From Irish Political Review: April 2007

Editorial Commentary

Mahon Tribunal:

In the Sunday Business Post case, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Mahon Tribunal cannot designate information given to it by respondents and circulated privately as "confidential", and cannot obtain Court Orders preventing those who have illicitly obtained such personal information from publishing it. Justice Nial Fennely, giving the judgement of the Court, said: "The right of a free press to communicate information without obstruction or restraint is intrinsic to a free society." Supporting this position were Chief Justice John Murray and Justice Susan Denham (daughter of a former Editor of the Irish Times, Douglas Gageby).
A dissenting judgement was given by Justice Hugh Geoghegan, supported by Justice Adrian Hardiman.
It is generally thought that the principle laid down in the Sunday Business Post case will be applied to the benefit of Geraldine Kennedy, Editor of the Irish Times, and journalist, Colm Keena, in a further case being brought by the Mahon Tribunal.
The Sunday Business Post ruling makes it impossible for the current Tribunals to go on functioning, as personal information, submitted in confidence, has no legal protection. It is wholly unreasonable to expect those innocent in law submit themselves to such public scrutiny. Surely the Chairmen of these Tribunals have no option now, but to resign?
The 'corruption' Tribunals were devised as an anti-Fianna Fail tactic by the Progressive Democrats. The basic flaw in their functioning has been that presiding Judges, and Tribunal agents, have brought adversarial attitudes to what should be an inquisitorial system, aiming to establish objective truth. Even worse, the lower standards of proof which prevails in civil cases is applied to criminal matters in the Tribunal process. It is time to put a stop to this travesty of justice.

Peter Mandelson …revealed some of his internal conflicts with Blair in an interview with the Guardian. Mandelson said:
"In order to keep the process in motion [Tony] would be sort of dangling carrots and possibilities in front of the republicans which I thought could never e delivered…"
Talking about why he was forced to quit the Blair Cabinet a second time in 2001, he mused he had
"resisted Mr. Blair and refused to write a “secret” letter to Sinn Féin offering a form of amnesty for IRA fugitives… (OTRs) in October 1999…" (14.3.07 IT).
"One problem with Tony, Tony's fundamental view of Northern Ireland, is that the process is the policy… In order to keep the process on track, … [Tony] would… appear to, or in reality, accept… republican demands which in my view were excessive and unreasonable…
"[Sinn Fein] were always operating psychological games on me—always. They are bloody hard people. There was very, very tough psychological game-playing—a lot of unspoken intimidation—and I played it back not by intimidating them but by not being fazed by it" (14.3.07 IN).
The full interview can be accessed on the Guardian website.
Northern Bank Raid:

Curiously, prosecution "slippage" had Crown lawyers saying that their case would not be ready until the middle of May (after the power-sharing Executive has come into existence). Only one defendant remains accused of the robbery of 20th December 2004, Christopher Ward. He has been remanded on continuing bail to 28th March (15.3.07 IN).
In the South, Don Bullman, a Cork chef, was given 4 years' prison for IRA membership. He was widely reported as having money connected with the robbery in his possession in a Daz box. But there was not the evidence to link Bullman with the robbery. The judge pointed out that "Bullman was not charged in relation to possession of the money and there was no evidence of the money's origin or of any robbery" (21.2.07 IT). Incidentally, no further action seems to be contemplated against Phil Flynn, who has had his reputation ruined by the media on police incitement, egged on by Minister for Justice McDowell.

Omagh Bomber: With the only suspect for the 1998 Omagh Bombing, Sean Hoey, liable to be found Not Guilty within weeks, the PSNI has launched a new publicity campaign, appealing for public help. They would be better occupied asking Special Branch and the Spooks for help, as it seems very likely that the bombing was the action of an agent provocateur, acting on their behalf.
Community Policing: It seems that homes in Poleglass, Twinbrook and Lagmore areas of West Belfast are to be supplied with the mobile phone numbers of the police officers responsible for patrolling their areas (under Sector Commander, Acting Inspector Peter Brannigan). (22.3.07 IN).
Fianna Fail Councillors …have asked their party to open discussions with the SDLP about a merger, following motions passed in favour of organising in the North, and of maintaining "close links" with the SDLP, at recent Fianna Fail Ard Fheises and youth conferences. An SDLP spokesman responded: "When we have embedded proper power-sharing and partnership in our political system and made progress towards an agreed Ireland and a united people, that may be the time for considering what benefits party realignments might bring" (15.3.07 IN).
Loyalists …associated with the UDA are to get "£1.2 million to stop committing crimes", according to the Irish News. It comments editorially that this is intended to reduce "violence, intimidation, drug dealing and extortion. The government says that if there is no noticeable reduction in these activities, the funding will be withdrawn". However, the Ulster Political Research Group says: "Not one penny of this money will go to the UDA. The UDA have not asked for any money" (Frankie Gallagher, 23.3.07 IN).
In a "ground-breaking, historic and unprecedented" move, the UDA, including the Ulster Freedom Fighters, "has decided to accept the legitimacy of Sinn Féin's electoral mandate" at a meeting in Derry's Guildhall (23.2.07 it).
Frankie Gallagher, in an interview on This Week (RTE radio, 4.3.07), was asked whether the War was over for Loyalists. He replied he had consulted with 4,000 people in two and a half months:
"what our people are saying is that they don't think the war is over, but it's changed. It's no longer——
[Interviewer]——But the IRA has stood down, so why is there a need for Loyalism any more?
[Gallagher]——while the IRA and Sinn Fein have not given up their goal for a United Ireland, then they [UDA] can never give up their goal of defending Northern Ireland or defending Ulster and trying to maintain it as part of the UK."
As for decommissioning, the UPRG has not been authorised to even speak about it.
Liam Kennedy …will be remembered for the derisory two-figure vote he got at the last Westminster Election, when he stood against Gerry Adams to give the Catholics of West Belfast a chance to protest at the 'oppressive control of the community by Sinn Fein'. Is he the same "Dr. L. Kennedy" who has appealed in the Irish News for descendants of soldiers executed for cowardice or desertion during the Great War to contact Belfast Family And Community History at Rugby Road? (12.3.07 IN).
Lynch & FitzGerald: Garret FitzGerald boasted in his Irish Times column of 3rd February that Jack Lynch and himself had pleaded with James Callaghan to keep Northern Ireland under British rule and not return it to the Republic. He wrote:
"In… 1974/75, although no one outside government was aware of the danger of a British withdrawal, it is now public knowledge that our whole island came nearer to chaos following the return to power in Britain of Harold Wilson who, during his last two years in office, sought to persuade his ministers to support such a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
"At a dinner hosted by a holidaying Jim Callaghan in west Cork during August 1975, when Jack Lynch (then opposition leader) and I were also relaxing in nearby parts of west Cork, we discussed with the British foreign secretary our concern about what seemed to be the danger of such a British withdrawal. And—as we now know from British cabinet papers published last year, and from the published diary of Wilson's aide Bernard Donoghue—three months later Callaghan, backed by Denis Healey and Merlyn Rees, blocked Wilson's proposal.
The danger to our State at that time was aggravated by the fact that we in government felt unable to strengthen the Army to deal with such a possible emergency because we feared that a move of that kind would have been misinterpreted by unionists as a threat to them, rather than as a precaution against IRA violence following a British withdrawal. And that could have precipitated a pogrom of nationalists…"
There is more in the same vein, and FitzGerald even goes so far as to say that "the IRA threat became apparent, in and after the Arms Crisis year of 1970"—a Jesuitical wording that implies, but does not actually say, that the Arms Crisis had to do with arming the IRA.
And, while washing their hands of responsibility for the North, the craven duo continued to interfere in the internal politics of Northern Ireland!

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