“…involved in criminal activity of any sort within G District from July 1, 2010 to July 28, 2011”

Given the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggot’s current concern about certain communities, and confidence, here’s a Londonderry Sentinel report that may be of relevance.  It relates to an incident in the city in August 2010 which, at the time, was blamed on dissenting republicans.  From the Sentinel report

At the time locals said that around 20 masked men appeared in the Campion Court area having disembarked from a white van. They began to remove materials intended for use at a bonfire before being challenged by local youths.

The vehicle that ferried the masked men was later abandoned causing a security alert in the district during which some homes were evacuated.

One 15-year-old girl challenged by the masked assailants said at the time that she was left terrified by the incident.

“One of the men grabbed me by the throat and had a gun in his hand. I couldn’t breath. It was really scary,” she said.

It was then claimed that as police arrived into the area the men removed their masks to blend in with local people, causing them to be identified as members of the mainstream republican movement. This view was backed by dissident republican groupings.

The interesting point is what happened when the Sentinel started asking questions.

The Londonderry Sentinel subsequently launched a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the PSNI about Provisional IRA activity in the city. The request centred on all reports, emails and memos sent to or sent by the PSNI or within the PSNI which make mention of the Provisional IRA being involved in criminal activity of any sort within G District from July 1, 2010 to July 28, 2011.

After an initial denial to grant the requested information, the Sentinel requested an internal review, citing that disclosing the information was in the public interest. But, the PSNI review did not find in the newspaper’s favour citing amongst other sections of the FoI Act that matters of national security outweigh the public interest.

And on national security, as Matt Baggot says

“To be frank, I need the expertise and analytical capability of the security services,” [Matt Baggot] said.

“MI5’s job here is simply to keep people safe – that’s what they do alongside the PSNI.

“We would not be having the success we’ve had if not for working closely with the security services as well as colleagues in An Garda Siochana.”

It is “a sound working partnership and one that is to be commended“.

[Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side – Ed]  Indeed…

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  • tacapall

    Did you forget to post this bit Pete from the same report –

    “THE Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) have challenged the PSNI over its refusal to confirm or deny whether it holds information in relation to alleged Provisional IRA activity in Londonderry

    Mr Hutchinson said: “A newspaper in Londonderry has stated that mainstream republicans were allegedly involved in an incident where 20 masked men chased youths from a bonfire in the city and shots were fired. A Freedom of Information request for information on criminal activity by the Provisional IRA in the city was refused, as was the appeal.

    The public has a right to know if the Provisional IRA are engaging in criminal activity, particularly if Sinn Fein are in government. The release of this information is most certainly in the public interest and I would ask who is being protected by the PSNI stance, and most importantly,why?

    The PUP leader urged other unionist parties to also ask questions.”

    The pot calling the kettle black comes to mind but that seems to have escaped your notice Pete.

  • galloglaigh

    You’d think Billy Hutchinson would be more worried about keeping his own ‘soldiers’ in tow. Or indeed the actions of those from within his ‘own’ community in ‘London’ Derry!

    Isn’t it funny how the tables have turned: The police force in Northern Ireland, who previously hid the truth about loyalist terrorism, is now hiding the truth about the Provos. The PUP should perhaps spill the beans on their own dealings with the RUC, so that we can get a look at the bigger picture of political policing in Northern Ireland. Then we might be more equipped to get the answers asked by the Londonderry Sentinel!

  • sdelaneys

    In the case of Billy Hutchinson it may well be a case of the pot calling the kettle black but the kettle may well be black or is ‘they are both (provos and loyalists) at it’ all we need to know? Is the belief many have, that some groups have a licence to act the thug as long as they are not caught red handed, realistic?
    There are people like the parents of Paul Quinn who have no doubt where the provos stand on violence post GFA.

  • between the bridges

    tbf not even gerry thinks they have gone away…

  • galloglaigh

    It was… claimed that… the men removed their masks… causing them to be identified as members of the mainstream republican movement

    Yeah right, that happened?

    sdelaneys’ point is a fair one, and I’m sure the family of Robert McCartney would also agree with that sentiment. I first read of this on Slugger. I live in Derry, and I’ve asked both some of the local youths from TOTH, and Provos from the city, and the story they say is different to that reported in the Londonderry Sentinel. Men from the local area approached the Provos and asked them to do something about a gang of youths who were terrorising the local community. They wanted them shot, and the Provos told them that that wouldn’t happen under their name. Obviously these men took it to other quarters. There are enough dissidents in the TOTH area who despise Sinn Fein, and who would be happy to name those ‘Mainstream’ republicans to embarrass Sinn Fein. So far that has not happened. That is my reading of it anyhow!

    The Sentinel, like Billy Hutchinson, would be better suited sticking to the criminality of loyalism, and leave the nationalist community to do likewise!

  • sherdy

    Pete, You quote from the Sentinel as though it is the Bible. It is as impartial as the Protestant Telegraph was in its heyday.

  • cynic2

    Perhaps an otherwise unemployed MLA will ask a question?

    Or, if as alleged it is a matter of national security, they could ask a question at Westminster. But will they?

  • lamhdearg2

    gregory might.

  • cynic2

    Didn’t the Cor4ry definition of collusion include

    “To pretend ignorance or unawareness of something one ought to morally or officially or legally oppose; to fail to take action against a known wrongdoing or misbehaviour”.

    So we do need to know what happened and what action is being taken to ensure that some local criminals don’t have some special status or[protection?

  • jojo

    Galloglaigh There was a series of stories on this and dissidents all denied it and blamed mainstream republicans. One memorable 32CSM quote described the masked men as “a supposedly defunct revolutionary army”.