Monthly Archives: May 2017

A Seedy Little Story Of Britain’s Dealings With Libya

Do you remember all the fury and grief in Britain that followed the April 1984 murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher at the hands of Libyan diplomats who shot her dead from an upper window of the Libyan embassy in London? Those vows to bring those responsible to justice?

A mortally wounded WPC Yvonne Fletcher is comforted by colleagues outside the Libyan embassy, London in 1984

Well, it seems that the Metropolitan police had in their grasp a man who knew more about the killing than most Libyans but let him go without using his information to bring prosecutions ‘for reasons of national security’.

Here’s how The Washington Post reported the decision:

The Guardian reported that the man was Dr Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk, a former minister in Gaddafi’s government who had, it seems been ordered in the 1980’s to infitrate anti-Gaddafi elements in Europe and report back to Tripoli. The police refused to confirm the Guardian story.

The Guardian continued:

Mabrouk was with the demonstrators outside the embassy on the day Fletcher was killed and was deported from the UK after the murder. But that order was later lifted, allowing him to return to Britain under an initiative to improve relations with Libya that formed part of a deal ultimately aimed at bringing the Libyan Lockerbie bombing suspects to trial.

One possible translation: Mabrouk agreed, with Tripoli’s permission, to assist British intelligence identify jihadist elements amongst the Libyan expat population in London, possibility agreeing to infiltrate their ranks – as he had the anti-Gaddafi elements in the 1980’s – and facilitating their deportation to jails in Libya for interrogation by methods so unsavory they could not be directly countenanced by MI6 or their counterparts in the CIA.

A little corner of the curtain covering Britain’s failure to pursue compensation for victims of the IRA’s use of Libyan Semtex has, perhaps, been lifted. All under Tony Blair’s watch, mind you. Nice one Ton!

Why Does The Irish Times Bother?

I was first alerted to the possibility that Barra McGrory might resign as Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland at 2:24 pm, New York time or 7:24 pm, Dublin time.

Don’t forget I am in New York, 3,000 miles away.

About thirty minutes later, the BBC’s website in Northern Ireland carried confirmation of the rumour.

It is now 5:21 pm in New York or 10:21 pm in Dublin and still The Irish Times website has not caught up with news that is decidedly important, given that Mr McGrory is an advocate of prosecuting British soldiers accused of murder, especially during the 1970’s and in the process has attracted the fury of the Tory Right in England, not to mention Unionists in the North.

His resignation/retirement raises obvious questions, particularly this one: was he pushed? Others include: did the government in London play a part in his decision? What happens now to legacy cases in Northern Ireland and what will the implications of his resignation be for the resurrection of the power-sharing Assembly in Belfast? Will Bloody Sunday soldiers now escape prosecution, or will the powers-that-be grasp this opportunity to draw a line under the past?

It is now 10:31 pm in Dublin and still The Irish Times doesn’t have the story.

Why do they bother?

Bye-Bye Barra!

No tears shed in this household. A less than glorious end for Northern Ireland’s first Catholic Director of Public Prosecutions, in circumstances which will be hailed by the English Tory Right as a victory for ex-soldiers facing possible prosecution for killings like those on Bloody Sunday. Cue crowing from The Daily Telegraph et al.

I’m glad his father, my friend Paddy McGrory, was not around to see this:

U.S. Revealed Crux Of ISIS Plot To US Airlines & Europeans As Trump Was Leaking It To The Russians

One day after Donald Trump allegedly revealed details of an ISIS plot to use laptop computer bombs on trans-Atlantic flights, the US Department of Homeland Security raised the possibility of banning PC’s on flights from Europe with executives from three major airlines, Delta, United and American, according to reports at the time from US media outlets.

A day later, the reports said, the U.S. held a conference call discussion with ministers from France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy whose governments were alarmed at the possible ban and wanted to persuade the Americans to drop the move, which the Europeans feared could cause chaos at airports.

The proposed expansion of the ban on computers carried on European flights followed a decision in March to ban PC’s from flights to the U.S. from a number of Middle Eastern countries.

The first reports about a possible ban on laptops on U.S. bound flights from Europe came on May 8th, two days before Trump’s meeting with Russian diplomats.

These moves came just a day after Donald Trump met two senior Russian officials, Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States in the White House and apparently told them enough about the plot to cause widespread consternation about his ability to keep state secrets.

But if the plan to ban laptop computers from European flights to the U.S. was already in train at the time – which the contact with U.S. airlines and European allies suggests it may have been – then it is arguable that the cat may already have been out of the bag before Trump met Messrs Lavrov and Kislyak.

With European allies and U.S. airlines aware of the Homeland Security plan to ban laptops, and the detail reported on U.S. media websites, ISIS would immediately have surmised that its plan had been uncovered.

While additional details, such as the Syrian city from where the intelligence originated, were reportedly passed on to the Russians by Trump, ISIS could have already guessed where the likely culprit for the leak was located.

As Slab’s Jail Term Ends, Adams Condemns Diesel Smuggling In South Armagh

Wherever Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy is these days, either nearing the end of his prison term or maybe even back in South Armagh, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he hears about this story in the Drogheda Life newspaper.

‘Slab’ was, of course, jailed for embezzling the Irish Inland Revenue by avoiding tax payments on income that was in large measure earned by the very methods that his old mucker Gerry Adams is now condemning, i.e. by smuggling diesel back and forth across the South Armagh border.

(Last February, the former IRA Chief of Staff was sentenced to eighteen months jail, which, with remission, must mean that he is due for release soon, if he has not already been freed. His first encounter with Gerry promises to be an interesting event.)

When the war was raging, ‘Slab’ would help the IRA out financially from time to time, loaning his own  money for operations that helped preserve the Provos’ negotiating strength leading up to, and during the peace process. Smuggling diesel played its part in all of that, in no small measure propelling Gerry and his colleagues into conventional politics and a measure of respectability.

But Ireland, remember, is the land where they invented the phrase: ‘eaten bread is soon forgotten’.

These days, Gerry Adams is, through his minions, letting it be known that he will quit the SF leadership in the autumn and make way for La McDonald to take the helm. It smacks of a ploy, to my ever suspicious mind.

Cleansing Sinn Fein of Adams’ leadership will make it easier for either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael to enter a coalition government with Sinn Fein (SF seem to be open to an alliance with either). As long as Gerry, the public face of disappearing Jean McConville, is leader no deal to share power can be made. So step aside for Mary Lou and the problem evaporates.

But there is no mention, at least that I have encountered, that Adams will retire completely from political life by quitting his Dail seat and heading off to a rural retirement in Donegal’s Costa del Provo. Correct me, dear reader, if I am mistaken.

That raises the possibility that he could join an SF/FF or SF/FG government with Mary Lou as the ‘nominal’ leader and himself as a minister/’real’ leader. Not quite the same thing as him being El Caudillo but better than nothing.

Assuming that Stormont will eventually resume operations, such an arrangement – provided FF or FG go along with it (possibly a big ‘if”) – will fulfill Adams’ ambition of seeing Sinn Fein bums on cabinet tables on both sides of the Border, simultaneously, with himself part of the arrangement. That would secure his place in Irish history and who knows, in a few years might even make it feasible for him to make a run for the Park.

I may be wrong, but I just can’t see him allowing Mary Lou to occupy that special spot in history. After all she is just a carpetbagger, a Provo parvenu so to speak.

And in the meantime, it does no harm to distance himself from activities that for a long time kept the IRA in South Armagh going. No matter what ‘Slab’ might think.

Thanks to HM for the tip:

As White Hart Lane Closes, Spurs v. Man Utd Fifty-Two Years Ago!

The game against Manchester United today (Sunday) marks the last time that Spurs will ever play at the old White Hart Lane ground. Demolition begins on Monday and by this time next year the new, ultra modern stadium that will replace the Lane and be erected on its footprint, will be close to completion. An era in English soccer is truly coming to a close, as well as a chapter in my own life.

To mark the occasion here is video of one of the first Spurs v Utd games that I watched as a schoolboy. But it wasn’t the first. That was a game in which a spindly-legged youngster from Belfast called George Best played on the right wing for Utd. I think he was just seventeen at the time but it was obvious that this was a kid with huge talent.

Little did I know how big a part Best’s home town would play in my later life.

I watched that game from the boys section but by 1965 I had been given a season ticket as a gift by my father and sat in comfort in the awkwardly-named stand. The seat was fine but the problem was that whenever the action got hot and heavy people would stand and my view would be blocked. I think I preferred the boys section.

The memory of the 1965 game is imprinted on my brain by virtue of a wonderful solo goal scored by Jimmy Greaves, who sadly these days is a very ill man. Spurs thrashed the Red Devils by five goals to one and that was a time when United had Charlton, Best and Law playing for them.

That time I saw the whole goal action and I don’t think there was a soul there that day who did not know they had just seen something beyond special.


Donald Trump’s Russian Connections…..

Dutch TV take a look at Trump’s alleged Russian ties:

Caption Contest

Free, life-time subscription for the best submission:

Prince Charles And Gerry Adams Mourn Martin McGuinness!

File this under ‘bizarre moments from the Irish peace process’:

So how did that go?

Like this, maybe?

Prince Charles: ‘Terribly sorry to hear about poor Martin. Mama sends her commiserations. Apart from giving the order to murder Uncle Dickie, he seemed a nice enough fellow. Could cast a wonderful dry fly, I hear’.

Does Trump Have A Nixon-style Taping System In The White House?

That is the obvious question arising from Trump’s tweet this morning warning sacked FBI director James Comey that he ‘better hope there are no “tapes” of our conversations’ before leaking to the media.

Of course it is just as likely this is a another sign of desperation on the part of the increasingly beleaguered president. But who knows? Maybe there is a taping system in place and if so, maybe there are recordings of some intriguing conversations with people like his sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn?

Someone should at least ask.