Tag Archives: Winston Rea

Billy Hutchinson Slams McGrory Over ‘Winky’ Rea Subpoena

The following is a statement issued by the progressive Unionist Party today.

‘McGrory sabotages efforts to ‘deal with the past’ PUP Leader Cllr Billy Hutchinson slams the DPP for his political witch hunt of Winston Rea.

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson

The Progressive Unionist Party utterly condemns attempts by the DPP Barra McGrory to raid the Boston College history archive in a malicious and flagrantly political fishing expedition against Winston Churchill Rea.

Mr Rea, who as a representative of the PUP, made a very significant and widely acknowledged contribution to the peace process; from ceasefires to decommissioning and the political architecture which facilitated them in between.

Party Leader Cllr Billy Hutchinson slammed the effort, “This malicious abuse of process before the courts is just another in the long history of ‘balancing’ exercises where Loyalists have been singled out, not on merit but for the optics of appearing independent to a political audience. Internment, collective punishment, shoot to kill, historic investigations, the past is replete with instances where Loyalists have suffered punitive measures for the sake of appearance rather than requirement.

After the arrests of high profile Republicans relating to the Jean McConville investigation, Barra McGrory has abused his authority in an effort to appear, rather than to be, balanced. A previous subpoena request listed Winston Rea and a Republican in the very same circumstances. When that subpoena failed due to lack of evidence, the Republican’s name mysteriously disappeared and the token Loyalist required for public consumption remained. Unfortunately that Loyalist happened to be Winston Rea.”

He continued, “The distinct lack of evidence in this case is the starkest indication that the judicial process is being used in an exercise of political window dressing. Winston Rea’s rights under the ECHR are being subjected to the unfettered will of the DPP as he continues his overtly political agenda. We need not look to far back to be reminded of a mass supergrass show trial or the ‘On the Runs’ debacle. Perhaps if Winston Rea had been a Republican, he would have received a letter of comfort rather than an international subpoena.

Barra McGrory, North's DPP

Barra McGrory, North’s DPP

Had this material been deposited in a UK University, lack of evidence would have quashed the case long before it reached the eyes of a judge. International legal cooperation has allowed Winston Rea’s Human Rights to be subject to the whims of this DPP by virtue of legal loophole.

I would further caution that Barra McGrory’s efforts will lay waste to any hope of ‘dealing with the past.’ The Stormont House Agreement called for an oral history archive and an information recovery process. Both were to be underpinned by strict confidentiality, yet here the DPP seeks to run roughshod over a similar attempt to understand the past and the confidentiality that gave birth to it.

After this evidently politically motivated witch-hunt against Winston Rea, who is likely to engage in the structures envisaged by that Agreement? The understandable mood within Loyalism suggests no-one. But then that outcome was obvious to the DPP in his duty to consider the public interest. Thus, the deeper question arises – who does this serve?”

Cllr Hutchinson concluded, “With the DUP content to get their Stormont budget passed, is dealing with the past to be left to Sinn Fein’s revisionists and any other version of history suppressed by their stacked process? These questions are central to the success of any search for truth or recovery of information; the cabal of the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and DPP need to think long and hard about the implications of their answers.”


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!