Julie's Rose

Suspect in 1982 Hyde Park bombing arrested over earlier fatal blast


John Downey held in Ireland for questioning about 1972 Fermanagh explosion

Rory Carroll
The Guardian
5 Nov 2018

**See also this story on the Hyde Park bombing

John-Downey

John Downey outside the Old Bailey in 2014 (Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex)

A man accused of murdering four soldiers in an IRA bomb attack in London’s Hyde Park in 1982 has been arrested on suspicion of murdering two other soldiers in a separate attack.

Members of the Garda Síochána and the Northern Ireland police service (PSNI) arrested John Downey, 66, on Monday night in Co Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland, in a joint operation. He is due to appear at the high court in Dublin on Tuesday and is expected to face extradition proceedings.

It is understood that Downey was arrested on suspicion of abetting an explosion and of murdering Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33, two soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), in Co Fermanagh in Northern Ireland in 1972.

The arrest was a dramatic reversal of fortune for Downey. He walked free from the Old Bailey in February 2014 after his trial for the Hyde Park murders collapsed because of a secret letter from the British government that gave him a guarantee he would not face trial, a revelation that caused uproar.

hyde-park

The bodies of horses of the Household Cavalry lie in the road following the Hyde Park bomb attack (Corbis)

Downey’s lawyers argued that he should not face trial because he was one of 187 IRA suspects who were sent letters giving “a clear and unequivocal assurance” that they were no longer wanted by any police force in the UK. The British government gave the assurance in return for the IRA’s promise to decommission its arms as part of the Good Friday peace deal.

Downey had pleaded not guilty to the murder of four soldiers from the Household Cavalry who died in the blast on 20 July 1982, along with seven of their horses. The bomb had been concealed in a car and was detonated as the soldiers rode past on ceremonial duties.

Supporters and relatives of the four soldiers – Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, and Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23 – condemned Downey’s release and vowed to continue to fight to see justice done.

The victims’ families are pursuing a civil action against Downey, seeking financial compensation and pushing for a finding that he was liable for what happened.

Monday’s arrest, however, related to the deaths of the UDR soldiers a decade before the Hyde Park attack. Johnston and Eames died when an IRA bomb exploded in a car they were checking in Enniskillen on 25 August 1972. Their families have been kept informed of developments.

The PSNI reopened an investigation into the attack several months after the collapse of Old Bailey trial, leading to the joint operation with police in Donegal.

“Members of An Garda Síochána attached to the National Bureau of Criminal Intelligence arrested a 66-year-old male this evening, 5 November, in Donegal on foot of a European arrest warrant and is expected to appear before the high court in Dublin tomorrow 6 November 2018,” the Garda Síochána said in a statement.

The arrest will add pressure on authorities to pursue other alleged IRA men who were given so-called on-the-run (OTR) letters by Tony Blair’s government. Critics labelled them a “get out of jail free card”, but officials said they were part of an administrative scheme that merely informed recipients of statements of fact.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist party, welcomed Monday’s arrest.

peaceline

Ombudsman to release file on 2005 Robert McCartney murder


**See also this 2012 article here.

News Letter
1 Sept 2018

**13 years later. What a joke.

Robert_Mc_Cartney

Robert McCartney and son

The Police Ombudsman is due to publish its report on the murder of Robert McCartney in the Markets area of Belfast some 13 years after his brutal death.

The body confirmed the release date after being approached by the News Letter this week.

The 33-year-old father of two died in the street from knife wounds after a fracas erupted in Magennis’ bar in 2005. His death was widely blamed on IRA members and came at a fragile time politically – before the IRA had decommissioned or Sinn Fein had signed up to policing.

Despite the large number of people in the bar when the row began, no-one reported seeing anything.

The Police Ombudsman took statements from around a dozen members of Sinn Fein who were in the bar, but who were not prepared to engage with the PSNI at that time.

Despite attempted prosecutions, nobody has ever been convicted for the murder.

The ombudsman told the News Letter this week that it was almost ready to release its report.

“We have completed our enquiries and are currently finalising a report on our findings, which will be provided to the family in the coming weeks,” it said.

The matter arose again after the DUP and SDLP at Belfast City Council prepared a motion calling on Sinn Fein members who were in the pub to come forward to the PSNI - and for the ombudsman to finally release its report.

Robert’s sister, Catherine McCartney, said: “I will be glad when it is finally completed but what is actually in it is a different thing altogether.”

She does not have her hopes up for the report. The ombudsman played a key role in the investigation, which it is not set up to do, she said. “I have never believed there was a proper investigation.”

peaceline

Jean McConville's sons protest at the screening of film about murder


By Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
26 July 2018

2018_07_26

Jean McConville’s sons Thomas and James outside screening in Belfast

Two sons of IRA murder victim Jean McConville staged a protest outside a cinema showing a film that includes alleged details of their mother's death.

James and Thomas McConville stood outside the Moviehouse on Belfast's Dublin Road last night as media gathered for the Press screening of I Dolours.

The film tells the story of Dolours Price, the IRA woman who drove Mrs McConville, a mother-of-10, to her death.

It includes video footage of an interview Price gave to journalist Ed Moloney in 2010 in which she names Gerry Adams as the officer commanding the Belfast Brigade and alleges that he sent her to bomb England. Mr Adams denies being a member of the IRA.

Price was involved in driving several alleged informers across the border where they would be killed and secretly buried.

She said she was acting as a member of a secret group in the IRA, the Unknowns. In the interview, she said she opposed 'disappearing' and secretly burying alleged informers, arguing rather that their bodies should be left on the streets "to put the fear of God and the republican movement into anybody who would chose that way of life". But she claimed that loyalty to the leadership caused her to follow orders. She alleged Mrs McConville confessed to the IRA to being an informer for money. Although asked about disappearing people, Price agreed that it was undoubtedly a war crime. James McConville said her claims did not tally with what the family had been previously told by the IRA.

He insisted his mother was not an informer and said he wanted a meeting with Mr Moloney to discuss the case. He said he would like to hear the full unedited tapes of Price's interview.

A 2006 Police Ombudsman report found no evidence to suggest Mrs McConville was an informer. The 36-year-old widow was dragged from her home in Divis Flats in 1972. Her body was found on Shelling Hill beach, Co Louth, in 2003.

Dolours Price was a strident critic of the Sinn Fein leadership whom she believed had abandoned republicanism. She died in 2013. I Dolours goes on general release in cinemas across Northern Ireland on August 31.

saoirse

'She was Bobby Sands' mother, but few knew the real woman'


Bimpe Archer
Irish News
16 January 2018

funeral

Bobby Sands' son Gerard (front right) carries the coffin of his grandmother Rosaleen Sands at St Oliver Plunkett's Church, Blackrock, Co Louth. Picture by Mal McCann

SHE was one of the most famous mothers in the world, but none who depicted Rosaleen Sands in scores of films, documentaries and books knew the real woman, mourners at her funeral heard yesterday.

RosaleenMrs Sands, the mother of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, died last week [January 12] aged 95, surrounded by her family.

Bobby's former cellmate 'Tomboy' Loudon was among those who travelled from across Ireland to pay their last respects at St Oliver Plunkett's Church at Blackrock, Co Louth.

Rosaleen Sands in 1981

Other mourners included former Newry Sinn Féin councillor Pat McGinn although there were no senior party members present.

His son Gerard, who maintains a low public profile, helped his uncle John and cousins carry Mrs Sands's coffin to the church.

Her daughter Bernadette Sands-McKevitt said they "were an ordinary family, whose life was reshaped by extraordinary events".

She was supported by her husband Michael McKevitt, who was released from prison in 2016 after completing a sentence for directing terrorism.

Gardai maintained a low-key presence outside the church.

"Many claimed to know Rosaleen Sands (and she) figured in many books, films and documentaries that were written and produced by people who never met her," Mrs Sands-McKevitt said.

She told how her mother was born in the Markets area of south Belfast in 1922 and her father died when she was just 12 years old.

"She was a working class girl from a working class area and my mother never forgot her roots.

"She was a principled person who had times of trouble."

The young Rosaleen Kelly was set to emigrate to New Zealand, with a job lined up at the other end of the long journey, when she met her husband John Sands.

The couple would go on to marry and raise four children.

None of the children were allowed to "leave the house without first saying our prayers blessing ourselves with holy water".

When their son Bobby was jailed, "my parents never missed a visit" and when the hunger strikes began "set about doing all in their power to highlight" the protest.

"They suddenly found themselves thrown onto the world stage as they desperately tried to save their son.

"Heartbroken she pleaded with Bobby. He made one simple request to her - to stand with him and not against him.

A young boy carrys a picture of Bobby Sands at the funeral of Rosaleen Sands the mother of Bobby Sands at St Oliver Plunkett's Church, Blackrock Co Louth Picture Mal McCann.

"It was a choice that no mother could contemplate, but it was one that she had to make.

"She left his life in God's hands and placed her trust in others to bury her son."

Mrs Sands-McKevitt, a founding member of the dissident republican 32 County Sovereignty Movement, then denounced her brother's former comrades from the pulpit.

"It was a trust that was breached. We found out years later (through documents) that Bobby's final burial wishes, which were not known to us at the time, were not followed."

She said, that in the years that followed Mrs Sands "continued to support prisoners and their families" and was always there "when each of her children suffered".

"She was an inspiration to us all and set a fine example to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

She finished by reading a poem written by Bobby Sands for his mother; among the lines:

young_boy

How you found strength I do not know
How you managed I’ll never know,
Struggling and striving without a break
Always there and never late.
You prayed for me and loved me more
How could I ask for anymore
And reared me up to be like you
But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.


(Young boy carries photo of Bobby Sands at the funeral)

Mrs Sands was buried privately afterwards at Belfast City Cemetery.

Mrs Sands is survived by her children Marcella, Bernadette and John.

peaceline

Martin McGuinness set up meeting where Frank Hegarty was killed, bishop claimed


Martin McGuinness personally set up the rendezvous which led to the brutal murder of a suspected IRA informer, the Government was told in 1987.

BreakingNews.ie
29 Dec 2017

Mc_Guinness

Previously secret files in the Department of Foreign Affairs reveal the then Bishop of Derry Edward Daly made the damning claim seven months after the killing of Frank Hegarty.

Bishop Daly said Mr McGuinness normally did not get his "hands dirty" but had run out of henchmen in the city.

Mr Hegarty, a Provo quartermaster in Derry, was abducted from Buncrana, Co Donegal, and shot in the head in May 1986 after he had been lured home with claims he would be safe.

His body was dumped on the side of a border road with his eyes taped.

A typed letter, marked secret, was filed to the Department of Foreign Affairs by an official who had met Bishop Eddie Daly and talked about the execution.

Released under the 30 year rule, it said: "The Bishop understands that, far from using a henchman (as he would ordinarily do), McGuinness personally arranged the rendez-vous with Hegarty from which the latter did not return."

Bishop Daly said the former IRA commander turned peacemaker had been doing "reckless things" at the time.

He said these actions would make Mr McGuinness "vulnerable if he were to come under media scrutiny".

Over the years Mr McGuinness, who died last March, faced repeated questions over the Hegarty murder but always insisted he had "no role whatsoever".

The dead man's family have said the former Deputy First Minister persuaded Mr Hegarty to come home. And Bishop Daly believed them.

It is understood Mr Hegarty fled to England, protected by British intelligence, and is reported to have given information on a dump of IRA arms smuggled from Libya before being lured home.

Bishop Daly said Mr McGuinness assured relatives on a number of occasions that Mr Hegarty would not be harmed.

The Bishop was reported to have said: "McGuinness would usually try to 'keep his own hands clean' in an affairs of this sort but, with the number of Provo volunteers in Derry reduced... by rumours that Hegarty had 'squealed', McGuinness was left in a position for several months last year in which he had to do much of 'the dirty work' on his own."

Bishop Daly said he was certain Mr McGuinness was a Provisional IRA Chief of Staff "at least for the North-West if not for the entire North".

The letter was dated January 22 1987, about seven months after the murder.

It was sent to Dublin and copied to the Tánaiste and the Ambassador in London, as well as the secretary of the Irish Government's Anglo-Irish Secretariat.

It has been reported Mr McGuinness met Mr Hegarty's mother Rose on numerous occasions as he tried to coerce him to return home, including a claim he went down on bended knee.

A sister of Mr Hegarty is also said to have unwittingly driven him to the rendez-vous in Buncrana.

The documents can be read in the 2017/20/17 file from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Martin McGuinness also threatened to hold a dead IRA man's body for a week amid tensions over paramilitary shows of strength at funerals, the state papers have revealed.

He personally delivered the chilling message to Bishop Cahal Daly's secretary as a stand-off ensued over the burial of Larry Marley in Belfast in April 1987.

Marley, the mastermind of the 1983 Maze escape, was shot dead by the UVF in front of his wife and newborn son at their home in Ardoyne.

Amid a huge security operation, his funeral was delayed for three days and there were two failed attempts to bury him as a heavily armed police cordon stepped in each time to stop shots being fired.

At one point during the stand-off Marley's body had to be embalmed for second time while in the family home and the RUC threatened to seize the remains under public health laws.

Documents released from the Department of Foreign Affairs reveal Mr McGuinness issued the warning to the bishop's emissary Fr Hugh Starkey as he mediated between the Marley family and the RUC.

He said McGuinness told Cahal Daly's secretary: "We have the body and will keep it for a week, if necessary, until the Bishop speaks."

The papers claimed Mr McGuinness was smarting over comments made by Bishop of Derry Edward Daly about restricting IRA funerals amid paramilitary shows of strength.

Bishop Edward Daly had raised concerns that he had to say "enough is enough" and feared that if he did not take "strong and dramatic" action that some Provos might be emboldened enough to fire shots inside a church rather than outside.

A Foreign Affairs official said Mr McGuinness wanted to force Bishop Cahal Daly to make a public statement, "preferably a rebuke to the police and sympathy with the predicament of the family".

He noted that the Bishop "wisely refused to be drawn into this trap".

"Bishop Daly's refusal to act according to Sinn Fein's bidding has created a resentment towards the Church in that section of the nationalist community which Fr Starkey hopes will only be temporary," the file said.

Marley's funeral and burial lasted seven hours. A Foreign Affairs official watching the events said it was the "biggest propaganda coup since the 1981 hunger strike".

In the days after the funeral, Cahal Daly, then Bishop of Down and Connor, called on the RUC to rethink its approach to dealing with paramilitary funerals.

The documents also state that Fr Starkey reported suspicions that Marley had been "set up by his own people" as part of an internal Provo feud.

The priest recalled one visit to the Marley home during the stand-off as "unsettling and macabre".

With the coffin in the house, Fr Starkey said prayers while an IRA guard of honour stood by.

The funeral eventually took place with the RUC keeping three feet from the mourners who flanked the coffin.

Fr Starkey told Foreign Affairs he felt he pulled a "master stroke" just before the coffin was taken from the house when he told everyone in the house to get on their knees and recite the rosary.

He said it reminded them it was a religious ceremony not a political event.


- PA

Bobby Sands

Sinn Fein denies Gerry Adams ‘set up’ IRA Loughgall ambush


State Papers 1987: Sinn Féin president was accused of being behind the killings

Peter Murtagh, Ed Carty
Irish Times
29 Dec 2017

ira_men

The eight-man IRA unit killed in a shoot-out with soldiers following the bombing of the Loughgall RUC station. Clockwise from top left: Gerard O’Callaghan, Antony Gormley, James Lynagh, Eugene Kelly, Declan Arthurs, Patrick McKerney, Seamus Donnelly and Patrick Kelly. (Photograph: PA)

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was rumoured to have set up a notorious IRA gang for ambush by the SAS as they tried to blow up a police station in May 1987, previously secret files have revealed.

A Sinn Féin spokesman on Friday dismissed the claim as ‘utter nonsense’.

Eight members of the Provisional’s East Tyrone Brigade were shot dead after they loaded a 200lb bomb onto a stolen digger and smashed through the gates of the RUC barracks in Loughgall, Co Armagh.

British Army special forces were lying in wait and killed them all, along with innocent bystander Anthony Hughes.

Declassified documents released through the National Archives in Dublin revealed that ballistic tests on weapons found on the dead were used in 40-50 murders, including every republican killing in Fermanagh and Tyrone in 1987.

Three civilian contractors had been murdered in the counties that year along with officers in the RUC and British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment.

The rumour about Mr Adams was passed on to the Department of Foreign Affairs by the highly respected Fr Denis Faul about three months after the Loughgall operation.

The priest, who had been at school in St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon with Padraig McKearney, one of the IRA gang, said the theory doing the rounds was that “the IRA team were set up by Gerry Adams himself”.

Fr Faul said he was “intrigued” by the theory.

Mr Adams declined to comment on the contents of the file when contacted in recent days.

A spokesman for Sinn Féin said on Friday the suggestion that Mr Adams might have “set up” the Loughgall gang was “utter nonsense”. He said he had spoken with Mr Adams’s office about the matter but not with the former party leader.

Fr Faul, a school teacher and chaplain in Long Kesh prison who died in 2006, said the rumour was that two of the gang - Jim Lynagh, a councillor in Monaghan, and McKearney - “had threatened to execute Adams shortly before the Loughgall event”.

It was being claimed that Lynagh and McKearney “disliked Adams’ political policy” and that they were leaning towards Republican Sinn Féin.

Weapons recovered

Eight guns, including six automatic rifles, a shotgun and a pistol, were recovered from the bodies of the attackers. In a letter to Brian Lenihan – then tánaiste and minister for foreign affairs – dated May 20th, Northern Ireland secretary Tom King disclosed that ballistic tests showed that “the weapons recovered were responsible for every single murder and attempted murder in Fermanagh and Tyrone this year, and indeed further afield as well”.

Those killings included three civilian contractors as well as members of the RUC and Ulster Defence Regiment.

digger

The wreckage of the mechanical digger and the van used by the IRA men at Loughgall. (Photograph: Tom Lawlor)

Details of the government’s response, and reactions to it, are contained in State papers relating to Lenihan. They show how the government held firm in the face of criticism from republican elements in Ireland and the United States, as well as from within Fianna Fáil, but also baulked at a suggestion from King that an appreciative letter from him be made public to underscore joint British-Irish resolve to defeat terrorism.

On May 9th 1987, the day after the attack, the tánaiste condemned it as a “futile act of violence of the Provisional IRA”, which he said had “warped policies”.

In a follow-up statement to the Dáil on May 12th, Lenihan branded the IRA’s campaign of violence “morally wrong” and instanced how it had murdered a civilian and used his body “as bait to murder two policemen” as well as torturing informers.

Lenihan said the only way to address injustices in the North was through politics and not “indiscriminate violence”, a position not adopted by Sinn Féin, the IRA’s political wing until 1996.

‘Security benefit’

Two days after that Dáil statement, Daithí Ó Ceallaigh, an Irish diplomat at the Anglo-Irish Secretariat (the Belfast-based bureaucracy operating the Anglo-Irish Agreement), cabled Dublin following a briefing from the British giving details of the attack and noting that “one particular security benefit has been the removal of three very experienced paramilitaries – Lynagh, Paddy Kelly and McKearney”.

The cable also says King was very grateful for Lenihan’s Dáil statement, which he felt would have “significant benefits in convincing unionists in Northern Ireland of the determination of the Irish government to co-operate with the British government on security matters” and bolster nationalists who support constitutional methods and eschewed violence.

He wished to write a letter of thanks to Lenihan and to publish it.

“Speaking personally,” wrote Ó Ceallaigh, “I told my opposite number that I saw no advantage in publishing such a letter. I have consulted [Michael] Lillis [head of the Irish team in Belfast], who considers it would be very damaging to publish any such letter.”

Dublin cabled back that it agreed fully with this – “the sec. state should not repeat not publish letter”, it said.

In the following days, another Belfast-based Irish official, David Donoghue, embarked on a series of meetings with Catholic religious figures and the deputy leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon, filing reports back to Dublin each time, each marked “Secret”.

Bishop Cathal Daly wanted the RUC to give a full account of what had happened, nationalist reaction to which he thought would not benefit Sinn Féin in west Belfast.

Bishop Edward Daly said Lenihan “got it about right” in his reaction to Loughgall. The bishop told Donoghue he was “struck by the lack of sympathy in the Derry area with the dead IRA men”, whom he described as having been “armed to the teeth”.

The bishop was “affected by his own abhorrence of the Provisional IRA and the disgust he felt at their hypocrisy”, Donoghue reported.

“As a further example of the IRA’s hypocrisy, [Daly] mentioned a recent case in which a Derry post office was robbed by two men, one of whom the post mistress recognised as a prominent Sinn Féin spokesman. Within half an hour a Sinn Féin councillor had called round to sympathise with the postmistress and, within an hour, Sinn Féin had issued a statement deploring such anti-social acts.”

‘Madman’ Lynagh

Bishop Joseph Duffy told Donoghue that Sinn Féin had tried to organise the funeral of Lynagh but he had refused to deal with them, talking only to the family.

Duffy told Donoghue that Lynagh, who came originally from Monaghan, “was regarded locally as a ‘madman’ who would ‘have to have been put away, one way or the other’,” and had been responsible for “some 20 murders”.

Other voices, however, attacked the government’s condemnatory response.

Lenihan responded to Rev Joseph McVeigh from Fermanagh that he would “make no apology for condemning the campaign of violence of the IRA”.

The Irish United Counties Association of New York, of which Martin Galvin – director of Noraid, Sinn Féin and the IRA’s US fundraising arm – was secretary, wrote to Lenihan, asserting the IRA men had been “summarily executed”.

“The Irish Republican Army volunteers were Irishmen fighting on Irish soil for the freedom of a portion of Ireland. The British barracks which they intended to attack, as well as the British troops, constitute an illegitimate fort and foreign army of occupation,” said their letter, signed by Galvin and the organisation’s president, Frank Feighary.

Uinseann MacEoin, an architect and republican activist, told Lenihan he had been “viciously anti-Irish”, a view rejected by the minister who told him and a handful of Fianna Fáil members who objected to his comments that they were in line with party policy of supporting peaceful politics only.


- Additional reporting PA

Julie's Rose

Family of murdered Paul Quinn hit out at Sinn Fein's Murphy for 'not lifting a finger'

Suzanne Breen
Belfast Telegraph
20 October 2017

Quinn

Breege and Stephen Quinn, parents of IRA murder victim Paul (inset)

The parents of a south Armagh man beaten to death by the IRA have accused local Sinn Fein politician Conor Murphy of "not lifting a finger" to help them find justice.

Breege and Stephen Quinn were speaking before today's 10th anniversary of their son Paul's murder.

The 21-year-old was assaulted by a 12-strong IRA gang with iron bars and nail-studded cudgels in a barn along the border on October 20, 2007.

His parents will lay flowers at his grave in Cullyhanna today and a Mass will be held for him in the village on Sunday.

"The pain is as great now as it was 10 years ago," Mrs Quinn said. "We will never rest until we get justice. Sinn Fein should hang their heads in shame for their response to Paul's murder."

After the killing Mr Murphy - who was then Stormont's Regional Development Minister - said he had spoken to the IRA and was satisfied it wasn't involved. He linked the murder to a feud among criminals.

Former Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and the SDLP both asserted that the young Cullyhanna man wasn't a criminal.

The Quinns have repeatedly asked the Sinn Fein politician to lift "his disgraceful slur" against their son.

Mr Murphy told yesterday's Irish News that claims he had branded Mr Quinn a criminal were "without any foundation".

He stated that he had condemned the murder and "said consistently that the Quinn family deserve justice".

He called on anyone with information about the killing to contact the PSNI or Garda.

Although more than 20 people have been arrested during the Quinn murder investigation - including Padraig 'Paudie' Treanor, a former driver of Mr Murphy's - none has been charged.

Mrs Quinn said: "In 10 years, Conor Murphy as our local political representative has never lifted a finger to help us.

"Indeed, he caused us great distress at a time when we were already living a nightmare. Conor Murphy branded our beautiful boy, who did nothing whatsoever to deserve the awful death he received, as a criminal.

"We have repeatedly appealed to him, as a politician and a father, to withdraw his disgraceful slur against our son. He has refused to do so. For him to try to now make it out that he has supported us is nauseating."

Mr Quinn said Sinn Fein leaders could visit south Armagh and "secure justice for us within an hour because it's prominent members of the Provisional movement who murdered our son".

TUV leader Jim Allister last night accused Sinn Fein of "brazen and disingenuous spinning" after the killing and recalled Mr Murphy's claims at the time.

"A minister of the Stormont Assembly proclaimed that he had been to see the IRA leadership," he said.

"The incident speaks to the immorality of the sort of Executive some are so desperate to see return."

Mr Allister pointed to DUP statements expressing outrage at the killing.

"What did the DUP about it? Nothing. That is because this murder was politically inconvenient for those who sustained Sinn Fein in government."

He added: "People like Paul Quinn and Robert McCartney have been completely forgotten by the political establishment."

Every major bone in Mr Quinn's body below his neck was broken in the murder. He was targeted after clashing with local Provisionals over minor matters in the months before his death.

saoirse

IRA street fighter turned statesman, Martin McGuinness dies aged 66

By Conor Humphries | BELFAST
Reuters
21 March 2017

Mc-Guinness

Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander who laid down his arms and turned peacemaker to help end Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict, died on Tuesday after a decade as deputy first minister of the British province.

As a young street fighter in Derry and later as a politician and statesman, McGuinness saw his mission as defending the rights of the Catholic minority against the pro-British Protestants who for decades dominated Northern Ireland.

But for his critics, that cause was never enough to justify the IRA's campaign of bombings and shootings that killed hundreds of British soldiers and civilians.

In his later years McGuinness was hailed as a peacemaker for negotiating the 1998 peace deal, sharing power with his bitterest enemy and shaking hands with the Queen, though the gestures were condemned by some former comrades as treachery.

He was forced to step down in January, a number of months before a planned retirement, because of an undisclosed illness.

At the time a frail and emotional McGuinness told a large group of supporters gathered outside his home in the Bogside area of Northern Ireland's second city that it broke his heart that he had to bow out of politics.

"I don't really care how history assesses me, but I'm very proud of where I've come from," McGuinness told Irish national broadcaster RTE.

He is survived by his wife, Bernadette, and four children.

IRA COMMANDER

Born on May 23, 1950 in Derry, McGuinness in childhood experienced the contempt which many of the pro-British Protestant government had for thehe run and was banned from entering Britain in 1982, during the IRA's bombing campaign there, under the prevention of terrorism act.

POLITICS AND PEACE

During the 1980s McGuinness emerged alongside Gerry Adams as a key architect in the electoral rise of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, advocating a strategy of combining the use of the ballot box with that of the Armalite rifle.

First elected as a member of the Northern Ireland assembly in 1982, McGuinness played a crucial role in keeping the more militant wing of the IRA on board as elements of the leadership secretly probed the possibility of a negotiated settlement.

Following the IRA's second ceasefire in 1997, McGuinness became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in peace talks that led to the landmark 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

Nine years later, the rise of Sinn Fein to become Northern Ireland's largest Irish nationalist party allowed McGuinness to become Deputy First Minister in the power-sharing government with bitter enemy Ian Paisley, the firebrand preacher many Catholics see as a key player in the genesis of the conflict.

McGuinness surprised many by forming a close working relationship with Paisley, the media dubbing the pair "the Chuckle Brothers". In 2012 he shook hands with Queen Elizabeth at a charity event in Belfast.

Such gestures alienated many former comrades who call him a traitor for helping to run the province while the Union Jack was still flying over it. McGuinness countered it was a stepping stone to their goal of a united Ireland.

Over the past decade, Sinn Fein has focused much of its resources on the Republic of Ireland, where it has grown from five to 23 seats of the 166-seat parliament in a decade.

A non-smoker, virtual teetotal and keen fisherman, McGuinness briefly moved south in 2011 for a failed run at Ireland's largely ceremonial presidency, wining just under 15 percent of the vote.

McGuinness leaves Northern Ireland at peace and hands over to a new generation with Sinn Fein a major political force across the island, and his dream of a united Ireland inching closer after the party recorded its best ever result in an election three weeks before his death.

(Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Clarence Fernandez)

Julie's Rose

Amateur historian 'blew open locked doors' by exposing Irish babies' mass grave

By Estelle Shirbon
Reuters
9 Mar 2017

Catherine Corless has been haunted all her life by childhood memories of the skinny children from the local Catholic home for unmarried mothers and their babies in the small cathedral town of Tuam in the west of Ireland.

Known locally as the home babies, the children lived in secrecy behind the dark, high walls of the home run by nuns from the Bon Secours order. Some of them attended the same school as Corless, but they were kept apart from the other children.

Once, egged on by classmates, Corless played a trick on one of the home babies, handing over what looked like a sweet but was in fact only an empty wrapper.

"I'm so sorry for that. It's stuck me with, that memory. It was only later I thought 'that poor child never got a sweet, they would have loved a sweet'," Corless told Reuters in an interview at her home in the countryside outside Tuam.

Now a grandmother and amateur local historian, Corless has spent years painstakingly researching records to discover what happened behind those high walls, where unmarried pregnant women were sent to have their babies in secret.

Alone, often met with silence and obstruction from Church and state bureaucracies that held long-forgotten records, Corless eventually exposed the existence of a mass grave of babies and toddlers in a sewer on the grounds of the home.

The discovery, confirmed last week by the results of archaeological excavations, has horrified Ireland and caused a new wave of soul-searching about how women and children were treated at Catholic institutions in the past.

TENDERS FOR COFFINS

"The recent horrifying revelations of a mass grave of babies in Tuam, discovered as a result of the relentless work of local historian Catherine Corless, often impeded, rarely assisted, is another necessary step in blowing open the locked doors of a hidden Ireland," said President Michael D. Higgins on Wednesday.

Born in 1954, Corless grew up on a farm near Tuam, worked as a typist-receptionist as a young woman, then married and raised her four children at home. In the 1990s, she became interested in local history and took a part-time course on how to conduct historical research using primary sources.

In 2012, she offered to write an article for a local journal on the mother-and-baby home about which very little was known.

At first she tried archival newspapers, but all she could find were advertisements tendering for child-sized coffins for the home. There were precise size specifications and the coffins were required to have brass handles and a brass crucifix on top.

"That got me thinking, there must have been a lot of deaths in the home if they were putting out tenders for coffins every six months," said Corless.

The breakthrough came when she obtained the death certificates of all the children who died at the home. She had no idea how many there would be. When the answer came, she was stunned: in the 36 years the home was open, from 1925-1961, 796 children died.

"It was like a bolt of lightning. It just went through me. Is that possible?" said Corless, describing that moment.

There was no trace of those children in any of the local cemeteries, and no written records of their places of burial.

Government records show that in the 1930s-1950s more than one in four babies born out of wedlock in Ireland died, a rate more than five times that of children born to married parents.

The records do not show how many children were living in the Tuam home at any given time, but suggest mortality rates that were even higher. In 1947, 49 babies were born in the home and 30 more admitted under the age of one. Forty-six children died there, most before their first birthday; the oldest was three.

"A MOTHER'S GRAVE"

The vacant home was demolished in the 1970s. A housing estate was built in its place, with a large playground tucked away behind some of the back yards.

It had long been rumored locally that there was an unmarked children's graveyard on the site, and a grassy corner near the playground had been tended for years by residents who installed a small grotto with a statuette of the Virgin Mary.

By comparing old and new maps of the site, Corless established that the mysterious, informal children's graveyard was located in the same place as a very old sewage tank.

Her research was published locally, and eventually made national and international headlines in 2014, causing widespread revulsion and prompting the government to set up a commission of inquiry into the Tuam home and 17 other mother-and-baby homes.

So far, there have been two test excavations at Tuam and only a sample of remains were recovered for analysis. They were found to range from 35-week-old fetuses to three-year-old children.

"It's only the start. They have to find out. Are they all there?" said Corless. "They have to be counted if it's possible, because if they're not all there the question remains: where are they?"

Since her research became public, Corless has been contacted by more than 100 people with connections to the home, and has helped some of them locate long lost relatives or the graves of mothers who were forced to part from them when they left the home.

"I'm here for them. I'm happy I can help them. A lot of the time it's just a grave I find for them, a mother's grave. My work continues. I have a box of files of people who are looking for help," said Corless.

She said many of the siblings of the lost babies wanted them re-interred in a consecrated graveyard.

"They want a place to come to visit. It's hard for them to come in there and stand over a patch of ground in the middle of a housing estate and pay their respects."


(Editing by Peter Graff)