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HET to interview McGuinness over Joanne Mathers murder

Fri 20 May 2011, 11:07am

The News Letter is reporting that Martin McGuinness may be about to be interviewed by the Historical Enquiries Team regarding the 1981 murder of census worker Joanne Mathers.

From the News letter:

On Monday, MP Gregory Campbell referred to the fact obliquely when he raised a point of order in the assembly.
Addressing assembly speaker Willie Hay, Mr Campbell (DUP) said: “If it transpires — my understanding is that it will — that the deputy first minister’s name will be implicated in relation to that investigation, how would a justice minister be expected to work in the context of a live investigation that was currently going on, until that matter be dispensed with?”
The HET will, over the next couple of weeks, receive information, some of which will include the name of Martin McGuinness in respect of a murder of 30 years ago.
“In normal circumstances, the next stage of the investigation is to hold a conversation with the person who has been named to see if they can give any further information in respect of that incident, so that’s what I would expect them to do.
“The key question at this stage is: does the deputy first minister fully cooperate with the HET in order to try and bring some form of closure in this incident, specifically as it directly affects a family member?”

The IRA has previously refused to cooperate with the HET as have Sinn Fein.

The HET in line with their policy have refused to comment on whether they are going to interview McGuinness.. Again from the News Letter:

“The Historical Enquiries Team deals with families on a strictly confidential basis.
“It does not discuss the progress or contents of a review with anyone except the family involved.”
But, in an interview with the News Letter last year, the head of the HET, Dave Cox, insisted that if a prominent politician was believed to have information about a case they would be treated in exactly the same way as any other individual.

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Comments (27)

  1. Joe Bloggs (profile) black spot black spot says:

    This would not have happened had the Progressive Unionist Party not campaigned against the HET’s refusal to arrest mainstream Republicans over recent months. Lowry Mathers came forward the day after the PUP’s first public protest at PSNI HQ.

    I believe you slammed the PUP’s campaign in one of your recent blogs yet here you are praising the results.

    Typical hypocritical Turgon….

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  2. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Turgon,

    It’s not actually breaking news until it *actually* happens… If I am going to clip people in the comment zone, we need to lead from the top…

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  3. Turgon (profile) says:

    Right Mick so despite the fact that it has been mentioned in the assembly and now in one of the main NI newspapers it is not breaking because it has not happened yet. I thought the breaking news bit was the revelation from a usually well informed source (and one close to the Mathers family) that it was going to happen. However, I see your point.

    Good to see that you are keen to keep up to date. I am unclear how your BBC model B microcomputer gives you internet access but there you go (that is humour not man playing): your site your rules; I will as ever respect them.

    Joe Bloggs that is utter nonsense. Lowry Mathers has never been involved in any PUP campaign and the fact is that his intervention was unrelated to the PUP’s stunt supporting loyalist murderers. I do not want to side track the thread but it is worth remembering that the arrests the PUP were protesting at related not to crimes of the Troubles but to organised criminality and anti social behaviour committed by the loyalist terrorists almost exclusively on working class unionist areas. These arrests were due to loyalists “singing like caranries”.

    Still the PUP protest was useful because it showed that despite Brian Ervine et al.’s claims to the contrary that those whom the PUP represent have always been loyalist terrorists. In this case they were representing loyalist terrorists in their fight to oppress working class unionists. That has always been most of what the PUP were about; it may help explain the PUP’s election performance.

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  4. Joe Bloggs (profile) black spot black spot says:

    More usual Turgon ‘copy and paste’ nonsense.

    The PUP were campaigning against the HET’s refusal to arrest mainstream IRA/Sinn Fein members over the killings they were involved in. Brian Ervine repeatedly stated he had no problem with the arrest of Loyalists provided both they and Republicans were treated in the same manner. You conveniently ignore this at every opportunity.

    Lowry Mathers stayed totally silent on his wife’s murder for thirty years and then agreed to newspaper and radio interviews THE DAY AFTER the PUP’s first protest at the PSNI headquarters was covered extensively in the media. I think it’s safe to say the two events may have been linked….

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  5. Nevin (profile) says:

    Turgon, I think your thread title needs a question mark. Many decisions here are subject to political ‘considerations’ so the HET is most unlikely to have a free hand. Beware of any bodies that proclaim their independence; I know, from experience, that it can be a fiction.

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  6. Ulick (profile) says:

    I thought the HET were working their way through the Troubles in chronological order – how did Mathers get to jump the queue? Oh, I see now, someone in contact with Campbell is going to name McGuniness and the rest is all conjecture.

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  7. Turgon (profile) says:

    Joe Bloggs,
    Just to give the lie to your claim about Lowry Mathers. Here is the journalist who broke the story commenting on it: he makes it clear that he initiated the contact. I thought I would give you the chance to repeat the lie before I proved it to be a lie.

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  8. Pat Mc Larnon (profile) says:

    “The HET will, over the next couple of weeks, receive information, some of which will include the name of Martin McGuinness in respect of a murder of 30 years ago.
    “In normal circumstances, the next stage of the investigation is to hold a conversation with the person who has been named to see if they can give any further information in respect of that incident, so that’s what I would expect them to do.”

    So the source of the information to the HET is not revealed, it can of course come from a politician and at this juncture the quality of the information (if it exists) cannot be gauged.

    Thus it triggers a set of circumstances whereby the HET has to ‘hold a conversation’ with the person named, even if it is just at the whim of a malignant politician.

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  9. articles (profile) says:

    I just cannot conceive how a census worker could be viewed a legitimate target by any terrorist, unfathomable

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  10. Joe Bloggs (profile) black spot black spot says:

    “Just to give the lie to your claim about Lowry Mathers. Here is the journalist who broke the story commenting on it: he makes it clear that he initiated the contact. I thought I would give you the chance to repeat the lie before I proved it to be a lie.”

    And how many other occasions do you think journalists have ‘initiated contact’ with Lowry Mathers over the years only to be rebuffed???

    He agreed to the interview after thirty years of silence the day after the PUP’s first public protest against the HET. That fact cannot be disputed.

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  11. Nevin (profile) says:

    Ulick, here’s an HET protocol: “As a general rule, cases are examined in chronological order starting with the earliest – but there are some exceptions. The HET sometimes reviews cases out of sequence perhaps because an elderly relative is in poor health or because a number of violent events are linked.”

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  12. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    @articles for ref from CAIN:
    “Tuesday 7 April 1981 Joanne Mathers (29), a Protestant civilian who was acting as a census enumerator, was shot dead in the Gobnascale area of Derry, while she was collecting census returns. Republican paramilitaries were responsible for the killing.”

    Clearly a member or associated with the British Colonial Crown Forces….no wait, she was collecting census forms – shot for her religion – being a Prod – quite a bit of that from both sides…

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  13. Ulick (profile) says:

    @vanhelsing “– shot for her religion – being a Prod”

    Excuse my ignorance of the case, but how did the killers know she was a “Prod” and how do you know that was their motivation?

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  14. Mark (profile) says:

    Was it not because the Provos felt ( rightly or wrongly ) that information on a census form could be used by the security forces to gather intelligence ?

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  15. articles (profile) says:

    Occupation: Terrorist

    Now i understand

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  16. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    @ulick

    Well PIRA murdered people because they believed them to be ‘legimate targets’. These included [not exhaustive] members of the UDR, RUC, RIR, British Army, Prison Service, TA, RN, RAF and on some occasions ‘Census takers’. That excludes the soldier of the Army of the Irish Republic and 9 Garda.

    As I have said on other threads I do not presume to understand the logic or motivation of terrorists so I assume that they did not murder her because she was wearing badly co ordinating clothers. Do you know why she was murdered?

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  17. Turgon (profile) says:

    Joe Bloggs,

    “He agreed to the interview after thirty years of silence the day after the PUP’s first public protest against the HET. That fact cannot be disputed.”

    Well that does not seem to be Mr. Sweeney’s take on it; nor has Lowry Mathers made any such link.

    A temproal association does not imply let alone prove causation.

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  18. 241934 john brennan (profile) says:

    Apart from MI5, the HET and Barra McGrory, who else might have files on Martin McGuiness?

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  19. Nevin (profile) says:

    “who else might have files”

    MI6, jb.

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  20. son of sam (profile) says:

    If todays Irish News front page story is to be believed, it could be an interesting file for the new Director of Public Prosecutions!

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  21. latcheeco (profile) says:

    Horribly sad. A despicably moronic act with no possible justification.

    Mark,
    If they felt that, why not just warn her to clear off ?

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  22. Alias (profile) says:

    Marty is a protected species, and has nothing to worry about. Operation Taurus produced prima facie evidence against McGuiness in the murder of Frank Hegarty but the hidden hand of the intelligence services intervened and the state refused to prosecute him despite the sterling work of the polce service and the surplus of willing witnesses.

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  23. Hedley Lamarr (profile) says:

    Vanhesling: “Do you know why she was murdered?”

    Apparently somebody took the Republican boycott of census forms to the ridiculous extreme. The boycott was a protest against British Rule set against the protests in the prisons and a lot of unnecessary violence by all sides. That’s the reasoning behind it. Justified reasoning? Never.

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  24. PaulT (profile) says:

    So how did the interview go?

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  25. PaulT (profile) says:

    Just how bad is the Royal Mail in NI, can they not deliver a single letter to the PSNI or failing that can the PSNI not have a chat with Gregory about this evidence

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  26. PaulT (profile) says:

    Haha, you couldn’t make it up, what Gregory forgot to say was that he had actually written the letter, step aside Max Clifford

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-14075764

    “Mr Campbell said the family had asked him to write to the HET to express their concerns.

    “The HET had several meetings with the family and they put forward a series of questions, hoping to get some clarification,” he said.

    “They wanted to know if there was any attempt to get exhibits from the time of the shooting.

    “They wanted to know were certain people questioned. The answer was no.

    “The family said they would be prepared to go on a public platform and appeal for information, they were told ‘we don’t do that’.

    “It was a very negative approach on all fronts.”

    Mr Campbell said the family also want the HET to ask Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness if he has knowledge that could help identify her killers.”

    And from Stormont

    ““In normal circumstances, the next stage of the investigation is to hold a conversation with the person who has been named to see if they can give any further information in respect of that incident, so that’s what I would expect them to do.”

    Yes Gregory. If it was still that other Stormont you would expect the cops to do as you instruct, however……….

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