Slugger O'Toole

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Court lifts reporting restrictions on identities of Provisional IRA accused

Thu 11 October 2012, 9:12pm

The BBC reports that, following a legal challenge by the corporation, district judge Fiona Bagnall has lifted court orders prohibiting the media from reporting either the identities or addresses of five defendants who are accused of Provisional IRA activity in 1999 and 2000.  As previously noted

All five are charged with belonging to a proscribed organisation on dates stretching back to 1999.

Four of them are accused of arranging, addressing or assisting in the management of a PIRA meeting on named dates in 2000.

The two women and one of the men are also alleged to have used threats or menaces to get another woman to co-operate with an inquiry into claims she made against an IRA volunteer.

And from the latest BBC report

The BBC cannot reveal full details of the charges in the case – but can reveal the names of those involved after reporting restrictions were lifted.

[Seamus] Finucane, 55, [brother of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane] is a member of Sinn Fein and a community worker in west Belfast.

The others include 53-year-old Padraic Wilson, who was the leader of the IRA in the Maze prison in the late 1990s and is currently Sinn Fein’s director of international affairs.

Both men are facing charges of IRA membership and arranging, addressing or assisting in the management of an IRA meeting.

Another man, 48-year-old Martin Edward Morris, with an address in London, is also charged with membership of the IRA.

Two Belfast women are also facing charges.

Agnes McCrory, 72, from Dermot Hill Road, and 55-year-old Briege Wright from Glassmullin Gardens, are accused of membership of the IRA, and arranging, addressing or assisting in the management of an IRA meeting.

The two women and Mr Finucane are also charged accused of unlawfully forcing a person who cannot be identified to co-operate with an IRA investigation.

Lifting the restrictions, district judge Fiona Bagnall agreed with the BBC’s argument that open justice was a cornerstone of the criminal judicial system. [added emphasis]

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Comments (30)

  1. Neil (profile) says:

    So the dormant, intelligence gathering PIRA angle’s been dropped has it? Just curious.

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  2. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    Pretty much looks like the cast of I’m A Republican, Get Me Out Of Here. Did they offend the shinners?

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  3. Dixie Elliott (profile) says:

    I’m surprised none of the usual fanatics are on here yet calling tout etc…

    But one would only need to read this and put the ban on naming those charged with it to figure it out….

    “The two women and one of the men are also alleged to have used threats or menaces to get another woman to co-operate with an inquiry into claims she made against an IRA volunteer.”

    IRA volunteer…isn’t a name I’d call him.

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  4. sdelaneys (profile) says:

    Good but I suppose it would be too much to expect that we could be told whether Liam Adams is in or out as he seems to have disappeared from the radar?

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  5. Dont Drink Bleach (profile) says:

    And any further word on charges against Briege Meehan?

    It’s all gone quiet on that front too.

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  6. iluvni (profile) says:

    All such speculation is unhelpful for the peace process.

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  7. son of sam (profile) says:

    Getting back to the actual thread,can one assume that there will be no restrictions on the general public hearing the evidence at the eventual trial?The District Judge has said that open justice is the cornerstone of the criminal justice system so everything all right then!!

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  8. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    Since one of the charges against each of the defendants is holding membership of the Provisional IRA on specific dates the headline to this piece is most unfortunate and requires to be amended as it prejudges all the accused on that account.

    Not the type of error we would expect from the habitually meticiulous Pete.

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  9. BarneyT (profile) says:

    Is it not inconsistent to release prisoners in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement, progress towards verifiable decommissioning and eventual dissolution of the IRA (as they were) only to then prosecute others for historical membership?

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  10. Alias (profile) says:

    “Is it not inconsistent…”

    No, because the ‘Get Out of Jail’ free card only applied to criminals convicted prior to a particular date, and does not apply to Shinners engaging in a sex crimes cover-up by one of their members after that date.

    Of course, if they were kept locked up for their previous crimes, they wouldn’t have been able to (allegedly) commit new crimes…

    Incidentally, the sexual ‘peculiarities’ of Shinners were one of the vulnerable points (VPs) used by the intelligence services to recruit them to the other side.

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  11. BarneyT (profile) says:

    Is that not the J Savile enquiry you are getting mixed up with :-)

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  12. Brian (profile) says:

    What was going on in this meeting?

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  13. Tupper (profile) says:

    “What was going on in this meeting?”

    Rumour has it that a woman was being ‘interviewed’ by PIRA people about some accusations that she had made about her treatment (sexually) by a member of the PIRA.

    If that’s so then maybe the people involved stated their positions within the PIRA if they were being all official about things – ie if it was being described as being some sort of a hearing.

    So presumably either the woman involved is the source of the evidence, or the proceedings were being recorded. I hope it’s the latter.

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  14. Donal Davoren (profile) says:

    Two high ranking members of Sinn Fein are charged with membership of the IRA going back to 1999 and 2000 and no shouts of outrage from that party, no reference to how they did this or that for the peace process.

    Not a word?

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  15. Donal,

    Presumably you’re not familiar with the concept of “Not guilty until proven”.

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  16. Eire32 (profile) says:

    The real problem here is the ambiguity in the GFA, it seems no one knows who should be charged with what. Lifting Shinners for being IRA members not long after the agreement seems a bit silly to me. And what’s the BBC’s agenda here, what’s the point?

    If posters think this is all good, a wee bit of revenge on the Provos, then what’s the point in the peace process if these guys are embracing the thing?

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  17. Dont Drink Bleach (profile) says:

    1998 was the agreed cut off point.

    All parties knew that anyone convicted of involvement in paramilitary activity (which took place after the GFA was finalised) would face the full rigour of the law, would not be eligible for special status in prison nor would they be entitled to be released early.

    If these five are convicted they will have to serve the time they are sentenced to.

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  18. derrydave (profile) says:

    All a bit of a waste of time really – seems to me like the witness in question – who very understandably has serious grievances against the republican movement – has told the full story and is insisting on prosecutions – can’t imagine the PSNI would be interested in persuing this otherwise. Bound to end in tears and the dropping of the charges / aquittals.

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  19. Reader (profile) says:

    Mister_Joe: Presumably you’re not familiar with the concept of “Not guilty until proven”.
    Donal’s right though – the complaints normally start immediately after the arrest. It seems that there are plenty of people in the Provisional republican movement who view the hypocritical policy statement “You cannot be a criminal and a republican activist.” as a logical axiom and reason accordingly.
    But it could be that the Liam Adams story was a hard lesson for those guys, and so this case is too much of a hot potato to get the usual treatment.

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  20. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    Does this embarrass SF I wonder? In a normal political party this would be a massive scandal but of course SF is allowed to operate to much, much, lower standards than any other. Such is the weirdness we have got ourselves into, this story will probably attract less comment than a dubious expenses claim.

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  21. Tomas Gorman (profile) says:

    I think everyone is getting caught up in the ‘IRA membership’ element of this story.

    It’s what they did as members of the organisation, in this case, that is quite disgusting.

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  22. sdelaneys (profile) says:

    Eire32,
    you need to read the thread again; as Dixie Elliot as said , the real problem is not membership but ,“The two women and one of the men are also alleged to have used threats or menaces to get another woman to co-operate with an inquiry into claims she made against an IRA volunteer.”

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  23. Eire32 (profile) says:

    sdelaneys,
    You are correct mate, I skimmed over it and assumed that they could not release details.

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  24. Eire32 (profile) says:

    “It’s what they did as members of the organisation, in this case, that is quite disgusting.”

    Tomas Gorman,
    Got any more info on this mate?

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  25. Carrickmoreman (profile) says:

    Eire,

    Google it. The info is generally out there.

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  26. Eire32 (profile) says:

    Hmm, can’t really find much additional detail on this.

    Is the victim ant-GFA Republican and is this an internal /fued type scenario? Not much point commenting further with no great detail.

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  27. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    I wonder what Joe Cahill would make of this???

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  28. sdelaneys (profile) says:

    Eire 32

    She is not a political person as far as I know and she would not be known to the general public outside her own area. The bones of it are that a member of a well known republican family claims that she was abused by an IRA volunteer. She further claims that she was forced to attend IRA meetings to sort this out’ and it is from there that we have arrived at a judge finally allowing the names of those who organised and ran the meetings. Nothing to do with GFA, sweet FA to do with peace process. All to do with the nature of some people believing that their organisation comes first and that they, themselves, are the manifestation of justice itself.
    She appears to believe that her original problem, being abused, was compounded by how it was ‘dealt with’ by the provisional movement. She was treated disgracefully.

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  29. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    I wonder what Gerry has to say bout this???

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  30. Tomas Gorman (profile) says:

    Eire32,

    What sdelaney said.

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