who is head of Sinn Féin’s United Ireland Strategy Group, said there would be a “democratic imperative” for a poll on Irish unity if the UK opted to leave the European Union in the referendum planned for later this month.

But it is understood that his call for a rethink on the shape of a united Ireland is to be interpreted as new language by Sinn Féin and follows comments last year by party president Gerry Adams that Irish unity may not be the version “traditionally envisaged”.

Mr Carthy told the event which included speakers from the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party that, as a result of unionist opposition to constitutional change, republicans needed to be “open, imaginative and accommodating in our approach to bringing about a united Ireland”.

He said: “For instance, I think we need to consider transitional arrangements which could perhaps mean continued devolution to Belfast within an all-Ireland structure.

“What else could it mean? Why don’t we have some discussions about that?”

Saying that the “historical trajectory is for the coming together of Orange and Green”, he added: “To those who say that this will not happen, it is worth noting that it is only a few short years since the idea of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin being in government together would have been regarded as absurd. Yet this has happened.”

The speech is understood to be a signal that Sinn Féin wants to discuss alternative visions for the future.

Mr Carthy said: “The only type of United Ireland that interests me is one that is agreed, inclusive, pluralist and which is constructed by all our citizens, from whatever background or tradition.”

He said that the republican ideals of the 1916 Easter Rising had not been achieved on either side of the Irish border.

“The financial crash and its aftermath has politically educated an entire generation of people in Ireland,” he said.

“There is now an urgency among many young and not so young people to confront the shibboleths, hypocrisy and cant of the past and to build a much more open, progressive and equal society.”