NI Executive member supplies reference for McGeough

The BBC reports from the pre-sentencing hearing of Gerry McGeough – who was found guilty in February of the attempted murder of an off-duty UDR soldier, then working as a postman, now DUP councillor Sammy Brush, in 1981.

From the BBC report

An unnamed member of the Northern Ireland Executive has supplied a reference for Gerry McGeough ahead of his sentencing.

The former IRA member was found guilty in February of the attempted murder of an off-duty UDR soldier 30 years ago.

Sammy Brush, a former postman, was shot while delivering letters in 1981.

At Belfast Crown Court, a defence barrister said the executive member had written to say that McGeough posed no threat whatsoever to the peace process.

I’d like to know which particular hat that “unnamed member of the Northern Ireland Executive” was wearing when they wrote that reference.

And, whilst it may or may not be true that Gerry McGeough poses “no threat whatsoever to the peace process”, they’re not in a position to make that call.  Neither is it particularly relevant at this stage.

But I think we can narrow down the list of likely suspects…

Update  A Belfast Telegraph report confirms the “unnamed member of the Northern Ireland Executive” to be Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, who was wearing her Member of [the UK] Parliament ‘hat’ at the time. [Adds – edited post title]

And  According to the updated BBC report, “A Sinn Fein spokesman said Ms Gildernew’s reference was first given at a bail hearing more than three years ago.”

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  • Dec

    ‘And, whilst it may or may not be true that Gerry McGeough poses “no threat whatsoever to the peace process”, they’re not in a position to make that call. Neither is it particularly relevant at this stage.’

    Regarding that last sentence, I would submit that you’re not in a position to make that call. Unless I’ve missed the thread in which you revealed that you are responsible for the sentencing in this case.

  • Brian

    All Gerry should have to do is apologize….it was acceptable for that Para in Armagh who a 12 year old girl in the back (twice).

  • I think its a valid point to make.
    The reference of an Executive member is a good reference to have and one that the vast majority of us would not get.
    Ive consistently said here that I do not think Mr McGeough will end up in prison.
    Im not qualified either to make a call about his capacity but his public utterances and behaviour seem to invite that.
    Perhaps improperly an Executive member speaks for him.
    Perhaps properly there are other factors involved and other professionals who can speak for him.

    But less than a year ago McGeough and his followers were denouncing the very people he needs to speak for him.

  • Niall

    Seems suitable that he be sentenced today, as this whole debacle has been incredibly foolish from the start.
    Arresting him at the election count, holding a clearly very ill man from seeing his family, denied bail (even though we all know he’ll serve no jail time). If this isn’t politically motivated, what is? Maybe we should bring back the diplock courts to tackle this clearly dangerous sort of offender. Ridiculous.

  • son of sam

    Do Sinn Fein ministers have exclusive copyright on the term “peace process”.There were other people involved in the resolution of peace.To assert a monopoly on who is a threat or otherwise to the peace process smacks of arrogance.Fellow bloggers can make their own minds up on the level of arrogance amongst Sinn Fein Executive members.

  • ulsterscotnua

    I think it is safe to say that most people from the unionist side had to be dragged by the collar to the peace process.
    An outsider would be led to believe that the unionist people had something to lose.
    Maybe they had, monopoly of Police Service, Monopoly of Prison Service Employees.
    Monopoly of the higher paid jobs in local Government.
    Maybe the old adage, a just and fair North of Ireland was no good to anyone.

  • LondonIrish

    Don’t agree with your points.

    If McGeough thinks it will assist him to receive a reference of this type, having been legally advised, then it must, at least potentially, be relevant to the hearing. If it’s not relevant, then it will be ignored, and if it is, it was worth requesting.

    If he/she knows McGeough personally how are they not able to make a call regarding his political intentions? A reference is the subjective view of the person giving it.

  • Rory Carr

    Pete Baker thinks that, ‘…whilst it may or may not be true that Gerry McGeough poses “no threat whatsoever to the peace process”, they [Sinn Féin ministers] are not in a position to make that call.’ and Son of Sam asks, ‘Do Sinn Fein ministers have exclusive copyright on the term “peace process?” ‘

    The anwer to Son of Sam is simply, “No!”. We are all involved in that process in one way or the other (including I trust, Son of Sam himself). On the other hand, having been among the prime actors in its establishment, certain Sinn Féin ministers might well have a view on how it is progressing and one that might be thought pertinent.

    As to Pete Baker’s claim that “they’re not in a position to make that call” i.e. consider whether or not Gerry McGeough represents a threat to the peace process, there are some at least surely in a position to offer their view on the matter. Which is just what appears to have happened.

    Whether or not that view has any import in determining McGeough’s sentence is a matter entirely for the court to consider.

  • The arrogance of your man Baker what?

    Anyhow, it’s pretty much common knowledge that Gerry’s MP and neighbour, Michelle Gildernew provided a reference for him as I made reference to here last year:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/02/10/whatever-happened-to-gerry-mcgeough/

  • fordprefect

    Niall,
    Spot on mo cara! If memory serves me right, there were quite a few unionist polititians that gave unionist paramilitaries references in the past (especially after they “seen the light”).

  • Henry94

    What you put in a reference is your opinion about someone. If you say they are not a threat to the peace process then that is taken as your reading and not a statement of objective fact.

    I would rather see the word peace used rather than the term peace process. You can be a threat to peace without having any influence one way or another on the peace process.

    To suggest dissidents of any stripe can be a threat to the peace process is to see them in their own terms which they hardly deserve. You might as well charge a drunk who breaks a window with disturbing the peace process.

  • Barry the Blender

    Seems suitable that he be sentenced today, as this whole debacle has been incredibly foolish from the start.
    Arresting him at the election count, holding a clearly very ill man from seeing his family, denied bail (even though we all know he’ll serve no jail time). If this isn’t politically motivated, what is? Maybe we should bring back the diplock courts to tackle this clearly dangerous sort of offender. Ridiculous.

    Poor Gerry . Getting arrested for killing someone, sure murder doesn’t matter. The only sad thing is that he didn’t kill a few more proddy bastards when he got the chance. Sure they have no right to be here anyway. If they won’t go back home to England then they’re asking to be shat.

    Gerry should have the right to kill whoever he wanted then claim that he’s a little bit sick and be let out of jail .

  • REPUBLICAN NETWORK FOR UNITY (RNU) CHAIRPERSON, CARL REILLY, has criticised the manner in which Tyrone Republican, Gerry McGeough ‘appeared’ in a Diplock Court today.

    Mr. Reilly said; “If Gerry had of been captured in 1975 on the membership charge, he would have been in the Cages of Long Kesh. If he had of been captured in 1981, he would have been in the H-Blocks during the Hunger-Strike with S/F leading protests outside for the five demands. Now as Irish Republicans prepare for the 30th anniversary of the Blanket/Hunger-Strikes. Another prison Administration answerable to a compromised S/F-DUP Justice Ministry presides over a corrupt Regime with strip-searching that are equally as brutal as the mirror searches and beatings of 1981”.

    He concluded; “RNU are astounded that Gerry McGeough could not appear in Court because his health could not withstand a brutal strip-search carried out by sectarian Screws in Maghaberry Gaol. Therefore, he had to be ‘appear’ by videolink”.

  • Pete Baker

    “What you put in a reference is your opinion about someone. If you say they are not a threat to the peace process then that is taken as your reading and not a statement of objective fact.”

    Well, that was my point, Henry.

    It’s meaningless.

    That call will be made by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State when he makes the decision on whether or not to release Gerry McGeough on licence.

    Based on intelligence reports from MI5.

  • iluvni

    Is there no level of disrepute to which members of the Sinn Fein/DUP top table in the Executive wont stoop?

  • Henry94

    A reference is about the sentence not the decision to release on license. It’s a normal thing for a TD or MLA to do for a constituent. It may not have an impact on the thinking of the Sec. of State. But it may send a political signal that any vindictiveness in this case will face political opposition from mainstream republicans. The important thing is that he is released not who gets the credit.

  • dennis the menace

    iluvni (profile)
    1 April 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Is there no level of disrepute to which members of the Sinn Fein/DUP top table in the Executive wont stoop?

    ….

    sorry, when did the UUP actually leave the executive?

  • Mark

    Pete – It’s not meaningless . It can and does depend on the reputation of the person giving the reference . If the referee is a trusted member of the community ( as Michelle is ) , the Courts will take his/her reference seriously .

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    It’s meaningless in terms of the sentence.

    Which is the stage we’re at.

    The release on licence remains within the remit of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State.

    Based on intelligence reports from MI5.

  • Mark

    Pete ,

    Fair enough . It was you’re rather sarcastic line about ” the likely suspects ” which made me post .

  • Master McGrath

    I note again the use of the sacred cow term, ‘peace process’ earlier and how McGeough was no threat to it.
    This ‘process’ seems to be unending and has now passed into a state of being more static than moving it seems.
    Is there a threat to peace here with this man rather than the amorphous ‘process’?
    Or is the constant recital the ‘process’ a Republican coat of paint mantra to hide the flaws in the peace?
    If all the process has really managed to do is join the two political extremes in a very flawed political structure and managed to build more ‘peace wall’ to divide communities the future for actual peace breaking out soon is more that just limited.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Barry the Blender

    “Poor Gerry . Getting arrested for killing someone, sure murder doesn’t matter”

    It certainly doesn’t seem to matter when an innocent 12 year old Catholic girl is murdered by a British soldier. Still, just another taig eh Barry?

  • Barry the Blender

    It certainly doesn’t seem to matter when an innocent 12 year old Catholic girl is murdered by a British soldier. Still, just another taig eh Barry?

    That’s more or less what people like you are arguing.

  • Pete Baker

    Henry

    “it may send a political signal…”

    Indeed it may…

    Mark

    “It can and does depend on the reputation of the person giving the reference”

    Oh dear…

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Barry the Blender

    “That’s more or less what people like you are arguing”

    No, I am highlighting the hypocrisy of Unionists who are jumping up and down about Gerry McGeough but seem quite happy for the cold blooded murder of innocent Catholics to be ignored.

    I don’t alter my unreserved condemnation based on the religion of the victim and/or perpetrator.

    There are a number of Unionist contributors here (mirroring many unionist politicians) who have plenty of vitriol for Republican terrorism but have either nothing to say about “loyalist” terrorism and,in a few cases, defend it.

  • Pete Baker

    Update A Belfast Telegraph report confirms the “unnamed member of the Northern Ireland Executive” to be Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, who was wearing her Member of [the UK] Parliament ‘hat’ at the time.

  • tacapall

    Its all part of politics, like Willie Mc Crea sharing a platform with Billy Wright, does that not give legitimacy or support to what Wright was doing. When numerous British soldiers who murdered civilians and children or police officers who controlled murder gangs are given protection from justice others are used as political footballs, portrayed by the state controlled media and Unionists as somehow more deserving of judgement, a different class of murderer. Sure there’s an election coming up and anything that can be used to collect another few votes will be used. Justice must be seen to be for the many not the few. Nothing has changed in this part of Ireland.

  • Barry the Blender

    No, I am highlighting the hypocrisy of Unionists who are jumping up and down about Gerry McGeough but seem quite happy for the cold blooded murder of innocent Catholics to be ignored.

    I don’t alter my unreserved condemnation based on the religion of the victim and/or perpetrator.

    There are a number of Unionist contributors here (mirroring many unionist politicians) who have plenty of vitriol for Republican terrorism but have either nothing to say about “loyalist” terrorism and,in a few cases, defend it.

    So are you willing to condemn Gerry McGeough or not?

  • mark

    Ohoo, you are a wag with your April fool jokes.

    “the Courts will take his/her reference seriously.”

    The main point about this issue is Gerry McGeough should never have been brought before the court. Bar as individuals, SF refused to mount a campaign against his arrest, hinting they had the ability to deal effectively with this matter via official contacts etc.

    We shall see, but if he is given a long term of imprisonment, no matter if he is released after 2 years, it will highlight SF weaknesses and I would guess some folks will worry who is next.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Barry the Blender

    “So are you willing to condemn Gerry McGeough or not?”

    FFS – I unreservedly condemn anyone who is involved in murder or attempted murder – IRA/INLA/UVF/UDA/RUC/UDR/British Army – is that clear enough!

    I may be wrong but I suspect that your view may not have the same consistency across the religious/political divide.

  • Mark

    Mick Hall ,

    Read the op Mick , it was about who gave a reference to Gerry .

    In your haste to join in and play the lick arse to all sides , you should think about what you are going to say ..

    You english boys always have to try harder to sound Republican… it sounds stupid …..

    Oh BTW – you were going to tell me what a typical middle class job was ?

  • Gerry McGeough did not murder anyone. Let’s get that clear. Sammy Brush was no innocent bystander during the troubles. He was a part time member of the security forces called the UDR, formally known as the B Specials. He was part of a unit of the security forces proven later on to be in collusion with loyalist paramilitary groups. As a member of the security forces, during the troubles, it made Brush a legitimate target and visa-versa.

    Trying to label McGeough a “dissident”, using the British slant on the word, is deliberately intended to criminalize those who don’t agree with the status-quo of the GFA or Sinn Fein. McGeough has not been aligned with any political organization since he left Sinn Fein and he is being labeled as such, especially by some on this site, to further discredit him. Look up the word “dissident” and try to grasp the dictionary version of the word (“a person who disagrees as in opinion or attitude”) not the British version, which is intended to marginalize those who disagree with their policies in the 6 counties.

  • Mick Hall,
    Agreed. The McGeough case most certainly highlighted the weakness of PSF and the people of Tyrone are demanding to know why they did not step up to the plate for Gerry McGeough?

  • Barry

    “So are you willing to condemn Gerry McGeough or
    not?”

    Condemn him for what?

    Who do you think gave Gerry his marching orders – the Tin Man? There are ex-IRA men and ex-UVF and UFF men who committed far worse than a shoot-out with a UDR part time soldier and no one is putting them behind bars 38 years later and 13 years after the GFA?

    Barry, you honestly don’t see anything wrong with this picture? You don’t find it odd that until McGeough ran in the 2007 Assembly elections, and was arrested at the count center, he was living openly with his wife and children in Tyrone? No one seemed to bother to arrest him all those years prior to his running in the election on an anti-PSNI platform, so why then?

    PLEASE…you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see his arrest and guilty verdict is strictly politically motivated. McGeough does not belong in prison let alone have to serve 2 years before he is given a “pardon”. Pardon for what?

  • tacapall

    Well said.