“He was just following orders…”

The Irish News carries comments by dissenting republican Bobby Tohill ahead of the sentencing of one of the “four-man IRA gang” who had pleaded guilty to Tohill’s attempted abduction in 2004 but had jumped bail before being sentenced in May 2006. Two of the four men were re-arrested and sentenced in February 2007. Another, Henry Joseph [Harry] Fitzsimmons, was recently re-arrested and handed over by the Irish authorities. From the Irish News report.

Tohill was taken to hospital and required 100 stitches to his wounds but from the outset refused to cooperate with police. Speaking to The Irish News this week he said: “Six years have passed and in that time I have become close friends with all the men, including Harry [Fitzsimmons]. “They were sent to abduct me by higher powers and have since all apologised. Harry has a wife and children and I don’t want to see him jailed. “I’m the person who’s supposed to be the victim here and I’m going to go to court to ask the judge to show leniency. He was just following orders and things have changed a lot politically in the last six years so I can’t see what would be gained by sending him to jail.”

Well, the court might show leniency, despite the bail-jumping, if he revealed who the ‘higher power’ was who gave the order. Then there’s the matter of the still unlawfully at large Liam Rainey of whom the police have still not released a likeness or even a basic description…From the 1st Independent Monitoring Commission report

5. INCIDENT IN BELFAST ON 20 FEBRUARY 2004

5.1 We have examined a considerable number of individual incidents, but we have paid particular attention to the incident which took place in Belfast on 20 February 2004. This is for a number of reasons. Its timing was highly significant and it has been very widely seen as having a major impact on events in Northern Ireland. By its method it was intrinsically serious, though we recognise that its direct consequences were less severe than all too many other incidents. Moreover, both Governments have asked us specifically to examine the incident in the context of our first report.

5.2 The facts of the incident can be stated very briefly. At about 17.45 on 20 February 2004 four masked men entered a bar called Kelly’s Cellars in Bank Street, Belfast. They were all dressed in white forensic suits , balaclavas and surgical gloves. The four men very severely beat Robert Tohill who was in the bar. They then dragged him from the bar to the vehicle in which they had arrived and had parked nearby. They forced him into the vehicle and the five left in it, one of their number driving.

5.3 A member of the public who had seen the incident had meanwhile telephoned the police, and there happened to be a PSNI patrol vehicle in the vicinity. The two officers in this vehicle intercepted the vehicle containing Robert Tohill and arrested four men. The names of those arrested are Harry Fitzsimmons, Gerard McCrory, Liam Rainey and Thomas Tolan.

5.4 The four arrested men were subsequently remanded in custody on charges of causing grievous bodily harm, unlawful imprisonment and the possession of items likely to be of use to terrorists. Charges of membership of a proscribed organisation were withdrawn at first remand.

5.5 The cases of the arrested people are sub judice. In no circumstances should they be prejudiced. Article 13 of the International Agreement specifically requires the Commission to do nothing which would either prejudice a legal case or place anybody’s safety at risk. We are therefore heavily constrained in what we may say. We can however, address two key questions: was this incident the work of a paramilitary organisation and if it was, which one?

5.6 We have received information from a number of official and unofficial sources. We have carefully reviewed all of this material. We are conscious that we are not bound by the strict rules of evidence and that the material has not been subject to the testing one could expect in a criminal trial. We do however believe this material, taken as a whole, indicates that the operation was one planned and undertaken by the Provisional IRA.

That detail is for the benefit of new PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott. From the Irish News report

Chief Constable Matt Baggott said that while he was not aware of the details of the case, there was no amnesty for ‘on the runs’.

“People who are wanted remain wanted,” he said.

  • One hundred stitches? This sounds like one of those ‘little jobs’ that would have ended in an unmarked whole in the ground…

    Mr Tohill does sound like the very reason some republican ‘activists’ got away with it for so long, and why many ex members feel so betrayed.

    No! there can be no leniency. It was not some pious political act, it was, if not attempted murder, GBH and should be punished accordingly.

  • Sorry for such a simple, juvenile error! I meant of course ‘hole’, what am I…

  • Danny Boy

    It’s all very well for the ‘victim here’ to say it’s all OK because he feels safe now, but he’s not the only one who needs to be protected from these people. Things might have changed in the last six years, but as they were supposed to have changed some time before that, how is anyone to know?

  • IRIA

    Didn’t Tohill become a devout religious man since the “event”?

    If Rainey’s on the run, how did Tohill become friends with him, Instant Messages?

  • Michaelhenry

    bobby tohill is hardline. he does not support the police, sorry peace…… bang, crack, wallop….. bobby tohill supports peace.

  • Michaelhenry

    It makes no difference what Bobby Tohill does or does not support. If a caring member of the public had not called the police, he would, in all probability, be around to care.

  • Scaramoosh

    Pippakin

    Are you drunk?

  • Scaramoosh

    In your dreams! and not unless Lemsip has something in it no one told me about!

    I have flu! Eyes watering, and everything else, fed up, but still trying, and sorry but more often than not, failing… Apologies, again.

  • Rory Carr

    When Pete Baker says that “the court might show leniency, despite the bail-jumping, if he revealed who the ‘higher power’ was who gave the order.” is he telling us that he is somehow privvy to how the judge is minded on this matter of sentencing or is he merely displaying uncharacteristic impertinence in suggesting to the judge what the sentence ought to be and the conditions attaching thereto?

  • They know who ordered the damn hit! what they lack, yet again, is evidence and of course the conversion on the road to Damascus of the victim, does not help.

  • Cynic2

    at 5 m 30 secs

  • Them r us

    I think tohill is speaking from experience im sure he was ordered to do things he did like or agree with. So how could he possibly want the heads of the foot soldiers.

  • Them r us

    I think the words did,nt. Oppps

  • Seosamh913

    Mr Tohill has not gone far enough in his comments, it seems to me. I for one would would expect him to compensate the accused for any unfortunate rips to their white surgical suits incurred during this boys-will-be-boys escapade, and to repair any regrettable tears to the balaclavas. In addition, he will need to provide a personal assurance to the court that four brand new sets of surgical gloves have been gift-wrapped and passed to the four men. Bunches of flowers to their mothers and sweets for their kids on a weekly basis, it goes without saying. And he will of course be writing several leters to the Home Office and to Amnesty Internationl regarding the unspeakable indignities being endured by Mr Rainey throughout his ordeal.

    It’s the very least he can do. oh, and fingers crossed for royal pardons * 4.

  • Seosamh913

    Cruel.

    I think Mr Tohill may well have some sympathy for the accused. Its called brain damage and should be added to the list of charges against the accused.

  • Seosamh913

    Pippakin

    Indeed. It’s never been fully clear to me precisely what Tohill is alleged to have done (or said ?) to warrant this kind of attention from the unnamed tin pot despot who sent the ninja team into lift and rough up Tohill other than some suggestion that he wasn’t walking in line peace-wise or perhaps had some possible connection to or involvement with alternative power structures within ‘the republican community’.

  • Seosamh913

    The problem with these tin pot dictators is they, for a very long time, did not need an excuse. It is why there can be no leniency now. It must never be allowed to happen again.

  • Cynic2

    Clearly Mr Tohill had transgressed the unwritten law ……quite how he transgressed it isn’t clear as it isn’t written down, but he seems to accept that he transgressed it and that his new friends were therefore just following orders when they kidnapped him

  • Cynic2

    ‘Just following orders’ is what the Nazis said at Nuremburg…It will not do.

  • Michaelhenry

    just following orders, is what british soldiers said at there day at court for killing civilians in irag, unlike the nazis the brits got of.

  • Michaelhenry

    iraq

  • Brian MacAodh

    How were they allowed bail in the first place?

    Driving out of town on the way to some dumping ground with a severely beaten man in the trunk…you should not be able to get out on bail.

  • Michaelhenry

    I believe what the accused appear to have been trying to do, would have come under the heading of ‘Extraordinary Rendition’.

    All armies have rules they have to, er play by. If those ‘rules’ are seen to be broken the soldiers are charged, which is what has happened in several cases. The big difference between the allies in Iraq is they were your actual armies in an actual war zone.

    I am not condoning any of it. I am just telling you the men in white suits are supposed to be inside the asylum.

  • Michaelhenry

    there is a big difference in being charged and then found not guilty despite the evidence pippakin, an actual war zone, tell that over the graves of the thousands of civilians killed by the so called allies in iraq, the allies of death.

  • Seosamh913

    Michaelhenry

    The only active targetting of civilians in Iraq is being undertaken by pro-Baathist, Al Qaeda-supporting Caliphatist sectarians. Other muslims, bluntly put.

  • curious46

    I wonder would Bobbys’ ‘forgiveness’ extend to all victims of republican violence in the past?

  • Michaelhenry

    like i said before seosamh913, tell that over the graves of the thousands of civilians killed in iraq, by the war mongering allies.

  • It is ridiculous to keep comparing THE PIRA to other armies.

    Fend or please the truth is still the truth and there is no comparison.

    The vast majority of Iraqi civilians have been killed by Iraqis, actually that is a comparison that can definitely be made to PIRA.

  • Seosamh913

    Michaelhenry

    So can we assume therefore that you’re identifying yourself with the so-called insurgents in Iraq ?

  • Michaelhenry

    the facts now speak for themselves, the provos always wanted peace and now live in a peace process, the british army how ever are still involved in fighting and killing in some body elses country, even has i put this down a british soldier has killed some fathers and mothers son or daughter.

  • Michaelhenry

    You always leave out the Americans. The Brits are there in support of the Yanks. Whats the matter is S/F afraid it may lose some lucrative donations if they tell the truth, for once.

  • granni trixie

    “the provos always wanted peace”

    Evidence please?

  • old school

    Seosamh, An Amnesty report recently claimed most of the civilian deaths were linked to “Iraqi Government” death squads.
    Mr Allawi of the Green Zone detonated the first car bomb in Baghdad. Way back in the early 90s and with CIA assistance. The Americans made him interim President when Saddam fell.
    Combining deaths by sanctions, operation shock and awe, the countless bombing raids, Fallujah, the deaths at checkpoints and back alleys that don’t make the news….I’ve no doubt the occupiers killed more civilians.

  • Michaelhenry

    i support the people from these countrys who were born and live there seosamh913, any problems there are for themselves to sort out.

  • old school

    Michael. post 9
    When will you support the right to Irish Sovereignty?

  • old school

    Now you know the Americans always put in some ‘puppet’ – and live to regret it. What else was Sadam Hussein.

  • old school

    Pippakin, Ayad Allawi bombing campaign of the early 90s including targetting a school bus, cinema and other random targets. The CIA trained his group, Iraqi National Congress in terrorism.
    The CIA also tried to persuade the Mujahideen to use car bombs in Kabul in the 80s when the Russians were there.
    CIA agents also bombed a Cuban civilian airline killing scores.
    There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq prior to 2003.
    EVERY civilian death since lies at the door of those who plotted the invasion.
    Thats Bush, Blair and every muppet who skulked behind them.

  • old school

    I agree with all you say, but to be fair I think it predates Bush and Bliar by decades.

  • Seosamh913

    Michaelhenry

    So as an apparently strict non-interventionist, your position with respect to Iraq has in fact been pro-Baathist – pro-genocide, pro-chemical weapons usage, pro-mass torture, pro-terror sponsorship. Presumably you’re also the kind of strict ‘non-interventionist’ who would also have gladly blind-eyed Milosevic’s fascist domination of the Balkans on the basis that ‘it isn’t really any of our business’ right ?

  • Brian MacAodh

    America wants out. Iraqis and other middle easterers are killing each other over there.

    Many more have been killed by bombs left in markets than by US soldiers.

  • Brian MacAodh

    MH

    The Provo’s wanted peace? Tell that to the next person they beat the piss out of in a bar and then try to take him somewhere to get tortured and executed.

    Tell the relatives of the Remembrance Day bombings they wanted peace. Or the familiy of those they kidnapped in order to force their father to be a suicide bomber.

    They could have gotten peace back in the early 70s.

  • Seosamh913

    Yes and maybe Bik McFarlane can try explaining the part of his attack on the Bayardo bar on the Shankill which was anti-imperialist and anti-sectarian.

  • Michaelhenry

    generals and leaders in england just enjoy sending young boys and girls in uniform to there deaths abroad, its just something thats being going on for a thousand years, and will continue for ever, there is no point blaming some one else, its the brit mentality of killing and being killed in another persons country.

  • Michaelhenry

    Are you all right. You seem to get worse by the day.

    All this hatred of the Brits is a bit one sided, and you have not mentioned the Americans…

  • Michaelhenry

    well the brits have stoped fighting in irag pippakin, whilst america keeps fighting there, i suppose the american army is more hard line than the brits army.

  • Michaelhenry

    At last, recognition of the fact! That wasnt so hard was it.

    Many young people seem to enjoy being in the armed forces. Do not ask me why I have no idea. It cannot be some sort of machismo thing, that is too simplistic. BTW you may not have noticed but Irish men and boys do still join the Brits and Irish armed forces, as I say they seem to enjoy it.

  • Cynic2

    MichaelHenry

    And once Hitler invaded France we shouldn’t have intervened because Germans then lived there and it was for the French to sort out and the Holocaust was just a little local political issue in the Reich – between the Jews and Germans, not our concern.

  • Cynic2

    “People who are wanted remain wanted,” he said.

    That’s meaningless. If the cases against them have secretly been dropped on ‘public interest grounds’ then they are no longer wanted.

  • Michaelhenry

    it was the brits finest hour cynic2 when the few stood up to the nazis, there is no one who can argue different, its amazing what the few can do when the fight is agaist invaders.

  • Michaelhenry

    Nicely done. and very true!

  • old school

    I’m just glad someone understands Michael.

  • Michaelhenry

    old school is happy, whats the occasion.

  • Michaelhenry

    I think it was your rare accuracy, on what happens to anyone who tries to invade us.

  • Michaelhenry

    yup pippakin, all invaders to be shown the door, or there best get out option.

  • skinbop

    just completely underwhelmed at the intellect that is mh.