Avoid a battle of the narratives. The Chief Constable and Police Ombudsman appeal for agreement emerging from the proposed legacy process

Eamonn Mallie has published  transcripts of Chief Constable George Hamilton and Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire addressing a gathering at Queen’s University on the approaches they hope will be  adopted on the consultation just launched on dealing with the past. I shamelessly share them with warm thanks to Eamonn. Both  men plead for responders not to adopt a polarised or polemical position right from the start and take the broader view that works for reconciliation. They also call for a … Read more

Don’t you know who I am?

As the BBC reports Sinn Féin has confirmed that one of their MLA’s has removed a clamp from the front wheel of his car, using what appears to be bolt cutters, in Belfast. In a statement, a spokesperson for the party confirmed that Gerry Kelly removed the clamp at about 07:20 GMT on Friday outside a gym. A recording of the incident has been posted on social media. The Belfast Telegraph report notes The footage was captured in the Exchange … Read more

“In Kenova’s sights are also those IRA leaders on the Provisional Army Council who sanctioned the “executions” for spying…”

The BBC reports that Freddie Scappaticci has been arrested in England by the Operation Kenova team and is being questioned “in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture”. [Scappaticci is pictured above – bottom left with dark moustache at funeral of Provisional IRA member Larry Marley] The investigation team confirmed that a 72-year-old man had been arrested. The BBC understands the man being questioned is Fred Scappaticci and that he was arrested in England. The investigation … Read more

The Loughinisland appeal, when “withdrawal” is not “recusal”

Now I may have been dreaming but I’m almost sure I read yesterday that Mr Justice McCloskey had announced he was still sticking with the Loughinisland appeal case, in spite of the objections from the lawyers representing the families and the police ombudsman. But no. I woke up to this morning to learn he had in fact withdrawn. Reporting howler in jumping the gun?  Maybe. But then there’s that legal language of fine distinction  but crucially different meaning like “ … Read more

“The truth remains that Adams will only reveal his past if it suits his own agenda.”

We might never know the truth about the suggestion that Gerry Adams was responsible, directly or indirectly, for setting up the Provisional IRA’s East Tyrone Brigade for ambush as they tried to blow up a police station in Loughgall in May 1987.  Sinn Féin have dismissed the claims as “utter nonsense”, and some of the usual suspects have busied themselves playing the man – and/or the media. Meanwhile, Ed Moloney provides some useful background, and reproduces the chapter in his book ‘A Secret … Read more

“there is no corresponding organisation to monitor the work of the Ombudsman…”

It’s not just the Republic who has problems with ‘who guards the guards’. There are two worrying stories on the same day concerning the activities of the Police Ombudsman’s office. One concerns a criminal case which the Judge is reported to have said: …failings in the investigation “resulted in it being impossible for the defendants to receive a fair trial”. He said weaknesses in the investigative process meant it “would offend the court’s sense of justice and propriety to be … Read more

The reception for the Loughinisland documentary No Stone Unturned shows that legacy issues will stay marginalised

The low key reception given to the documentary No Stone Unturned, the film documentary on the UVF  murders  of six  randomly selected Catholics in their local Loughinisland  pub in 1994 which is currently being  given a brief screening at the Queen’s Film Theatre, is the latest example of how presumed familiarity with the underlying problems of  Northern Ireland has produced if not quite contempt, at least widespread deadening  indifference. Warm congratulations nevertheless go to The Detail team especially their reporter … Read more

Policing and Nationalism: “It’s too soft and it needs to be stronger. You need to be firmer.”

There’s been some fascinating comment on the Peadar Heffron interview that our new blogger “Pluto” mentioned yesterday. The interview was published nearly two weeks ago, and yet the issue seems to be reverberating still. The position of nationalist policemen and women (and Heffron was certainly that) has been given little public consideration. After an empty formula of platitudes, it appears they’re just routinely abandoned to their fate. It’s another sin of omission that’s become commonplace in the current simulated hunger games routines that passes … Read more

Belfast man sentenced in Germany for 1996 Provisional IRA attack on army barracks

A timely lesson from the German authorities on dealing with Northern Ireland legacy issues…  Having successfully extradited 48-year-old James Anthony Oliver Corry from the Republic of Ireland in December last year, the Belfast man has now been convicted and sentenced for his role in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. From the Irish Times report A Northern Ireland man has been convicted in Germany of attempted murder for participating in an IRA attack on a British army barracks in the … Read more

“Terrorism’s true face has been masked at the expense of a fine police force…”

Interesting and provocative piece from William Matchett, who’s recent book on the RUC has been getting rave reviews, at least on the Unionist side of the fence. He doesn’t like to pull his punches: The Troubles were due to a failure in politics, not a failure in security. No nationalist, or unionist, party is blameless. Neither London nor Dublin comes out of it well. Of Hume’s SDLP, Gerry Fitt complained that it got too close to the Provisionals. Conscious of … Read more

Extradited Suspect Admits Role in 1996 Provisional IRA Mortar Attack in Germany

Unencumbered by the Belfast Agreement, ‘comfort’ letters, or any proposals on legacy issues, German authorities sought and, last year, secured the extradition of  a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry, from north Belfast, had been arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, in October 2015, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. At the start of his trial today in a court in the city … Read more

Operation Kenova and The Spy in the IRA…

John Ware’s BBC Panorama investigation on Freddie Scappaticci, The Spy in the IRA, is available online, with an accompanying article on the BBC website.  Ed Moloney has some relevant posts on his blog on the programme, including criticism of the initial response by processors in the media to Liam Clarke’s scoop when he broke the story in 1999. Not all journalists were as keen to follow the story up. Sinn Fein spread the word that Liam Clarke’s story was the work of … Read more

Peter Taylor: “Gradually I got used to reporting death. But I never became insensitive to it.”

In advance of the broadcast on BBC Radio 4 tonight, 8pm, of Peter Taylor’s documentary, Fifty Years Behind the Headlines – Reflections on Terror, the renowned journalist has written an article on the subject for the BBC website.  Most revealing, on many levels, is the part in which he recounts the “interview [which] affected [him] personally above all others.” The blanket protest by the IRA prisoners in the Maze started in 1977. They refused to wear prison uniform, insisting they were political prisoners and … Read more

We missed out on Cressida Dick but the links between the NI police and the Met are strong

Congratulations to Cressida Dick who has overcome the pain and controversy of being the  Gold commander in the operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, to become the first woman Commissioner of the Met.  The Policing Board  here passed  her over for Chief Constable in 2014, preferring George Hamilton as  the first local man to head up the PSNI. Gender therefore isn’t everything, although her application suggested that the PSNI job could still … Read more

German Police Formally Arrest Extradited Suspect in 1996 Provisional IRA Mortar Attack

Rather less widely reported than developments in certain other legacy cases was Dublin High Court recent ordering of the extradition of a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry, from north Belfast, was arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, in October 2015, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. The Belfast Telegraph has the latest update via a PA report German police have arrested a … Read more

NI Executive’s £80m Social Investment Fund projected to cost extra £13.1m

Another day, another leaked Northern Ireland Executive memo…  That’s quite a budget over-run, btw.  And the Fund is to run for 4/5 years longer than anticipated.  The leak was to BBC NI Spotlight.  As the BBC report notes The Stormont executive’s controversial Social Investment Fund (SIF) requires an extra £13m of taxpayer money, according to a leaked document. A memo, in the name of the first and deputy first ministers, and sent to government departments last week, was passed to the BBC Spotlight … Read more

“What you should not do is expose Joe Bloggs who might have been buried as a hero but was in fact an informant for the Brits.”

With this attempted distraction in mind, the latest comments by Denis Bradley make even more interesting reading. Bradley also expressed concern about the fate of thousands of one-time informers if there was “full disclosure” of all sensitive Troubles-related security files. “What Robin Eames and I found out in our investigations leading to the Consultative Group on the Past report was that at any given time there were at least 800 informers working within the ranks not only of the loyalist … Read more

“Deputy Gerry Adams says he took notes and that the individual was a friend who knew what happened.”

So, for the sake of completeness on on-going saga of what Gerry Adams knows about the murder of Brian Stack, there was an interesting exchange at Leaders Questions in the Dail today between the Taoiseach and Micheal Martin (VIDEO). When it came to his turn Adams, dismissed Martin’s intervention as an “opportunistic, cynical and contemptible” attempt to undermine his “efforts in good faith to assist the family of Mr. Brian Stack”. Only, of course, that’s not how the Stack family see … Read more

Dublin High Court orders extradition of suspect in 1996 PIRA mortar attack in Germany

Not much coverage of this so far, but the Irish Times reports that the High Court in Dublin has ordered the extradition of a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. In October last year, James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry (46) was arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. Later that month, Mr Corry, who is from north Belfast, spoke to a reporter … Read more

“…significant evidence against the people responsible for these offences”

Interesting comments from the Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable Jon Boutcher who has been charged with investigating allegations relating to the activities of the head of the IRA’s crudely appellated Nutting Squad. This week we have heard things that from what the families have told me they have never told anyone before because nobody has asked them. What I have been told this week is significant evidence against the people responsible for these offences. He has asked the victims’ families to … Read more