THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .
On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .
John Collins retired from the Garda Siochana (Free State cops) in February 1984 . He lived at Ballybane , County Galway .
Two months later , on April 27 1984 , he had a night out at the golf club in Salthill and emerged at 1.30AM to find his beige Opel Ascona had been stolen from the carpark . He had left a lot of property in the car , including golf clubs , golfing clothes , spectacles and a briefcase . Two days later the briefcase was handed into Coolock Garda Station in Dublin , minus a chequebook , banker's card and documents relating to the Ascona car .
Three months later , on July 27 1984 , John Small of Newcastle , County Down , parked his dark red Mercedes car in an open carpark at Monaghan Street , Newry : when he returned after three hours it was gone . Tommy Eccles , aged 24 , from Muirhevenamore , Dundalk , County Louth , went to Newry on that day . Eccles was a Provo ; he had been instructed to go to Newry and pick up the red Mercedes . He found the car , as per his instructions , parked near the Cupid Nightclub , with the keys in the ignition .
Eccles drove the car down across the border and left it in the care of Paddy Duffy , aged 24 ; he was a landscape gardener and lived in a mobile home in a yard at Dromiskin , a village south of Dundalk . Duffy was a Provo . Around the same time he was also given the Ascona car , and concealed both cars on a farm near Castlebellingham .......
TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .
The collapsed North of Ireland Assembly was replaced by a six month Convention in 1975 , when the same political factions were elected to a talking shop whose brief was to come up with another power sharing plan or be banished to the wilderness . The Convention could not agree and was abolished : Gerry Fitt was now the only anti-unionist with a parliamentary seat , and he snuggled further into Westminster . Always , when he came home to Belfast , the RUC provided a car and an armed companion-driver ; the two men became good friends . ('1169...' Comment - and that was to be expected : human nature . Today , there are those who describe themselves as 'republicans ' and insist that their 'relationship' with other career politicians in Stormont , Westminster and Leinster House is based on the need to convince same that a United Ireland is on the agenda . Their own supporters appear to believe this , but true Republicans are reminded by history that the 'good' apples do not turn the bad apples ... ).
From 1975 until the 1983 Westminster election , says Michael Canavan (SDLP) - " The SDLP was left with no constitutional place to go . Only a revolutionary party could have continued to operate without status , or Office , or pay ... " . Those were the years when the British government withdrew politial status from the prisoners and sought a military solution to the North ; those were the years when the Provos , through the prisoners , emerged as a political force in the North ; those were the years when the SDLP abandoned the search for an internal solution and said the North could only be solved in an all-Ireland context ('1169...' Comment - that part of "...those years.. " did'nt last long for the SDLP !) ; those were the years when Gerry Fitt , from 1975 until he resigned from the party in November 1979 , and John Hume , Euro MP from June 1979 onwards , were the only SDLP politicians with a seat and a salary .
While John Hume operated from Brussels , Washington and west of the Bann , Gerry Fitt operated almost exclusively from Westminster and his perspective on the North was formed from that distant point .......
UPS AND DOWNS FOR RUC's PERJURER STRATEGY .......
SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .
To date , the response on the perjurer issue from sections of the Catholic establishment has been a muted one , explicable by their obvious ambivalence to a strategy which although seriously eroding the already blackened 'judicial process' is clearly seen to be aimed at undermining the political advance of republicanism - a shared objective , after all , with the Catholic hierarchy and the SDLP .
In response to such a taunt by West Belfast MP Gerry Adams on September 11th 1983 , SDLP spokesperson Seamus Mallon retorted that the use of perjurers was '...law bending .. ' but the thrust of his attack was aimed not at the British but at Sinn Fein and republican resistance .
On September 28th 1983 , however , the SDLP met the 'Relatives for Justice' group and condemned the use of perjurers - though they have maintained a low profile on the issue since then . And what of the Catholic church on the issue ....... ?