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20 April 2006 Edition

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Fifth Column

Peelers' riotous behaviour

Thirteen may be unlucky for some but it's very lucky for Whiterock loyalists who were facing prosecution for rioting after last September's controversial Orange Order parades in West Belfast. A "bureaucratic blunder" by the PSNI will see dozens of unionist law breakers get away because the Peelers left it till almost the very last minute before filing the charges with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The Peelers are no doubt well upset at having to withdraw 13 files because of a failure to obtain an extension to allow more time to bring people before the courts. This, remember, is by a force with a considerable degree of experience in successfully bringing prosecutions for rioting over many, many years - against nationalists, that is. But the Peelers somehow took their eye off the ball when it came to making sure the Billy boys and their Orange Order brothers faced justice.

The PSNI had six months to lodge the Whiterock loyalist files with the PPS but they only managed it with seven days to spare, leaving no time to get a court extension. Now new rules have been issued that mean the Plods will have to get the files into the PPS at least 20 days ahead of the deadline.

The cost of just policing the parade alone was £3 million to which millions more has to be added in damage to property.

In October 2003, a prosecution against a big Orangeman after unionist paramilitary flags were carried during the parade blew up in their faces when the Peelers 'forgot' to get an extension to bring the Orange brother in bother before the courts.

You would have thought they might have learned something from that, wouldn't you?

Had he been alive to witness the antics of the PSNI when writing The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde might have remarked: "To lose one rioting unionists case, Mr Orde, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

It looks like something else to me.

UVF - crown agents by appointment

Most of the UVF's leadership in the 1990s were acting as agents of the British Army, RUC or MI5, according to media reports about an investigation by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan into the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr in North Belfast in 1997 by UVF members trying to cover up a drug deal. One of McCord's killers was a police agent.

So we've had the UDA/UFF's intelligence chief in the 1980s, Brian Nelson, targeting Catholics while operating under the direction of the top men in British Military Intelligence; now we know that the UVF leadership was/has been working for Military Intelligence, the RUC/PSNI and/or the spooks in MI5.

With the two biggest unionist death squads being run by the intelligence services of the British state and the RUC/PSNI, just how much control or knowledge did government ministers in Whitehall have of the activities of those working directly under their command?

Blueshirt bull on The Big Apple

Fine Gael could lose its Dáil seat in Donegal South-West to Sinn Féin. And that's not Sinn Féin talking - that's according to Fine Gael.

John Gerard Campbell is chairperson of Fine Gael's strategy committee in Donegal South-West but the Blueshirt number cruncher says next year's general election will be one of the toughest ever in Fine Gael's history. Which probably explains why Waterford Fine Gael are upset about being asked by Sinn Féin why an eight-strong county council delegation jollied it up in New York for the St Patrick's Day celebration at a cost of €20,000.

Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Mansfield questioned the need for seven councillors to go to New York when the council was in financial crisis and expressed the hope that it would bring results for the county "unlike last year's trip".

Under pressure to justify his jaunt to The Big Apple, Blueshirt Councillor Paudie Coffey blustered about the cost of how much IRA activities had cost the state over the years, as if partition because of Fine Gael's Treaty sell-out, British occupation, and Fine Gael fence sitting during Unionist Party repression didn't play a part in the IRA campaign.

Even one of Fine Gael's putative junior coalition partners, Labour Councillor Theresa Wright, was moved to rebut the attack on Sinn Féin's scrutiny of the expenditure of public money.

"For God's sake, you are elected representatives and should act accordingly," Theresa rightly said. "Is this what we have come down to: hyper-ventilating bloodhounds after one individual [the Sinn Féin councillor]?"

Fine Gael Councillor John Carey said the trip was "the best €20,000 spent by the council" and added that he thought the reporting of the event in the local papers and radio was "scandalous and disgraceful".

A trifle touchy about accounting for the public's money from Fine Gael, the party that prides itself on exposing "Rip-Off Ireland".

An Phoblacht Magazine

AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:

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  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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