Monday, June 20, 2005

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 .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Noel McCabe kept the bag of IRA guns under his bench for a few weeks ; Paul Finnegan came and took them away . A few days later he was back with a request that Noel McCabe " a wee run . " Someone else had let him down ; and , at the weekend he might want McCabe to do another run up the country " collect a few lads and take them back to Dundalk . "

Noel McCabe drove Finnegan about three-quarters of a mile up the Carrickmacross Road that day , to an old farmhouse . There was an old man there and he told Finnegan - " There was a few of your lads here earlier this week . " A Ford Cortina drove into the yard and a transaction followed involving guns ; one man from the Cortina wound coloured tape around a rifle - " I'll know my marking , " he told Finnegan .

That gun was passed on to a man driving yet another car , and then Noel McCabe drove Finnegan back to Dundalk ; on the way , Finnegan told McCabe he wanted him to pick up three blokes the following Friday morning , August 10 , and take them to Dundalk - they would'nt be armed , they'd be clean . On the Thursday night , Finnegan would show him where to pick them up . That Thursday , Paul Finnegan went about organising a number of people for the robbery of a post van at Drumree Post Office , to take place about 8am the following morning .

Drumree is a 'speck on the map' about twenty miles from Dublin , about forty-five miles from Dundalk ; the post office is in a lay-by . It is run by Mary Gilsenan and her son Michael - it is not the obvious place for a large haul .

That Thursday , Paul Finnegan went to Drogheda at noon and met Seamus Lynch , a Provo from Kentstown , which is about fifteen miles from Drumree : Finnegan instructed Lynch to be at a field at Rathfeigh , near Drumree , shortly after 8am the following morning , to collect guns and money and store them . Finnegan and Lynch drove to the field so that Finnegan could show Lynch where to pick up the stuff.......


The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

Gerry Fitt was " ...beginning to regret the decision to set it up (the 'Housing Executive') at all .. " His political base , which he had assiduously tended since first becoming a Councillor , was being cut from under him .

In lesser 'wigwams' , in the cells of Long Kesh , men wrapped only in blankets had spent the years since 1976 signalling with excrement smeared on the walls that life was unbearable : " I remain convinced to this day that some of the men sentenced were absolutely innocent , " says Michael Canavan (SDLP) . " Confessions had been tortured out of them by the RUC in Castlereagh . There was a definate breakdown in the administration of law and order . That only increased the alienation between the Catholic population and them , and reinforced the support for the Provos . I had difficulty in persuading the SDLP that brutality and corruption was going on .

Reluctance to admit that things were so was reinforced by the knowledge that every time you criticised the RUC you were strengthening the hand of the IRA . I issued a detailed statement one morning , criticising the UDR , and a few hours later a UDR man and his young daughter were blown up in their car . I was physically sick all day but I stood over my statement . "

Gerry Fitt , he says , "...always got things just slightly wrong .. " on the issue of law and order , highlighting the activities of the IRA and the loyalists , and never totally appreciating the more covert activities of the (British) 'security forces' . Paddy Kennedy , erstwhile colleague of Fitt , had a meeting with him in Dublin around that time : " Gerry had raised the wrongful imprisonment of Giuseppe Conlon in Westminster and I mentioned to him the framing of an IRA man well known to us both . Fitt replied - ' I know he is innocent of that particular charge , but he's guilty of plenty of other things ... ' . " Gerry Fitt refused to pursue the matter .

The ethics of handling law and order was something that was to puzzle Gerry Fitt always , and came to the fore in an incident involving the 'Shankill Butchers' .......


SEAN DELANEY looks at recent developments in the use of perjurers in the North .
From ' IRIS ' magazine , November 1983 .

Significantly , in a 'Panorama' programme screened on BBC 1 television on October 24th - after Robert Lean's retraction - Ian Paisley again appeared to resolutely oppose the use of perjurers : more than most politicians , he , arguably , has a great deal to lose from future loyalist perjurers bringing up parts of his past life !

For loyalists , under greater pressure from the judiciary than for a long time , the use of paid perjurers must be causing a further crisis of identity and resulting in a heavy demoralisation . But for nationalists , existing under a constant regime of repression , the situation is clearer-cut and the option a simple one - resistance .

With scores of nationalists and republicans still imprisoned on the 'word' of paid perjurers , there is certainly no room for complacency despite recent retractions and the ever-present hope of more , but there is now a will and an ability to mobilise on the issue in the nationalist community that was not fully there before .

(Tomorrow - 'THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS' : from 1983 ).