30 September 1999 Edition
Patten report flawed
Four RUC killings written out
By Padraig MacDabhaid
Barbara Loughran, whose husband Paddy's killing in Sevastopol Street in 1992 by RUC officer Allan Moore was written out of the Patten Report
Claims in the Patten Report, published two weeks ago, that the RUC hadn't killed anyone since 1991 have been met with incredulity by nationalists, as the RUC was responsible for the deaths of four men from West Belfast during 1992.
Page 50 of the Patten report states: ``There has been no case of the RUC shooting anyone dead since 1991.''
In February 1992, RUC man Allan Moore ran amok in the Sinn Féin office on the Falls Road, shooting three men dead. Sinn Féin activists Paddy Loughran and Pat McBride as well as Michael O'Dwyer, who was seeking advice at the time, died in a hail of shotgun fire.
On 25 November that year, IRA Volunteer Pearse Jordan was targeted and killed in a shoot-to-kill operation by undercover RUC squads.
His parents, Hugh and Teresa Jordan, attended one of the Patten Commission's fact-finding missions in West Belfast in 1998 where, in front of 800 people, they handed Chris Patten a six-page submission on Pearse's killing. The document clearly stated that he was shot dead by the RUC in November 1992 while unarmed.
No RUC officer was ever charged with this ``shoot to kill'' murder.
An angry Hugh Jordan, Pearse's father, told An Phoblacht: ``If the Commission can ignore our submission, then what faith can people have in the whole report?''
``We will write to Chris Patten to find out why he ignored the murder of our son.''
Hugh and Teresa Jordan give evidence at a 1998 public hearing by the Patten Commission
Speaking to An Phoblacht about Patten's omission, Barbara Loughran, whose husband Paddy was killed in Sinn Féin's Sevastopol Street office, said: ``At the time, the RUC tried to deny responsibility for the murders by claiming that because the officer was off duty and used his own weapon they could not be held responsible.''
Belfast High Court, however, has ruled that the RUC have a duty of care to the families of those Moore killed and injured.
On the morning of the attack, Moore left Newtownabbey RUC barracks with his licensed automatic shotgun, despite the fact that he had refused to see a psychiatrist for assessment regarding an incident the previous weekend when he fired shots over the grave of dead RUC friend while in a drunken state.
When An Phoblacht contacted the Policing Commission, we were told that in the case of the Sevastopol Street killings, there was confusion surrounding the man involved and the fact that he was off duty.
``In the case of Pearse Jordan there appears to have been a typing error,'' we were told.
Hugh Jordan has responded furiously to this claim, branding the entire Commission a ``joke''.
He also points out that the report claims that 16 people were killed by plastic bullets but the real total stands at 17. ``The report, with all of these errors, went out all over the world,'' he says. ``Are they going to send out a revised and corrected edition? Even if they do this, it will be unable to correct the political damage that the report has done. Clearly Patten has gone in with a political agenda and has ignored the victims of the RUC.''
Patten quizzed at U.S. Congress
Chris Patten, chair of the report into policing in the Six Counties, was last week informed in Washington, D.C., that he was sitting in the same chair in which murdered solicitor Rosemary Nelson had sat just under a year ago, to the day.
The Congressional Sub-Committee on International Operations and Human Rights, under the chairmanship of Comgressman Chris Smith, was holding the fourth of a series of hearings on the issues of Policing and Human Rights in the Six Counties on Thursday, 23 September.
Congressman Smith made note of the positive aspects of the report but was highly critical of the commissioners' ``omissions'', including the lack of a vetting process to remove RUC members who have committed serious violations of human rights, and the report's failure to address the threats to defence attorneys by police.
When asked about the lack of such a vetting process, Chris Patten replied that he wanted to avoid a ``witch-hunt''. Later on, Congressman Smith said that ``to suggest that (such a vetting process) would be a witch-hunt is nonsensical''.
Other members of Congress in attendance were Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Benjamin Gilman, William Delahunt, Donald Payne, Peter King, Cynthia McKinney, Jack Quinn, Dennis Kucinich, Richard Neal, Sam Gejdenson, Joe Crowley and William Coyne.
While every member who spoke commended the hard work and dedication of Chris Patten and his commission, not one failed to make clear their hope that this report should be considered the ``floor, and not the ceiling'', of the change that must come.
Congressman Gilman called the report ``a good first step'' and insisted that full implementation by the British government of the recommendations should be just the beginning, not the end of reform of the RUC.
He continued: ``The Patten report leaves some serious gaps that will make that new future for policing in the North difficult. For example, not calling for weeding out of bad apples who have abused human rights in the past and for new leadership at the top, will make the real reform hard to bring about.''
Other members pointed to the report's failure to call for the banning of plastic bullets or for the repeal of emergency legislation as some of its more significant shortcomings. Congressman Donald Payne asked: ``How can you speak of reform? The RUC needs to be disbanded. It makes no sense to attempt all of this change. [Chris Patten] is talking about ten years, percentages - this won't work.''
Congressman Dennis Kucinich said: ``A mechanism for the enforcement of high principles (human rights) would rely on a willingness of this mechanism, this system, to tolerate challenges to its deficiencies.
``Human rights attorneys challenged the system prior to the report - ten years ago Pat Finucane was murdered for challenging the system. Ten years later, when people were speaking of change, Rosemary Nelson was murdered.
``Because this report ignores these issues, because this report does not recommend inherent mechanisms for vetting, it is going to have difficulties being effective. We need to let attorneys who want to stand up now and protect human rights that they are protected. None of that is in (the Patten Report).''
Patrick Finucane's son, Michael Finucane, also testified. He said: ``The report of the Patten Commission makes specific mention time and again of the RUC officers who were killed during their period of service and how their families should now be accommodated. But it does not recommend anything for the benefit of those who have been murdered either by the RUC, or with the assistance and collusion of the RUC. Why is this? Does the report seek to distinguish between `classes of victims'?
``The report also ignores the fact that the very officers who engaged in activities of intimidation and abuse are still serving with the RUC. Furthermore, the report proposes no mechanism for ridding the new police service of these officers. It does not even recommend that they should account for their years of serial abuse of human rights.
``I can categorically state that, given the Patten Report's absence of recommendations in this area, given the continued absence of effective government proposals, and given a complete lack of any commitment to stringent measures to deal with this problem, defence lawyers in Northern Ireland are still in trouble, the worst kind of trouble - their very lives are on the line.''
Sinn Féin Representative to the United States, Rita O'Hare said after the hearing: ``The contribution to the search for justice and peace in Ireland made by Congressman Smith, Congressman Gilman and their committees, by their continued attention to the crucial issue of policing, was demonstrated again today. The depth of knowledge and understanding displayed by all the Congressional Representatives in attendance was striking and is a measure of their commitment to this core issue.''
RUC quango defends discrimination
By Mick Derrig
IN THE OPENING SALVO of the campaign to save the RUC ,the Northern Ireland Police Authority has said that changing the force's name will not lead to any significant increase in Catholic recruits to the force.
The authority chairman, Pat Armstrong, also criticised moves to redress the religious imbalance in the proposed Northern Ireland Police Service through the use of 50/50 recruitment quotas.
He warned this could ``stand the principle of appointment on merit on its head'' and alienate the Protestant community. The Authority outlined several misgivings about the findings of the Patten report on policing.
All of this is so predictable as to be less than newsworthy, other than to point out that the 50/50 spilt is exactly what unionist hero of yesteryear, Sir James Craig, agreed with Michael Collins in the ``Craig-Collins Agreement of1922. Among other things it agreed was ``an advisory Committee, composed of Catholics, to be set up to assist in the selection of Catholic recruits''.
Also, today's exclusively unionist Police Authority wouldn't pass muster in the Craig-Collins plan, which agreed ``a committee to be set up in Belfast of equal numbers Catholic and Protestant with an independent Chairman, preferably Catholic and Protestant alternately in successive weeks, to hear and investigate complaints''.
Isn't it amazing the way Six-County unionists just don't know their own history?