Jack Straw’s Bum

Jack Straw’s bottom loomed large  [figuratively] at the House of Commons last week. Ten lines into his evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee he revealed that he had “suffered a small shard of glass in my behind” as the Old Bailey bomb exploded in 1973. In  a reversal of the Black Knight’s assurance “tis but a scratch ” Straw made much of his experience at the hands of Gerry Kelly MLA and others. [see also answer to question 490]

Some interesting evidence emerged.

He said that the issue of compensation for Semtex attacks had not been raised with the Libyans. He went on to speculate as to what the Libyan reply would have been. They would have said “we have owned up to  supplying Semtex but it was not we who planted it at the Old Bailey [that scratch again] or used it in different ways.”

He used the British lawyer’s remoteness of damage argument on behalf of an imaginary Libyan lawyer.

He said that as early as 1995 Libya had provided information to the UK about the material and financial support it had provided PIRA.

Therefore , twenty one years ago HMG was in possession of the quantities supplied and could calculate whether or not PIRA had really decommissioned. Further, no doubt the Libyans gave the names of the terrorists involved in the deals.

The real explanation for the failure of HMG to support victims of Libyan supplied Semtex is that, if asked the Libyans would have said “we supplied the Semtex, your MI6 knew that. They also knew who was picking it up and using it and many of them were British agents. So don’t blame us.” So over twenty years ago , the issue of compensation was binned, for the greater good of oil and the lesser good of the peace process.

The mildly scarred Straw’s mission was to come to the committee and waffle away the victims’ rights. Hinting that it was really all the fault of their political representatives.

A glimmer of hope was raised when he said that if it were up to him, he would try to implement any recommendation made by the committee. But then again he is retired , so he would say that.

The real flaw in his arguments is that if the Libyans are so opposed to paying compensation to the victims  of Libyan Semtex, why did they pay compensation to the non British victims, several years ago?

It’s over a year since this enquiry started and the consistent message from the Establishment is that HMG will not practically help the victims.

It’s time that the NIAC got a report out.

Ice cream, Gillen and the state

Many of you , Dear Readers, who have read about the book; “They killed the Ice Cream Man” will not be surprised by the allegations made by the Larmours.

Since I started my research in earnest two years ago, veteran observers had no difficulty in telling me about these practices. It was well known that senior members of PIRA were state agents and permitted to continue directing terrorism. They would have been little use to the spooks otherwise. On occasions they were permitted to commit murder, either directly or as someone who was involved in planning or directing. Look at the activities of  Loyalist Mark Haddock for a mirror image of the practice.

One name that came up frequently was Brian Gillen. My informants were in no doubt that he had been turned by the state and that he continued to operate in the role of Belfast Brigade commander. I named him as a participant in my blog ” The murderers of my parents”.

I have no difficulty in stating that he is the person referred to by the Armours and by by Ed Moloney. I have also made this allegation , some time ago to the Police Ombudsman.

Just as disturbing as these revelations are, what is more disturbing is that the State and its employees and ex employees refuse to admit that these tactics were used. I have had assurances from the PSNI, the Police Ombudsman and the Secretary of State that there was no advance intelligence of the murders of my parents . The same bodies have denied that an informer participated in the planning or execution of the murders.

A glance at my blog will show the one or more State agency is telling lies.

The Director of Public Prosecutions declined to direct the police to investigate Martin McGuinness’ role in the murders of my parents, despite Ed Moloney naming him in his book; “A secret History of the IRA”. He was quick to direct investigations into the Army on similar information. The Attorney General, despite his close interest in major issues such as abortion and gay discrimination, has declined to direct a fresh inquest, which would be required to examine special branch files.

The questions for readers are these. Are all those, like me, who have published names and activities, deluded? Or are we just scraping the surface of the State’s involvement in the dirty war? Is the State terrified of what might become known? Are Adams McGuinness and others equally frightened?

I’m given hope by the Hillsborough families. One day the truth will be known.

The victims’ industry

It must be interesting to be one of the folk that inhabits this strange world.

One day you are an ordinary Joe or Josephine and the next , courtesy of the PIRA’s bullet or Semtex, you are propelled into the heady world of Victimhood.

This means that your pronouncements, however crap they are, have to be solemnly  followed and that you must be invited to every “Victims'” event known to man.

At these occasions, you must get on your fake tan, do up your hair with the latest blonde  rinse and if you are a girl, wear a nice frock.

Why? Because a reporter will ask about your feelings and you must give a sound  bite.

Where will you go? Westminster, Stormont, Titanic, anywhere where the State thinks you can be plonked to do the least amount of harm.

Because the last thing the State wants is you , bleating and crying all over the place, annoying people and frightening the children of the Peace.

So the more silly events you can go to and speak at , like todays European Day of Victims , the less impact your story will have.

Occasionally , just for show, a State official will turn up, to express his solidarity , support and condolences and you will go away, energised.

Why? Because you were at the Top Table. You had a Reserved Seat. A Minister, some Tory Boy from London spoke to you.

Every so often, when the Peace Process is wobbly, Liz sends a family member over. What Joy! You get invited to Hillsborough, which is owned by the masses but which everyone pretends is owned by the Queen. You get on your best bib and tucker and you go through security , as if anyone would want to kill any Royal Prince.

At these events , if you are lucky , one of her relatives will speak to you, asking if you have ‘come far’.

You will go home, glowing with the fairy dust of Royalty.

The next day you will be just what you were, the son, daughter, husband, wife or other, of a victim of the Troubles. In that still quiet moment, before dawn, you will reflect on what might have been.

And you will, hopefully ,  rejoice that you are not one of the 268 people who took their life in 2014.

But also reflect on this. Not one organiser of any event that you have been to cares much for those 268 dead.

If they did, the events would be completely different.

Villiers and ‘Legacy”

Much ink has been spilled about how State intelligence about terrorist killings is to be made available to the judicial process and to victims and survivors.

Predictably, Republicans accuse the State of deception and bad faith and ,inexplicably, Unionists side with the Government.

This is an issue which affects all victims and survivors.

The extent of British and RUC collusion is unknown but verified  as a practice by de Silva.

An indication of how little the NIO or the Secretary of State  thinks of us can be gleaned from the following.

In February 2015 I wrote to the Attorney General , enclosing a seven page letter, arguing that he should direct a new inquest into the murders of my parents. I met with him on 4th March 2015 and his view was that he had no power to direct a new inquest unless the State had some prior knowledge of the operation, through an agent informant. He wrote to the Secretary of State in March 2015. An answer was only forthcoming after I threatened to have the matter raised in the House of Commons.

She said that “neither the Ministry of Defence, the Security Service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland nor the Northern Ireland Office hold any material relevant to the Attorney’s request”.

Note the use of the word “hold”. It is a word which tries to  convey much but which means little. An organisation is likely to archive material after a number of years. They send it to a store , managed by others. Then they no longer ‘hold’ it. Worse an organisation destroys documents, then they no longer ‘hold’ them. Given forty years of state denials and cover ups, I’m sure , Dear Reader , that you will forgive my cynicism.

Meantime the State has achieved its objective. As a result of this reply, no new inquest will be held into the murders of my parents.

The past

 

My attention turns towards Christmas Past. Who can avoid such stuff?

Thousands contemplate the empty place at the table , the gift not bought.

“the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” comes to all our doors.

Christmas is especially burdensome for those who have lost relatives or friends at the hands of terrorists. Much worse again if the crime was committed by the State.

As time moves on ,those OxBridge boys and girls in Whitehall look for ever more cunning ways to disengage GB  from the disaster which is Northern Ireland.

The Army is perplexed as  to why its squaddies might be prosecuted. I’d be happier if an officer or two was in the frame but what do you think is the likelihood of that?

Here, George Hamilton, the somewhat sturdy leader of the Constabulary calls the murders of my parents, in June 1990, a ” legacy issue”. Extraordinary for a policeman. More and more as he manoeuvres at the behest of his paymasters [those OxBridge ones again]  he wants nothing more to do with old crimes.

Only in the fantasy world of Northern Ireland would the most senior police officer suggest such a course.He is pretending that this all came as a terrible shock when he became Chief Constable. What a jolly jape!

Nothing to do with me Guv!

But there is worse.

In November 2015 Pablo de Grieff , the UN rapporteur on transitional justice , published a preliminary report on us.

He says that there are four pillars in a transitional justice policy;  truth , justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

On all of these the Northern Ireland vehicle is running on empty.

During his ten day visit he met [apparently] with a wide range of people. It didn’t take him long to spot our segregated education system as being a major problem.

Nor did the Spooks pass him by. Here is what he said about that:

“Although everyone must acknowledge the significance of national security concerns, it must also be acknowledged that particularly in the days we are living in , it is easy to use ‘national security’ as a blanket term.”

For those who have been bereaved, the sting is in the tail.

He says: “the issue of reparations for victims will need to be tacked in a serious and systematic way.  Here it may be important to bear in mind the many international experiences that have established reparations programmes on the basis of broad acknowledgement of responsibility distinct from acknowledgements of criminal guilt.”

In this jurisdiction no organisation has remotely come near  this standard.

It is facile and useless to expect the Northern Ireland Executive might so do. Might our Westminster MPs? Might the Victims’ Commissioner?

The dog that didn’t bark

In the Sherlock Holmes story, the Adventure of Silver Blaze, the following exchange takes place.

Gregory [Scotland Yard detective]: “is there any other point to which you wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “to the curious incident of the dog in the night”

Gregory: ” the dog did nothing in the night.” [Gregory was trained  at Garnerville]

Holmes: “That was the curious incident”

Patrick Fitzpatrick had his house raided and he was found in possession of a Glock pistol. It would appear that the firearm had no connection to either shooting. Is this the best the state can do?

Obviously an informer was involved in the arrest of Fitzpatrick, or perhaps they ‘were following the evidence’?

Was he a sop?

If the state, Special Branch and MI5 do not know who killed Davison and McGuigan, we are living in a dangerous world.

They penetrated the IRA thirty years ago.

The curious incident is the lack of evidence against any significant player.

The present play acting at Knock is disgraceful.

The Humpty Dumpty world of the Chief Constable

“When use a word” , Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone,”it means just what I chose it to mean, neither more nor less”. [Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking -Glass]

For a masterly summary of the position, see Ed Moloney in today’s Irish Times.

And so to George Hamilton’s finessing of Supt Geddes’ last statement. Goodness know how many lawyer hours went into it. How many drafts the SOS rejected. What Box had to say about it.

George says that PIRA is a paramilitary organisation, devoted to peaceful means, just like the Salvation Army.

Here are my questions for George:

  1. Has this organisation access to arms and explosives?
  2. Has it killed anyone in the last twenty years?
  3. Who shot Martin McGartland?
  4. If PIRA is committed to politics, who are its politicians?

I’ll bet that I won’t get a reply.

Hamilton says that they will go where the evidence leads. It’s a statement like Hercule Poirot saying ” I suspect everyone and I suspect no-one” [you do the Belgian accent].

In the twenty five years since the murder of my parents, the police have declined to follow the evidence, to the Belfast brigade of the IRA and onwards to McGuinness. What hope is there that anything has changed?

So, when George uses a word, it means precisely what his political masters, who appointed him and who control him, want it to mean.