Shaun Woodward: “the idea of pardons being given is complete nonsense”

Suzanne Breen in The Sunday Tribune has a report on anti agreement republican Gerry McGeough who is due to be tried for IRA membership and the attempted murder of UDR soldier Samuel Brush. It is claimed that Sinn Fein has provided the names of 216 on the run terrorists and that 47 have been granted pardons to allow them to return home without fear of prosecution. Vincent McAnespie was also charged with the attempted murder of Brush and weapons’ possession. In a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Kevin Winters’ solicitors, the NIO says Sinn Féin provided the names of 216 on the runs. The PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service then reviewed files “to determine whether the individual is wanted for questioning, arrest or prosecution”.

The former head of the PSNI’s serious crime squad, Norman Baxter, told a House of Commons’ committee last November: “There was an extremely unhealthy interest by (NIO) officials about prioritising individuals who were on the run and ensuring they were cleared to return to the North.”

The NIO said decisions were evidence-based and whether prosecution was in “the public interest” and “political considerations play no part in this assessment”. This has been further supported by the Secretary of State Shaun Woodward who is reported on the BBC as saying: “I think when people actually look at the facts the idea of pardons being given is complete nonsense.”
Despite whatever Shaun Woodward says the reality is that there has been a great interest in forgetting about attempts to prosecute crimes from the past. The Historical Enquiries Team has thus far produced very few prosecutions and of course Eames Bradley has produced a proposed timetable for an amnesty after a suitable period of procrastination. On a somewhat related theme there have long been allegations that Operation Taurus into the activities of Martin McGuinness produced evidence which was then prevented from producing a prosecution for political reasons. If McGuinness can be protected from prosecution then why not other less important terrorists? Once of course such problems greatly distressed the DUP; nowadays we are less likely to see Dr. Paisley repeating these remarks:

Let us look at Mr. McGuinness’s history. He was in charge of operations during the trouble in Londonderry. In the McGuinness era of IRA control in Londonderry, there were 87 murders. Five of the victims were innocent children: Kathryn Eakin, a Protestant and nine-year-old child; Gordon Gallagher, a Roman Catholic and nine-year-old child; Bernadette McCool, a Roman Catholic, another nine-year-old child; Carol Ann McCool, a Roman Catholic and four-year-old child; and Kathleen Feeny, a Roman Catholic and 14-year-old child.
I have never heard Mr. McGuinness at any time utter one word of regret for the murder of those children; he is completely silent. A journalist questioning him on television about the Omagh atrocity asked, “If one of your constituents came to you and said that they had information about who was responsible for Omagh, what would you advise them to do?” He said, “I would certainly not advise them to go to the police.” That is in the public domain.
We have established that Martin McGuinness was to all effects leading the IRA army council and was busy in Londonderry. Members should know for what type of people they are proposing to bend the rules. One of the saddest calamities in Londonderry was the death of Frank Hegarty, who was murdered on the instructions of Mr. McGuinness. Mr. Hegarty had worked for military intelligence and knew where some of the IRA’s most important arms and explosives were hidden in the Irish Republic. When the Irish police raided them the Army, fearing that Mr. Hegarty’s cover would be blown, pushed him away to England. Mr. McGuinness then arrived on the doorstep of Rose Hegarty, and told her that he wanted to talk about her son and how he could return.
Twice a week for 13 weeks, Mr. McGuinness dropped by, the family met him and they drank tea together. He assured the mother, Rose, that if Frank came home, he could sort the matter out and all would be well; a firm assurance for a mother’s heart torn about her son. She persuaded her boy to come home. A rendezvous was arranged by Mr. McGuinness; afterwards the body was found in a roadway in Tyrone, a bullet through the head. That is in the public domain. Many journalists, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, have written moving stories about that murder.

  • alan56

    Do you think there has ben a deal on OTRs?

  • Paddy

    “Suzanne Breen in The Sunday Tribune has a report on anti agreement republican Gerry McGeough who is due to be tried for IRA membership”

    in 1075. McGough seems right. Although Gerry Adams was not a member, McGough hardly did all the 1975 damage on his own. My, how the Sinn Fein mighty have fallen for a devalued Saxon shilling.

  • granni trixie

    Repugnant though it may have been for many, people seemed to have tholled the release of political prisoners, including murderers, as part of the GFA package.

    I do not personally see what is different in letting OTRs ‘home’….but only after a requirement to register officially their status. and the reality about what they were accused of. I am not a lawyer but my understanding is that legally they have to do so – and there are international precedents.

    Otherwise they are in a privileged position over other people released under the GFA. In the circs of OTRS being sorted out I also think it would be appropriate for SF to give a lead on the injustice of not letting people ‘exiled’ return.

    Look out for the sanctification and rewriting of hisory of Rita OHare.The new Mairead Farrell? The New SF President in waiting?

  • Shannon_Republican

    I would not be surprised if Gerry Adams and co made a deal with the British Government in order to ensure that those OTR that support his leadership would be given “permission” to return home without the fear of arrest.

    I also would not be surprised if they as part of that deal specified that those Republicans who have stayed true to their beliefs are prevented from returning, or arrested and interned the moment they do.

  • granni trixie

    To me the divisions between Republicans is deeply mysterious.

    In the new NI I am also looking for fairness for Republicans as well as anyone else and am gobsmacked that their leadership would do the deal as you suggest.

    So its a heirarchy of OTRs then?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    it is somewhat bizarre that our Society gets worked up if a paedophile (even on the very lowest rung of that repulsive ladder) is returned back into Society…..but asa Society we are remarkably tolerant about the number of people convicted of murder, bombing, membership of terrorist organisations who are actually at liberty in our comparatively small society.

    This must be particuarly hard to take in small rural communities where “unionist” villages are just a few miles from “unionist” villages.

    Although some will recoil (really or synthetically) from the comparison, the same might be said of the large numbers of ex police and UDR men in communities.

    The reality is that those with the blessing of SF-IRA are untouchable. No fussy PSNI type will be thanked for arresting an “On The Run” despite Shaun Woodwards insistence that there is no amnesty.
    Technically of course …he is speaking the Truth.
    But of course its a deliberate fudge, deliberate grey area and all part of the wonderful concept of CREATIVE AMBIGUITY……..or barefaced lie that we used to call it.

  • Paddy

    “Look out for the sanctification and rewriting of hisory of Rita OHare.The new Mairead Farrell? The New SF President in waiting”

    Rita O’Hare, a Protestant, was on the steps behind Gerry Adams when he, Albert Reynolds and John Hume did their deal. She has laso been Sinn Fein’s top dog in the States, having got a special ok, like Joey Tout Cahill, to do that. She is ocmfortably within the Adams tend and so has nothing to fear.

    I see Turgon insists on calling Mr Paisley Dr Paisley. Mr Paisley has not right to that title.

    Still, given the on going terror campaign againdt McGouugh and similar goodies, one must ask the rhetorical question of why McGuinness and so many others got off so lightly. McGuinness’ family was involved in sending the British army cleaner to kill the five soldiers; they strapped him in and did not give him time to escape. A low trick.

  • Driftwood

    Just to add..
    Joanne Mathers, a census collector was murdered by PIRA, under Martin McGuinness command, for the crime of not being Catholic.
    But sure that’s all in the past, it was just a wee ‘error’ and we can all move on and forget that she was “part of the British war machine in Ireland” so to speak…
    Hardly worth bringing up, now that we ‘need to move on’, and FORGET about her.

  • lamhdearg

    pardons for on message ira,pretend trials for uvf,novacaine for the six o’clock news watcher.

  • Ulick

    Another side deal? They just keep on coming. I wonder is Mick ready to tell us who has ‘won’ yet.

  • ding dong

    well they always say that once the government deny something it’s certain to happen so if woodward has denied it it must be true!

  • But sure that’s all in the past, it was just a wee ‘error’ and we can all move on and forget that she was “part of the British war machine in Ireland” so to speak…
    Hardly worth bringing up, now that we ‘need to move on’, and FORGET about her.

    Posted by Driftwood on Mar 07, 2010 @ 10:20 PM

    Indeed driftwood. Anyone who fails to do that is a dinosaur, stuck in and intent on returning to the past

  • Turgon

    I am sorry you dislike me calling Dr. Paisley a doctor (of divinity). To be fair he has produced some very highly regarded (in fundamentalist Protestant circles) work of biblical commentary and analysis. Also of course Presbyterian moderators always get given a doctorate and are called Dr.
    Finally I just like looking up to doctors: even ones I disagree with.

  • granni trixie

    For the record Rita OHare is not a Proterstant. She is from the Glen Rd,her parents lived beside G. Adams (just shows you how myths work).

    I remember her at St Dominics on the Falls Rd when she was expelled with others for shinanegans in the Gaeltact. Patricia Craig has written a memoir, “Asking for Trouble” which describes this. Some people surmise that the stigma of this event is why she was turned down for Sy Mary’s Training College (now a University College), explaining her bitterness and why she joined the IRA.

  • granni trixie

    Turgon: why be sorry? I think that the Bob Jones insitution has been universaly established as lacking academic rigor. I don’t see why to be respectful of people one has to pretend.

  • granni trixie

    Should have been clearer: Bob Jones was the institution which conferred the PHD on Mr Paisley. Brings up the question of what value. Which is why Turgon need not worry.

  • mcclafferty

    Why are ex-IRA men, only loyal to Sinn Fein, being given “immunity/pardons”? Immunity should be given to all of them. As for McGeough, Senior civil servant Maurice Hayes put his foot in his mouth when he said…

    “British Seek To Block Inquiries”, June 14, 2007 in the Irish Voice. Senior civil servant Maurice Hayes claimed “millions of pounds used to fund a public inquiry into the British Army’s shooting dead of 14 civilians on Bloody Sunday could have been better spent in other ways and that a lot of people in Northern Ireland are particularly concerned the police would have enough resources to deal with the present crime challenges facing the police service here.” He goes on to say “there comes a point when political archaeology doesn’t make terribly much sense and he thinks there is a lot to be said for Northern Ireland drawing a line”.

    I’d like Maurice Hayes to explain where he thinks that “drawn line” should begin and end? Will that line also pertain to Irish Republicans like Gerry McGeough, arrested on charges dating back as far as 29 years ago? What sense and abuse of funds does it make in pursing a case against Gerry McGeough especially when the RUC/PSNI haven’t produced any concrete evidence against him the past 3 years?

    Maurice Hayes’ statement only goes to prove that when it comes to Irish justice there remains a double standard. One standard for the British government and RUC/PSNI and one for Irish Republicans. Why don’t they practice what they preach? For those interested, Gerry’s case is costing over 1 million pounds to prosecute? And the Crown denies McGeough’s case is politically motivated? – DUH!

  • lamhdearg

    mcclafferty do you agree that your “one rule for one and and another rule for another” case does not stand up, look around you,the pigs are going after the uvf and not hunting down the provisional ira,

  • mcclafferty

    Shaun Woodward: “the idea of pardons being given is complete nonsense” Sinn Fein and the British government have been in bed together not on one occasion but on numerous occasions, dating back before the 1994 IRA cease-fire. Sinn Fein leaders and the British government are both liars. They speak out of both sides of their mouth and you can’t believe a thing they tell you.
    Deals are made all the time like this to ensure that the status quo remains! The more ex-IRA men who are given pardons, that are loyal to Sinn Fein, the more Sinn Fein and the British government can control the political arena in northeast Ireland and maintain the status quo. Any ex-IRA man who may be an independent Irish Republican thinker would only pose a political threat to Sinn Fein therefore they need to control who will be allowed back into the fold! Thus Gerry McGeough for starters! “The most difficult choice a politician must ever make is whether to be a hypocrite or a liar.” Unknown source.

  • mcclafferty

    lamhdearg, not quite sure what you mean? “Pigs” I’m assuming you mean the RUC? “Going after the UVF”. Please explain or give me some concrete examples.

  • granni trixie

    If you think about it from the perspective of someone who never subscribed to the physical force tradition,’deals’ are connected to pragmatic solutions not to do with what is morally right.

  • lamhdearg

    i mean psni, concrete ? Read the papers. i dont support the killers of the Uvf, but where is the enquireies into the murders of the victims of the Ira, la mon ect.

  • mcclafferty

    I agree, but does that give the “players” the right to pick and choose who they will sacrafice for a pragmatic solution?

  • IRIA

    “Joe Tout Cahill”.

    I’ve read it all.

  • mcclafferty

    lamhdearg, The Bloody Sunday inquiries were started by family members of the 14 murdered civil rights marchers. I would think that similar inquiries could be made by family members of those you mention here as well.

  • mcclafferty

    Is Joe Cahill still alive?

  • FitzjamesHorse

    “Is Joe Cahill still alive?”

    Cant say for sure….but hes been buried.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    “Is Joe Cahill still alive?”

    Cant say for sure….but hes been buried.

  • Paddy

    “Also of course Presbyterian moderators always get given a doctorate and are called Dr.”

    Turgon: This is incredible. At least the One Holy Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church make their bishops do a bs “pretend” doctorate. Mr Paisley is a free Presbyterian (soon to be history. If Presbyterians confer doctorates on their pastors, that is bad for Presbyterianism. It makes it sound fake.
    My views on Paisley as a man and a politician are immutable.
    What would be helpful here is to pound through such issues on the main players.A problem with this site is valuable nuggests get lost in the dross. I will certainly look up this vignette about Presbyterian practice as it is materially important (for understanding, not point scoring) but I would be grateful for any help or pointers.

    Rita O’Hare: she told me face to face she is a Prot. I know she lured the two Scottish Black watch guys to their deaths with the lady whose son was the first “RIRA martyr”. Last I heard of her she was living in Cuba with her latest. Another piece of Provie cannon fodder, part victim,part perpetrator.

    Joey the Tout Cahill: A Free State agent. Look at his track record, not only with Tom Williams but when he conveniently went on the run after giving the post internment interview in Ballymurphy. To believe he had not another agenda before he went senile and became Adams’ puppet is to believe in fairy tales.
    Go back as far as the great Red Hugh O’Neill. His wife was the top Brit man in Ireland.
    But at least Red Hugh was not caught with a ship full of weapons, £1 million in cash etc. O’Donnell would have done him in.
    Who would have done Cahill in? Adams? McGuinness?

    The Brits play the long game. Cricket: Collins, Cahill, Adams, McGuinness. All came round. All had their price.

  • Framer

    Dr John Reid (Official Report, House of Commons, 24 October 2001, col. 304):

    “There are other difficult legacies of the past. The early release scheme was, I know, one of the most painful and contentious aspects of the agreement. All qualifying prisoners have now been released. We and the Irish Government have now accepted that it would be a natural development of that scheme for outstanding prosecutions and extradition proceedings for offences committed before 10 April 1998 not to be pursued against supporters of organisations now on ceasefire and contributing to the peace process.”

    It is done in all but name, and in name on the extradition aspect if you recall the Pearse McAuley and Nessan Quinlivan cases.

  • granni trixie

    Paddy: It is possible that one of Rita’s parents was a Protestant. Why someone who was expelled from St Dominics a Catholic school would then go to Rathmore another Catholic school is beyond me.

    Was very interested in a nugget in what you say as I once worked with the husband of the other women you mention. She skipped town,leaving him and her children behind. He was a civil servant from Derry and we all were absolutely sure that he knew nothing about her Ra sideline. The cops must have thought so too as he was lifted for a few days and then released. A few months on he went down South himself.

    (She is Roisin? with a son Ronan who was shot when robbing for the Ra?).

    I never knew that Rita was with her in the honeytrap operation on soldiers who were only kids. Gives women a bad name.
    I once worked in the tfor as gwhen

  • Skintown Lad

    Her father was a Protestant, Trixie. You know, one of those Irishmen who Paddy wants to forcibly remove to England.

  • granni trixie

    But my point is that all the evidence points to her being at the very least a cultural Catholic. A brother now dead certainly did not consider himself a Protestant. So it really did surprise me to see on the thread above that she had told someone that she was a Protestant (dont see cache in P or C but maybe in Republican circles there is).

  • old school

    Of course there are secret deals going on.
    Any OTRs who are aligned with ANTI GFA groups are still OTRs.
    The British Govt also agreed to fund a range of community projects for Pro Stormont Nationalists, from language schools, gymnasiums,arts etc which were run by PSF and employed only on message PSF supporters. Anybody who voiced support for traditional Republicanism was out on their ear.
    An Anti GFA Republican in Derry or West Belfast has zero chance of finding paid work in the community.

  • old school

    I also spoke to a member of the PSF Ard Comhairle as early as 1998.
    He was part of a delegation who met the Dept of Justice in Dublin weekly.
    At the time he assumed I was “on message”, and told me they were “advising” the Dublin government on how to deal with the RIRA. The Dublin Govt at the time were planning internment, but the “advisors” persuaded against it.
    I can P.M the source if anyone is interested.
    There was even joint operations with Gardai surveillance teams pulling back, to allow PIRA personell to deliver death threats to over 80 members of the 32 CSM.
    This was in the media at the time, and described as “welcome” by British Sec. of State, Mo Mowlam.
    That was 1998. Imagine the collusion going on now.

  • Paddy

    Old School: I am familiar with that. “Patriotic” Provos/RIRAs will do anything they are told for the cause. Touting has a logn tradition.

    Skintown: I did not speak about forcible f-king out. I just do not believe in kow towing to them. But there is a huge ttradition of forelock tipping in Holy Catholic Ireland.

    Roisin McLoughlin (has a nice singing voice btw). I hope she is enjoying salsa in Cuba. She was used. And so too was Rita, who went into a jail with explosives up her privates. I doubt they will get many guys into honey traps now.

    In dysfunctional societies, people like that become pawns, soetimes predators, sometimes prey. Lennie Murphy is another mixed bag who strayed from normative behaviour.

    I believe Ireland (32) has to exorcise all these demons. A Truth and Reconciliation committee would be a start. But that is a non starter. Snd so the old cycle, the old hatreds will remain, smouldering, wioth RSF types hoping for a fresh outburst.

  • Paddy

    “Paddy: It is possible that one of Rita’s parents was a Protestant. Why someone who was expelled from St Dominics a Catholic school would then go to Rathmore another Catholic school is beyond me. ”

    WTF was she getting expelled from schools for? Not a sign of a balanced youngster.

  • granni trixie

    I do not know how in any way you could call Rita or Roisin victims – they freely chose to go down the physical force tradition. Certainly Rita lived in a nice house off the Glen Rd – not like some kids born during the troubles into a community were they inevitably drawn into paramilitarism.

    You really ought to buy Asking for Trouble by Patricia Craig (cheap on Amazon) for her account of her,Rita (called in the book Olivia) and another teenager who were expelled from St Dominics. The writer obviously has a sense of injustice because she was highlighted as the ringleader and the third girl was not expelled allegedly because of her “Monsignior”/priest uncle.

    As regards their wrong doing – it would make you laugh in today’s world. Somebody in Donegall wrote an exaggerated account of them “having boys in their room” (which they deny)in her diary, her mother read it and the rest is history (really historic- the school was “banned” from going to Donegall for the next five years hence it became known as “The Rannafast Scandal” and is something schoolgirls of a certain age tend to remember.

    Such innocent times pre Irisgate.

  • Paddy

    Thank you for that Granni. I have just read some reviews of it and might skip. According to one, she must have been born in 1943. I would put Rita O’Hare at about 60.'Hare

    These stories of awful Catholic upbringings do not interest me. I would figure the nuns had both of these hussies well sussed. Playing the victim even then and not a thought too the upwardly mobile RCs of the Falls. They got off lightly.

    Anyway Rita does not have worry too much. She is well within the Gerry tent.