My Brief affair with Simon Byrne

                         

Dear Reader! If you have ‘issues’ or are of a nervous disposition, go no further!

Only a few weeks ago, Fat George, the NIO placeman/policeman, vacated his post and in came  Simon Byrne.

Thrusting, opinionated and unemployed, he was an ideal choice for Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Nonetheless, I would hear no ill spoken of him . This ex chief constable of Cheshire Constabulary is known for his firm management style, which is totally different from bullying.

I was enraptured by the idea of a dynamic Chief Constable, after George’s size 40 waist.

Simon’s was 38 at the most…

Perhaps I was carried away. I don’t know, to be truthful…..

Anyway, he arrived and he was on Twitter! Oh Joy!

I followed him!

And he followed me back!  No Chief Constable had ever done that before…

It was because he paid me attention, I think…

So, emboldened, I sent him a direct message on 14thJuly and I said this:

“The murders of James and Ellen Sefton remain unsolved. Your officers assert that there is no intelligence touching upon their killings. This is untrue. You have an opportunity to change the picture by being candid about the true extent of the involvement of State actors. Will you help?”

My delicate young heart beat more swiftly , while waiting for a response.

None there came.

Disgracefully, I prostrated my heart and reached out again to this English Alpha Male.

I said, on 20thJuly, rather lamely: “disappointed that you have not replied”.

Still he did not reply, though he had read both messages.

Am I a fool to myself?

I refuse to believe these seventy four allegations against him were ever true. I’m sure that there is an explanation and that   he is out there for me and that some day my Chief Constable will come and tell me the truth.

 

Simon?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Sir Anthony Hart Q.C.

Tony Hart Q. C. died today.

I came to the Bar in 1983 and shortly after , I attended a Bar dinner at Malone House.  Tony was at my table. Having just taken Silk , he was in good form and excellent company.

He  attended Portora Royal School and Trinity College and  came to Belfast to study for his Bar exams. He told me that he took digs in the north of the city near Belfast Royal Academy. He was an accomplished rower and kept up the interest long after he stopped participating.

I got to know him better when he became Recorder of Londonderry. Fearsome to those who were unprepared, he was a scrupulously fair man .

Our paths crossed often. From a hard fought discrimination case in Londonderry to R v Howell and Stewart in Coleraine, he was , almost always, a model of what a judge should be.

The late John Cushnahan and I had endured a contentious Crown Court trial. The accused appealed. John could not do the appeal. His replacement phoned me on the Sunday before the hearing. “I’ve read the transcript, Tony forgot to remind the jury about the standard of proof”. I’ve no doubt that was because of the mayhem of the three way fight that was going on. I made my best efforts in front of their Lordships but a new trial was ordered.

In the Howell and Stewart trial he was  at the top of his form. His directions to the jury were bomb proof. He said to them “ask yourselves this question, were they in it together?” They jury agreed that they were.

Crown counsel sometimes had access to the judge’s chambers for entirely appropriate reasons. In private conversations, he often praised my opponent , only minutes after giving them a severe time.

He was kind to me, providing me with references , when asked. He entrusted his daughter to me , for work experience.

Someone organised a memorial lunch for the late Judge Foote. I suspect the late John Creaney. It was held in Nick’s Warehouse [where else?] Also present were me, Malachy Higgins. Donnell Deeney’s brother and a few others. After some refreshments, the topic of Restorative Justice was raised. I asked Tony if , under this system , he would be ‘An Recorder’ or the ‘Continuity Recorder’. His reply was “Bar Library humour can be patchy”.

Tony was a model of what it was to be a public servant. His management of HIA was exemplary after the pigs’ trough of Bloody Sunday.  He wrote the definitive history of the Bar in Northern Ireland.

He dedicated it to :

“the memory of those members of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland who lost their lives upholding the rule of law”

That would be Tony.

I offer my condolences to his family.

 

Lyra McKee

I’ve waited some time before putting pen to paper.

The death of a young woman, not much older than my daughter, is hard.

Murder is harder still.

When I got the news, at two in the morning, I did not sleep again that night.

I was introduced to Lyra about five years ago.There could be be fewer similarities.

I met this small, owlish, slightly diffident girl, in a Victoria Square coffee shop. She met a grumpy old man , with issues and a background. She had many difficulties with technology, which we laughed about. She was softly spoken, and I’m slightly deaf.

I was hoping that she could introduce me to contacts that might progress my enquiries into the murders of my parents. This she did.

Despite the disparity in our ages and in our experience of the world, she dispensed sage advice about me and my predicament.  She was no amateur. That is the thing I  remember  most about that meeting.

When I subsequently learned about her origins and her personal circumstances,  I was doubly impressed. She was born, not far from my parents’ home, three years before the birth of my daughter.

We kept in touch. She told me about the bullying tactics of Alison Morris, of the Irish News and of other state inspired pressure.

I disagreed with her about the campaign for equal rights. I told her how my generation, children of the Sixties, supported rights for all but were unimpressed by constant marches and the way in which they were  garishly supported. We agreed to differ.

She would ring me and call me “Sefton”, often the calls were random and from a variety of phones. She had a particular interest in the abuse of children, from wherever it derived.

We discussed all sorts of issues. She was, like me, a champion of the underdog.

Neither of us had much time for organised religion. I suppose she found my distrust and dislike of the establishment,  bizarre in a sixty something Prod.

We met a number of times, thereafter.

I followed her life and her new relationship in a bewildered fashion, appropriate to my age.

I suppose I imagined that somewhere, along the road, we would meet again to discuss some new angle that she was pursuing.

That never happened.

She was , like my mother , Ellen, the victim of random republican violence.

I mourn her life. I offer my condolences to her mother,  of whom she spoke fondly and to Ava , whom she adored and to all her family.

If it is appropriate  to add something, it is this. Where shall we find another? Where is there another fearless, disadvantaged, Catholic, gay , female journalist , not in the pocket of the state?

It is no exaggeration to say that , in that regard  it is unlikely that we shall never see her like again.

Once I learned that her funeral was to be in St Anne’s , I determined not to attend. I have been down the road of the NIO funeral.

I preferred to remember her, in my own way.

Lyra’s legacy will not be some sea change to politics here.

I’m hoping that it will be this: that  some young people will  simply take up the challenge and write honestly about our lives.

 

 

Readers may have read , already, my last blog about Alan Mains. He was the subject of a gushing Belfast Telegraph article, describing him as “flying high in the world of private business”. He is nothing of the sort , of course. Read my tweets for a blow by blow demolition of his claims of directorships. SecuriGroup , when I contacted them, refused to describe his role-it is certainly not as a director in any shape or form. He was never a director of Ultimate Leisure or any of Bob Senior’s companies. He does have a company called A and A Security, of which he is the sole director. It was formed in 2019. He was probably Robinson’s minder at some point. He had a relationship with Paddy Kearney. No mention of it in the Belfast Telegraph article. Have they parted company? Why does this matter? Mains claims to have been in RUC Special Branch. Informed commentators are sceptical of this. Even if he was , or was controlled by MI5, I had lunch with him a few years ago. I asked him about this scenario. “A handler is informed by his high level tout that a RUC officer is the target for an under car bomb. If the operation is foiled, the high level tout, who provides quality intel on PIRA , will be compromised and likely killed. What should the State do?” I posited that the routine solution was to let the officer be killed. Mains looked me in the eye and said that that never happened. Dear Reader, you decide….

Smithwick and Mains- a taster

The Belfast Telegraph has published a gushing article about Alan Mains.  What it does not mention is his controversial evidence at the Smithwick Inquiry. This investigated the murders of Breen and Buchanan by PIRA.

It has never been clear why Mains did not accompany his friend and boss , Breen to Dundalk.

Three possibilities immediately present themselves:

  1. He was never tasked to go.
  2. He asked Breen might he have time off to play rugby.
  3. He wanted to go to the gym.

Readers need to study the report to decide which, if any of these is the truth. The rugby one is repeated in the Belfast Telegraph article.

Jamie Bryson wrote about Mains in his  book , Three Headed Dog. He alleged that Mains worked for MI5. He was Kevin Fulton’s handler, inter alia.

Mains never sued.

Most RUC officers I have spoken to regard Mains as a fantasist, claiming to have been here and there, without cause.

He went so far to tell me that he had been at the scene of my parents’ murders, yet nobody I have spoken to recalls him being there or why he would have had any need to be there. There is no evidence in the papers I have seen , of his presence.

His rise to stardom was connected to his friendship with Ronnie Flanagan, that bibulous womaniser, who did the bidding of the British state in rebranding the RUC.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it, read Smithwick.

So Dear Belfast Telegraph, next time you want to eulogise someone like Mains, do you homework.

Here is the extract.

“6.1.16 Mr Mains gave evidence over the course of two days and was robustly cross – examined by both counsel for the Garda Commissioner and counsel for Mr Owen Corrigan. It is fair to say that one of the central points of their cross – examination is that Mr Mains’ original statement of 22nd March 1989 appears inconsistent with his evidence about:

(i) Chief Superintendent Breen asking Mr Mains him to accompany him to Dundalk;

(ii) his being asked to phone Bob Buchanan to see if Superintendent Buchanan was available to go to Dundalk; and

(iii) his making a telephone call to the Dundalk Garda Station on Chief Superintendent Breen’s behalf to arrange the meeting.

It was, in essence, suggested that Mr Mains’ written statement of 22nd March 1989 does not support his evidence in relation to these three aspects and therefore affects his overall credibility as a witness.

6.1.17 It is the case that the following part of Mr Mains’s statement does not sit easily with his evidence in relation to his role in setting up the meeting in Dundalk:

“He [Chief Superintendent Breen] informed me that he had to attend a meeting in Dundalk that afternoon with the Border Superintendent, Superintendent Buchanan, along with Chief Superintendent Nolan, Garda.”

 

6.1.24 “I would add that it appears from all of the evidence before me that neither the statement which Mr Mains did provide in 1989 – which refers to Harry Breen’s concerns about unnamed members of An Garda Síochána – nor the further specific information in relation to Owen Corrigan which I find as a fact Mr Mains did share with the senior officers, was communicated to An Garda Síochána. I find this extremely surprising. In the immediate aftermath of the killings of two of the most senior RUC officers to be murdered in the Troubles, the RUC was informed that one of them, only hours before is death, had expressed concerns about a Garda officer being in the pay of ‘Slab’ Murphy. It seems incomprehensible to me why the RUC did not immediately raise that matter with An Garda Síochána. The likeliest explanation that one can find on the evidence is Mr Mains’ account of what Sir John Hermon said to him in Newry on 21st March 1989, namely that Owen Corrigan had already been investigated and had been cleared. Yet both the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána have indicated to the Tribunal that there is no documentation to support the suggestion that such an investigation in relation to Detective Sergeant Corrigan was carried out. I am therefore compelled to the view that the information ought to have been, but was not, shared with the Gardaí, and no reasonable explanation for this failure can be discerned.”

It should also be pointed out that no RUC officer , called to give evidence at Smithwick, remembered Mains’s  alleged meeting with the Chief Constable.

 

 

 

 

Irish Times article re Enniskillen

Irish Times article

 

 

I set out below an article written by Ed Moloney, who needs no introduction to scholars of the history of the Troubles.

 

Whether or not the letter is genuine, it raises, again, the question of the participation of State forces in the activities of PIRA.

 

Supporters of the Republican cause, including many lawyers, describe this as “collusion”.

 

It has been noticeable, in the articles written for the Newsletter , that not one participant has touched on this issue.

 

Instead it rolled out the usual State actors , like Collins and Matchett.

 

Equally, I am not aware of any “victims’” organisation exploring this issue at all.

 

The explanation, partly, may be the placing of ex State actors within these organisations. Take SEFF, it employs Peter Murtagh, ex State Spook. I’ve listened to SEFF’s pitch for victims and nowhere in it does it even acknowledge the possibility that State actors were involved with PIRA. The focus is mainly on PIRA killings of the security forces.

 

As always, Dear Reader, I urge you to judge for yourself.

 

Did MI5 Or The IRA Kill The Enniskillen Dead? The Evidence May Be In A Letter We Cannot See

by The Broken Elbow

Sometimes, I just despair of The Irish Times. 

There are times when it is not just essential to publish all the evidence behind a story but actually obligatory. And not to do so is a journalistic sin beyond comprehension.

In to-day’s edition of the Times, there appears a story which qualifies sans pareil for the above injunction.

The story deals with a letter purportedly written in mid-November 1987 by an MI5 officer working in Northern Ireland and addressed to Brian Lenihan, the then Foreign Affairs minister in Dublin, which claims that British intelligence knew in advance about the IRA’s plan to bomb the Enniskillen cenotaph in November 1987 but did nothing to stop it because it would create ‘a massive backlash’ against the IRA.

Civilians flee the scene of the Enniskillen cenotaph bombing

In fact a careful reading of the story about the letter suggests that not only did MI5 do nothing to stop the bombing but, according to the letter’s anonymous author, the spy agency actually manipulated the bomb’s timing mechanism so that it would cause the maximum damage to the IRA, i.e. kill the most civilians.

In other words, MI5 may have actually murdered the twelve civilians, not the IRA – although the IRA made it all possible.

The Times quotes the alleged agent as writing:

“Our section decided to change the timing device and let the explosion take place so that the IRA would score an own goal and create a massive backlash against itself,” he wrote.

“Our section also calculated that in the climate of a backlash against the IRA all kinds of security measures could be implemented including extradition.”

“If I had more courage I would come out openly and prove with more what I am now saying,” he wrote.

The Enniskillen bomb killed twelve people and dozens more were injured, some horribly, when they were engulfed in rubble. The backlash against the IRA was indeed considerable and arguably intensified a debate about strategy between the military and political wings of the Provos which ultimately took shape in the first IRA ceasefire of the peace process six years later.

The author of the letter describes him or herself as someone who had been working for  MI5 in the North for eighteen months or so in a section of the intelligence agency which specialised in infiltrating paramilitary groups.

He was so scared, he wrote, that he crossed the Border to post the letter, which has now been released as part the 1988 tranche of government papers eligible for publication.

There is no way of knowing whether this story is true or someone’s sick fantasy, or if the author of the letter was a real MI5 agent or the product of someone’s overactive imagination.

But it is surely not without significance that the Department of Foreign Affairs considered the letter important enough to preserve in the files and now to make public in the annual festival of governmental openness.

The Irish Times‘ readership, especially those who follow the newspaper on the internet, might be helped in their efforts to discern the truth, if they could actually see and read the letter, as The Irish Times‘ journalist who wrote the story evidently did.

In this day and age of iPhone and iPads capable of taking photos anywhere, and the ease with which the products can then be displayed on the internet, surely the paper’s readers should have been allowed that basic right?

Here is the Times‘ story in full:

The Broken Elbow | December 30, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p1iwpM-3hw

Comment    See all comments
Unsubscribe to no longer receive posts from The Broken Elbow.
Change your email settings at Manage Subscriptions.

Trouble clicking? Copy and paste this URL into your browser:
http://thebrokenelbow.com/2018/12/30/did-mi5-or-the-ira-kill-the-enniskillen-dead-the-evidence-may-be-in-a-letter-we-cannot-see/

Thanks for flying with  WordPress.com