IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
Friday-Thursday, 4-10 January, 2013
1. GARDA PACT WITH LOYALIST 'IDIOT'
2. Price's internment opposed at Derry courthouse
3. Pan-unionism hailed as forum meets
4. Students starved by new grants requirements
5. Omagh case to go before European court
6. Furore over hunger-strike art
7. Feature: 'We are to be shot in the morning'
8. Analysis: A flag solution will not relieve loyalist anxieties
>>>>>> GARDA PACT WITH LOYALIST 'IDIOT'
A deal between the 26 County Garda police and arch-loyalist Willie
Frazer for a secret protest in Dublin has been revealed -- just hours
after Frazer said he would not condemn an assassination attempt on the
life of Six County Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Earlier this week, it was reported that a plan by Loyalist lobbyist
Willie Frazer for a "sarcastic" protest outside the Dublin parliament on
Saturday had been postponed.
But on Thursday, Frazer told a Scottish radio prankster that he had made
a secret arrangement with Gardai to hold the protest, apparently to
avoid a counter-demonstration.
Using the pseudonym 'Clarence Beeks' and claiming to be a "spin doctor"
for Glasgow Rangers Football Club, the host of Glasgow Radio Online
managed to convince Frazer of his support for the flags campaign -- and
got him to reveal that Gardai had proposed a loyalist protest in Dublin
tonight (Friday night) "to surprise everyone".
"Keep it under your hat", he tells the caller -- but a recording of the
interview was later placed online.
Seven years ago, an inflammatory 'Love Ulster' sectarian march organised
by Frazer through Dublin city centre led to the capital's worst riots in
The Armagh man has returned to prominence in recent weeks as a
spokesperson for the loyalist campaign against the recent decision by
Belfast City Council to reduce the number of days the British flag flies
above the building, bringing it into line with similar civic buildings.
That council vote in early December has provoked outrage among unionist
hardliners and right-wing British extremists.
'UNFORTUNATE' TO SHOOT McGUINNESS
Frazer provoked further controversy on Thursday when he claimed that 99
per cent of unionists would agree with his refusal to condemn anybody
who shot Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister.
"If someone was to shoot Martin McGuinness, I would not condemn that
man, but I would not ask him to do it," he said.
Mr Frazer reportedly made the remarks while defending a comparison
between loyalist paramilitary groups and the British Army and RUC.
The hardline loyalist said it would be "unfortunate" if someone felt
they had to shoot the Sinn Fein assembly member but claimed "99 percent
of unionists would agree with him in not condemning it "if they were
telling the truth".
Sinn Fein last night described Mr Frazer as an "idiot".
"Frazer is anti-peace process and so are those he is leading in violent
sectarian protests," a spokesman said. "It is important that unionist
political leaders do not allow an idiot like Frazer to set their
SIX DAYS OF RIOTS
This week has already seen some of the worst violence of the loyalist
The most intense riots took place on Monday evening, following what had
been a relatively peaceful protest in Belfast city centre.
Some 400 loyalist protesters descended on the city hall to coincide with
the first full council meeting since the decision was made to reduce the
flying of the Union Jack. As in December, a section of the crowd
attempted to force their way into the council chamber, but were unable
to do so.
About half of the loyalists then made their way to east Belfast, where
they again provoked and attacked nationalists from the Short Strand
enclave. They set up barricades of burning pallets and bins on the lower
Newtownards Road , then tried to hijack a Lidl lorry to block the busy
The PSNI used water cannon and fired three plastic bullets in an attempt
to push protesters back. Violence also broke out in Dundonald, where
petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at police.
Serious rioting also broke out on Tuesday evening, when loyalists threw
petrol bombs, fireworks and bottles, and burning barricades were also
erected. However, the violence was not on the same scale as previous
nights and calmed down after an hour.
There was little doubt the violence had been planned, as some riots have
been openly advertised in internet posts. The unionist paramilitary UVF
has been accused of organising the violence, as well as using them to
Tuesday was the sixth night of trouble before the Union Flag was
returned to Belfast City Hall on Wednesday -- to mark the birthday of
'Duchess of Cambridge' Kate Middleton, the wife of England's Prince
The brief return of the flag for one of the 17 'designated days' was
peaceful, but otherwise ignored by loyalists. However, it produced a
demand by Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt for Middleton's birthday
to be marked by other civic buildings in Belfast as well.
This (Friday) evening, the flags protestors appear to be planning a
return to the widespread road blocks which marked the start of their
campaign in December.
Loyalists have vowed to block dozens of roads in Belfast and towns and
villages across the north in an action dubbed 'Operation Standstill'.
Traffic is expected to grind to a halt from 6pm during the co-ordinated
protests, timed again to coincide with the Friday evening rush-hour and
with the potential to cause mayhem for commuters leaving Belfast.
In addition to Belfast, protests are planned for towns including Larne,
Ballynahinch, Portadown, Magherafelt and as far away as Liverpool,
Glasgow -- and Dublin.
Sinn Fein Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe called on Dublin people not to
engage with or be provoked by loyalist protestors, who are understood to
be planning a demonstration at the Dail.
He warned that the demonstrations were being orchestrated by unionist
paramilitaries and supported by elements of the British extreme right
such as the BNP.
"What we have witnessed is anti-Catholic and anti-Peace Process elements
rioting on the streets, attacking property, people in the nationalist
community, workers and the PSNI. This campaign of sectarian intimidation
and violence must be brought to an immediate end.
"Belfast is a shared city. The rights and identities of all sections of
the community there must be fully protected and respected. This can only
be done on the basis of equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem,
as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement.
"While accepting everybody's right to peaceful protest I would call on
Mr Frazer and his associates to reconsider their plans. They should
cancel this protest and all other protests which have been the cause of
violence in recent weeks.
"This provocative publicity stunt is designed to ratchet up tension and
trouble in Dublin.
"I am calling on all Dublin people and others in the capital not engage
with or be provoked by these protestors."
>>>>>> Price's internment opposed at Derry courthouse
Legal proceedings against Marian Price were adjourned on Wednesday at
Derry's Magistrate's Court after District Judge, Mr Barney McElholm said
he would have to take advice from medical professionals regarding the
republican prisoner's fitness to appear.
Price was interned almost two years ago and is unfit to stand trial
after being held in isolation for over a year at Maghaberry jail.
Price is currently being held in a secure hospital unit after being
transferred there via Hydebank Prison.
Addressing the court, Judge McElholm revealed he was planning to convene
hearings in the hospital unit itself.
"The test here is of convenience and suitability, Those are issues for
the doctors. I believe a secure hospital would be appropriate to hold
the preliminary enquiry if necessary."
Her lawyer Peter Corrigan told Mr McElholm that it would be "wrong to
hold a preliminary inquiry hearing in a pseudo court situation in
hospital" and he said the charge which his client denied should be
"The deterioration in her physical and mental health has been
exacerbated by the prosecution of the charge against her," he said.
But a prosecution lawyer told the court that if "all the appropriate
measures" in relation to transportation and security were in place,
there was no reason why the hearing could not proceed.
Fifty eight year old Price, who has suffered both physical and
psychiatric ill health during her incarceration, faces charges in
connection with holding a piece of paper for a masked 'Real IRA'
spokesperson at a republican rally at the City Cemetery in April 2011.
Following her release on bail, the then British Direct Ruler justified
her continued incarceration by declaring he had revoked a prison release
licence dating from 1980. Her supporters have said a royal pardon,
issued to her following her famous hunger strike in 1980, had rendered
that argument invalid.
Judge McElholm adjourned his decision until Wednesday of next week.
Outside the court, miscarriage of justice victim Gerry Conlon spoke out
in support of her.
Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon, who spent years in jail after being
falsely convicted of a bombing in England, said keeping her in prison
was an abuse of process.
Outside court he said: "To think that a process of law is being usurped
by politicians in order to hold a woman, without her lawyers being able
to see the accusations against her, is an abuse of justice, it is a
human rights issue.
"If there is evidence to say someone has committed a crime it should be
placed before the court, their lawyer should have access to it and the
accusations should be made open and public.
"Justice has to be fair, open and transparent and that it is why I am
here. It is not fair, it is not open and it is certainly not
A video of the rally at Derry's magistrate's court is available
online at http://vimeo.com/57156956
>>>>>> Pan-unionism hailed as forum meets
Unionist political leaders have said they are willing to hold talks with
loyalist murder gangs about increasingly violent flag protests.
The paramilitary UVF in east Belfast have been blamed by the PSNI for
orchestrating riots in recent weeks.
The pledge came after the first meeting of the 'Unionist Forum' at
Stormont this week. The body is said to be an attempt by the two
largest unionist parties, the DUP and UUP, to discuss fears that
nationalists are making inroads against British rule and a resulting
unionist 'identity crisis'.
Senior figures within the UVF in east Belfast have been blamed by police
for "orchestrating" violent clashes in recent weeks.
The inaugural meeting on Thursday was attended by the main unionist
parties -- as well as leading loyalists including south Belfast UDA
leader Jackie McDonald and east Belfast's Jimmy Birch.
Senior members of the Progressive Unionist Party, the political wing of
the UVF, were also in attendance. However, the Ulster People's Forum,
which has organised a number of the flag protests, boycotted the
Mr Robinson said the gathering was the most "representative group
within the unionist community to meet probably in half a century". The
DUP leader said he was willing to meet those behind the recent violence.
"We will talk to anyone who wants to talk to us about how we can move
forward in an exclusively peaceful and democratic manner -- that's the
way forward for Northern Ireland and that's the basis upon which we
would be talking," he said.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said loyalists feel they have been
left out of the political process, and were still angered by Sinn Fein's
inclusion in power-sharing at the Stormont Assembly.
In a break with traditional UUP policy, he dismissed media concerns
about direct engagement with loyalist paramilitaries.
"People with that sort of past look at what's up here [parliament
buildings], look at who goes into that chamber to represent
republicanism and they see frankly a hypocrisy and they think one side
is being picked on while the other's being celebrated," he said.
The leadership of the Orange Order also attended, and praised the event
as a "coalescing of the wider pro-union family".
However, Sinn Fein Upper Bann assembly member John O'Dowd said the
Unionist Forum would not solve any problems.
"That can only come when representatives from the whole community sit
down together. There needs to be an open discussion on how people's
Irishness and Britishness can be respected and valued," he said.
"Equality, parity of esteem and mutual respect needs to be at the core
of any move forward on identity and symbols.
"Unionism needs to face the reality that the north has changed and will
continue to change. Any attempts to hark back to a one-sided past will
only sow more confusion among unionists and loyalists."
Stewart Dickson of the moderate Alliance Party, said politicians,
including unionists, should work for everyone, not just one section of
"Somebody should remind Peter Robinson that he is the first minister for
Northern Ireland and not just the first minister of unionism.
"Mike Nesbitt by co-chairing this group must admit that he has given up
on his attempt to make the UUP appeal to all people and not just
"This tribal form of politics will only further cement divisions and
will not help deliver a shared future."
>>>>>> Students starved by new grants requirements
Hundreds of Irish students have been forced to accept free food boxes
because they cannot afford to eat, it has emerged.
An estimated 150 students at Athlone Institute of Technology in the
midlands have had to rely on charity food after their grant payments
were delayed. Students in Galway have also been provided with food
A government failure to pay student grants has been blamed for chronic
poverty among students across the 26 Counties. Over 10,000 students are
believed to be still waiting on their first grant payment of the year
from the centralised Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) body.
Lengthy and bureacratic new application procedures have apparently been
designed with the goal of reducing the number of students availing of
SUSI has insisted any decision to stop grants has been a result of the
students' failure to provide the right documentation.
The Student Union President at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology said
students had been gong hungry.
"They were basically saying that they had come in to college that
morning at 8.30am after a light breakfast or a bowl of cereal at home
and literally did not have anything to eat until maybe 6pm or 7pm that
evening because they financially just couldn't afford it," said Joe
He said several local food outlets had helped to supply produce for the
boxes. He also warned that some students may receive no grant payment
before the end of the academic year.
"There's a certain degree of progress but it's almost too late in the
day to save the situation this year," he said.
Meanwhile, President of NUI Galway Students' Union Paul Curley said
students at the university had been seeking support from St Vincent de
Paul services in the city.
"By definition of qualifying for financial support, it means that no
other support is available," he said. "Their families don't have the
means to support them and part time jobs are few and far between. It
really is at crisis point and it will result in more students dropping
out of college."
The student grant system has been one of the chief targets for cuts by
the Labour/Fine Gael government as part of the EU-mandated national
A battery of cutbacks were announced last month in the government's
annual budget, and are now beginning to be implemented.
Among the cuts to be introduced in the last few days are the removal of
health services, nursing and disability services from tens of thousands
needing care across the country. It was announced that from this week,
up to 40,000 medical cards will be cancelled, and that cuts to services
for the disabled and older people will be up to four times that
Meanwhile, emigration remains at so-called 'famine levels' of around 200
per day, while scandals over profound inequality in the 26 County state
In a survey, more than 40 per cent of charities have admitted that their
chief executives appropriate over 100,000 euro ($132,000) for themselves
in salary payments every year.
It was also confirmed that the retiring chief executive of the Irish
Medical Organisation (IMO), which represents Irish doctors and
consultants, is to receive an extraordinary lump sum payment in excess
of 1.5 million euro, as well as a multi-million-euro pension fund.
In other news, salaries for new nurses and midwives have been cut by 20%
relative to their peers.
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said pay inequity in healthcare was
"rife", and that the Labour Party had now abandoned any notion of equal
pay for equal work.
"Those at the top of the service continue to be paid substantially more
than European counterparts, including hospital consultants and senior
administrators," she said.
"If the HSE or any other government department or agency are serious
about reducing pay and pension expenditure, significant savings can be
found by addressing excessive pay at the top. Instead the Tanaiste has
chosen to protect high rollers and target those at the very bottom of
the public sector pay grades.
"To be blunt it is incomprehensible that a Labour party leader would not
only deepen pay inequity in the public sector, but would also robustly
defend such a decision."
>>>>>> Omagh case to go before European court
Two senior republicans are seeking to go before the European Court of
Human Rights in a bid to overturn a ruling that they were liable for the
Lawyers for Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell have based the challenge
on their inability to cross-examine an FBI spy whose evidence was
central to the case against them.
They are also contesting the decision to allow hearsay evidence from
David Rupert in the case.
The disclosure comes as two other men originally held responsible, Colm
Murphy and Seamus Daly, prepare to face a retrial at the High Court in
No-one has been convicted of the bomb attack that devastated the County
Tyrone market town in August 1998.
It subsequently emerged that the device was tracked from its source to
its destination by British military intelligence and RUC police Special
Branch without being intercepted.
Two telephoned warnings failed to clear the area around the vehicle
which carried the bomb, resulting in the greatest single loss of life
throughout the conflict.
McKevitt, Campbell, Murphy and Daly were all held liable for the bombing
in a civil ruling in 2009.
Mr Justice Morgan, who is now the North's 'Lord Chief Justice', ordered
them to pay 1.6 million pounds in compensation.
The Court of Appeal subsequently upheld Murphy and Daly's challenges to
the verdict and ordered them to face a retrial which gets underway next
However, McKevitt and Campbell failed to overturn the rulings against
A further petition to the Supreme Court in London was also rejected,
leaving them with one final option of seeking to go to Europe.
Legal papers prepared on their behalf focus on the role and credibility
of Rupert, an American trucking boss-turned FBI spy who infiltrated the
'Real IRA' in return for cash.
He is on a witness protection programme after testifying for the
prosecution at the criminal trial of Mr McKevitt in Dublin in 2000.
Although Rupert was forbidden from attending the original civil action,
emails between the spy and his handlers were submitted as evidence.
The lawyer representing McKevitt and Campbell have objected to that
Kevin Winters confirmed: "Having exhausted all domestic court processes
both of my clients have lodged applications with the European Court of
"The key areas that the court will be asked to look at is the reliance
on the hearsay evidence of David Rupert, and the inability to
cross-examine him about his claims."
Papers lodged on behalf of the pair will undergo a preliminary
assessment of the points raised.
It is expected that the European Court of Human Rights will make a
provisional ruling on the merits of each application by July.
>>>>>> Furore over hunger-strike art
A row has erupted in the Irish midlands over an artwork featuring
messages written by republican hunger strikers in Long Kesh Prison.
Longford artist Shane Cullen has defended his work, which is featured in
Athlone's new Luan Gallery, pointing out that its content as a matter of
He said the prisoners' writings allowed the public an insight into
The large piece features messages which were written on cigarette papers
and smuggled to and from prisoners during the 1981 Hunger Strike in
which ten republican prisoners died.
Fine Gael councillor Mark Cooney, son of former justice minister Paddy
Cooney, tabled a motion at Monday night's town council meeting seeking
the artwork's removal.
Mr Cooney had argued that the installation was offensive to members of
the 26 County police, prison guards, and others affected by the conflict
in the North.
Sinn Fein representative, Paul Hogan, dismissed Mr Cooney's motion as
During the meeting, it was revealed that around 1,200 people had visited
the gallery since it opened less than two months ago, and that only
three had recorded objections to the artwork.
A polarisation of political opinion in the midlands has long put
republicans into sharp conflict with right-wing elements.
The motion was backed by Mark Cooney's father, Paddy, who served as a
highly controversial 26-County justice minister between 1973 and 1977.
Cooney is notorious for his links to the Garda 'Heavy Gang', which
violently suppressed Irish republicanism in the 70s. He also once
ordered the coffin of hunger strike victim Frank Stagg to be covered in
concrete, to prevent his burial in a republican plot.
Athlone Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Hogan branded the motion a narrow
minded attack on Irish art and an attempt to censor history.
He said Shane Cullen is a highly respected artist who has exhibited
"This work has been exhibited in many places including London," he said,
and pointed out that Cullen's best known work is a piece on the Good
Friday peace Agreement.
"Councillor Cooney is asking this council to censor a piece based on the
tragic events in the prisons in the North in the 1980s, events that were
milestones in Irish history.
"The first person to raise this issue was none other than former
Minister Paddy Cooney, a member of a government in the 1970s notorious
for political censorship of the media.
"Facing up to the legacy of our country's history is a responsibility we
all share, no matter how uncomfortable some aspects may be for some
people. Censoring history is never the way forward."
>>>>>> Feature: 'We are to be shot in the morning'
Three teens were among 7 IRA 'irregulars' executed in the civil war 90
years ago in Kildare. A historical article by Robert Doyle (for
'We are to be shot in the morning, 19th December at 8.15...We are dying
happy anyway, so good-bye old Kildare.' -- Paddy Bagnall, from Hare Park
Prison, Curragh Camp, December 18, 1922
With much of the attention regarding the struggle for Irish independence
being on the upcoming centenary of the 1916 Rising, events in County
Kildare 90 years ago this past December bring into sharp focus the tragedy of
the subsequent Civil War.
Men and women who had fought side by side against British rule, turned
their vitriol and their weapons on each other in a bitter conflict that
began with the occupation of the Four Courts in the summer of 1922 by
forces opposed the signing and ratification of an Anglo-Irish Treaty.
The outbreak of the Civil War forced pro and anti-treaty supporters to
choose sides. Supporters of the treaty came to be known as 'pro-Treaty'
or Free State Army, legally the National Army. The objectors called
themselves "Republicans," but were more commonly known by the Free State
government as "Irregulars."
Although most of the fighting took place in Dublin and around Munster,
County Kildare was no different in terms of the bitter divides. The
occupation of the Curragh Camp by the Free State Army after British
withdrawal made operations very difficult for the small column of
Irregulars who operated in the vicinity of Kildare town.
Eamonn O'Modhrain from Ballysax, who had commanded the 6th Battalion of
the IRA's Carlow Brigade (South Kildare/West Wicklow) during the War of
Independence, objected strongly to the signing of the Treaty and was
immediately arrested and imprisoned for much of the year-long conflict.
However, many of his former command took up arms against the Free State
and operated a guerrilla- style war around Kildare Town, concentrating
their efforts on disrupting the vital railway network in the area.
In late 1922, The Leinster Leader reported that a column of Irregulars
were operating in the vicinity of Kildare, derailing or stealing train
engines, which would subsequently be used as an obstruction, blocking
the line. It was also reported that on November 25th, this column took
part in an ambush of Free State troops, audaciously close to the Curragh
On December 13th, 10 men, allegedly the same column, were surprised at a
farmhouse beside Moore's Bridge (close to the Curragh Racecourse) by
Free State troops. Having been found in possession of rifles, a quantity
of ammunition and other supplies, the men were arrested and brought the
short distance to the Curragh Camp. During the arrest, one of the
captured, Thomas Behan, was killed although the cause of his death
remains disputed to this day.
In the following days, seven of the men were tried before a military
court and found guilty of being in possession of arms without authority.
Unfortunately for the convicted, the Free State government had, only
weeks earlier, decreed that such an offence was punishable by death. The
executions were duly carried out by firing squad on the morning of
December 19th at the Military Detention Barracks. Although the Free
State sanctioned 77 official executions of anti-Treaty prisoners during
the war, this combined execution of seven men was the largest carried
out -- a tragic statistic in County Kildare's history.
The day before their deaths, the seven men were allowed to write letters
to their family and loved ones. Each letter is a tragic but very
poignant memorial to the men, composed as they each came to terms with
their fate. Typed copies of some of the letters were sent to their
ex-commander, Eamonn O'Modhrain.
Nineteen-year-old Paddy Bagnall wrote to his uncle that he and his
comrades were "all to go West together ... but it is all for the best, and
I hope it sets old Ireland free." Bagnall finishes a remarkably mature
letter for one so young by stating that he was dying happy and bids
"good-bye old Kildare."
Paddy Nolan, 34, penned a heartbreaking final letter to his mother and
father. He hoped that they would bear his death with "the Courage of an
Irish Father & Mother." He tried to ease his mother's worry by writing
that the chaplain in the Curragh, Father Donnelly, had told him that he
would go straight to heaven.
However, the saddest words are often the simplest, and Nolan signed off
by telling his family that he "had a few pounds in his suit case" and
they could have them and anything else in the house belonging to him. A
shorter letter to his younger brothers and sisters asks that they
remember him and his comrades on Christmas morning, only a few weeks
away. He also asks that they be good children and always obey their
The other letters written by the men on the eve of their deaths are
similar in composition and sentiment. Each is also a reminder of the
conflict that scarred the fledgling Irish nation during its progression
from a British colony into a sovereign country.
The men were buried in the grounds of the Detention Barracks, but their
remains were later exhumed and lay in state in the courthouse in Kildare
Town before being reinterred in Kildare's Grey Abbey Cemetery, in 1924.
A gravestone was subsequently erected over their collective grave and a
monument erected in the Market Square, in Kildare town.
The seven executed were Stephen White, 18, Abbey Street, Kildare; Joseph
Johnston, 18, Station Road, Kildare; Patrick Mangan, 22, Fair Green,
Kildare; Patrick Nolan, 34, Rathbride, Kildare; Bryan Moore, 37,
Rathbride, Kildare (leader of the column); James O'Connor, 24, Bansha,
County Tipperary; and Patrick Bagnall, 19, Fair Green, Kildare.
>>>>>> Analysis: A flag solution will not relieve loyalist anxieties
By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)
On Monday, Matt Baggott surfaced briefly to say the UVF are involved in
fomenting rioting in east Belfast.
"I am concerned that senior members of the UVF in east Belfast - as
individuals - have been increasingly orchestrating some of this
violence. That is utterly unacceptable and is being done for their own
selfish motives," he said.
Now what would those motives be? We know the boss in east Belfast
paddles his own canoe and that in the summer of 2011 he organised
rioting in much the same areas as are now suffering. The trouble then
spread to the usual places - Portadown, Ballyclare, Larne, Ballymena. At
that time the outbreak was regarded as a pretty obvious demand for money
which was duly supplied to 'the community'. What could it be about this
time since it's difficult to see where more money could be shovelled
into east Belfast 'community projects', which would be dominated by -
How about this? In 2009 Gary Haggarty was arrested by the Historical
Enquiries Team (HET) on foot of investigations by Nuala O'Loan some
years before. He quickly confessed his senior role in the UVF and became
what is known under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (Socpa)
as an 'assisting offender'. That's what they call a supergrass now.
Since then he was interrogated by HET, an interrogation which produced,
wait for it, an extraordinary 30,000 pages of evidence and 760 interview
Forty-year-old Haggarty, a self-confessed senior UVF man - some say he
was number one in south-east Antrim - has apparently named every senior
UVF man in Belfast in the past 20 years and given chapter and verse of
murder, robbery, extortion and collusion with RUC Special Branch.
Despite being charged with nine serious offences, including murder, on
November 22. Haggarty was granted bail under strict conditions and
whisked to a safe house, no doubt in England. In other words the deal is
done. Haggarty's case is due to come up this year. It has potentially
explosive repercussions for the UVF.
Ten days after Haggarty's bail, individual UVF members were out on the
streets of Belfast 'orchestrating violence' at the city hall. The
prospect of Haggarty's evidence is giving the UVF the heebie-jeebies.
Whereas 30 years ago supergrasses could receive immunity for testifying
against their associates, under Socpa they cannot. They are sentenced
and then can have their sentence reduced to as little as three years but
only if they testify against their accomplices. When Haggarty's case
comes up, he must confess everything he knows or else he goes down for
the full sentence. If he does, what will the DPP do? Ignore his
testimony? Prosecute senior UVF men named? What do you think?
What these very destabilising circumstances in the UVF mean is that even
if some solution is found for the flag protests, disturbances will not
end in loyalist districts which the UVF control. No wonder graffiti
round the UVF Mount Vernon stronghold says, "HET forget the past".
When people say the commotion in unionism is about more than flags
they're right. The consternation in the UVF is the result of the failure
of northern politicians to produce an acceptable process for resolving
the past. One former proconsul ran away from the best solution proposed
so far, the Eames-Bradley report. Since then nothing has been done or is
likely to be done under our proconsul who has appeared completely out of
her depth in the last month.
Until there is a coherent proposal to satisfy victims, relatives and
survivors of past violence, piecemeal and random prosecutions will
continue to have the potential for destabilising the whole political
process here. UVF members out on the streets of east Belfast and
elsewhere are giving notice that they can destroy any attempt by
Stormont politicians to create a pacified society here.
Pretending the disturbances are about flags or Mike Nesbitt's truly
pathetic 'chipping away at Britishness' ignores the anxiety gnawing away
within loyalism that unpredictable investigations by the HET threaten
the UVF more than republicans and worse, that, when the HET's money runs
out in a couple of years, anyone not already prosecuted will go scot
free. There has to be a better way