IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
1. A TRAGIC LOSS
2. Police deal with UVF, UDA brings change in protest dynamics
3. Britain rules out border poll 'diversion'
4. Suicides spike as mental health budgets are cut
5. Spooks at work in Ireland, England, France
6. Death of Inez McCormack
7. Feature: McAliskey to address Bloody Sunday March for Justice
8. Analysis: Flawed approach storing up trouble for summer
>>>>>> A TRAGIC LOSS
The passing of Dolours Price, a republican legend, has come as a deep
shock to the entire community, regardless of politics or allegiance.
Dolours was a mother of two sons and former wife of leading actor
Stephen Rea. She was found dead at her Malahide home on Wednesday
Her death has seen an outpouring of sympathy and respect on social
networks, and hundreds of messages have been posted in tribute.
Dolours suffered profoundly from post-traumatic stress disorder
relating to her time on hunger strike in 1973/1974, and had previously
attempted to commit suicide.
In July last year, she said she was "completely distraught" with
anxiety for the wellbeing of her sister, who is younger by three years.
Marian Price was interned without trial by British decree almost two
years ago, and is still under prison guard in hospital.
"We formed bonds in English prisons and in Irish prison that can never
be broken," she said. "I hope and trust she will find the strength and
courage to keep on going."
She had been a harsh critic of Sinn Fein in recent years and had
repeatedly clashed with its leader, Gerry Adams, over his alleged role
in the IRA and his party's 'sell out' of republican principles.
The Belfast native had also come under pressure in recent months as a
result of interviews she gave in confidentiality with researchers
associated with a 'conflict archive' funded by Boston College.
The taped recordings were subpoenad by the PSNI police as part of their
historical investigations into the IRA -- potentially implicating Mr
Adams and others -- but have since become mired in legal wrangles on
both sides of the Atlantic, including a potential US Supreme Court
Mr Adams said yesterday he was "profoundly saddened" by Price's death
and extended his sympathies to her family.
"I have known Dolours for a very long time. She endured great hardship
during her time in prison in the 1970s, enduring a hunger strike which
included force feeding for over 200 days," he said.
"In more recent years she has had many personal trials. I am sure all of
those who knew Dolours will be very sad at the news of her death."
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, who fought alongside her in the IRA, said he
was shocked by the news. "A life cut short. She will be sadly missed by
her family and friends."
The 32 County Sovereignty Committee offered their condolences to the
Price family. "An unbowed and unapologetic Republican, she will be
remembered fondly by all within the Sovereignty Movement."
In a statement, the two Boston College journalists, Ed Moloney and
Anthony McIntyre, also expressed their sadness at her death.
"Throughout the last two years of our fight to prevent her interviews
being handed over to the police in Belfast, our greatest fear was always
for the health and well-being of Dolours," they said. "Now that she is
no longer with us perhaps those who initiated this legal case can take
some time to reflect upon the consequences of their action."
A TROUBLED LIFE
Dolours was one of the IRA's most prominent members during the early
years of the recent conflict.
Her father Albert Price was a veteran IRA man, a survivor of the 1940s
campaign. She recalled how her father would recount his years in the
struggle, and said of her family that Republicanism was "part of our
Grammar-school-educated, she was in her final year of teacher training
at St Mary's College on Falls Road in west Belfast when she was arrested
for her part in an IRA's campaign on British soil.
She joined the IRA following internment in 1971. Before that she had
been a member of the left-wing People's Democracy.
Attractive, well-spoken and university-educated, she was part of a new
breed of articulate IRA members. She was the first female IRA member.
Until that point women were recruited into the Cumann na mBan.
At just 22 years of age Dolours had already risen rapidly through the
ranks of the IRA and was privy to the most secret of information as part
of an elite unit.
She was the leader of a nine-member IRA team which included Sinn Fein's
Gerry Kelly, and brought the war in the north of Ireland back to its
source -- London.
Her role in a 1973 attack on the Old Bailey courts complex, one of the
headquarters of the British injustice system, led her to be dubbed 'the
Old Bailey bomber' by the Tory tabloid press.
She never doubted her actions in that campaign, in which only one person
died. She said in her memoir: "In Belfast we gave 15 minute warnings, in
London we'd given them an hour."
Following her arrest and trial at Winchester Castle in November 1973,
she was jailed for life, and immediately began a 206-day hunger strike,
demanding to be transferred to prisons in Ireland.
"Make no mistake about it, when I made the decision we'd be on
hunger-strike, I had a vision we'd starve to death, it was that simple."
But her senior role in the IRA and her years of incarceration in
England, took a toll on her mentally.
She very rarely spoke of her 206 days being force-fed and physically
abused by English gaolers. Her sister Marian described the force-feeding
"Four male prison officers tie you into the chair so tightly with sheets
you can't struggle. You clench your teeth to try to keep your mouth
closed but they push a metal spring device around your jaw to prise it
open. They force a wooden clamp with a hole in the middle into your
mouth. Then, they insert a big rubber tube down that. They hold your
head back. You can't move. They throw whatever they like into the food
mixer - orange juice, soup, or cartons of cream if they want to beef up
the calories. They take jugs of this gruel from the food mixer and pour
it into a funnel attached to the tube. The force-feeding takes 15
minutes but it feels like forever. You're in control of nothing. You're
terrified the food will go down the wrong way and you won't be able to
let them know because you can't speak or move. You're frightened you'll
choke to death."
Both Price sisters were given early release from prison in the 1980s on
MARIAN PRICE BAILED?
It is not yet known if Marian will be permitted to attend her funeral.
In court on Friday there was confusion as to whether or not the
58-year-old was already on bail, as she was granted bail in 2011,
shortly before she was interned.
While Judge David McFarland (again) granted bail, he added that it will
now be a decision for the Parole Commissioners whether or not the
grieving woman is actually released.
The funeral is likely to take place at St Agnes's Church in
Andersonstown, Belfast, on Monday, followed by burial at Milltown
There follows a statement from the family of Marian Price McGlinchey.
We have received news that Marian's application for compassionate parole following the tragic death of her sister Dolours has been refused, despite her being granted bail earlier today.
Given Marian's current health issues it is laughable that she would pose any kind of security or flight risk. We feel this decision is nothing more than a continuance of a vicious and vindictive campaign on the part of the Prison Service, the Department of Justice and the British secretary of state along with M15 to destroy Marian both physically and mentally.
We would urge all right thinking people to utterly condemn this blatant breach of Marian's fundamental human rights.
>>>>>> Police deal with UVF, UDA brings change in protest dynamics
Loyalists engaged in illegal flag protests are facing the threat of
arrest this week for the first time since the disturbances began.
Roadblocks over the removal of the British Union Jack flag from Belfast
City Hall have brought traffic chaos to the North since early December.
In the past few weeks, large-scale riots have erupted in east Belfast in
an obviously orchestrated manner.
But events on the streets have taken a turn following a meeting between
PSNI chief Matt Baggott and the leadership of the unionist paramilitary
UVF last week, and the violence appears now to have largely ended.
Baggott is understood to have met representatives of the UVF and UDA on
Thursday, 17th January, as part of a carefully choreographed series of
events. Earlier that day a statement was released by loyalist Church and
community leaders - and backed by the paramilitaries - calling for an
end to the trouble.
This statement was said to have justified a private meeting between
Baggott and the leaders of the loyalist murder gangs. A deal was agreed,
the details of which have not yet emerged, and the paramilitaries agreed
to use their influence to reduce the violence.
Both the UVF and UDA have long demanded an end to investigations into
their past crimes including sectarian murders, and a simultaneous
increase in the official "community aid" schemes which channel millions
of pounds to both organisations.
The talks have now resulted in a change in tactics by both the PSNI and
the loyalist groups involved in the disturbances.
On Saturday, UVF gang members openly provided 'security' during a
loyalist march from Belfast City Hall to east Belfast, and ensured that
the violence was ended.
A similar march the week before resulted in hand-to-hand fighting with
residents of the nationalist Short Strand and hours of rioting.
The PSNI have also adopted a marked change in tone. "Blocking the road
is a criminal act," PSNI Detective Superintendent Sean Wright said on
Wednesday, eight weeks after the roadblocks began. He said the PSNI had
begun "moving proactively" to arrest people at the scene of "illegal
protests or scenes of disorder".
The Parades Commission, who are tasked with handling the routes and
conditions of sectarian parades in the North, have said they are also
now monitoring the loyalist marches, after being bystanders for the past
The end of orchestrated rioting and the PSNI/UVF 'clampdown' on the
protests, now entering into their eighth week, has been broadly welcomed
by the public and the business community.
The flag protests this week have been smaller, fewer in number and
largely peaceful. Some loyalists and unionists supporting the
quasi-political 'Ulster People's Forum' have continued to engage in
street roadblocks, and have been subjected to arrest. Eleven loyalists
were arrested on Monday evening as the new regime took effect.
Ulster People's Forum spokesman Willie Frazer said his group were now
planning a "massive" demonstration in a shift in tactics. He said the
group would engage in legal actions, and apply to the Parades Commission
in regard to its parades for the first time.
Up to 600 loyalists are to take part in the first ever legal flag
protest on Friday. The Parades Commission has approved the demonstration
which will pass through the mainly nationalist lawn of Castlederg,
County Tyrone, without restrictions.
Hundreds of processions have been held along public roads without
consent from the Parades Commission since flag-related demonstrations
began on December 3.
"It's a sign there are different things coming and that's a sign of the
type of stuff that might take place," Frazer said.
"I know there's going to be a big one coming. They are saying they are
not the numbers out on the streets there were 20 years ago. They are
maybe going to get a surprise. There are plans for one big massive one
Another flag protest leader, Jamie Bryson, called on loyalists arrested
for blocking roads not to accept bail conditions and go to prison
He characterised the reduction in the flying of the British flag above
Belfast City Hall, now only raised for 17 'designated' royal events,
such as the birthday last weekend of the 'Countess of Wessex', as an
attack on civil rights.
"The road we will travel will not be easy. Our freedom and liberty is
under attack and we must remain strong and united," he declared.
"Freedom isn't free and it's something we all take for granted until
such times as it is under attack and we are oppressed.
"The road ahead will be difficult and many could end up being held in a
lonely cell for the crime of loyalty to the crown and peacefully
protesting. However, know this, at the end of it all we will emerge
"Whether in a lonely cell or soaring as an eagle, freedom is in the
heart and the mind."
Mr Bryson also announced that his organisation had set up a "political
>>>>>> Britain rules out border poll 'diversion'
The British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers has dismissed nationalist
calls for a border poll on Irish unity, saying political attention was
"better focused elsewhere".
The abrupt British rejection came as a blow to Sinn Fein who on Saturday
held a major party conference on the issue. The party has pinned its
hopes for eventual Irish unity on a unification vote within the Six
Counties, which is permitted under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but
must meet the approval of both the Dublin and London governments.
DUP Stormont Minister Arlene Foster had earlier raised hopes for the
plan when she said her party might "call Sinn Fein's bluff" over a
referendum. She claimed that such a vote would be strongly rejected in
the Six Counties in order to maintain the annual British subvention
(payment) of ten billion pounds which is paid annually to sustain the
failed local economy.
"Whilst Sinn Fein talks about a border poll it is the last thing they
would want as they know the outcome would be so resounding - they should
be careful what they wish for," she said.
But in Dublin last Saturday, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams argued that
unification would bring greater prosperity in both parts of the island.
He said that a "planned single island economy would be good for
prosperity; good for jobs; good for investment".
In a wide ranging speech, the Sinn Fein leader pointed out that the Good
Friday Agreement commits the British government to holding a border poll
and London has undertaken to legislate for a united Ireland if a
majority of those voting express a wish that the north should cease to
be part of the British union.
"It is time for the governments to set a date," he said.
On the issue of the political geography of the north, Mr Adams said that
the northern state was "gerrymandered to allow for a permanent unionist
two thirds majority", but pointed out that recent census figures reveal
that only 40% of citizens there stated that they had a British only
identity, and a quarter stated that they had an Irish only identity.
Commenting on the issue of identities and traditions, the Louth TD said
that Sinn Fein wanted to "hear what unionists have to say" and would
"use every opportunity to engage in dialogue at a personal level as well
as in more formal ways".
Foster, considered a unionist hardliner, said the DUP had not yet
reached a conclusion on the matter. But she suggested her party could
decide to "put an end to this foolish talk once and for all" by backing
The 26-County Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, expressed wariness. He said: "I
think we have a lot of work to do both here and up North before people's
mentality and views change about the future of the island."
The situation was also complicated by the announcement of British Prime
Minister David Cameron that he intends to hold a referendum on Britain's
membership of the EU by 2017. A British decision to withdraw from the
EU could have major consequences for the North of Ireland, probably
requiring the return of police checkpoints and customs controls along
the border with the South.
Despite Sinn Fein's calls for movement on the issue, the London
government made clear that while they would allow the British public to
vote themselves out of the European Union, there were "no present plans"
to allow the people of the Six Counties a choice on the Union with
In a prepared statement, Theresa Villiers said: "Given the state of
opinion in Northern Ireland, which is clearly expressed in election
results and opinion polls, the [British] government has no present plans
to call such a poll.
"It is crucial that political leaders here concentrate on working
together on pressing economic and social issues, including the
rebalancing of the Northern Ireland economy and building a genuinely
shared society, rather than being diverted into divisive constitutional
Sinn Fein did not respond to Villier's statement.
>>>>>> Suicides spike as mental health budgets are cut
The rate of suicide among young people in Ireland is one of the highest
in Europe, new figures show, with the rate even higher in the Six
An estimated 165 teens and young men took their own lives in the 26
Counties in 2011, while another 72 died by suicide in the North.
The cross-border Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) said the high
numbers in both jurisdictions coincide with the economic downturn and
increasing levels of unemployment.
The study found Ireland's overall suicide rate was average in Europe,
but when data focused on young men it lagged only behind the Ukraine,
Finland and Lithuania.
It called for targeted measures aimed at reducing the rate of self harm
and suicide in the under-30s.
Dr Noel Richardson, author of its report Young Men and Suicide Project,
said there can be no quick-fix solutions to tackling the very grave
"But neither is there any place for inertia or ambivalence," he said.
"There is both a public health and a moral requirement to act.
"There needs to be a concerted effort to engage more effectively, and in
a more sustained way, with young men, and to plan services and
programmes with young men in mind.
"This report provides a blueprint and a roadmap for action."
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that the recession is
leading to an increased suicide rate.
"The countries with the highest suicide rate increases were those most
affected by the recession, namely, Greece and Ireland," he said.
There was a sense of despair being felt by young people who either could
not find work or being treated as second-class citizens and asked to
accept 20 per cent or 30 per cent less in salary than people who
qualified a few years ago.
"Is it the case that the policies of cuts and austerity, which the
Taoiseach is imposing, are leading directly to the sense of despair and
hopelessness felt among young people which is leading to this increase
in suicide rates?"
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the budget for the National Office for Suicide
Prevention had increased from 4.1 million euro to 8.1 million euro.
But late last year, it was reported that tens of millions of euro,
ring-fenced by the Dublin government to hire hundreds of staff to boost
suicide prevention and mental health services this year, was instead
used to tackle cost overruns in other parts of the health services.
>>>>>> Spooks at work in Ireland, England, France
A Derry man has revealed how he was approached at a French airport by
two men who identified themselves as members of MI5. Another man has
said he was recently approached to become an informer by the PSNI in
Derry, while another reported recruitment bid took place recently in
The incident in France took place in the early hours of Sunday morning
last at Nice Airport when the man was returning from looking for work.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said: "As I approached the
security desk at the airport, I felt a hand on my arm. There were three
French policemen, two in plain clothes and one in uniform, who asked me
to go with them as there was a problem with my passport.
"They led me through a few doors into what looked like a police office
and then we went into a room with three chairs in it. One of them took
my passport, walked out the door and came straight back in and handed it
back to me. Then these other two men entered the room - one was an
Englishman and the other had a Belfast accent.
"They asked me, 'What is a wee Derry man doing in the South of France
for two days?'
"I told them I was doing a job and then they told me they were from MI5.
I asked them what MI5 wanted with me and they said I was a senior member
of the new IRA. When I challenged them on this, they said they knew
"They asked me was I willing to work with them. I told them I had never
been involved in anything in my life and they then suggested I take a
look at a couple of photos. They then produced a folder and showed me a
photo of this guy I know who I did work for. They also asked me did I
know a couple of other guys and I said no."
The man claimed he was also offered money which he refused.
"They then offered me a phone number and said to take it and phone them
and ask for Jim or Rob. They told me to phone the number at 12 midday on
Tuesday and then they let me go but said they would see me again. I have
no idea why they would have targeted me as I have nothing to do with
On Tuesday of this week, the man took the number to his solicitor Paddy
MacDermott and phoned it at 12 midday.
Mr. MacDermott said: "Our client phoned this number and the man known as
'Jim' answered. He chatted for a bit asking our client's travel plans
and the like. I then took the phone and identified myself and asked what
did they want with my client. There was a bit of a fluster at the other
end and then they hung up.
"This is a deplorable attempt to recruit a hard working young man with a
clear record who was only seeking employment. Actions like this only put
people's lives in danger and, hopefully, he will now be left alone to go
about his business. A complaint will be lodged on his behalf."
Meanwhile, a Sinn Fein councillor has raied concerns over a separate
case after a local man was approached by the PSNI in the Buncrana Road
area on Wednesday.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said the PSNI member said it
would be "financially beneficial" for him to work for the force.
"I was walking to the shop on Wednesday morning and as I was walking
along the Buncrana Road a silver Nissan Micra car stopped alongside me
and the driver got out.
"He came up to me and held his hand out for me to shake and then said he
was looking for directions to Whitehouse Park.
"I told him the way to go to get there and then he called me by my first
name which surprised me because I had never seen him before and did not
know who he was.
"He asked me if I was looking for work and I told him it would depend
what type of work it is and he just came out and said that it was
working for the police.
"I immediately told him I wasn't interested and he said I must be
struggling with money and said it would be financially beneficial for me
to help out the police.
"I told him that I wasn't interested and wouldn't know anything and
didn't want to end up in the back roads with a bullet in my head," he
The man also said he was held on remand for a time in the 90s but
insisted he is not involved in any political activity now.
He also said he was approached in similar circumstances in 1995 on
"I was pretty shaken by the whole thing and then when I was walking back
to my house I saw the car driving up my street slowly and the man was
looking at me. There was a woman in the passenger side and she looked to
have a big folder on her knee.
"I am now worried about why they were looking at my house and what could
be in that folder," he explained.
The man also said he has been worried since the encounter on Wednesday.
"I have been afraid to leave the house or open the door since then.
"I'm worried if I go outside it will happen again or that they will come
to my house.
"I'm also worried that someone may have seen me talking to him and
giving him directions and got the wrong idea," he said.
He added that he decided to go public to appeal to the police to leave
"I want this to stop because I'm worried about where it could go. That
is why I wanted to let people know what happened," he said.
He also said he intends to raise the issue with his solicitor and the
Councillor Fleming said she raised the incident with the PSNI.
"We raised this case at a meeting in Derry with the PSNI at a senior
level and told them what went on here was wrong and that this individual
wants to be left alone and free from harassment.
"I would urge anyone approached in a similar situation to go to a
solicitor straight away and report the matter to the Police Ombudsman,"
The Gaughan Stagg Cumann of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee said it
had been made aware of the actions of two British state operatives who
made an overt approach to young people in a Manchester pub.
"They called one by their name, seeking to infer that they knew him. The
two men were aged between 35 to 40 years if age, white, one was large in
weight with a shaved head, the other was thin, with defined facial
contours. The larger of the two had a pseudo Dublin accent that
fluctuated into an English accent. He sought to engage one if the group
in discussions about an armed group, stating 'you know who we mean'?
"He dropped names of people in England and made reference to Irish
people killing Irish people, naming a Dublin family."
They said the young man rang his solicitors and gave an account and
description of the two individuals.
"On his return the thin male tapped his shoulder and said 'You're too
"A solicitor made his way immediately to the place in question to
witness and record details and took statements from the group about the
"The men left almost immediately the solicitor arrived, making their way
through side streets before getting into a car that pulled up on
The Gaughan Stagg cumann advise political activist to be 'vigilant'.
"We commend the young man for his immediate action forethought in
contacting his legal representative and acquiring I dependent observers
"We encourage all activists to record any such events with their
solicitor and comrades. Be vigilant, be aware."
>>>>>> Death of Inez McCormack
Tributes have been paid to Inez McCormack, a key supporter of the
MacBride principles on fair employment, who died this week aged 69
following a battle with cancer.
Outgoing US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former Irish
president Mary Robinson have led tributes to the human rights activist
and trade unionist.
Ms McCormack, from Belfast but living in Derry, was involved in the
Six-County civil rights movement in the late 1960s.
A Belfast Protestant who left behind her family's unionist background to
become a lifelong activist in the fields of human rights, women's rights
and fair employment, and helped bring the campaign to end discrimination
against Catholics to the US.
She rose to become a trade union leader in a highly male-dominated
scene, immersed in issues such as equality, urban regeneration and
representing low-paid workers. Her campaigning attracted praise from
Hillary Clinton, who said of her: "Her efforts to promote human rights
and social justice remain an inspiration to me."
Brought up in a quiet Protestant area of County Down, McCormack attended
an all-girl grammar school where one teacher described her as "a good
brain but flighty." She left at the age of 16 to work as a typist. She
was twice beaten up at protests, once at a Six-County civil rights march
and once at an anti-Vietnam war demonstration in London's Grosvenor
She was radicalised by her experiences on the streets. She recalled: "I
was a puzzled young Prod - until I was 17 I hadn't knowingly met a
Catholic. I was a young Protestant girl who didn't understand that there
were grave issues of inequality, injustice and division in our society.
It wasn't that Protestants didn't suffer deprivation, but there was
systematic discrimination against Catholics."
In 2011 Newsweek magazine named her as one of "150 women who shake the
world," the only one to come from the north of Ireland. More than a
decade ago she was diagnosed with cancer which was treated by major
surgery to remove what she described as "a tumour as big as a man's fist
from behind the heart."
Among those who have paid tribute to her were the Irish president
Michael D Higgins, the former president, Mary Robinson, and Hillary
Clinton. Clinton said: "She travelled the world encouraging young women
to be agents of change in their communities and countries. We have come
so far in part because of her insistence on a seat at the table for
women and others who have been marginalised."
>>>>>> Feature: McAliskey to address Bloody Sunday March for Justice
US radio talk show host Sandy Boyer (SB) interviewed Bernadette
Devlin-McAliskey (BDM) about next week's Bloody Sunday March in Derry.
The following is a transcript of that interviews, which also ranges over
SB: We're going over to County Tyrone, Coalisland, Co. Tyrone to speak
to Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey. Bernadette, thanks very much for being
BDM: Hi, Sandy. Thank you.
SB: And Bernadette, forty-one years ago on January 30th 1972, you were
at the civil rights rally in Doire. You were on the platform when the
British paratroops opened fire and killed thirteen people. And now
forty-one years later you're going over to speak at the rally that the
relatives are organising. Tell us a little bit about that.
BDM: Well I think the history of Bloody Sunday itself is well known and
then following that the very, very long battle to try and discover the
truth of the government action on that day and to clear the names of the
dead from the responsibility placed on them for having been accused of
participating in unlawful and violent behaviour and basically causing
People are also I think familiar that after a very, very long campaign
of over thirty years the British government set up a public enquiry
which itself then became very controversial. An enormous amount of
public funds was spent on the enquiry. Most of it necessitated by the
amount of money it required to prise the information out of government
and government agents in order to bring it forward to a government
At the end of the day Lord Saville did report and he exonerated all of
the dead from any unlawful or violent behaviour. And he placed the blame
for Bloody Sunday on the soldiers on the ground on the day and on one or
two of their commanders at a lower level.
Many people immediately following that were caught up in the euphoria of
finally being able to: a) to be able to get a verdict on the innocent
victims ... the thirteen people killed on the day and (b)) to have an
assertion - finally, publicly - that the people on that day were
exerting their lawful and peaceful right to assemble and to protest
against the actions of government.
But from my own perspective, and I think it's important to say that
Sandy, from Bloody Sunday itself I was one of the very few people never
to call for a government enquiry. I didn't call for it and I never
supported the call for it. I respected the right of the relatives to do
so because I believed that the government at the highest level was
implicated in that decision, that it was a war crime and that Britain
should have been held to account at The Hague where governments are held
to account for crimes of that nature.
So as the years have gone on it has become increasingly clear - and
Saville was limited and couldn't find some of the information (of
course, he didn't look) - that would have implicated very high ranking
members. And we've seen now things that we now know that we didn't know
then around the Pat Finucane inquiry and the importance and the role
played by MI6 and MI5.
A number of the families continue to protest. The majority of the
families have supported a Sinn Fein position that Saville basically
draws a line under this.
But there are many people who still, and I include myself there, who
still demand to know what was the role of government because the blame
for Bloody Sunday has been basically left by the government on the foot
soldiers that they sent in there and the result, as it stands, quite a
body of evidence to show complicity of government but it was never
examined by Saville.
SB: Well why is it that have Sinn Fein and some of the relatives have
said: no, let's put a line under this, it's over, we got an apology
from David Cameron, let's just move on?
BDM: Well I think that a number of public enquiries became caught up in
that. You know it's difficult to set it out there because the
importance of closure and the importance of answers to victims can't be
But justice is not the sole terrain of victims. The whole of society
needs to have justice and needs to have truth.
So while, if you'd like, the verdict of innocence for all of the
civilians killed was a great relief to the families and allowed them
closure, it became a sort of thing that the families could then in a
way, dictate the pace to everybody else.
And so when the majority of the families were happy with the outcome for
their particular family it made it easier for politicians then to avoid
the more embarrassing bits that will inevitably come to play - that the
political organisation of Sinn Fein, which was the political leader, the
single biggest political leader of the struggle and the resistance, is
now in government - and through time will find itself to be in
government and in administration with a government that has apologised
left, right and centre but not for what it actually did and for what, in
all reasonableness I'd suppose when you look at it, continues to do.
Because if we look and we come right up to now...just today I saw in the
newspaper things that have become commonplace, Sandy. You look at the
newspaper today and you read that the Lord Chief Justice, who now is not
a member of the old aristocracy, the old British, the Protestant
ascendancy - he's from Saint Malachy's old boys - he's the Catholic
intelligensia in government and in high places - and the Chief Justice
has put a reporting ban, a public reporting ban, on three re-trials, we
don't even know which they are but three re-trials and that's where the
court, where convictions have been overturned as unsafe and the people
have been sent for retrial - there's going to be no reporting - even as
to what the trials are - until they have been adjudicated upon.
There is now, which is my other reason for going to Bloody Sunday, is
there is now less room and less tolerance by those in government,
including those in the Assembly and the Executive, for any opposite
voice, any voice of opposition, any dissenting, any critical voice to
the status quo or to the government line.
And these are very dangerous times. And you see the first of it when
you see riots in East Belfast.
SB: Well, speaking of the riots in East Belfast ... in Doire they are
erecting flags of the Parachute Regiment, the people who did the
killing, in Loyalist areas that can be seen...
BDM: Well, of course! Sectarianism raises its head again and the flags
dispute in Belfast has enabled us to see just how fragile and contrived
the new dispensation that they speak of actually is.
And I've been saying that for some years; in fact I think for about
fifteen. And when you say that people then say: Do you want to go back
to war? No!
If you speak out loud then, if you voice any critical analysis of what
is happening, you are accused of taking people back there. But it is
the pretense that we have a settlement, the pretense that we have a
justice, the pretense that we have a future that we do not, that is bit
by bit being laid bare and these are very dangerous times.
SB: Bernadette, speaking of very dangerous times, we have a situation
where Marian Price and Martin Corey are in imprisoned indefinitely
without a trial and no release date.
SB: There've been protests but nothing has happened.
BDM: Yep. There are a number of things and I suppose that may be a
longer conversation, Sandy, about how this process has been put together
and how the slow realisation, particularly of people within Sinn Fein as
an organisation, the very, very slow, fragmented realisation that this
is not what they wanted or not what they thought it was, has allowed the
fragmentation of that movement in various steps.
So that when you have things like virtual internment without trial, when
you have the deterioration of the rights and conditions of prisoners,
when you have the conviction of Brian Shivers overturned - the man
refused bail and put on trial again which is what's happening - you have
a whole series of things against - as well social and economic
austerity, increasing poverty, cuts in the welfare and health systems -
you just say why is there no coherent organisation against it?
And it is because, and I said it when the framework documents many years
ago were sent out, the British policy here was not peace - it was
pacification, demilitarisation, demobilisation and demoralisation.
And the people who are suffering from the political, social and economic
ills are so fragmented amongst themselves because each of them pulled
out of the process at a different stage and none of them trust each
SB: But Bernadette, if we give Sinn Fein complete credit for everything
they say - and they have protested for Marian Price, they have protested
for Martin Corey - you'd have to come to the conclusion that they're
powerless in this administration.
BDM: Well, exactly! And I think that is the position that we have come
The British administration have extracted all they can from a compliant
parliamentary nationalist position of both the SDLP, which is now a
minority position, and Sinn Fein so they have nothing else with which to
And Sinn Fein may have forgotten who their adversaries were but they're
very foolish to think that a British Empire much older than their little
upstart selves would forget so quickly who Sinn Fein were.
SB: And now we have these Loyalist protests in Belfast mainly, which
have paralysed the city and cost the merchants tens of thousands of
pounds and neither the established Unionists nor Sinn Fein nor the SDLP
seem to be able to do anything about it.
BDM: Well, it's interesting to see how that comes.
It's ironic to see Loyalists in the ghettos of East Belfast shouting
"PSNIRA", accusing the police of being supporters of the Republicans
when there's no evidence of that. The police have been afraid to
control the demonstrations and therefore, despite the fact that they are
unlawful assemblies the legislation around unlawful assembly has not
been used and they haven't been dispersed. They have been allowed to,
in an exercise of what is called "peaceful protest", they have actually
been allowed to intimidate the police.
The thing was started by Mike Nesbitt's Unionist Party and Peter
Robinson's DUP in an effort to create a crisis that would expose the
Alliance Party. And they were so out of touch with reality because they
believe in this contrived peace process that they didn't understand what
they were actually doing and they unleashed this on the streets and they
can't control it.
It'll be interesting to see how, when the marching season comes around,
the police tactics as used today will then be able to be changed in
order to control much larger manifestations of marching and flag waving
and what we see from that and what we can particularly see in the whole
confusion and inarticulate rage of people, which is a very, very small
grouping, but it is a reflection of a reality that while it's being
portrayed differently, because there's always been much more political
oganising on the Nationalist side, you have the leadership of Unionism
and Nationalism basically closeted into a sectarian, a management of
sectarian divisions, around a peace process - and there's always a
management of sectarian interfaces.
And at the top benefiting from it.
And on both sides you have the people who've gained nothing from the
peace: the poor - the working class Loyalist - the poor - the working
And sooner or later, Sandy, somebody's going to have to realise that it
is the ideology of Unionism and Nationalism that is flawed. Sooner or
later we're going to have to have conversations about class interests
SB: Well, we will await that day.
BDM: We've been waiting a long time, Sandy. (both laugh)
SB: We have indeed and some of us have been talking about that for a
long time especially yourself. And Bernadette, thank you very much. It's
always a pleasure.
BDM: Thank you, Sandy. Always good to talk to you.
>>>>>> Analysis: Flawed approach storing up trouble for summer
By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)
Here are a few questions. Is the UDA still illegal? Is the UVF still
illegal? If so, how would you know? Can anyone remember the last time
anyone was charged with membership of either group? Can anyone remember
the last time anyone was arrested and questioned about membership of
Since the very first outburst of violence at Belfast City Hall on
December 3, senior police officers have been briefing the press and
saying publicly that 'known UVF members' were seen fomenting
disturbances. The chief constable, using hair-splitting weasel words,
has said UVF members 'as individuals' have been organising disturbances
in east Belfast. By using that terminology he carefully avoids any
suggestion that the UVF has broken its ceasefire and should therefore
be 'specified' as in breach.
The media, the press in particular, almost on a daily basis, identify
named individuals as "a senior UDA figure" or "the leader of the UDA who
is based in Sandy Row" or who is a so-called 'brigadier' in some part of
Incidentally, most of the people so identified have been regularly
meeting senior DUP politicians. Some of them were publicly glad-handed
at the Unionist Forum.
We're also told senior police officers met UVF leaders last week. Is
this not an extraordinary state of affairs that such double standards
apply at the highest levels in policing and in what passes for politics
in Northern Ireland? No, not in the least. It has always been the case.
It's just that these days the police in particular are more open about
it. Sadly it seems that the PSNI is just as ambivalent about unionist
paramilitaries as unionist politicians have always been and the RUC was
Can you imagine the uproar if senior police officers said known IRA men
were organising riots? Can you imagine the same police meeting the IRA
to negotiate an end to the riots?
There's another crucial difference, The IRA has gone away yet the police
are still pursuing individuals to charge them with membership years ago.
On the other hand it is crystal clear that neither the UDA nor the UVF
has gone away. On the contrary, its members are still active as they
always have been in subverting and polluting the working-class
communities they have always blighted with the help and indulgence of
the security forces.
Why is it impossible to get through to police and unionist politicians
alike that people in the districts dominated by these organisations
don't like them, don't support them and want them off their backs?
Repeatedly front parties for these organisations have stood for election
and what is the result? A fraction of one per cent of the vote,
Laughably even UDA members don't vote for UDA candidates so unionist
politicians have absolutely nothing to fear from these organisations.
As for the police, they know perfectly well people in the districts in
question have no time for the UDA and UVF and would love it if the
police acted to get rid of their baleful influence, Instead they are
elevated to the role of permanent state employees as 'community
workers'. Sometimes we're even told they are 'community leaders'. Says
who? Let one of them try to get elected as a community leader in a
This deeply unsatisfactory relationship between the PSNI and unionist
paramilitaries is compounded by the failed strategy the chief constable
has been following by not dealing with people blocking roads and by
permitting the Parades Commission legislation to be flouted on a weekly
basis. Does he not realise his flawed approach is storing up serious
trouble for his officers in the summer when they try to enforce
legislation they have been ignoring since December 3? Perhaps more
importantly his inaction, apart from costing business in Belfast around
#15 million and unknown losses in terms of inward investment, is
seriously damaging nationalist confidence in the police.
Does he imagine for a second there would be a unionist uprising if
people blocking roads were pushed aside when in many cases the people
demanding their removal are unionists?
Yes, the PSNI has passed the test defending the Short Strand and taken
many injuries but there's a wider picture which the chief constable
seems unable to see.