“court orders prohibit the media from reporting either the identities or addresses of the defendants…”

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In the News Letter Sam McBride has some extra detail to an interesting story, for a number of reasons, that was initially reported in the Irish News earlier in the week.  From the News Letter report

RARE reporting restrictions which bar the media from identifying five people charged with Provisional IRA membership have caused concern to an MLA.

The charges, which have been brought against three men and two women, relate to membership of the Provisional IRA from dates in 1999 and 2000.

Some of those facing charges are understood to be senior “mainstream” republicans.

However, court orders prohibit the media from reporting either the identities or addresses of the defendants.

There are two separate but related court cases and two sets of reporting restrictions.

And the News Letter has a quote from an unnamed Sinn Féin spokesman.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “The case and how it is conducted is entirely a matter for the courts.

“It is highly inappropriate for any politician or political party to comment or to interfere with that procedure.”

Which is a welcome, if convenient, change…

Taking the unusual reporting restrictions as a starting point, in the Belfast Telegraph Alan Murray is asking some ‘stupid’ questions.

…why the PSNI charged five republicans with IRA membership relating to a decade ago raises the wider question of where the IRA is now and what it is doing. One security figure put it this way: “The IRA may have been put to bed but it hasn’t gone to sleep”.

What that means is that the IRA is keeping a ‘watch’ on the matters it feels are of importance to it, namely, the activities of the dissident republican organisations and their memberships and ongoings within the PSNI, particularly its intelligence gathering activities.

And who would be surprised if it emerged in due course that the IRA was attempting to infiltrate those sections of the Police Service of Northern Ireland charged with gathering and collating that intelligence?

Today, fortunately, the Provisional hue of the IRAs appears to have no desire to explode bombs and maim civilians but it does harbour a continuing thirst for information.

We hear little officially today of its activities, although we are indebted to Chief Superintendent Roy McComb for a nugget of information when he recently told the Smithwick Tribunal that the IRA was concerned at areas of investigation that the Tribunal was exploring relating to its ‘business’, and that it had attempted to mislead the Tribunal. [added link]

His intimation at its least suggests some sort of troika structure plotting the IRA’s current affairs. We’ll learn more perhaps if further criminal charges are preferred against dormant Provisionals.

Or, perhaps, if convictions are secured…

Needless to say, no attempts at breaching those court orders will be tolerated here.

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  • Mister_Joe

    Seriously, it’s hard to make a legal comment. It’s disturbing, of course, if these people are still active. I wonder does the Prosecutor make any distinction between the various IRA groups. And finally, it’s disturbing also that a Court can make sweeping orders. But then, we have other hidden matters with super injunctions.

  • Carrickmoreman

    The dogs in the street know who they are, but what is interesting is who allegedly touted on them.

  • son of sam

    When the case does eventually come to trial,presumably it will be in a non-jury court.It will be slightly surreal in that the press presumably will be able to report the evidence but not the names of the defendants.One wonders on whose application (prosecution or defence) the court order was made.The comment from the unnamed Sinn Fein spokesman reveals a welcome adherence to a procedure not always fully complied with by that party! We can but wait patiently for future developments in the case.

  • Mister_Joe

    I don’t think so, SOS. It will likely all be In Camera.

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    “although we are indebted to Chief Superintendent Roy McComb for a nugget of information when he recently told the Smithwick Tribunal that the IRA was concerned at areas of investigation that the Tribunal was exploring relating to its ‘business’, ”

    Yawn… Smithwick has been full of allegations against everyone from Pope Benedict to Ian Paisley, so Chief Superintendent Roy McComb’s nugget is as about as worthy as the other nugget that a senior member of the RUC in Derry set-up his two colleagues – strangely enough that nugget went unreported on Slugger.

    As for the substance of the blog – how come there isn’t two dozen back-links to Pete’s previous posts about Gerry Adams denying he was in the ‘Ra?

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    SoS, how often are SF spokesmen normally named in similar articles? Never. Though the Belfast Newsletter and Pete here seem want to make it look sinister they are not named. Silly season…

  • Mister_Joe

    Anyone care to remind us of the failed prosecutions of various “good” terrorists of various hues? Not to mention failure to arrest a dozen or so brutal murderers in south Armagh/Louth when, I am sure, the dogs in the street down there know who the guilty ones are.

  • tacapall

    Its not unusual for identities to be kept secret in trials concerning the rape of an underage person or persons, the dogs in the street do indeed know who they are but seeing as this is an ongoing investigation the illusion of justice has to be processed in order for the actual guilty party to be prosecuted.

    “Anyone care to remind us of the failed prosecutions of various “good” terrorists of various hues? Not to mention failure to arrest a dozen or so brutal murderers in south Armagh/Louth when, I am sure, the dogs in the street down there know who the guilty ones are.”

    Yes Joe the biggest farce and injustice has to be this –

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/ni-news/co-tyrone/mccord-wants-probe-into-police-handlers-1-4162244

    “VICTIMS campaigner Raymond McCord will today meet the Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire to demand an investigation into how senior UVF members were managed by their police handlers.

    Only days ago Mr McCord claimed a former senior member of the UVF had agreed to turn Queen’s evidence against his former associates.

    The grieving father has claimed that a loyalist, originally from Mount Vernon, is set to provide evidence over the murder of Raymond McCord Junior.

    His evidence file could be the largest ever compiled in UK legal history.

    The PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch is investigating UVF murders, attempted murders, racketeering and serious assaults which date as far back as 16 years ago.”

  • carl marks

    I’m no expert in the law, but is it not supposed to be transparent, I was pissed off every time a soldier was identified as Soldier A or B and I’m equally pissed off with this.
    This whole injunction thing is iffy in my opinion, I can understand a minor or vulnerable person having their identity protected and I think there is an argument for it to be applied to victims of rape or abuse.
    But beyond that I’m generally in favour of openness in court, let’s see the accused let’s see their accusers.
    As to anything said at Smithwick, sadly that seems to be degenerating into a slagging match between the various police and Intel groups involved everybody seems to know that everybody else was up to something, but strangely nobody did anything I’m waiting for Elvis to be brought into it.

  • tacapall

    The Smithwick inquiry ! Where fact and evidence has degenerated into a wink wink nudge nudge take it from me culture backed up by hearsay and innuendo by former members of RUC special branch who’s reliability is worth as much as those RUC special branch handlers who controlled the Mount Vernon UVF.

  • carl marks

    The Garda are stinking a bit as well!

  • Dixie Elliott

    Ciaran Barnes of the Sunday life reported it on 05th August. Interesting was the last line of his report….

    “One of the men faces an additional claim of forcing a woman to co-operate with a Provisional IRA investigation.”

    Of course nothing is ever kept completely secret; even dirty secrets.

    Oh and Carrickmoreman, only someone very sick or a fanatical supporter would refer to this person as a tout. Thats what Adamsism does to people so it’s hardly surprising.

  • Drumlins Rock

    funny how taca & ulick go right of subject into whataboutery.

    when are there likely to be further developments on this story? presume its not going to fade away.

  • tacapall

    DR unlike yourself I dont wear blinkers when I see cover ups and injustice. By the way what has Alan Murray’s rant got to do with the actual case ?

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    DR, it’s not whataboutery to point out the multitude of contradictory testimonies if has gathered. A bit like the Devil and the bible, pretty much anyone can pick and choose something from it to suit themselves.

    I admit the veil of secrecy has made this an intriguing story but the “infiltration” angle smacks of someone attempting to whip up a witch-hunt in the PSNI against nationalists and republicans. Yes, I’d be pretty sure there are now (former?) IRA members in the PSNI just as there probably is in all aspects of public life in the north. Big deal, they’re as entitled to jobs there as the next man or woman, especially as it’s still full of ex-Brit army, UDR milita and loyalists. Alan Murray’s unnamed “security source” may not like it that the former loyal guardians of the NI state is morphing into an inclusive policing service, but he/she will just have to live with it as will the general unionist multitudes.

  • son of sam

    Let’s face it.None of us is going to be very much wiser until the actual trial takes place and even after that ,there is unlikely to be total disclosure! In the meantime ,all sorts of theories will abound.

  • The Lodger

    “Yes, I’d be pretty sure there are now (former?) IRA members in the PSNI just as there probably is in all aspects of public life in the north. Big deal, they’re as entitled to jobs there as the next man or woman, especially as it’s still full of ex-Brit army, UDR milita and loyalists.”

    Ulick,

    Actually that would not merely be a ‘big deal’ it would be a huge deal. Allowing ‘former’ members of a terrorist organisation to infiltrate the security forces would be a blunder of gigantic proportions. They may well be entitled to jobs, but they are not entitled to jobs which would allow them access to the intelligence which they could then use against their employers if they suddenly decided that things were not going their way after all. (A position which appears to be gaining traction in the circles in whch they move)

    Everyone knows about the RIC traitors who aided Collins in 1919-1921, but the Provos were never able to get a similar network within the RUC. Nor should they ever be allowed to get one in the PSNI. We can only trust and hope that the security clearance procedures are stringent enough to prevent that happening, or that any who have managed to sneak in are being closely monitored by the security services for counter intelligence purposes.

    The nonsense that you add about ex soldiers etc is unworthy of comment and merely makes you look ridiculous.

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    Lodger,
    the PSNI is already “infiltrated” with ‘former’ members of a terrorist organisation, namely the UDR and RUC not to mention all those members who chose to collaborate with loyalist paramilitaries to murder Catholics. Now that may be a “ridiculous” assertion from your perspective but that’s how many nationalists and republicans look upon those organisations. Having a few IRA members in the ranks of the PSNI will not go far in redressing that balance anytime soon but it would a least be one small step along the road of ensuring the police service is never again used as an instrument of unionist and state repression.

  • sonofstrongbow

    For those who think that having those responsible for Teebane, Enniskillen or any other of the outrages that took innocent lives in the police is a good thing there is little to be gained by placing a contrary argument before them.

    No doubt they hope that Provo-style policing: disappearing, knee-shooting or just a good ole kicking will become tactical options for the PSNI.

    However one would have thought that having members of the main Irish Nationalist murder gang, the organisation responsible for the majority of the deaths of “innocent Catholics”, in the police would have given them pause for thought.

    Although there again if you proceed on the premise that Protestant/State murder of Catholics = Bad and Catholic/PIRA murder of Catholics = Good then you begin to understand their position.

  • The Lodger

    “the PSNI is already “infiltrated” with ‘former’ members of a terrorist organisation, namely the UDR and RUC”

    It is strange that a blatant attempt at trolling as in the nonsense statement above should go unremarked on this site.

    “Now that may be a “ridiculous” assertion from your perspective but that’s how many nationalists and republicans look upon those organisations.”

    We cannot legislate for the opinions of the stupid. That does not however mean that we have to give any weight to them.

    “Having a few IRA members in the ranks of the PSNI will not go far in redressing that balance anytime soon but it would a least be one small step along the road of ensuring the police service is never again used as an instrument of unionist and state repression.”

    When terrorism rears its ugly head it is the absolute duty of the state and the state’s security forces to repress it. Indeed that is going on right now as can be seen in the case of dissident republicanism. There are more of them tipping their poo out on the landing in Maghaberry than there are involved in their current ‘war against band parades’. I’m fairly sure that if you ever get the chance to speak to them they will tell you that they are being royally repressed.

    If there are any IRA members in the ranks of the PSNI then they should be investigated, expelled and placed in prison. There is absolutely no place within the police service for members of an illegal terrorist organisation.

    Indeed contrary to your false ‘folk memory’ the RUC members of the Glennanne UVF gang were arrested, expelled and jailed for long terms in prison. We would be perfectly entitled to expect that the same high standards would be maintained by the PSNI.

  • jthree

    As one top secret source told me: ‘Alan Murray may have been put to bed but he hasn’t gone to sleep. There’s hardly anything for him to write about now and all his mates in the branch have retired. Still, this Smithwick farrago gives him a canvas to speculate about anything really and the Tele will still take the odd piece.’

  • The Lodger

    Straight out of the Green Book.

    “Execution, as earlier stated is not the only way of making this category of establishment enemy ineffective: we can variously expose them as liars, hypocrites,collaborators, make them subjects of ridicule etc., e.g. The ‘Mason-Superthug’ posterimage, the ‘Captain Nervewreck’ cartoon strip, the Conor ‘Booze’ O’Brien pun etc.”

  • fordprefect

    Sonofstrongbow, for those involved in murdering men, women and children with plastic bullets, up to their neck in the murder of Pat Finucane and involved in the murder of countless Catholic civilians, (like the bar in Silverbridge) is it any wonder that C/N/R don’t trust the “PSNI”? Lodger, exactly, letting former terrorists like the RUC into jobs where there is sensitive security information is mental!

  • Toastedpuffin

    fordprefect

    I’m not at all sure the information upon which you are basing your conclusions is robust. For example, public confidence in the PSNI is measured regularly and indicates a clear majority of Catholics do have confidence in the PSNI.

  • Mister_Joe

    Toastedpuffin,

    There are some people around who wish to keep “stirring the pot”. There has been a huge sea change in policing in N.I. which, as you correctly point out, is acceptable to the vast majority of people who previously thought that the police were “agin” them.

  • The Lodger

    “Lodger, exactly, letting former terrorists like the RUC into jobs where there is sensitive security information is mental!”

    Fordperfect,

    That is simply more trolling rubbish. I can understand your hatred of the RUC, given the comprehensive defeat that they bestowed upon the Provos, but lying and trolling about them just makes you look stupid.