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2 November 2000 Edition

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Will Marshall truth out?

Ten years after the killing of Lurgan republican Sam Marshall, a preliminary discovery hearing may link the RUC to the shooting. Marshall was shot dead as he left Lurgan RUC barracks shortly after signing bail. His two companions were also targeted in the attack but escaped injury.

The 31-year-old was shot in the legs by two armed men who jumped out of a red Rover car. A masked gunman stood over the injured Marshall, put a rifle to his head and fired two shots.

From the outset, Crown force collusion in the killing was suspected, initially because only the men, their solicitor and the RUC knew their bail signing time. Later, it was established that a red Maestro trailing the men was part of an RUC undercover operation.

For over a decade, the British authorities have refused to hold an inquest into the controversial killing. But the recently implemented European Convention on Human Rights obliges the British government to hold a fair hearing and proper inquest into any suspicious death.


RUC admit destroying evidence



The RUC have admitted destroying a vital piece of forensic evidence in the case against Belfast's Christy Walsh. This is the second piece of forensic evidence to be destroyed by the RUC in connection with this case.

In 1991 Walsh was convicted of possession of a coffee jar bomb and jailed, despite the IRA taking the unusual step of stating that Walsh had no involvement in the planned attack. Walsh served his full sentence but throughout his trial, during his imprisonment and since his release, he has insisted he took no part in the incident.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission ruled last March that the trial judge had wrongly described the lack of forensic evidence on the jacket Walsh was wearing at the the time as neutral rather than exculpatory. The Commission accused the judge of adopting a speculative theory unsupported by any evidence. The judge had claimed that the bomb had been carefully prepared to ensure that there would be no contamination of any person carrying the device.

Lawyers acting for Walsh recently requested that the jacket be made available to the forensic scientist making inquiries into the case. The RUC replied that the jacket had been destroyed during a routine review in December 1998. The RUC had already admitted destroying the coffee jar bomb. Significantly, the RUC held onto the jacket for six years and only ordered its destruction after the reopening of the case became a possibility.


Did Gardaí spy for MI5?



The latest revelation by the former FRU operative known only as Martin Ingram has linked members of the Irish police force with Britain's MI5. According to Ingram, British Intelligence recruited several informants in the Gardaí, including one senior officer, code named `Eamon'.

Ingram is believed to have worked with the FRU, one of the most secret units within the British military, between 1987 to 1991. He claims to have handled intelligence files from Garda agents as part of his role as a programmer on `Crucible' the main British military intelligence computer system at the British Army's headquarters in Thiepval barracks in Lisburn.

Officially, the Gardaí are playing down claims that its officers were paid to spy for the British, while it is secretly launching an inquiry into the allegation. The investigating team is headed by Basil Walsh, chief superintendent at Special Branch, who is believed to be tasked with reporting directly to Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne.


Orange Order may end parade talks ban



Letters have been sent to 150 districts asking Orange Order leaders to consult their grassroots support on the possible ending of the ban on speaking to nationalist residents and the Parades Commission. To date, the Orange Order has refused to engage in talks with the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition and other groups contesting contentious Orange parades through nationalist areas.

The Order recently lost the first legal challenge to a ban on a parade using the EU human rights legislation on the right to march introduced earlier this month. Members of the Dunloy district lodge were refused leave to seek a judicial review of the Parades Commission's decision banning a parade through the County Antrim town.

Calls within the Orange Order to rescind the ban on talking to residents' groups and the commission are increasing but may be silenced by a determined majority. A proposal in favour of meeting the Parades Commission by the leaders of the Portadown district defeated in June by a two to one majority of the 200-strong Grand Lodge.

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