“This decision is directly, but not solely, related to the issues which arose around the Bobby Storey cremation.”

As BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said a few days ago, there is “No prospect of Stormont falling.”  That doesn’t mean there might not be casualties elsewhere… Having apologised in public for “operational decisions” around the Bobby Storey cremation at Roselawn Cemetery, the Belfast Telegraph reports that Belfast City Council Chief Executive, Suzanne Wylie, and director of city and neighbourhood services, Nigel Grimshaw, have lodged a formal grievance with the city solicitor, and have threatened to resign “if [their] …

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Come clean. The chances of compensation of victims of the Libyan connection are vanishingly small and the UK government won’t left a finger to help them

I’ve had only the slightest brush personally with the Libyan connection, the notorious gun running relationship between the crazed dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the IRA which finally ended in another of Tony Blair’s diplomatic exercises. In one of the later lulls in the Troubles, in a fit of optimism they re-opened the city gates of Derry after a siege of a quarter of a century. My old family home was in the street at one side of the courthouse right …

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The banner is one thing but the New York parade has always raised eyebrows

The St Patrick’s Day parade in New York has always been controversial. In the 1980s and 1990s, while Northern Ireland was in the middle of the Troubles, NORAID would walk in the New York parade and collect money for the IRA. In 1983 Michael Flannery, who organised NORAID, was chosen as grand marshal. The decision lead to a number of politicians boycotting the event that year. The New York parade has a long history of being anti LGBT. It was …

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“we need to remove legacy policing from contemporary policing…”

A timely reminder, should one be needed, from Newton Emerson in the Irish Times this week, that when Sinn Féin talk about ‘agreement’ on the “need to remove legacy policing from contemporary policing” what they mean is “No prosecutions, please.”  From Newton Emerson in the Irish Times It is all or nothing on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles. Either all sides must face the same prospect of prosecutions and convictions, or all sides must be given an amnesty …

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“No Minister should be using any private unsecured email accounts for any official business whatsoever…”

Some, presumably, unintentionally revealing details from the former Northern Ireland Finance Minister, Sinn Féin’s Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who appeared in front of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Inquiry yesterday.  This from his written statement [pdf file]  16.  The bundle of documents referred to above appears to indicate that you used the email account mairtin@newbelfast.com to discuss, share, transact, or otherwise communicate Executive business and Executive policy; and that you discussed, shared, transacted, or otherwise communicated Executive business and Executive policy with …

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“In Kenova’s sights are also those IRA leaders on the Provisional Army Council who sanctioned the “executions” for spying…”

The BBC reports that Freddie Scappaticci has been arrested in England by the Operation Kenova team and is being questioned “in connection with the investigation into allegations of murder, kidnap and torture”. [Scappaticci is pictured above – bottom left with dark moustache at funeral of Provisional IRA member Larry Marley] The investigation team confirmed that a 72-year-old man had been arrested. The BBC understands the man being questioned is Fred Scappaticci and that he was arrested in England. The investigation …

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“The truth remains that Adams will only reveal his past if it suits his own agenda.”

We might never know the truth about the suggestion that Gerry Adams was responsible, directly or indirectly, for setting up the Provisional IRA’s East Tyrone Brigade for ambush as they tried to blow up a police station in Loughgall in May 1987.  Sinn Féin have dismissed the claims as “utter nonsense”, and some of the usual suspects have busied themselves playing the man – and/or the media. Meanwhile, Ed Moloney provides some useful background, and reproduces the chapter in his book ‘A Secret …

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Belfast man sentenced in Germany for 1996 Provisional IRA attack on army barracks

A timely lesson from the German authorities on dealing with Northern Ireland legacy issues…  Having successfully extradited 48-year-old James Anthony Oliver Corry from the Republic of Ireland in December last year, the Belfast man has now been convicted and sentenced for his role in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. From the Irish Times report A Northern Ireland man has been convicted in Germany of attempted murder for participating in an IRA attack on a British army barracks in the …

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Extradited Suspect Admits Role in 1996 Provisional IRA Mortar Attack in Germany

Unencumbered by the Belfast Agreement, ‘comfort’ letters, or any proposals on legacy issues, German authorities sought and, last year, secured the extradition of  a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry, from north Belfast, had been arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, in October 2015, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. At the start of his trial today in a court in the city …

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Shock horror EXCLUSIVE! MI5 had Jeremy Corbyn under surveillance into the 1990s, for “links to the IRA”

Billed as  “Exclusive, MI5”, the Daily Telegraph  splashes with a predictable twist on an ancient theme, that Jeremy Corbyn had been under surveillance for having “ links” to the IRA. This is the flip side of the super-patriotic  coin that supports army veterans in their campaign, backed by Theresa May, against prosecutions for illegal actions in Northern Ireland and now supported by the Commons Defence Select Committee. It’s so much easier than thinking to take sides and leave it at …

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It’s easier to get rid of a hard border

Vincent Boland has written a major piece for the FT magazine (£) entitled “Dividing Line: Brexit and the threat to the Irish Border“. The article is all more absorbing for being written for the casually interested globalised audience that is the FT’s typical readership. Boland doesn’t deal in economic statistics or confusing politics but on the intense, often harrowing experience that remains the living legacy of the Troubles on both sides of the physical border. And here he identifies the …

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Moving on and forgetting the old soldiers of the Provisional IRA…

If you missed this from Shane Paul O’Doherty a week or so back, then it’s worth catching. You should try and read the whole thing. But I think this paragraph is worth highlighting… The IRA from the period 1969-2005 is the first version of the IRA where the leadership has distanced itself from the armed struggle and its fighters, has claimed to have exited the IRA halfway through the campaign or has even entirely denied membership and command and control …

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Operation Kenova and The Spy in the IRA…

John Ware’s BBC Panorama investigation on Freddie Scappaticci, The Spy in the IRA, is available online, with an accompanying article on the BBC website.  Ed Moloney has some relevant posts on his blog on the programme, including criticism of the initial response by processors in the media to Liam Clarke’s scoop when he broke the story in 1999. Not all journalists were as keen to follow the story up. Sinn Fein spread the word that Liam Clarke’s story was the work of …

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Peter Taylor: “Gradually I got used to reporting death. But I never became insensitive to it.”

In advance of the broadcast on BBC Radio 4 tonight, 8pm, of Peter Taylor’s documentary, Fifty Years Behind the Headlines – Reflections on Terror, the renowned journalist has written an article on the subject for the BBC website.  Most revealing, on many levels, is the part in which he recounts the “interview [which] affected [him] personally above all others.” The blanket protest by the IRA prisoners in the Maze started in 1977. They refused to wear prison uniform, insisting they were political prisoners and …

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Irish State Papers: The Anglo-Irish Agreement, Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA

In part 1 of 2 reports RTÉ’s round-up of the newly released confidential Irish State papers from 1986 includes a couple of items worth highlighting in relation to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.  First up is an account of a meeting in Belfast in April 1986 between David Barry, of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Anglo-Irish division, and solicitor PJ McGrory – whose son Barra McGrory, also a solicitor, has previously represented Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, and in 2011 was appointed Northern Ireland Director of …

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“More important, though, is to never forget the monstrous things that can be done by apparently affable family men, who write poetry and enjoy fishing.”

With former Sinn Féin MLA, Daithí McKay [now a Slugger contributor… – Ed], speculating elsewhere that the, as yet unspecified, illness that caused the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister to pull out of December’s NI Executive Office trip to China at the last minute may force him to step down in 2017, Eilis O’Hanlon takes a pre-emptive look at Martin McGuinness’ “mixed legacy“. McGuinness has been lucky. Adams is widely mocked for denying that he was ever in the IRA. McGuinness was …

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German Police Formally Arrest Extradited Suspect in 1996 Provisional IRA Mortar Attack

Rather less widely reported than developments in certain other legacy cases was Dublin High Court recent ordering of the extradition of a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry, from north Belfast, was arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, in October 2015, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. The Belfast Telegraph has the latest update via a PA report German police have arrested a …

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“What you should not do is expose Joe Bloggs who might have been buried as a hero but was in fact an informant for the Brits.”

With this attempted distraction in mind, the latest comments by Denis Bradley make even more interesting reading. Bradley also expressed concern about the fate of thousands of one-time informers if there was “full disclosure” of all sensitive Troubles-related security files. “What Robin Eames and I found out in our investigations leading to the Consultative Group on the Past report was that at any given time there were at least 800 informers working within the ranks not only of the loyalist …

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Dublin High Court orders extradition of suspect in 1996 PIRA mortar attack in Germany

Not much coverage of this so far, but the Irish Times reports that the High Court in Dublin has ordered the extradition of a suspect in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. In October last year, James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry (46) was arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. Later that month, Mr Corry, who is from north Belfast, spoke to a reporter …

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“Better to criminalise rather than politicise.”

Here’s something you might have missed last week.  In an interestingly timed, if much belated, intervention in the Guardian, professor of journalism at City University, self-declared Sinn Féin supporter and, in the late 1980s, a pseudonymous contributor to An Phoblacht, Roy Greenslade channels his inner Thatcher for a call for media [self] censorship when reporting on still violent dissident republican groups.  From the Guardian article In other words, by referring to “dissidents” – disparate overlapping groups that use IRA or similar in their self-descriptions – media outlets are investing them with an undeserved political …

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