16 February 2006 Edition
The 25th anniversary of the Stardust tragedy has been marked by renewed calls for another inquiry. Evidence emerging now strongly suggests that the original tribunal was wrong in it's conclusion of probable arson. Misleading maps were used by the tribunal and evidence of previous electrical sparking was ignored. The devastated communities of Artane, Coolock, Santry and surrounding areas have been crying out for justice for a quarter of a century. Surely it is high time that they were listened too.
Dare I suggest that if this tragedy had afflicted a more affluent community there is no way they would have been ignored for 25 years. The perverse conclusion of the tribunal, that it was arson, effectively blaming the victims just would not have been tolerated and Eamon Butterly would not have got compensation but would have found himself before the courts on the back of the numerous fire and safety violations the tribunal openly accused him off.
The Stardust tragedy shows that as far as the establishment is concerned property rights take precedence over the lives of working-class people. As Michael McDowell's brother Moore said recently ,and I paraphrase, because a finding of arson was necessary in order for compensation to be paid on the property the whole focus of the tribunal hinged on whether it was arson. This appalling attitude has prevailed for far too long.
MI5 and the SDLP
The SDLP's opposition to the assuming of primacy in intelligence by MI5 is either an astounding display of naivety or an astounding display of cynicism. Mark Durkan claims this amounts to the British Government giving with the one hand on policing and justice and taking away with the other. The assumption here must be that the British Government has actually given something on policing. This is a very peculiar assumption on the week the Finucane family were told there would only be a sham enquiry into the murder of Patrick.
I suppose the SDLP's decision to take up places on the policing board has to be justified some how. Just how, however is very hard to see when the un-reconstructed killers of RUC Special Branch had only to suffer a change of name before the SDLP dived in head first.
The fact is that absolutely nothing has been done to address the terrible legacy of mayhem and murder left in the wake of these sectarian thugs and that seems to be fine as far as the SDLP are concerned. It is clear from all of this that the SDLP cannot be trusted to represent the interests of nationalists on policing. Their attempts to say they have been are laughable and transparently false.
Belfast, County Antrim.
The revelation last week that 200 members of the PSNI have criminal records should be surprising only in that a court bothered to convict them at all. This is a force that houses within it's ranks a murder gang known as Special Branch. Don't expect any of those slugs to acquire a criminal record any time soon. In this context it is laughable to express concern over the numbers of criminals in the ranks of the PSNI. Murderous criminality was part of special branches stock in trade. They were, and are, in fact a criminal conspiracy
This is the real heart of darkness that lies within the PSNI. Until it has been addressed calls for Sinn Féin to join the policing boards must be steadfastly rejected. It is insulting to the nationalist people in the Six Counties to expect them to recognise the legitimacy of a force that has within it's ranks such a murder gang.
Calls for Sinn Féin to do so emanating from the South are particularly reprehensible. These are the people who had a duty to stand up for northern nationalists. Sadly it is a duty that they shirked. They now want to pretend collusion never happened. Shame on them. These cowardly British lackeys should have the decency to keep their mouth shut and hang their heads in shame
Oranmore, County Galway.
The astonishing outburst this week by Micheal McDowell that "criticism of government policy should not stray into undermining the state" and that the government should be "the guarantor of public service broadcasting reveals the fascist inclinations of the man. However, they also reveal a little remarked upon pattern. McDowell was referring to RTÉ. Who else has also accused RTÉ of subversion in recent weeks? Yes you've guessed it Lord Laird. The very same Lord Laird that attacked the Centre For Public Inquiry and Frank Connolly just before McDowell and Sam Smyth did their hatchet job on them. And do to remember an outburst from the same Lord laird about a state within a state just before McDowell made a similar outburst.
There seems to be a symmetry of approach here. Is it simply coincidence that McDowell lines up to throw Laird's snowballs every time. I think not. I suppose the real question is who is manipulating who? The source of Laird's allegiances and agenda isn't hard to guess. Is it right that an Irish Government Minister should share such an agenda in such an openly co-ordinated way. I think the Irish people know the answer to that.
Lucan Village, Dublin.