Tag Archives: PSNI

The McGuigan Killing: Has The PSNI Chief Constable Given The IRA A Green Light To Kill?

In my view the most significant but alarming paragraph in the statement issued to the media yesterday by PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton comes about halfway through the text and reads:

Although still a proscribed organisation, and therefore illegal, we assess that the continuing existence and cohesion of the Provisional IRA hierarchy has enabled the leadership to move the organisation forward within the peace process. Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas.

Translated into ordinary English this says:

The IRA is good for the peace process although there are some bad apples in the ranks who do bad things and have their own agendas. The leadership though has nothing to do with these bad apples who are essentially doing their own thing.

This means that the next time people are killed by Action Against Drugs or whatever fictional group the Provos set up to do their dirty work, the PSNI will have a ready-made response:

Nothing to do with Gerry, or Martin or Big Bobby. It’s just that they have got some bad apples in the barrel and there’s not really a lot they can do about that. These people are really hard to control. Sorry, folks! Now, can we please move on!

Now if you are stupid or naive enough to believe the nonsense that the control freaks who have run the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein for more than two decades would allow freelance murder, robbery and other criminality to happen without their knowledge and/or approval, then you should apply for a job with the PSNI. A stellar career awaits you.

If, on the other hand, you live in the real world, and can remember what someone like IRA veteran John Kelly once said of the Sinn Fein President, that ‘not a single sparrow can fall from a tree without him knowing’, you will have an entirely different view.

You will recognise the Chief Constable’s statement for what it is: a piece of verbiage that effectively is a licence to murder.

From now on, the IRA leadership can decide to kill this or that opponent, confident that the PSNI will have a ready-made excuse waiting to issue to the media:

It was IRA members who did it, but they were not acting under orders.

And if it is you or one of your loved ones who gets killed, well that’s just tough.

The consolation is that they will have died to preserve the peace process.

Now, isn’t that just great! We have ended up with a peace process in which the police service tells barefaced lies and devises forms of words to permit murder.

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 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!

Questions Of ‘The Utmost Gravity’ For The PSNI And Prosecution Service

Yesterday in the Belfast High Court, a lawyer for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told a judge that the police require access to interviews allegedly given to a Boston College oral history archive by a former Loyalist prisoner, Winston Rea, because they are investigating offences of “the utmost gravity”.

But so grave are these offences, so vital is it to the well-being of Northern Ireland that they be cleared up, that the PSNI have sat on their hands for almost three years, doing absolutely nothing about them even though they could easily have begun proceedings to acquire the interviews years ago.

Only recently, in the last few months has the PSNI made any move for Mr Rea’s alleged interviews. Why?

Winston Rea revealed his involvement in the Boston College archive in an interview with Brian Rowan, a journalist with The Belfast Telegraph on January 3rd, 2012. That is three years ago. The PSNI have had all that time to lodge a request with the US Department of Justice to obtain the interviews but they did not. Why not?

The PSNI only applied for Mr Rea’s interviews in September 2014, some two years and nine months after the Loyalist disclosed his involvement in the Boston project. They have had nearly three years in which to pursue Mr Rea but only now have they moved against him. Why?

And what has Mr Rea disclosed publicly about the content of his alleged interviews? He told The Belfast Telegraph simply that he wanted his interviews returned to him. So did another Loyalist, William ‘Plum’ Smith who was hiring a lawyer to request his own interviews back.

This is what Mr Rea told Brian Rowan:

“If the (Smith) test case wins it becomes a domino effect for others wishing to have their material returned to them. If I was asked to make a contribution to further student education projects, unfortunately I would have to seriously consider it.”

That is the sum of what Winston Rea has said publicly about his alleged interviews with the Boston Project. Nothing at all about their alleged contents. Nothing to suggest that he talked about offences of “the utmost gravity”.

The PSNI know no more about the contents of the interviews than what he said to The Belfast Telegraph; the PSNI know no more about the contents of the interviews than the average shopper on Royal Avenue. The attempt to obtain his interviews is simply a fishing expedition which threatens the integrity of the judicial process.

The PSNI action can be summarised thus: “Mr Rea has past form for Loyalist activity. He gave interviews. Ergo he must have talked about matters of the utmost gravity. Give us the interviews”. That is called a fishing expedition and that such a sordid tactic has been countenanced by the legal authorities in Northern Ireland is deeply, deeply disturbing. Should it succeed then alarm bells should ring loud and clear.

In a previous posting I suggested that the move against Winston Rea was nothing more than a cynical attempt to balance the pursuit of Republican interviews allegedly concerning the disappearing of Jean McConville with some Loyalist interviews. Mr Rea, having publicly disclosed his involvement and being the son-in-law of the late Gusty Spence was the ideal AND convenient candidate. The fact that he disclosed his involvement, and only that, is the reason why the PSNI are pursuing him.

Back in April of 2014, Thomas P O’Neill III, a son of the former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a Trustee Associate of Boston College and a former member of the college’s Board of Trustees, wrote an op-ed for The Boston Globe in which he complained:

“….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?”

Is this effort to obtain Winston Rea’s interview then, an attempt by the PSNI and by the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory to satisfy a complaint from the Irish-American establishment that the British are not being even-handed in their pursuit of Boston College’s archive, that if only they included a high profile Prod in their net everything would be fine? Is the judicial process to be manipulated in this sort of way for narrow political gain?

And if that is the case, what has Boston College’s role been in all this? Is it just a coincidence that one of their former Trustees made a complaint upon which the PSNI are now acting?

For reasons that I cannot discuss, I cannot disclose all that is happening in the background. But soon enough, I hope myself and others will be able to speak more freely. Watch this space!