28 June 2007 Edition
‘An Phoblacht’ welcomes readers’ letters. Letters in Irish or English should be kept short (no more than 200 words) and typed or handwritten clearly, double-spaced and on one side of the paper only. Name and address should be supplied for verification, but these will not be published if we are so requested.
Cuireann ‘An Phoblacht’ fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla. Is fearr litreacha gearra (200 focal ar a méid) clóscríofa nó lámhscríofa go soiléir ar thaobh amháin den leathanach. Cuir ainm agus seoladh leis ach ní fhoilseoimid iad seo más é do thoil.
PPS conceals extent of Britain’s dirty war
The legacy of the Public Prosecution Service in the North is of consistent failure to hold to account British forces for up to 400 murders, and hundreds of killings in which state collusion is irrefutably evidenced.
This office never acted in the interests of justice, but in a systemic way provided impunity to the state in concealing the extent of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. That is why it remains beyond scrutiny and a law unto itself.
Prior to submitting files to the PPS in Belfast on April 2003, John Stevens had an independent legal assessment carried out in London to determine whether or not they met the prosecution threshold. 25 files were deemed to have passed the prosecution threshold and thus forwarded to the PPS. In any democracy it would be inconceivable in itself that the PPS failed to act on these files. However, arriving at this conclusion alone would be a grave miscalculation and misrepresentation to the function and purpose of this office which, over the past 35 years, has acted as the last line of defence in ensuring that those within positions of authority and power are shielded from the consequences of their deliberate and illegal actions and policies – namely shoot-to-kill and collusion.
In one case, the Ormeau Road Bookies massacre, one of the weapons used by the UDA/UFF originated from a consignment imported from South Africa by MI5 agent Brian Nelson in 1987. UDA quartermaster William Stobie, another agent, gave five weapons to the Special Branch who later returned them to the UDA. One of these, a Browning Pistol, originally a UDR weapon allegedly taken from a barracks, was used to kill five people at the bookies and another person, Aidan Wallace in a separate shooting at the Devenish Bar in West Belfast.
In April of this year it emerged that the UDA gunmen responsible for these murders, and 15 other separate murders, had been working for RUC Special Branch. The question remains how many murders and shootings are attributable to the remaining four weapons returned to the death squads by the RUC?
This is a pattern repeated from Dublin/Monaghan, Greysteel, Castlerock, Loughinisland, Mount Vernon and hundreds of other murders including those of Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane, lawyers who upheld human rights and had the potential to expose what was happening – hence their executions. The decision not to prosecute is purely a political decision and one not based on law.
The decision is similar to that in 1988 when the then British Attorney General, Sir Patrick Mayhew, told the British Parliament that it would ‘not be in the public interest’ to prosecute members of the RUC in relation to shoot-to-kill incidents of 1982 which John Stalker investigated. It appears that in terms of British justice nothing has changed. That is why it is imperative that the issues of policing and criminal justice are devolved and that scrutiny and oversight of the PPS become a reality.
Importantly everyone interested in truth and justice needs to support the call for an independent and international public inquiry into collusion, which has affected all sections of society in the North. This should include an examination of the systemic failings of the PPS. Equally with the failure to prosecute there should now be no excuse for the full and immediate publication of the entire Stevens Report.
Relatives for Justice
Joe McDonnell anniversary
Sunday, 8 July marks the 26th anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Vol. Joe McDonnell. Joe was the 5th republican prisoner to die in the heroic bid to secure the prisoners’ 5 demands. He passed away in the H-block hospital 61 days after he began his hunger strike.
In the mid-1970s the whole weight of British Government strategy had one clear objective. Criminalise the prisoners and by extension criminalise their community. The objective of the British government was to crush the republican struggle by crushing the republican prisoners.
The British Government failed!
They failed because the brave and courageous men and women in the H-Blocks and in Armagh jail were determined to confront the conditions in which they were held and to defeat Maggie Thatcher’s criminalisation efforts.
In 1981 criminalisation was defeated in the H-Blocks and in Armagh Women’s prison and on the streets of every town and village throughout Ireland.
To mark Joe’s death and remember all those on our Roll of Honour the Lenadoon Commemoration Committee would like to invite you to a march and rally on Sunday, 8 July 2007 which will assemble at 5.30pm at the bottom of Lenadoon Avenue and will proceed through Lenadoon to the grounds of the Roddy McCorley club for a rally and wreath laying ceremony.
We would be honoured by your presence and look forward to seeing you there.
Lenadoon Commemoration Committee.