‘My son is not a drug dealer’


‘My son is not a drug dealer’ - dad
6 May 2012
Derry Journal

The father of a Derry man who was shot at his St Johnston home by Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) this week has said he has no idea why his son was targeted.

James Curtis, 39, was shot four times in front of his partner, while his seven-month old child slept upstairs. Two men burst their way into his Legnatraw home outside the village and shot him in both arms and legs.

The victim was rushed to hospital in Dublin where it’s understood he was close to losing one of his limbs.

Mr Curtis’ father Maurice, speaking on local radio, said his son almost died as a result of losing so much blood.

Mr Curtis said: “My son is not a drug dealer - never took drugs, never used drugs, never sold drugs. He has got no criminal record whatsoever, he works five days a week. He has a young baby and a partner and that’s all he lives for. I can’t really understand why this has happened to him.”

Referring to those who shot his son, Mr. Curtis said:

“I would just like to know why they did it, what their reasons were and what they hope to achieve out of it.”

“It will be up to a year before he can put his foot on the ground again or even try to walk because of the extent of his injuries and the doctors think he won’t be able to go back to work again. The main artery in his right leg is badly damaged and he could have bled to death.”

RAAD has since issued a statement claiming responsibility for the shooting and has also claimed the shooting of 18-year-old Phil O’Donnell in Creggan. The self styled vigilante group have said that “no amount of protest” will force it to give up violence.
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Six could face charges after school paedophile ring probe

Six could face charges after school paedophile ring probe
Greg Harkin
21 April 2012

UP to six men could face charges as a result of an investigation into an alleged paedophile ring linked to a school scandal, the Irish Independent has learned.

The inquiry was ordered last year by Justice Minister Alan Shatter after this newspaper revealed that Donegal man Michael Ferry was given his job back as a caretaker at an Irish language school despite a previous conviction for child sex abuse.

Ferry (57) was jailed last July for 14 years after pleading guilty to 38 sample charges of rape and molestation between 1990 and 2005. Although those charges only related to four victims, gardai fear Ferry may have abused dozens of boys and other paedophiles were involved.

He committed so many offences, he told investigating gardai that he "couldn't remember" some of his victims.

Many of the attacks took place after Ferry's conviction on similar charges in 2002 for which he received a suspended prison sentence.

The victims were repeatedly attacked at Ard Scoil Mhuire, run by the Colaiste Cholmcille organisation in Derrybeg, Gweedore, where Ferry wasn't on the staff but was paid as an 'odd jobs' man.

He often slept in a room at the school which has since been closed down.

Mr Shatter ordered an inquiry into allegations that up to six other men in the same Gaeltacht area abused children there.

The HSE launched a separate investigation into how Ferry was allowed to be in the company of children despite repeated warnings from gardai.

Ferry was exposed only because one brave victim, Derek Mulligan, waived his right to anonymity so that his abuser could be named.

"It wasn't just him (Ferry). There were other people doing this too," said Mr Mulligan, now 25.

New allegations were made to the Irish Independent about three other men who are alleged to have abused children in the area at the same time as Ferry preyed on his victims. Two of them have close links to Ferry, who has been re-interviewed by gardai.


Files on the alleged members of the paedophile ring are now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A spokesman for Mr Shatter confirmed that the minister has received an interim report from the Garda Commissioner on the case.

It is understood that official records show that local gardai had raised concerns about Ferry's presence at the Derrybeg college and another run by the same organisation in Dunlewey after the 2002 conviction.

A spokesman for Mr Shatter told the Irish Independent: "The position is that the minister received an interim report about this matter from the Garda Commissioner. This indicated that the gardai were carrying out an investigation into certain matters which arose.

"This investigation is at an advanced stage."

Meanwhile, the HSE has also completed its investigation into how the North Western Health Board handled the case between Ferry's first conviction in 2002 when he was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register and his continued work at the school until 2011.

However, it may not be published until after the DPP takes a decision on the allegations about the alleged paedophile ring.
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Smithwick tribunal told spymasters could have averted double murder


Smithwick tribunal told spymasters could have averted double murder
Ex-intelligence officer claims IRA squad which shot top RUC officers was riddled with British agents
Henry McDonald
11 September 2011

A written statement that claims up to a quarter of the IRA gang involved in the killing of two top Ulster policemen were British agents has been handed to a tribunal investigating collusion between terrorists and the security forces during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The document, handed to the Smithwick tribunal by a former British military intelligence officer, shines new light on Ulster's covert war – and raises concerns that the murder of Superintendent Bob Buchanan and Chief Superintendent Harry Breen in March 1989 could have been prevented.

The material, given to the tribunal by Ian Hurst, a former member of the force research unit (FRU), claims that one of Britain's most important agents in the IRA, codenamed Stakeknife, was aware of the murder plot, prompting accusations that in turn his spy bosses failed to inform either the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the Garda Síochána about it.

In his 24-page statement, passed to the tribunal headed by Judge Peter Smithwick in June, Hurst claims that Stakeknife – FRU informer Freddie Scappaticci – played a key role in intelligence-gathering that led to the double murder. Yet Scappaticci, the then head of the IRA's spy-catching unit, was in fact a top British agent in the Provisionals.

The Smithwick tribunal is investigating allegations of gardai collusion with the IRA in the murder of Buchanan and Breen on 20 March 1989.

The two RUC officers were killed in an IRA ambush shortly after they left Dundalk gardai station, where they had been attending a high-level cross-border security conference aimed at targeting the smuggling empire of IRA commander Thomas "Slab" Murphy.

Up to 25 IRA operatives were directly or indirectly involved in the shooting near Jonesborough, South Armagh. Hurst has estimated that by the late 1980s one in four IRA activists were working for one or more branches of the security forces.

One of Breen and Buchanan's former RUC colleagues now claims, as a result of this latest information, that the pair could have been saved.

Colin Breen, a former RUC officer who was himself an IRA murder target during the Troubles, also backed Hurst's demand to travel to Dublin and give evidence at the Smithwick tribunal this autumn.

On Hurst's allegations about the extent of security force penetration of paramilitary organisations, Colin Breen said: "I have always known that the degree of penetration of the Provisional IRA by the security forces was high and at all levels.

"Mr Hurst's analysis, based on his considerable experience in the intelligence gathering world, that one in four provisional IRA volunteers were informants and one in two 'officer class' members were also informers can only lead to a fairly damning conclusion in relation to this inquiry."

Breen, the Ulster Unionist party's spokesman on the legacy of the Troubles, said: "If these figures are accurate – and I have no reason to suspect otherwise – it is logical to assume that the authorities must have had prior knowledge of this operation.

"Given that there were over two dozen terrorists involved there must at the very least have been indications that something major was being planned by the Provos in the area.

"Given the number of potential intelligence streams it would appear inconceivable that these murders could not have been prevented.

"While I would concede that the specifics of the operation may not have been known in time, there must have been enough information to cause the instigation of a spoiler operation by the security forces at the very least.

"Based on this testimony it is with a heavy heart that I conclude that Breen and Buchanan might have been saved."

Hurst also names Martin McGuinness as the man Scappaticci answered to directly within the Provisional IRA.

"The security unit came under the operational command of Northern Command PIRA … and the person in charge of that unit throughout the entire Troubles was PIRA member Mr James Martin McGuinness MP.

"Mr McGuinness was the operational commander of Mr Scappaticci and directly involved in matters of life and death for persons rightly or indeed wrongly suspected of informing upon PIRA members.

"Mr McGuinness was also a key player in the long-term strategic strategies used by PIRA and thus was involved in almost all major strategic decisions, political kidnaps, human bombs etc."

Hurst says that former Metropolitan police chief Sir John Stevens, who headed the collusion inquiry into the murder of the Catholic Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, was aware of Scappaticci's role as a British agent.

The former military intelligence officer claims that as far back as 2000 Stevens's team of detectives knew about Stakeknife and his relationship with alleged rogue gardai in the border region.

At that time Stevens was investigating the collusion scandal, mainly into the role of state agents inside loyalist terror groups.

Referring to a meeting with one of Stevens's unit at Heathrow, Hurst says: "He then engaged me on a number of subjects relating to Scappaticci, one of which related to rogue gardaí. Another related to Tom Oliver [murdered by the IRA] and [Francisco] Notarantonio [murdered by the UDA].

"I told him I knew [Stakeknife] had meetings with rogue gardaí. I told him that I knew this from [a senior FRU officer].

"I can say with absolute clarity that he raised Mr Scappaticci with me in the context of him being an agent, I believe he was trying to ascertain the extent of any damage and it was my firm belief that he knew that Scappaticci was the agent known as Stakeknife."

Towards the end of the document Hurst raises the possibility that the IRA had originally planned to capture and interrogate Breen and Buchanan rather than murder them.

Another FRU agent and one-time IRA member known as Kevin Fulton has claimed state agents involved in the ambush killed the two police officers to prevent them being handed over to a Provisional interrogation unit, with the danger of them leaking the names of informants under torture.

The Guardian has learned that the Smithwick tribunal has asked Hurst to give his evidence in private. But Hurst is understood to insist that he will only speak in public about the Breen-Buchanan double murder and the role of state agents in the IRA.

It is understood Hurst may be considering legal action to challenge the tribunal's decision. He has an Irish passport, holds Irish citizenship due to marriage and could argue that the ruling to force him to give evidence in camera is a breach of the Republic's constitution and his right to give evidence openly to a legally constituted inquiry.

The ex-undercover soldier has declined to comment on the information contained in the statement sent to the tribunal, citing legal action by the Ministry of Defence against him over his role in exposing Stakeknife as one of the key reasons why he cannot make any statements relating to the information he has provided.

His written evidence also contains the names of senior FRU military intelligence handlers who ran agents such as Stakeknife and senior MI5 officers operating in Northern Ireland at the end of the 80s.

In the document Hurst also claims that a female IRA mole working inside a government agency in Northern Ireland who was under surveillance by the security forces in the late 1980s is still in post.
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Orde will only compete if he thinks he can win


20 July 2011
Belfast Telegraph

Could Northern Ireland's former Chief Constable become the new head of the Metropolitan Police? Brian Rowan examines his case

Who knows where that policing and political storm sweeping London is going to blow next?

The phone-hacking scandal has battered the News of the World, blown it away, and toppled big figures in high places, among them the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson. He is the man who in 2009 won the race for Britain's biggest policing job, edging out then PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.

It is a post that Orde, no stranger to newspaper headlines and probes, would still want; a job, no doubt, he believes he could do and do well.

His work here was the implementation of the reforms that came with the Patten Report, recommendations that marched the RUC off the stage and heralded a new era known as new policing.

There were many big moments and big decisions, among them a first ever meeting with republican leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in Downing Street, and then Orde's naming of the IRA in connection with the Northern Bank robbery.

Sir Hugh, now President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), will miss all that, the day-to-day stuff of operational policing, and day-to-day contact with the biggest investigations. And the Met, the top job there is, could be his way back; that is, if he decides to run.

On the bookie's lists that appeared on Monday, his name was there at short odds, but not the favourite.

"If he decides to go for it, it will be because he sees himself as the best candidate," his friend and former policing colleague Peter Sheridan tells the Belfast Telegraph.

"If he thinks he's going to come second, he won't go."

So, there is a decision to be made by Orde, to try again, or not to, and what Sheridan is saying is that he won't run just to make up the numbers -- to be part of the field.

"He brings with him that experience from here ... he has previous experience of London and his national role in ACPO," Mr Sheridan a former assistant chief constable and now Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland, says.

"All of that gives you somebody who could easily take over that most complex and difficult position at the moment," he adds.

And, with the Olympics in London next year, Sheridan points to another Orde plus-point.

"In his counter-terrorism role he was a solid thinker and that gives him the experience to manage the potential threats that could arise in the period of the Olympics."

In recent days, Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates have both resigned -- after a period in the news and the headlines linked to the hacking scandal. And Orde knows all about press scrutiny.

He had it in terms of the contractual perks of the job he did here, and had it when it emerged that, while married, he had been having an affair with an undercover detective in England. The two are now engaged and have two young children. One source described that as a "private matter" -- not something that will play into Orde's decision making when it comes to will he or won't he try again for Britain's top policing job.

Orde joined the Met in 1977 and climbed to the rank of Deputy Assistant Commissioner before joining the PSNI in 2002.

Before then he had long experience of Northern Ireland investigating the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, an investigation that looked inside what many call the "dirty war". So, his policing experience is significant.

In Northern Ireland, Orde was able to deal with the pressures and challenges found at that interface where policing and politics meet.

And his friend Peter Sheridan says he demonstrated "that he was someone of independent thinking" -- someone able to make his own decisions.

He would not be intimidated by London Mayor Boris Johnson or any other politician. But will the marathon running Chief Constable want to compete again?

The answer to that question is yes, but only if he thinks that this time he can win.
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Former IRA members in 'deadly' new terror group


Former IRA members in 'deadly' new terror group
John Mooney
10 July 2011
The Sunday Times

SECURITY services in Northern Ireland suspect that former members of the Provisional IRA have set up a terrorist organisation funded by a global smuggling operation.

The paramilitaries, said to number about 150, include gunmen and bombmakers, but senior police officers say there may be hundreds more sympathisers providing support. The group, which is centred on former IRA members from West Belfast and mid-Ulster, is believed to pose a serious threat. To avoid infiltration by spies, it is understood to be handpicking terrorists who have already carried out attacks or proven their credentials.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5, the British intelligence service, have dedicated extra resources to fighting the fledgling group's activities. It is believed to be reconnoitering targets, intelligence gathering and importing weapons, and it is feared it has the potential to become more dangerous than the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA or Oglaigh na hEireann.

There has been an upsurge in republican terrorism. In April, republican dissidents murdered Ronan Kerr, a Catholic member of the PSNI, by planting a bomb under his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

MI5 is trying to recruit informants to provide details on the group's activities and members. Peter McCaughey, a republican activist from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, was approached last month by the British security service during a visit to Dubai.

"I know a lot of republicans and what they do is their own business. I don't ask them. I hear rumours about a new IRA but it has nothing to do with me," he said, adding that he does not support any republican paramilitary group or endorse violence.

McCaughey, whose brother Martin, 23, was shot dead in 1990 by the SAS at a remote farmhouse near Loughgall, Co Armagh, was approached by two MI5 agents in the lobby of a Dubai hotel last month.

He said the agents promised to prevent the British Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) from proceeding with an investigation into his wealth if he agreed to work as a spy. He refused and was last week notified that he was under investigation by SOCA.

McCaughey said after the approach he flew back to Ireland via Birmingham where he was stopped for questioning by immigration officers, who took him to a room where he was confronted by MI5. His solicitor is to lodge a complaint to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a British body which oversees the intelligence services.

At least two republican hardliners with links to the new group have been targeted in similar operations by the British security services.

Garda headquarters are also monitoring activities south of the border. "This faction have put out feelers everywhere. They are not interested in the other dissident groups.

"Their modus operandi is best described as one which involves smoke and mirrors. They have carried out operations in places like Tyrone, with the express intention of making it look like the work of another paramilitary outfit," said one garda source.
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Vilifying lawyers defending a 'killer' is a dangerous trend


8 July 2011
Guardian Unlimited
Fiona Bawdon

Media disgust with QC who cross-examined Dowler family is a blurring of lines that can lead to personal attacks on lawyers

Jeffrey Samuels QC was vilified by parts of the media after his cross-examination of the parents of Milly Dowler during the trial that ended with the murder conviction of his client, Levi Bellfield.

Lawyers acting for murder defendants do not expect to win many popularity contests, but nor, until recently, have they expected to be the subject of personal attacks by the press.

The treatment of Samuels is part of a growing trend for the media to blur the previously well-understood lines between lawyers and the clients they speak for in a professional capacity.

After the Bellfield case Samuels was described as "boastful" (for allowing his chamber's website to characterise him as sought-after and highly effective), as earning "hundreds of thousands of pounds" acting for "heinous criminals", and as a resident of a "large, five-bedroom, £1.4m detached house in Prestwich".

One columnist even suggested the Dowler family might have found his cross-examination particularly unpalatable because he resembled his client.

For all the vilification, though, Samuels got off relatively lightly compared with other lawyers who have acted for controversial clients.

Probably the most shameful example is that of the leading civil liberties solicitor Saimo Chahal, who was demonised in the media for representing Peter Sutcliffe, the murderer dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper, as he sought get a tariff after which he could be considered for release from his life sentence.

That case prompted a tabloid feeding frenzy with Chahal, rather than Sutcliffe, the target of much of the vitriol. "How could a WOMAN fight to win freedom for The Ripper?" thundered a five-deck headline in the Sun. Many readers would be "astonished a FEMALE lawyer is leading his fight", the paper proposed.

Other coverage suggested Chahal had no business acting for Sutcliffe as she was the mother of a teenage daughter.

Large photographs of Chahal were published, alongside those of Sutcliffe and his 13 female victims (in the Daily Mail her picture was four times the size of Sutcliffe's).

Most despicably of all the columnist Richard Littlejohn suggested Chahal, who has a long record of bringing groundbreaking cases, might have a crush on Sutcliffe; the writer likened her to "one of those madwomen who write to serial killers and end up marrying them". The male barrister in the case, Paul Bowen, did not warrant a mention in any of the coverage.

Fairly predictably, Chahal received a barrage of hate mail and threats, from as far away as Australia.

In Samuels' case, the Sun reported that, after being bombarded with threatening emails, the barrister was offered a panic alarm at his home and a "cop guard".

The threats made against Chahal and Samuels might not have been serious, but by tarring lawyers with the same brush as their clients, the media is playing a dangerous game.

Just recently, the Scots lawyer Paul McBride QC was among a group of people associated with Celtic football club to be sent parcel bombs by a loyalist organisation. McBride, who has a reputation as a robust advocate, had previously acted for the club's manager at a high-profile disciplinary hearing before the Scottish FA.

None of the bombs exploded, but not all lawyers made a target by sectarians are so lucky. In 1989, the Catholic Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane died after being shot 14 times by loyalist paramilitaries as he ate with his family. He was a respected civil liberties solicitor and had successfully challenged the British government in a number of important human rights cases.

His murder came less than a month after Douglas Hogg, a Home Office minister at the time, complained that some solicitors in Northern Ireland were "unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA", remarks widely construed as referring to Finucane. Hogg's comments appeared to ignore the fact that Finucane had also acted for a number of loyalist clients.

With remarkable prescience Séamus Mallon, the Social Democratic and Labour party MP, quickly responded that Hogg's comments could put lives at risk. "I have no doubt there are lawyers walking the streets of the north of Ireland who have become targets for assassins' bullets as result of the statement that has been made tonight," he said.
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Incompetent policing is not same as conspiracy


24 June 2011
Belfast Telegraph

The RUC investigation of the 1994 Loughinisland massacre was deeply flawed, the Police Ombudsman will say. But it's too easy to trot out the catch-all 'collusion', argues Alan Murray

By any objective criteria, the RUC investigation into the Loughinisland massacre was a woeful piece of police work, according to Al Hutchinson's report.

The Police Ombudsman's critique of the CID investigation into the 1994 atrocity perpetrated by the Ulster Volunteer Force highlights huge failings and inconsistencies which do beggar the question: was there collusion?

In his assessment, the former Canadian policeman cautions that "inadvertence, incompetence or even negligence or recklessness is not sufficient" to conclude that individual police officers, or a police service, conspired to effect a massacre, or to shield those who did.

His stated definition of collusion is much narrower than that applied by Judge Peter Cory, who reasoned that, where the security services were concerned, they could be considered to have acted collusively "by turning a blind eye to the wrongful acts of their servants or agents".

Most reasonable people would agree with that definition and would expect that, where an agent and his gang of paramilitaries were engaged in the type of brutal murders that the UVF's Mount Vernon crew committed, the agent or agents orchestrating the violence would be sidelined and arrested by their handlers.

But how do you eradicate a 'rogue' agent whose deeds are suspected on the basis of information from other agents involved in the same acts?

And if the agent's police handler is unsure of the 'rogue' agent's guilt, does he jettison him from the payroll and lose, in some cases perhaps, invaluable information that no other source can provide?

Generally, MI5 did not get involved in the 'dirty war', because its remit was to recruit agents who would give insight and analysis, rather than operational intelligence -- that task left to RUC Special Branch and the army's Force Research Unit (FRU).

Mark Haddock and Freddie Scappaticci worked respectively for SB and the FRU and undoubtedly were involved in either the commissioning of murders or the interrogations of -- in Scappaticci's case -- other members of the terrorist organisation he served.

Did Scappaticci enjoy directing or witnessing brutal attacks on alleged IRA informers? And did he and Haddock advise their handlers of every terrorist act they had a hand in? While not knowing the definitive answer to that, it is almost certainly: no they didn't.

Loughinisland raises suspicion that acts of omission occurred during the RUC's CID investigation, but were there "wrongful acts" (in Judge Cory's phrase) by their servants or agents? One could argue that, in the Loughinisland case, a major measure of individual and management incompetence afflicted the original investigation.

Inexplicable failures on the part of the police litter the Ombudsman's report and it isn't the first to highlight investigative shortcomings during that era.

Gathering evidence two decades ago was much less comprehensive and much less sophisticated than it is today, yet we still learn of procedural investigative failures in relation to evidence-gathering and preservation.

As in all police forces, brilliant detectives, resourceful or crafty detectives or simply diligent detectives emerge to earn the plaudits of their colleagues.

Former Chief Superintendent Derek Martindale was one such figure in the 1990s, a reason why the IRA attempted to murder him.

The senior investigating officer who conducted the Loughinisland investigation declined to meet and co-operate with Al Hutchinson's probe.

Many of the inconsistencies identified by the Police Ombudsman relate to the acquiring of samples of hair, DNA and fingerprints from suspects. The Loughinisland SIO, however, could not have personally controlled, or eliminated, such failures which may have seriously hobbled his overall evidence-gathering task.

Operation of the Home Office's enquiry computer system was "poorly managed", Hutchinson concluded, leading to investigative opportunities being missed.

Other observations by the Police Ombudsman lead to the conclusion that the Loughinisland CID investigation was poorly managed and controlled.

But does this constitute collusion? Or were failings engineered by collusive acts behind the scenes to protect informants?

Over the years, the collusion line has been trotted out to describe inexplicable failures and alleged glaring oversights in other murders, such as in the cases of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson. The 'collusion by omission' dimension was arguably determined in Nelson, but few similar determinations have been confirmed over the years.

Undoubtedly, some members of the security forces did supply security montages to members of loyalist paramilitary organisations -- the Loughlin Maginn case confirmed this.

But, given the frequency of such supposed 'collusion', loyalists hardly caused the IRA to bat an eyelid at the thought that classified information might be exploited to eliminate their senior figures. Didn't Gerry Adams himself survive one such attack?

In fact, of the 347 active republicans killed during the Troubles, just 25 (7.2%) died at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries who may or may not have had classified files -- hardly evidence of major collusion between the state and their alleged 'agents'.

Nearly 40% of republican paramilitaries who were killed died at the hands of fellow republican paramilitaries, proving that in the terrorist world, usually the devil you know is worse than the devil you don't know.

Loughinisland was a monstrous attack on innocent people -- similar to attacks on pubs carried out by loyalists, but also those perpetrated by the IRA and the INLA without security force assistance.

Questions about Loughinisland -- particularly about agent involvement or knowledge of the attack -- are unanswered because Al Hutchinson is not empowered to probe such matters, he says.

His predecessor, Baroness O'Loan, appeared to go some way to investigate this in her examination of the Raymond McCord Jr murder, where she exposed a level of security force penetration of the UVF which led to turmoil within the organisation.

Many will ask where Al Hutchinson found a barrier that stopped him from treading the same path as his predecessor.
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The Loughinisland Report - Role of Special Branch notable by absence after 5-year probe


23 June 2011
The Irish News
Barry McCaffrey

If the police ombudsman was accused of a reluctance to grapple with the issue of collusion when examining the McGurk's Bar atrocity, his report on Loughinisland is also notable for the absence of another crucial piece of the picture: the role of Special Branch both before and after the massacre.

Al Hutchinson states that he studied all "available intelligence" connected to the killings but important intelligence-related aspects of the case are not mentioned in the report, raising questions over how deep his investigation went in this case and, again, drawing attention to possible conflicts within his own office.

One example is sightings of the killers' car in the south Down area in the weeks before the attack - clearly the domain of Special Branch, clearly a critical avenue for Mr Hutchinson to explore.

Yet there is no reference to this, the context of the sighting, whether or how the information about it was dis- seminated within police circles, and whether it provided leads for the investigation.

Also, more than 10 years ago police told the families that they had recovered a hair follicle on one of the killers' balaclavas.

The relatives were assured that detectives would be able to bring the killers to justice if just one bead of sweat was found from the balaclavas and boiler suits recovered.

But despite the hair follicle appearing to be one of the most important forensic lines of inquiry there is no mention of it anywhere in the ombudsman's findings.

The 56-page report - surprisingly only 26 pages of which are devoted to a five-year-long investigation - provides no clarity on the police ombudsman's relationship with Special Branch and the level of access he has achieved into it during this investigation: a pronounced contrast to the work of Nuala O'Loan on Omagh and the Mount Vernon UVF, which majored on the role of Special Branch in murders in which it was alleged that infor- mers were protected from prosecution.

Omagh and the Mount Vernon cases spanned the period of 1993-1998 and the police ombudsman found that Special Branch activities in that era protected killers.

Loughinisland occurred within the same timescale - June 1994 - yet still the role, or lack of role, of Special Branch remains unexplored anywhere in this investigation.

What is public knowledge, although unacknowledged in the Loughinisland report, is that:

- by 1994 Special Branch's 800 officers had heavily penetrated both loyalist and republican groups, including the UVF in east Belfast

- the Loughinisland attack was mounted by the east Belfast UVF

- in the Omagh and Mount Vernon cases and the murders of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, Special Branch withheld information from the CID murder investigations

The apparent removal of this dimension from the Hutchinson approach is understood to have caused a deep split within the police ombudsman's office - referred to recently by a Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) report into the effectiveness of the organisation.

The Loughinisland investigation, in particular, has been known to be a source of anxiety internally.

It also ties in with broader developments in investigations into the past: the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry reported back four weeks ago and the word "collusion" was not mentioned, allowing Secretary of State Owen Paterson to say that it therefore had not happened.

There have also been protests from nationalists at the transfer of NIO personnel into senior positions within key agencies within the criminal justice system following the devolution of justice powers last year.

So where does all this leave the relatives of the six men who died in The Heights bar 17 years ago and who went to the police ombudsman's office back in 2006 as their last hope for answers?

One of the key issues they wanted addressed was: "The suspicion that collusion pervaded the circumstances of the attack ... and the subsequent police investigation".

Tomorrow a political row is likely to play out on what turned out to be the focus of the report: the actual investigation by CID and Mr Hutchinson's conclusions that it lacked leadership and commitment and failed to properly investigate all available lines of inquiry to bring the killers to justice.

But can anyone be satisfied with Mr Hutchinson's final verdict on the subject of collusion in Loughinisland and his certainty that it didn't happen in this case?
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Lord Stevens to be witness at new inquest into murder


Lord Stevens to be witness at new inquest into murder
10 June 2011
The Irish News
Maeve Connolly

Lord Stevens and a brigadier who was in charge of a covert British military intelligence unit are to be called as witnesses at a new inquest into a 1988 loyalist murder.

Gerard Slane, a 27-year-old Catholic father-of-three, was gunned down at his home in west Belfast by a UFF gang believed to be acting on intelligence provided by double agent Brian Nelson.

Speaking yesterday the solicitor representing the Slane family claimed that material had been withheld from the original inquest.

Kevin Winters also called for Lord Stevens's full report into state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries to be made available to the legal team ahead of the new inquest which was ordered by attorney-general John Larkin QC.

He said the new inquest would provide an opportunity to examine "the role of Brian Nelson as an agent who worked directly and indirectly with the security forces".

Nelson's guilty plea at his 1992 trial meant much of the evidence was never heard.

Brigadier Gordon Kerr, who was in charge of the British army's Force Research Unit at the time of the killing, told the Stevens Inquiry there was nothing the unit could have done to prevent it.

Mr Slane's family said yesterday they always believed there had been collusion between the security forces and loyalists in his murder.

Teresa Slane, speaking yesterday with her son Gerard and daughter Catriona by her side, claimed an army patrol had passed outside her Waterville Street home five minutes before her husband was gunned down in the early hours of September 23 1988.

Mr Winters, who said the family had waited more than 20 years for the inquest which still may not take place for another two years, said: "In the interests of justice and discovering the reality and truth of what happened that's a wait that's worth it."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has called for the British government to cooperate with the new inquest.

"The formal and informal use of collusion involving British state forces and unionist paramilitaries was widespread," he said.

"The Brian Nelson case provides one detailed example of how it worked at an administrative and institutional level."
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Cables 'have only scratched surface'


6 June 2011
Belfast Telegraph

OVER the past week the Belfast Telegraph exclusively revealed a raft of sensational insights regarding Northern Ireland's political system from thousands of secret US cables from the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

Journalists from both the Belfast Telegraph and Irish Independent spent hundreds of hours trawling through more than 7,000 A4 pages amounting to 2.4m words in a three-month investigation uncovering an unprecedented analysis into Northern Ireland's relationship with the US in the 21st century.

Among the many shocking revelations, it was revealed that the DUP and Sinn Fein were engaged in private talks almost three years before their power-sharing agreement. It was also revealed that the British and Irish governments had plans to crash Stormont and reintroduce direct rule if a deal on policing was not agreed.

The cables showed that the US still viewed Northern Ireland as a security issue and were keeping a close eye on proceedings with senior US officials shown time-lapse footage of the murder of two soldiers at Massereene barracks only hours after it happened.

Many of Northern Ireland and the Republic's key political figures also faced a harsh critique from senior US officials and fellow politicians. SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie received an embarrassing snub by a member of the American Consul in Belfast, branded as "stilted, wooden... with an unpleasant speaking voice".

Peter Robinson's ability as First Minister was also brought into question after cables revealed that former Secretary of State Shaun Woodward had described him as "hanging on by a thread".

In the Republic, it was revealed that Bertie Ahern was "certain" that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness had advance knowledge of the Northern Bank raid in 2004. Mr Adams was also labelled as "absurd" and "disingenuous" by a top diplomat based in Ireland.

Among the cables, it emerged the former Taoiseach had considered overturning a cornerstone of the Good Friday Agreement by reasserting the Republic's constitutional claim on Northern Ireland after frustration regarding the DUP's refusal to join Sinn Fein in a power-sharing government.

In a separate cable, it was revealed Mr Ahern also told US diplomats that "everyone knows" the UK was involved in the murder of Pat Finucane in 1989.

Despite the significance of the reports it's thought they have only scratched the surface, described by one Queen's University professor as "only one part of the puzzle".
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