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 .
Noel McCabe agreed to do a bit of work for the Republican Movement ; he began doing the odd bit of fixing walkie-talkies , radios and battery chargers . Before long McCabe became a kind of Provo 'chauffeur' : he would be asked to pick someone up and drive him to , say , Inniskeen and pick the guy up a couple of hours later and drive him back .
He got petrol money for this ; sometimes Paul Finnegan himself was the passenger . Another of the people he drove for was a Northerner called Frankie ; McCabe used to see Frankie around Dundalk from time to time and he would give him the nod . The man never acknowledged the greeting . The next time McCabe gave Frankie a lift he was warned never to speak to him in the street - McCabe was not to be publicly identified with the Provos , he could then be used safely as a driver or helper .
Around March 1984 , Paul Finnegan began leaving guns with Noel McCabe ; first , a .38 automatic for just one night , then a sawn-off shotgun for a month . McCabe hid the guns under a bench in his shed - he was nervous about this and complained . Finnegan was understanding and took the guns away . He asked if McCabe would do one last run for him , he was stuck and he would'nt ask again . McCabe agreed and gave Finnegan a lift to either Inniskeen or Swords (later he could'nt remember) and picked him up later and brought him back to Dundalk .
A couple of months went by in which McCabe was'nt asked to do anything for the Republican Movement ; then , around June or July , Paul Finnegan arrived with a bag of guns : a sten-gun , two carbines , a sawn-off shotgun , a modern pistol and a rusty old revolver - " Everyone has to play their part . Headquarters know you held guns for us before and they expect you to do so again , and to do your part , " Finnegan told Noel McCabe .
McCabe kept the guns under his bench for a few weeks .......
TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .
In 1976 , on the eve of the anniversary of internment , Gerry Fitts' constituents petrol-bombed his home , burst down the door and mobbed up the stairs to his bedroom . Fitt fired a shot over their heads . The experience made him rely more and more on the British Army and the RUC for protection , as the 'mob' returned again and again . His home had to be protected by floodlights , wire netting and a direct two-way radio link to RUC Headquarters .
There was little link with the SDLP , most of whose members were turning , in those wilderness years , to drink or business affairs , or home life : Paddy Devlin , the left-wing voice of the party , turned to trade-union affairs , saying in his resignation statement that the SDLP made not even a pretence of uniting the workers , never mind uniting Ireland . Austin Currie remembers Gerry Fitt turning up at his home in an RUC car , and asking Currie to drive him the rest of the way to his boat moored on the Shannon , where he was going on holiday . The RUC , said Austin Currie , were worried about going over the border . ('1169...' Comment - that never bothered them in later years .... )
Gerry Fitt says Michael Canavan " ...hardly ever turned up at SDLP Executive meetings .. " . Most of these were held in Donegal , west of the Bann , and were described as 'think-tanks' . But there was actually little to turn up for - the only political action , and it was little enough , was at Westminster . In the North , in November 1977 , Gerry Fitt was to exclaim , there was Roy Mason " ...a colonial administrator , always dressed in a safari suit , walking down the main street in Belfast , with the natives holed up in substandard wigwams on the Falls and Shankill reservations .. "
There was'nt even that much the politicians could do about the 'wigwams' : the 'Housing Executive' , established as an independent body because of the way politicians had exercised discrimination when they had control of housing , was "...treating politicians with contempt .. " , Gerry Fitt snarled in 1979 .......
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 .
While so far the real pressure exerted within the Nationalist community on the perjurer system has been largely 'internal' (perjurers retracting in response to their families' efforts) - since the Stormont administration will only feel pressurised by 'external' political pressure from Nationalists when the campaign achieves its full impetus - there is undoubtedly strong concern among sections of the Loyalist community too , which may eventually cause headaches for the British government .
That concern stems , obviously enough , not from any opposition to the clinging of the Northern judiciary to the coat-tails of Stormont , which after all is unionist policy , but from the increasingly heavy losses which perjurers are inflicting on loyalist paramilitary groups , and the spin-off effect which this undoubtedly has on loyalist political parties , particularly the DUP .
Although the Official Unionist Party has taken a strong line in support of paid perjurers under their 'law and order' spokesperson , Edgar Graham , individual members of the OUP including John Carson have identified themselves with a campaign of opposition . In April of this year (1983) , DUP leader Ian Paisley condemned the use of perjurers as 'undermining the rule of law' and he specifically opposed the granting of immunity to perjurers . Immediately after the informer Robert Lean's 'evidence' began to lead to the arrest of several prominent Republicans , the DUP appeared to modify its stance considerably when leading spokespersons Peter Robinson and Jim Allister - at a press conference on September 13th , from which , strangely , Ian Paisley was absent - supported the use of
uncorroborated evidence and only opposed the granting of total immunity , implying that perjurers should instead be given heavily reduced sentences for their own admitted involvement .......