5 May 2005 Edition
Isn't it an amazing coincidence that the first new-style, highly-restrictive inquiry in the North is into the controversial killing of solicitor Pat Finucane, where British collusion is strongly suspected. And isn't it equally amazing that the first new-style non-public inquiry in the south is into the controversial killing of 33 people in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, where British collusion is also suspected?
I'm not surprised that the families of the victims in either case have no confidence in the respective inquiries.
The survivors and victims' relatives will in effect be excluded from the Commission into limited aspects of the Dublin/Monaghan bombings. They are to be denied full legal representation, just like the McBrearty family in the Morris Tribunal.
There would be no need for any new inquiry if the Gardaí had not wound down their investigation after a few months and had properly followed up leads and evidence of collusion. Instead they "lost" all the files and sent evidence to the RUC in the North, where it too was "lost". Yet the Gardaí went to court to prevent the families from getting access to the files!
If the files do exist, what have they to hide? If they don't, why go through the charade of an expensive court case and prolong the families' agony?
It is a disgrace that not one person has been jailed, charged or even arrested for the worst mass murder in the history of the state. It is a further disgrace that the long suffering relatives have been snubbed yet again.
The least the Irish Government should do at this late stage is hold a proper public inquiry and take the British government to the European Court of Human Rights if they fail to cooperate, as they did with the Barron inquiries into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and earlier bombs in Dublin, Dundalk, Clones and Belturbet.
Where are the Gardaí when you need them?
In Clarecastle, of course
On Sunday last 1 May, I attended a republican commemoration in Clarecastle on the outskirts of Ennis in County Clare. It was a small gathering of approximately 50 people, including young children, and assembled at Clarecastle Church and finishing at Clarecastle Cemetery, a journey of about 500 yards and taking ten to 15 minutes to walk.
The walk was stewarded so as to ensure no disruption to traffic, however as it transpired no car was met en route from start to finish.
I, along with all others who attended, was absolutely astonished at what I witnessed before, during and after this event.
Despite this obviously being a peaceful, well-organised republican commemoration, we witnessed no less than five Garda cars, four of which contained plain-clothes officers and one from the Garda Traffic Corps. They repeatedly drove around the car park before the commemoration in a manner which was clearly designed to intimidate those who had congregated.
At such close proximity I was able to count the number of Gardaí inside each vehicle, which caused further astonishment. A total of 12 Gardaí had been assigned to intimidate and harass a small crowd of republicans on a peaceful well organised and previously advertised commemoration!
I find this farcical and will try to outline the main reasons why. In a period where over the last few weeks the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has continued his hysterical and sinister verbal assault on republicans, one has to question if he is actually paying any attention at all to his own portfolio, which is protecting the citizens of Ireland from crime, the job taxpayers in the state pay him a lot of money to do, seemingly with little success.
If the use of the Gardaí on Sunday is anything to go by, then clearly he is not, and the use of the term "parties having their own private armies" may also apply to the PDs.
Also, this blatant misuse of Gardaí at a time when the country is being ravaged by murders, rapes, assaults and drugs, with very few convictions, it has to be said is a crime in itself. The charge of wasting police time springs to mind.
Surely, the Ennis Gardaí could have used those cars and the Gardaí in them for a more beneficial purpose, like catching criminals, and has the traffic corps nothing better to do on a Bank Holiday weekend?
I think an explanation is due from the Ennis Gardaí as to how this laughable situation was contrived and why is our 'police force' being put to such a waste of time at the expense of the taxpayers of this state? I wonder.
Challenge the media apologists
Whenever I read some of the letters to newspapers like the Irish Times and the Sunday Independent, I can only conclude that there are some very disturbed people out there.
Not only that, but the level of political debate in the media in this country is so low that I am left thinking, is it any wonder the Brits have been able to control this island and the people of this nation for so long.
When you read the columnists in the papers and listen to commentators, some academics from the universities on programmes like Questions and Answers, I can well understand how it is so easy for the Brits. They have so many apologists in this country that they hardly need devote much time or resources to this colony when the Irish are doing it for them.
Many who call themselves 'journalists' or 'columnists' are pro-British propagandists.
Are we so powerless that we must tolerate these anti-Catholic, anti-republican, anti-human rights and anti-Irish rejectionists? The bottom line is that these so-called journalists hate themselves.
It is time to challenge these self-hating creatures who use up a lot of column inches and a lot of air time every week with nothing constructive or worthwhile to say about the efforts to build a just and lasting peace on this island.
It is time to bring some honesty, openness and analysis to the political debate in Ireland. It is clear we cannot look to most of the ranters and ravers in the Irish based media for enlightenment or fair comment.
Fr Joe McVeigh,
Contae Fhear Manach.
New Lodge Road request
I was born in Belfast in 1960 and lived in Belfast and Glengormley until 1982. Since then, I have lived in Cardiff, Wales. Ill health prevents me from returning to Belfast at the moment.
I attended Dominican College, Fortwilliam Park, from 1971-1978 and had friends from many nationalist/ republican communities in North Belfast. Unfortunately, I have lost touch with these friends over the years.
I am writing a novel based in Belfast and Glengormley in the late 1970s which features characters who live on the New Lodge Road. I wonder if any of your readers who lived in the New Lodge Road area would be willing to communicate with me by letter, phone or email to help me get the background details right?
Eleanor Dent (née Burns)
54 Inglefield Avenue,