Thursday, February 16, 2006


Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin
1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail:
Date: 15 Feabhra / February 2006

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In this issue:
1. Finucane rejects 'sham' of new British inquiry
2. Solicitor advised UVF clients to 'take out' victim
3. US AOH campaign to clear captain's name
4. Court official suspended in Irish race row
5. Belfast bookies murder weapons probe call
6. Unemployed men jailed
7. Relatives to oppose plans for new bar on Stardust


THE son of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane
speaking on February 9 said that his family would
refuse to participate in a new British Government
inquiry into his death because it was a sham.

Michael Finucane, a solicitor based in Dublin, told
the Leinster House Committee on Foreign Affairs that
new British legislation introduced to facilitate the
inquiry would give the right to British government
ministers - and not the inquiry judges - to determine
what evidence and witnesses could, and could not, be
made available to the inquiry.

In an outspoken criticism of the new British Inquiries
Act, he said that the British Six County Direct Ruler
Peter Hain had confirmed to him that the British
Government would have the powers to restrict the
evidence available to the inquiry or decide that
evidence be heard in camera.

"If the (presiding) judge did not agree, there were
two stark options," said Michael Finucane.

"He would preside over an inquiry where he disagreed
with the rules and would frankly look like a fool. Or
else he could walk. It was my way or the highway."

He contended the British government would retain
ultimate control over the proceedings, and as they
were the executive in government, their decisions
would be immune from challenge.

"It will be a government-controlled intelligence
services inquiry. (It could be) the only people in the
room talking to each other are the people who created
the collusion monster in the first places. We will not
participate in such a sham," he said.

Michael Finucane appeared before the committee along
with his late father's legal partner, Peter Madden,
and Pat Finucane's brother, Dermot.

Peter Madden said that the main issue was whether the
families will be given a full independent inquiry into
Pat Finucane's murder

"The position is that is not going to be the case
after meeting with Peter Hain," he said.

A British-backed loyalist death squad murdered Pat
Finucane (39) outside his north Belfast home in 1989.
There has been compelling evidence of collusion
between Loyalist death squads and British Crown

Michael Finucane said: "The case has been particularly
controversial because it has reached the stage where
concrete evidence of collusion between British
security services and loyalists has gone beyond the
point of doubt."

He said when the family met Peter Hain it was not a
question of if, but how much collusion. Mr Hain said
the inquiry would determine how far up the chain
collusion went.

Meanwhile more evidence emerged that an RUC Special
Branch was aware of a UDA plot to kill the family of
Pat Finucane but failed to inform them of the threat,
The Irish News has learned.

Senior British Six-County sources last confirmed on
February 8 that the RUC Special Branch had been
alerted that the UDA in north Belfast planned to
murder members of the family in summer 2003.

However, despite evidence of a murder plot the
RUC\PSNI Special Branch failed to inform the Finucanes
that their lives were in danger.


A SOLICITOR secretly taped during meetings with
Loyalist suspects tried to have a wounded taxi driver
assassinated before he could speak to the RUC\PSNI, a
Six-County court heard on February 7.

Manmohan "Johnny" Sandhu, 41, is accused of phoning an
associate in an attempt to have Ulster Volunteer Force
gun attack victim Jonathan Hillier "taken out" as he
lay in hospital.

The lawyer also allegedly contacted a UVF boss in east
Belfast and urged him to hide a man suspected of
involvement in another murder carried out during a
violent feud.

Details were disclosed as Sandhu, of Colby Avenue,
Derry, was granted bail but banned from the RUC/PSNI's
so-called Antrim Serious Crime Suite, where he was
covertly bugged.

Sandhu was recorded at least 70 times during
consultations with clients at the station, the North's
only terrorist holding centre.

He was arrested on January 30 and charged with four
counts of perverting the course of justice and one of
attempting to incite the murder of Jonathan Hillier,
between July and November last year.

Jonathan Hillier was shot on the Westwinds estate in
Newtownards, Co Down, last August at the height of a
bloody dispute between the UVF and the splinter
Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Prosecuting barrister, David Hopley, told the
Six-County High Court that the case was one of a
number in which Sandhu allegedly used his mobile phone
to pass information from clients at the holding centre
to senior UVF representatives.

David Hopley told the court that the RUC\PSNI believe
Sandhu telephoned an unknown person to tell them that
Jonathan Hillier was at the Ulster Hospital, on the
outskirts of east Belfast, advising them: "He's got to
be taken out. He hasn't made a statement yet."

"While consulting with a client at Antrim Serious
Crime Suite, the client raised the possibility of the
trial not going ahead if the victim, Mr Hillier, could
not attend," added David Hopley.

The decision to tape Sandhu's meetings sparked
controversy; with his legal representatives claiming
it was a clear breach of solicitor-client

Leaders of the Six-County Law Society have expressed
their concerns to the head of the RUC\PSNI Hugh Orde.

3. US AOH campaign to clear captain's name

A leading Irish-American organisation has backed a
campaign to clear the name of a 26-County army captain
involved in the 1970 arms trial.

Captain James Kelly was charged - along with 26-County
ministers Charles J Haughey, Neil T Blaney, John Kelly
and businessman Albert Luykx - with illegally
importing arms into the 26-Counties in 1970.

Four of the five men went to trial after it was
claimed they had imported arms for transfer to the
Six-Counties. All four were acquitted but the crisis
caused great controversy in the 26-County state.

James Kelly, who died in 2003, worked as an
intelligence officer for the 26-County army. He was a
key conduit in the late 1960s between the 26-County
government and members of the nationalist community
within the Six Counties.

Despite his acquittal, James Kelly's family claims
that his reputation never recovered and that he was
shunned by the 26-County state.

A campaign was launched several years ago to clear his
name. The president of the Ancient Order of HiberNians
(AOH) in the United States has thrown the weight of
his 60,000-strong organisation behind the campaign.

In a letter to the head of the 26-County government
Bertie Ahern, Ned McGinley, who met James Kelly's
relatives last year, urged Bertie Ahern to take

"In your past comments, you have noted that you
believe Captain Kelly was operating under what he
believed were proper orders and you had no reason to
doubt his integrity, which would mean that the step to
clear his name is very close," said Ned McGinley.

"We request that your move to completely clear Captain
James Kelly's name should be sooner rather than later.

"This action will help to close a sad chapter in the
conflict that has been known as 'the Troubles' for
more than 30 years and is important to total

AOH websites across the United States have created
links with the Captain Kelly Justice Campaign website

Campaign activists in the United States will send the
AOH president's letter this week to former US
president Bill Clinton, together with James Kelly's
last book on the arms trial, The Thimbleriggers, which
was written in 1999.


AN official in the Scottish court service has been
suspended for allegedly sending an abusive and racist
e-mail, describing Irish people as "green scum".

The Scottish Executive on February 1 confirmed a
junior member of staff was under investigation, the
day after Jack McConnell had set out an 18-point plan
to crack down on sectarianism in Scotland.

The e-mail, which told people proud of being Irish to
go and live there, was raised with executive ministers
by one of the organisers of a Bloody Sunday
commemorative march. This person says they received it
two weeks ago, the day after violence erupted at the
march in Glasgow to commemorate the Bloody Sunday
massacre in the Six-Counties in 1972.

Eleanor Emberson, the chief executive of the court
service, confirmed a disciplinary investigation had
started. She stressed the court service was "committed
to fair treatment for all. Our customer and staff
policies promote the value of diversity.

"The organisation requires staff to meet the highest
standards of behaviour and conduct at all times. Any
activity that has any racist or sectarian connotation
is treated as a serious breach of conduct."

The investigation comes at an embarrassing time for
McConnell's administration, as he steps up his
campaign to stamp out religious bigotry, with plans
for Catholic and non-denominational schools to be
twinned for sports, drama, and field trips. The
executive is to provide an information pack for
schools and local councils encouraging the "twinning"

The campaign will also impose bans on disruptive
individuals attending marches, and review the impact
of sectarianism in Scottish workplaces. It follows a
summit held in Glasgow last year and some of its
points have already been launched.


THE families of five people murdered in a
British-backed loyalist gun attack on a south Belfast
bookmaker's have called on the RUC/PSNI to make public
the history of the weapons used in the attack.

Relatives of the dead gathered outside the Seán
Graham betting shop on the Ormeau Road on February 6
for a memorial service on the 14th anniversary of the

On February 5, 1992, two Ulster Defence Association
gunmen opened fire in the bookmaker's shop with an
AK47 assault rifle and a Browning pistol. They killed
five people.

It later emerged that the UDA informer William Stobie
had given the Browning pistol to RUC detectives before
the attack.

The RUC gave the gun back to the UDA, which used the
weapon to murder a nationalist in a west Belfast pub
before using it in the Seán Graham massacre.

The AK47 had previously been used by the Ulster
Volunteer Force in a murder bid on a north Belfast

The British Colonial police have consistently refused
to make public the full history of the weapons,
despite repeated requests from the families of the
Seán Graham victims to do so.

A section of a report by the Canadian judge Peter Cory
into cases of collusion between the British Crown
forces and loyalist death squads focuses on the guns.

However, in the final published version of his
investigation, sentences detailing the history of the
weapons are deleted.

Seán Graham survivor Mark Sykes, who was shot five
times in the attack, said he believed that senior
members of the RUC/PSNI were determined to prevent the
history of the weapons being made public. He has
maintained they have something to hide.

"There is something about those guns that they don't
want us to find out," he said. "Why else are they
refusing to disclose the full history of the weapons?
Why was this crucial information deleted in the
published version of the Cory report?

"I was shot five times in the attack. My
brother-in-law was killed, along with four other
people. I have a right to know the history of the guns

The Browning and AK47 were part of a consignment
brought into the Six-Counties in December 1987 by
British agent Brian Nelson.

The double agent's British army handlers had full
knowledge of the huge arms shipment but did nothing to
prevent the transportation from apartheid South

The arms were divided between the UDA, UVF and the
Ulster Resistance group, which for a time had links to
Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party.

The South African weapons have been used in more than
100 sectarian killings since January 1988.

Those murdered in the Seán Graham betting shop 14
years ago were Christy
Doherty, Jack Duffin, James Kennedy, William McManus
and Peter Magee.

Four of the five UDA men who planned and carried out
the attack are also dead. They are Joe Bratty, Raymond
Elder, Jim Gray and Terry Mercer. The fifth man was
expelled from the UDA's east Belfast brigade last year
after an internal row.


THREE unemployed bricklayers who refused to stop
picketing a Dublin building site were jailed by Judge
Mary Laffoy at the Dublin High Court on February 10.

This followed an application by a construction company
for orders for their committal to prison. The men
claimed they had unsuccessfully sought work at the
site owned by Collen Construction Ltd at Ballybrack
and all three told the court they would continue to
picket the site.

The families of the three men said they were fully
behind the men. Andrew Clarke (24) of Cromlech Fields,
Keith Kelly (37) of Ashlawn Park, Ballybrack, and
William McClurg (50) Sallynoggin had sought work on a
site at Laurel Avenue, Ballybrack, from Collon
Construction Ltd. The firm is constructing 77 social
and affordable houses for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co
Council. The men claim they were not employed because
they are active members of the Building and Allied
Trades Union (Batu).

June McClurg, wife of Billy McClurg said she was upset
by her husband's jailing but backed his decision. "He
is 30 years a bricklayer and has been out of work
since November. There is plenty of work up there, but
he is a union man and they don't want a union man."

Doreen Kelly, sister of Keith Kelly, said he had three
children, including a six-week-old boy, and the
decision not to obey the court order was not taken
lightly. He felt he was doing it for his children's
future and we are supporting him 100 per cent," she
said. A protest march in support of the men converged
on another Collen site at the Municipal Gallery on
Parnell Square. Organisers said they hoped building
workers and other workers from across Dublin would
support the protest.


A FAMILY bereaved by the Stardust disaster pledged to
oppose the opening of a new bar on the site of the
nightclub and to object to further planning

On February 13, on the 25th anniversary of the fire
which claimed 48 lives, a planning application under
the name of Patrick Butterly and Sons Limited, the
owners of the Stardust nightclub, appeared in national
newspapers. The application seeks permission for
alternations to a car park on the eastern side of
Butterly Business Park, close to the site on which the
Stardust once stood.

On February 14 a new bar called the Silver Swan opened
on the Stardust site but families and friends of the
Stardust victims staged protest outside the building.

Speaking on February 13 Antoinette Keegan, a
spokeswoman for the Stardust Victims Committee,
expressed both her surprise and disappointment on
hearing that planning application by the Butterlys had
appeared on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.

She would be objecting to the proposal because it is
near what is now a "graveyard" to 48 people, and would
support any proposed protest outside the new premises.
"If this planning application goes to the courts, I am
going to need public support so I am asking people to
get behind us," she said.

Referring to RTÉ's two-part documentary on the
tragedy, aired on February 12 and 13, Antoinette
Keegan praised the station's realistic and sensitive

Antoinette Keegan, whose family were the main subjects
of the RTÉ drama Stardust, said the scenes of smoke
enveloping the nightclub, fire rolling across the
ceiling and mass hysteria towards the exit were
extraordinarily realistic.

"It brought it all back to me, I felt trapped as I sat
on a stool in our kitchen having flashbacks to that
night. It was one flashback after another. I don't
know how RTÉ made it so realistic. It was like being
back in there," she said.

After the first programme, Antoinette Keegan - who
survived the fire but lost her two sisters, Mary and
Martina - received numerous calls from strangers
offering their support. "There were men crying down
the phone, asking us how did we live through it all,"
she said.

On February 14, an RTE Prime Time interview with a
leading specialist in the area of fire dynamics,
material flammability and fire-safety design,
questioned the findings of the 1981 tribunal, which
concluded that the cause of the fire was probably

Families bereaved by the Stardust tragedy are now
calling on the 26-County Government to launch a new
investigation into the Stardust disaster. One of the
families has called for the exhumation of the remains
of their son so DNA testing can confirm his resting
place and they can erect a tombstone.

Antoinette Keegan said she hoped the RTÉ series would
encourage the 26-County Government, public and media
to ask questions of the 1981 tribunal findings.



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