Whatever happened to Gerry McGeough?

The arrest of Gerry McGeough leaving a count centre during the 2007 Assembly election was certainly one of the stranger moments Slugger covered during that campaign.

Slugger regular Ulick follows up on the story below the fold:

As I’m sure you know Gerry has been there, done that. Former Óglach, ex-political prisoner, former SF Ard Chomhairle member etc… He was arrested as left the election count in Omagh after the March 2007 Assembly election in which he had stood as an Independent Republican and was very vocal in his opposition to the RUC/PSNI. He was later charged with the attempted murder of former UDR member and current Dungannon DUP councillor Sammy Brush, during the 1981 Hunger Strikes. At the time a solicitor of Gerry’s co-accused Vincent McAnespie said the prosecution relied on two recently compiled witness statements.

Gerry eventually got a bail surety set after some stalling when the PSNI and Crown Prosecution falsely alleged that he had jumped bail in the US and Germany. The PSNI objected to the first two people to post bail on the grounds that they were ex-political prisoners and substitutes had to be found. In applying for bail, Gerry’s solicitor had informed the court that he had been living in Tyrone for some time and that his children attended a local school. The PSNI wanted to visit the children at school presumably because they didn’t believe the documentation submitted by the head-master that they were enrolled there. McAnespie’s bail was granted unconditionally but Gerry’s was vigorously opposed on the grounds that he was a member of the CIRA this despite the fact that RSF had run a candidate against him. He eventually got bail in April 2007 after a number of PSNI attempts to mislead the court were disproved but under strict conditions. He had to surrender his passport, is not allowed to leave the six counties and has to sign-on with the PSNI three times a week. This meant that he could not travel to work at his magazine which was based in Drogheda – he managed to keep it going for a year but it eventually folded in September 2008.

The timeline below has been compiled mainly from the website of his support campaign

• His first hearing due on May 2007 was postponed until June 13th and then postponed again as the PSNI said they were waiting on evidence from the Gardaí.
• In July 2007 the PSNI did not turn up in court so the hearing was postponed to August 2007.
• In court on 15th of August 2007, it turned out the PSNI had not forwarded a required file to the Prosecution Service and so the hearing was put back until September.
• In September his case was postponed until October 2007.
• In October the prosecution said they needed more time to prepare their case and were granted another two week postponement.
• After a number of postponements, Gerry didn’t get to court again until the end of February 2008 when the case was put back for another three months.
• A date for the preliminary enquiry was eventually fixed for the 16th of May 2008. The PSNI did not show up and so was the case was postponed again until the 28th of May 2008.
• On the 28th of May his case was postponed until the 27th of June 2008 when the Crown said they would fix a trial date.
• In June 2008 the prosecution was granted a postponement until July when they were granted another three week postponement in order to prepare their case.
• On the 31st of July the date for the Preliminary Enquiry was set for the 1st of September.
• The Preliminary Enquiry began in September 2008 but was again riddled by setbacks and postponements as the Crown sought further delays to prepare their case.
• In September 2008 Gerry’s magazine folded due to the restrictions of his bail conditions and ongoing PSNI harassment and surveillance. This had very detrimental financial ramifications for Gerry and his young family.
• In November 2008 the main charges against Vincent McAnespie were dropped.
• Gerry was giving a date of February 2nd for the start of his (Diplock) trial.
• In February 2009, the trial was postponed indefinitely.
• In March 2009 a trail was set for 7th of June 2009.
• In May the Crown sought and was granted a further postponement.
• At the end of July 2009 Gerry suffered a massive heart attack.
• In October 2009 a new trail date was set for March 2010.
• In January 2010, Gerry received a trial date for the 10th of March. The Crown also informed Gerry’s solicitors that the prosecution will focus on Peter Taylor’s 1997 documentary series ‘Provos’.

I think it’s quite obvious from this timeline that the PSNI don’t and never had a case against Gerry McGeough and this is a vindictive prosecution taken because of his outspoken criticism of the RUC and PSNI. The process has taken its toll on him both physically and financially and he’s received little support from the media or former comrades. Many of whom it must be said are unaware of what he’s been going through.