“a good friend of mine”

I mentioned the reaction of Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, to the operational matter of the seizure of assets and searches in south Armagh this morning – “Sean Hughes is a sound Republican.” [Is that like being a “good republican”? – Ed] Possibly. He also told BBC NI’s Martina Purdy that Sean Hughes was “a very good friend” of his “a good friend of mine and has been for very many years and I’m very proud of that.” [BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra approx 13mins in]. Here’s some more from Conor Murphy’s statement

“Sean has been charged with nothing. Neither have any members of his family. It is unacceptable. Undoubtedly many people will see a more sinister hand behind the SOCA operation this morning. SOCA is based in and run from London. As in the past when political unionism gets itself into difficulties, as the DUP have in recent weeks, the faceless opponents of Irish Republicanism who are still in prominent positions will seek to come to their rescue with operations like we have witnessed today.”

[The securocrats are back! – Ed] And on Stormont Live today Conor Murphy’s NI Executive colleague, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA, was asked by Jim Fitzpatrick, “Was [Conor Murphy] not prejudging an operational process there, and what does it say about your party’s support and desire for the devolution of policing and justice?”

[Michelle Gildernew] “Well, I think if anything it strengthens the need to have devolution of policing and justice as quickly as possible. We need decisions, we need accountability, and we need decisions to be taken by a local minister.”

More from that Stormont Live interview

[Michelle Gildernew] “I don’t know all the details of the raid, but there have been a number of things that have happened recently where decisions have been taken we’re not happy about and we will want to be asking very very serious questions to the policing board and to Matt Baggot”

When questioned, by Mark Devenport, about Conor Murphy getting involved in an operational matter

[Michelle Gildernew] “Like I say, I don’t know all the details, but I think Conor is entitled to react when a constituent has been treated in the way that his constituent was, I think it was this morning. You know, we have to stand up for the rights of our constituents, there’s no dichotomy in that, and we’ll continue to do that and we’ll continue to question where policing seems to be political or seems to be badly judged. Certainly in this case I don’t know what the justification for it was, but I think Conor was right to come out and react the way he did.

Which prompted Jim Fitzpatrick’s final question

[Jim Fitzpatrick] “If you don’t know the justification for it presumably Conor Murphy doesn’t, might it not be best to wait ’til that is clear?”

[Michelle Gildernew] “Well I don’t know what the, like I say, I don’t know what the rationale was for that, but I feel that the arrest this morning, or the raid on the home was politically motivated and, from that point of view, Conor as MP for Newry and Armagh was entitled to question that decision.”

Adds From BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra [approx 13 mins in]

[Martina Purdy] “You know this man personally and you’re vouching for him?”

[Conor Murphy] “I’m not like other people, I’ll not say I know of him. I know him very well. He’s a good friend of mine and has been for very many years and I’m very proud of that.”

, , , ,

  • John East Belfast

    What’s the old saying – you can tell a lot about a man by the friends he keeps ?

    We have one thread on here about digging in south Armagh for the body of some poor soul who even if his killers were real soldiers then they would be facing war crimes in the Hague by now and now we have a Govt Minister on saying things like this in circumstances like this ?
    Meanwhile we have another thread where Republicans are asking where the Jim Allisters are in Nationalism to prove they arent sectarian.

    The only way the rotteness of SF can be eradicated from this island is for them to get the same treatment at the ballot box in NI as they got in the ROI – Where is the SDLP when you need them ?

  • So that’s why this guy had all these houses then? So those faceless Unionists could come and take them off him. Wasn’t he caught screwing his unemployment benefit not so long ago. All those properties owned on a fortnightly Giro. Amazing how far the British Half Crown stretches.

    Another criminal moaning about those big bad Brits when he’s nabbed.

  • Turgon

    Gildernew tells us that “You know, we have to stand up for the rights of our constituents.”/i>

    Is standing up for the rights of his constituents what Conor Murphy did after the murder of his constituent Paul Quinn; when he said that Mr. Quinn was a criminal?

  • RepublicanStones

    Unless they were british soldiers JEB, in which case they probably get promoted.

  • Sean

    JEB
    We have one thread on here about digging in south Armagh for the body of some poor soul who even if his killers were real soldiers then they would be facing war crimes in the Hague by now

    History proves you wrong JEB, when were the murderers of Bloody Sunday ever seen in the Hague?

  • The anti British racism and hatred is astonishing ant there for all to see. This one certainly one Republican who did well out of living in the UK…

    Which is nice.

  • Comrade Stalin

    What’s the old saying – you can tell a lot about a man by the friends he keeps ?

    JEB,

    Whenever any serious action is taken against loyalists, you’ll often hear unionists complaining about it in much the same fashion that SF do.

    The only way the rotteness of SF can be eradicated from this island is for them to get the same treatment at the ballot box in NI as they got in the ROI – Where is the SDLP when you need them ?

    If you believe that the SDLP should be underpinned then why don’t you guys stand down and back them in South Belfast ?

  • igor

    Ah so SF want devolution so they can interfere in operational police decisions on behalf of their constituency

    Every time they open their mouths they strengthen Alistair’s case

  • Comrade Stalin

    igor, how does it strengthen Alistair’s case given that SF won’t hold the justice ministry and that the minister won’t be able to interfere in operational policing decisions ? Any effort to do so would surely bring the resignation of the Chief Constable and, accordingly, the end of the assembly.

    It’s academic anyway as it is not likely that the minister will have any authority over SOCA at all.

  • percy

    Hard to argue with that igor.

  • Elvis Parker

    Poor Michelle. Loved all that taddle about how devolving P & J will make SOCA accountable. LOL

  • Pete Baker

    I’ve added the quote by Conor Murphy from Evening Extra and amended the original post accordingly.

  • Pete Baker

    And added links.

  • John East Belfast

    Sean, RS

    I wasnt aware any member of the British Army made some defenceless human being kneel before his grave – the one they my have made him dig himself – then whilst ignoring his pleas for mercy they shot him in the back of the head. Please tell me when the British Army did this ?
    If you dont think this was an inhuman crime then you really need to reset your moral compass.

    What PIRA were up to was on a par with Bosnian Serb massacres – the perpetrators of which are now in the Hague.

    There are no “good republicans” associated with PIRA.

    Comrade

    Take your complaints with the DUP up with them.

    Also it is not for unionists to help SDLP defeat SF – that is their battle

  • Halyburton

    It’s typical of Sinn Fein. They have no sense of authority above themselves. Conor Murphy shows nothing new but to emphasize the fact that Sinn Fein should be put out of government! They are fundamentally unable to rise to the occasion of governing in a democracy. Mr Murphy’s unbridled association and support for Sean Hughes serves up to Ulster what we have in store for decades unless we are soon brought to our sense.

  • George

    I wasnt aware any member of the British Army made some defenceless human being kneel before his grave – the one they my have made him dig himself – then whilst ignoring his pleas for mercy they shot him in the back of the head. Please tell me when the British Army did this ?

    Official member of the British Army or unofficial paid up agent of Her Majesty?

    I mean like the head of the IRA’s nutting squad, for example, or countless other hoods, such as 90% of the loyalist leadership and their lackey death squads who murdered by the hundred.

    Or don’t they count?

    As long as they don’t wear the uniform, there is no blood on their hands, it’s all okay.

    I’m sure it gets you to sleep at night.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    If we could focus on the actual topic…

  • John East Belfast

    George

    Yes all the really dispicable bits of the IRA can be blamed on the British – it wasnt their fault – the British made them do it.

    I have always said anyone who breaks the law should be prosecuted

    I sleep very well at night – I dont count as good friends anyone I believed was associated with PIRA/UVF/UDA et al.

  • John East Belfast

    Pete

    One of our Govt Ministers is effectively publicly stating his pride in physical force republicanism and at the same time criticising the police without having all the facts.

    When such occasions arise it is always justified to shine a light on the uglier side of PIRA and all it stood for.

    People should then be able to draw conclusions on fitness for Govt let alone taking responsibility or policing and justice

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Sean has been charged with nothing. Neither have any members of his family. It is unacceptable. ”

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Pete Baker

    Jimmy

    Except that

    Eight years ago Mr Hughes was convicted of fraudulently claiming income support and fined £1500 after pleading guilty to two charges.

    Last year he gave an oration at the funeral of IRA commander Brian Keenan.

  • IRIA

    JEB:

    If you think the British Army aren’t up to their necks in blood, you’re nuts.

    Is giving an oration illegal in the North now?

  • Pigeon Toes

    “fined £1500 after pleading guilty to two charges

    Though the eight years interim is a matter of concern.

    It would make one wonder how Mr Murphy and his associate forces of UK law can justify such ahem expediency

  • Pigeon Toes

    “[Michelle Gildernew] “Like I say, I don’t know all the details, but I think Conor is entitled to react when a constituent has been treated in the way that his constituent was, I think it was this morning. You know, we have to stand up for the rights of our constituents, there’s no dichotomy in that, and we’ll continue to do that and we’ll continue to question where policing seems to be political or seems to be badly judged. Certainly in this case I don’t know what the justification for it was, but I think Conor was right to come out and react the way he did.”

    ROFL.
    Must remind Mr Pigeon Toes of that.

    And the kids as they adjust to their exile…

  • igor

    So is SF policy now to give all families on the dole 8 houses or only some families? Can SF tell us the criteria?

  • igor

    Stalin

    MY point is that the SF knee jerk reaction when action is taken against a member of the movement is to attack the forces of law and order, whatever the facts. They signed an oath of office to uphold the law but it only appears to apply to some people

    That;’s why the unionists don’t trust them. An Nationalists should really open their eyes too.

  • Can someone please explain something to me? Where did this mostly unemployed man get hold of 8 houses? Has he been left them by family members or is he a crook?

    Answers on the back of a stamp, to if he walks like a villain, quacks like a villain, Villainsville.

    Republicans and Irony!

  • Sean McEntee

    To all our pro Brit/SAS/British democracy friends: By waht right is South Armagh a part of your self styled United Kingdom? Were the good residents of South Armagh not shoved into your orange statelet against their democratic will and were they not systematically discriminated against, with the entire area being labelled an area of beauty by the orange overlords so that emigration would be perennially high?

    Is your problem and that of yopur Sinn Fein lackeys that the PIRA hammered you in South Armagh and you cannot accept that? Put simply, the South Armagh/North Monaghan Provos were mich better that your hired killers. There are statues there to heroes, not to SAS killers. And you can never rest easy because the snipers might go back to work.
    So chase the old guys, like Scipio did to Hannibal. It seems ironic that when British Army gunmen get heroes welcomes when they return in boxes from Afghanistan, you still hunt the true heroes, who laid down their arms, undefeated. Afghan resistance fighters, please note.

  • Poor Sean , you sound like one demented little bloke. A man who’s anti British racism and hatred of Protestants seeps and oozes from every sentence.

    Let’s be honest Sean, your heroes bottles it in the end up. The Loyalists were taking you on at your own game and you thought it better to run from the fight.

    That’s why your community are at odds with each other, the disgrace of calling it a day in the face of a Loyalist onslaught eats away at your very sole.

    Ulster is as British as it was in 1969, your slaughter of women and children has brought you scorn from every country of the world. Allies like Gaddafi show the world for what you really are Sean…hate filled bigots and ethnic cleansers.

    Nice to see bigotry alive and well among the murder gangs again Sean. Now take a chill pill son, before you burst a blood vessel.

    I await the the next racist and sectarian outburst from poor Sean.

  • Comrade Stalin

    JEB:

    Take your complaints with the DUP up with them.

    I sleep very well at night – I dont count as good friends anyone I believed was associated with PIRA/UVF/UDA et al.

    But you did try to set up a political alliance with the PUP. The Conservatives were your second choice.

  • Comrade Stalin

    igor:

    MY point is that the SF knee jerk reaction when action is taken against a member of the movement is to attack the forces of law and order, whatever the facts. They signed an oath of office to uphold the law but it only appears to apply to some people

    That;‘s why the unionists don’t trust them. An Nationalists should really open their eyes too.

    And my point was that unionists also have a knee jerk reaction, usually against the forces of law and order, whenever the police take action against loyalists. Like our friend Nigel in the link I referred to. That’s whenever they’re not voting loyalists into positions of authority on local councils, or attempting to merge with them. How can you talk about trust ?

    Our politicians (in general) need to be more supportive of the police. Local representatives should always congratulate the hard work of the police whenever they manage to lift a bunch of scumbags, like the PSNI did in Larne over the weekend. Instead we get stony silence.

  • fair_deal

    Well those quotes did the DUP a nice favour this morning.

  • Scaramoosh

    The irony being, that if Hughes had lived in the South, he would have been hailed a national hero, like all of the other property developers 😉

  • Springfield

    “Whenever any serious action is taken against loyalists, you’ll often hear unionists complaining about it in much the same fashion that SF do.”

    The context of this thread is the SF Minister for Regional Development defending a convicted (no “alleged” here) benefit fraudster and property “mogul” of no obvious means at a time when his party is hanging the future of the Assembly on the devolution of P&J.

    The link to Newton Emerson’s (March 2006) Irish News piece is classic Newton and pulls no punches-politicians cannot be seen to be “soft” on illegal activities within their constituencies. Moreso they must be on the record in their condemnation of such activities. I don’t see how Conor Murphy’s recent comments follow Emerson’s assertions? All I see is spin and some pretty desperate allegations.

    But then pointless whataboutery isn’t about real debate is it?

  • Ramzi Nohra

    Sean was the dude known as “surgeon” in the book bandit country i take it?

    As for Connor’s words.. pretty typical for him and his kind… reflected perfectly by DUP elements on similar occasions.

  • changeisneeded

    the brits are now doing what they do best
    Dirty tricks

    who kicked sinn fein out of stormont when things got close to them having any power last time
    they brits said the shinners where spying , turned out it was a british agent doing the spying.
    this latest looks like more of the same
    whatever happened to innocent until proved guilty?????
    oh wait i remember
    Republicans are a lower class of people in this country,
    we are constantly reminded this with the massive display of union/uda flags everywhere

    i was reminded after i received a beating TWICE in coleraine, just for wearing my catholic school uniform.

    ireland divided will never be at peace

  • Springfield

    “i was reminded after i received a beating TWICE in coleraine, just for wearing my catholic school uniform.”

    Did you study English while you were there?

  • changeisneeded

    that the best you can come up with springfield?

    discussion is what im after.

    look like you may not be capable of that.

  • Springfield

    Yeah sorry-that was below the belt-couldn’t resist it.

    Could you provide some evidence for your assertions in 11 above in order to progress the discussion?

    Ta.

  • changeisneeded

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4537098.stm

    dont play the idjit now!!

    plain for anyone to see.

    the brits dont want republicans to have any power
    and they will use every state funded dirty trick to prevent that

  • Has it ever occured to the most offended people on this planet, that Republicans can be criminals? Are you seriously telling us. because of his past terrorist connections, his behaviour should be ignored?

    He’s a killer, he’s a conman, he’s an extortionist and he’s surely heading for a long spell inside. Get over it guys, he’s not some sort of hero, he’s a villain.

    End of….

  • changeisneeded

    tommy

    guilty until proved innocent huh…?

    he may well be a scam merchant, lets see what the british courts decide . although i have little faith in them for just reasons.

  • Springfield

    I think, I may be wrong, that you are equating Conor Murphy’s comments about an alleged British Government conspiracy to target Republicans in order to protect Unionism at a perceived (by Republicans) moment of difficulty for Unionists with the Denis Donaldson affair-an attempt, in both cases by HMG to prevent Republicans holding power? The Donaldson affair was something that Unionists at the time were deeply unhappy about IIRC.

    Tha last time I checked Sean Hughes wasn’t involved in administering power in Stormont, but
    if we want to get into the realms of wild conspiracy theories-what is Conor Murphy’s/SF interest in the Hughes assets and why does he think that these assets being frozen by SOCA is a direct attack by HMG on Republicanism?

    Hughes is a convicted criminal. Murphy is an elected representative and Minister who’s party is pushing for the devolution of P&J. Can you not see the possible conflict there?

    “who kicked sinn fein out of stormont when things got close to them having any power last time”

    For avoidance of confusion-you are asserting that HMG has and is attempting to remove Sinn Fein from power?

  • Jimmy

    I think that Connor Murphy should resign from his ministerial post in protest at the obvious victimisation of an innocent man and his very good friend by obviously biased crown forces.

    I mean after all isn’t Stormont simply the extension of British rule and hence its laws in Ireland?

    oh wait, hang on a minute, erm !!!

  • skullion

    I see he was fined for fiddling his income support.This apparently alone makes him someone of dubious character.Ffs remind me again what the MPs expenses scandal was all about.

  • Brit

    Skullion,

    The MPs expenses scandal was about the Torygraph trying to boost sales by publishing private and confidential information regarding the lawful behavior of relatively modestly paid MPs in order to create a populist witchhunt which has harmed democracy and acheived nothing.

  • skullion

    Brit

    Really?And here was me thinking it was a bunch of tossers swindling the taxpayer just because they could.

  • exile

    Brit,

    Elliot Morley.

  • well i presume (but maybe Conor could check up for us and let us know) that Sean Hughes will be supporting Argentina on saturday so maybe give him a bit of slack folks.

  • Brit

    I do believe smoking Skunk is very popular in your household. Are you for real?

    Harmed democracy???

    I hope you don’t mind, please keep this a secret Brit. I’ve just screwed my company for about £40k on a second home I paid off years ago. I’m sure they won’t mind though, we don’t want to disrupt our democratic ways, now do we?

    The mind boggles.

  • skullion

    Surely Archie you then agree that pretty much half of the members of the British parliament should also spend time in the ‘slammer’ alongsides Mr Hughes.

  • Springfield

    Good point skullion-and while we’re at it most of Dail Eireann too.

  • beancounter

    Predictable reaction from Murphy describing Hughes as a supporter of the peace process, which as we know is SF shorthand for “cut the guy a bit of slack”. Bet Bernie Madoff’s legal team now realise how negligent they were in not going with a defence of “he was a supporter of Bush’s war on terrorism”. Bernie would surely have walked free!!

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Are Big Ian and Peter Robinson not convicted criminals? I think Big Ian was in the slammer and you could google Clontibret. But to hell with casting up!

  • Jo

    Is he, in fact, “the Surgeon” as named in Eamon Collins’ book? yes or no? If he isn’t, ok. If he is, he faces the same situation as other killers – reprieve under the GFA.

    The final reprieve, however, is less susceptible to political negotiation.

    Something those “born again Christians” amongst us choose to forget when they cheer on the deaths of women and children of those that they disagree with politically.

  • Jo

    pancho – 8-07 – spot on.

    Benefit fraudsters have rights as well you know. How many thousands have been done for “doing the double”? Should they be denied the vote? If they compound their “guilt” by voting SF, should they be interned? There are those who think so – and they are in the TUV. 🙂

  • Comrade Stalin

    If whataboutery is to be completely banned, then how can we ever discuss hypocrisy ?

    Hypocrisy is an important thread here. Unionists accused people of not being sufficiently committed to peaceful and democratic means. There are rules, procedures and ballot boxes which should be followed by all decent politicians. This is quite correct, except the argument completely collapses when you note that unionist history is littered with events where unionists either threatened to overthrow the state, or associated with illegal terrorist organizations and their representatives themselves.

    I’d rather get over the past and see our politicians get on with strengthening our country and providing good government. I’d be very happy to draw a line under the past transgressions of the unionists. But they are the ones that keep bringing this stuff up. How can anybody take lectures from the people who stood on a podium alongside Billy Wright (W McCrea) or wrote articles for a UDA magazine, over which they are subsequently discharged from the UDR (D Burnside) ? Or like Mr Dodds who condemned the police for daring to take action against loyalists ? Or Michael McGimpsey and Bob Stoker for their shameful failure to take a stand against intimidation of residents in an apartment block near Sandy Row ?

  • Dave

    They are all reprehensible acts, Comrade, but unless you are arguing that it isn’t wrong to beat your wife because you know of another man who beats his wife, you don’t have a valid argument – and even then, it’s hardly rational.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry for taking Archie P out. He’s often a good contributor, but there’s a certain legacy matter he refused to deal with me directly over, so he’s out until that gets sorted.

    Dave, I’ve taken your post down as a precaution. ONly because I was not sure of the provenance of some of the detail of what you’d put up there.

  • Marty McG

    Surely you should set up a historical inquiry about legacy matter with Archie P…..or ask yourself and big Pete Baker why you and he didn’t stop the libelling of Willie Frazer by your Republican / IRA supporters. Maybe we’ll all get an answer

  • Dave

    No problem, Mick, the source was Kevin Myers in the Irish Times, 2002:

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2002/1210/1036708373350.html

  • Dave

    Also, on the question of who “The Surgeon” is: journalist John Cassidy named him in an article in the Sunday Mirror in Jul 22, 2001. And Peter Robinson used parliamentary privilege in 2002 to name an individual as a member of PIRA’s Army Council, listing acts that are attributed to “The Surgeon” in Toby Harden’s book as acts that Mr Robinson attributes to the individual he names. The obvious inference is that the named individual and “The Surgeon” are the same person.

  • Marty McG

    Hughes also defrauds his friend Gildernew’s department….whilst Bo Peep Brid Rodgers held the position….remember her, she lost her sheep !!1

    _____________

    BORDER ‘SURGEON’ FACES PROBE INTO SHEEP FRAUD; Hughes alleged to have
    Sunday Mirror, Jul 22, 2001 | by JOHN CASSIDY

    A CONVICTED benefit cheat, identified in a controversial best- selling book as the infamous border terrorist The Surgeon, is under investigation over an alleged sheep subsidy fraud.

    The Sunday Mirror has learned that Department of Agriculture officials are probing allegations that Sean Hughes had been claiming subsidies for more sheep than he may have had.

    Following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth on a farm at Meigh in south Armagh, the Department decided to widen the cull of sheep to prevent any further spread.

    It is understood Hughes, who runs the family farm complex in Jonesborough, had brought just over 40 sheep to the slaughter centre in nearby Newry, where they were shot by marksmen last month.

    However, it is understood the Department has documentation which is claimed to show that Hughes and other farmers may have been claiming European subsidies for excess numbers of sheep.

    Hughes is just one of a number of farmers along the south Armagh border under investigation for suspected fraud.

    The inquiry is being carried out by the Department’s Grants Subsidy and Inspection Division (GSID).