Saville speaks at last

For the next four years, Lord Saville of Newdigate will dominate the lives of the members of the Northern Ireland Select Committee of the Commons, starting Wednesday at 3.15 pm. ( I made up the bit about the four years).

The one-off session will cover a range of issues including:

  • lessons to be learnt from carrying out an inquiry into the past in Northern Ireland
  • the adequacy of legislation on public inquiries in the UK
  • the length of time and cost of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, and
  • the difficulties in gathering and establishing the veracity of evidence from the past.

Meanwhile the House of Lords will be debating the Bloody Sunday report at the very same time Saville is explaining himself to MPs. Most peers won’t therefore be able to hear what he has said.

You couldn’t make that bit up.

He has quite bit to get off his chest, having already said he would refuse to chair an inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act, as it allows ministers to limit the budget of inquiries – an encroachment on judicial independence, he claimed.

The act was passed   partly as a  reaction to Saville.  Will MPs  bluntly criticise the inordinate length of the inquiry to his face and peers behind his back?

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  • mcclafferty32

    The Free Gerry McGeough Campaign has taken off. Republicans are uniting against this injustice.
    STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE RECENTLY FORMED “JUSTICE FOR THE MCGEOUGH FAMILY” PRESSURE GROUP.

    The general consensus that society here must now “move on” from the era of the Troubles is being seriously undermined by an on-going legal saga that is causing
    growing resentment among nationalists in Tyrone and which is now starting to gain attention elsewhere across Ireland and beyond.

    November 1st sees the resumption of a trial that is raising issues of major concern to international Human Rights groups as well as bringing to light matters that the British government, in particular, would prefer left untouched.

    At the centre of the controversy is 52-year-old Gerry McGeough, a teacher and published author from the Brantry area of South Tyrone, who is now the focus of
    a political and legal storm that has dragged in the Swedish government, the U.S. and German authorities and a host of interested parties from several other nations. Added to this is a growing litany of revelations that has opened a
    Pandora’s Box of secret deals and leaked intelligence memos that are beginning to cause major angst within some political circles.

    The saga began on March 8th, 2007, the day after the Stormont Assembly elections when Gerry McGeough, who had stood as an Independent Republican candidate in the
    Fermanagh/South Tyrone constituency, was dramatically arrested outside the Count Centre in Omagh. The large media contingent gathered for the Tally just yards
    away ensured that the arrest became news headlines within the hour.

    A convoy of PSNI vehicles took McGeough to Antrim, where he was eventually charged with membership of the IRA in 1975, when he was 16-years-old, and with
    wounding a part-time member of the UDR in 1981.

    Shortly after McGeough’s arrest, Vincent McAnespie, an Aughnacloy Building Contractor in his late forties, was also arrested following a raid on his home.The charges against Mr. McAnespie were eventually reduced to possession of
    weapons in 1981.

    Explaining the unusual manner of Mr. McGeough’s arrest, the PSNI claimed that they had been looking for him for years but had not been able to locate him
    until his appearance at the Omagh Count Centre.

    Gerry McGeough has dismissed this as “ridiculous”, pointing out that apart from the fact that he had been living openly in the North before the election, he was
    also one of the most high-profile candidates during the hustings, speaking regularly in public and making appearances on T.V. and live radio programmes.

    “My arrest was politically motivated”, he says, “and sanctioned by the British government. If a political candidate was arrested during an election in
    Zimbabwe, or anywhere else, the British would be squealing about human rights abuses”.

    After three weeks in Maghaberry prison, McGeough’s lawyers finally secured bail for him following a considerable legal struggle during which the Prosecution tried to prevent his release by claiming that he was wanted in Germany and the United States for Irish republican related activities in the 1980s. When these accusations were found to be groundless, he was released on strict bail conditions, most of which remain in place over three-and-a-half-years later.

    McGeough, who lives with his Spanish-born wife and their four young children, spent the next couple of years making monthly court appearances during which the case was constantly put back, sometimes for the flimsiest of reasons, such as omeone at the DPP had forgotten to post a letter crucial to the investigation.

    During this time, the family had to put up with many hardships including having a ritish Army helicopter hover and clatter over their remote rural home at leven o’clock one night as small children struggled to sleep. They have also
    had to endure phone-tapping, e-mail and regular mail interception and isruption. In addition, because of the serious Troubles-related charges against im, Gerry McGeough has been unable to find work as a teacher since his arrest.

    In July, 2009, McGeough suffered a massive heart-attack and would have died but or the fact that he managed to get himself to hospital in time for emergency reatment.

    That same month, the British government extended the use of the non-jury Diplock ourt system for another two years. A notorious legacy of the Troubles, the iplock Courts were supposed to have been finally phased out by 2009.

    On March 8th, exactly three years after his arrest, Gerry McGeough was put on rial before a Diplock Court in Belfast. The previous day, the Sunday Tribune
    newspaper revealed that a secret deal had been done between the British overnment and Sinn Féin allowing up to fifty “on-the-run” republicans to eceive Royal Pardons since the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

    Shaun Woodward, Britain’s then Secretary of State for the North, publicly enounced the revelation as “nonsense”. Shortly afterwards, McGeough’s lawyers produced one of the Pardons and the Northern Ireland Office has since confirmed that a deal had, in fact, been done.

    Arguing that their client, who is one of the listed “on-the-runs”, was being discriminated against for political reasons, McGeough’s legal team secured an adjournment of the trial after three days while they sought the disclosure of
    documents from the NIO for an “Abuse of Process” application.

    Despite ample evidence of the existence of such material, a judge ruled that the NIO need not disclose some forty-one relevant files in the interests of “national security”. He also dismissed the “Abuse of Process” application and
    the trial resumed on September 13th. That day consisted of having a PSNI detective read a full chapter of one of Gerry’s books to the court. He had “secured” the book from a library in Dublin. The novel itself, “Defenders”, is a
    work of fiction published in 1998. Incredibly, this has been accepted as “evidence” by the non-jury court.

    The trial against Gerry McGeough, which is estimated to have cost £1 million to date, was halted again the following day after McGeough was rushed to hospital where he underwent a further heart procedure on September 17th. He has since been released from hospital and the trial is set to resume on November 1st.

    If convicted, he will spend two years in prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement before being eligible for release on license. McGeough argues that his children, all of whom were born since the year 2000, are the real
    victims of the Troubles. He describes how one morning last March, as he prepared to leave for court in Belfast, his seven-year-old son got up out of bed at 6.30am in order to share an idea he had.

    “He told me that he was going to dig a hole in one of the fields, put planks ver it and build a den so that he could hide Daddy. That way I wouldn’t have to go to jail”, Gerry recalled. “Imagine a child lying awake at night worrying
    about such things in the year 2010. This whole experience is a real trauma for them. Why should they have to be put through this?

    A staunch supporter of the Peace Process, McGeough believes that he is being singled out simply because he stood in the elections and expressed a viewpoint
    that upset the powers that be.

    “Why are no British soldiers being put on trial for Bloody Sunday”?, he asks. “And what about those behind the Dublin/Monaghan bombings? Either the Troubles are over or they’re not. If not, then let’s put everybody on trial before Diplock Courts.

    What’s happening to us is just plain old anti-Irish Catholic discrimination. People can see this and they resent it”. Gerry McGeough said. Meanwhile, it has now emerged that the Prosecution intends to use alleged Political Asylum application papers from Sweden as the mainstay of its evidence against Mr. McGeough. The move has raised considerable alarm among international Human Rights groups, who argue that this violates the whole concept of political asylum and is an attack upon the rights of refugees everywhere.

    We, the recently formed “Justice for the McGeough Family” pressure group, are asking people from all walks of life to become involved in the campaign to highlight the discrimination currently being perpetrated against Gerry McGeough.

    Write in protest to your local media and politicians. Keep Gerry and his family in your prayers and, if possible, turn up at the trial in Belfast, now scheduled for November 1st, and show your solidarity.

    This is a just cause that needs your support. Now is the time to speak out against this injustice and we thank-you for your help.

    mcclafferty

  • William Markfelt

    LOL. That’s the password to elsewhere given away then. (Changed now, incidentally). I don’t know what I was doing there.

    I ask again. What has this posting got to do with Saville, and Brian’s topic preamble?

  • mcclafferty32

    William,
    Compare this case/trial of McGeough to the Bloody Sunday inquiry. No British soldier has ever been brought to trial in the murder of these innocent civil rights marchers. Re: Saville Report.

  • Driftwood

    The saville report makes no mention of anyone being ‘murdered’. Probably because no-one was.

  • William Markfelt

    So nothing to do with Gerry McGeough then?

    It rather looks to me that the topic for discussion is the ‘waste’ involved in the BSI (and I don’t use the word ‘waste’ as an inference that reaching the truth wasn’t worth the cost, but today’s session is focussed on, shall we say, ‘greater parsimony’ in future). If, indeed, there is a ‘future’ in respect of Inquiries. I rather suspect not in the lifetime of this parliament.

  • foyle observer

    Care to explain exactly what you mean by this?

  • joeCanuck

    The words used in the report were “unlawful killing”. That means either murder or manslaughter. I think there may have been instances of both that day.

  • mcclafferty32

    William,

    It has a lot to do with Gerry McGeough. He is on trial for alleged Troubles related charges dating back almost 30 years ago and yet the British para’s who shot and killed unarmed civilians are not going to face any charges for “unlawful killing” of these civil rights marchers. If the British gov’t is going to pursue a 30 year old case, against Gerry McGeough, costing over 1 million pounds to date…then put the para’s on trial as well and the Orange/British forces responsible for the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. Hey, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.